Repacking bearings on a trailer

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  #1  
Old 03-17-06, 08:21 AM
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Repacking bearings on a trailer

Howdy-

I have one of those red folding 4*8 trailers that you see all over eBay. I bought it in 2003, use it every now and then, but I figure it's time to repack the bearings. I haven't added grease to them since I bought the thing because every grease canister I pick up has warnings about matching the detergents of the existing grease. I do check the rims every time I use it to see if they're hot (which I know would be one sign that something's wrong) and it's been fine. I think I've put off lubricating the thing long enough so I'm committed to fixing it this weekend.

I of course have no idea what type of grease was orginally used in the factory. If I'm buying good ole' marine--grade trailer axle grease from a big box home improvement store, can I just fill up the bearings (without taking them apart and cleaning them) or is it crucial to clean them thoroughly to make sure the new grease isn't compromised by the old stuff?

If I must clean them, if gasoline a good cleaner or is there something safer and/or most effective?

-Chris
 
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  #2  
Old 03-17-06, 08:32 AM
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I like to take bearings out and clean them with Varsol and then repack with hi temp axle grease. (This is just my opinion.)
 
  #3  
Old 03-17-06, 09:08 AM
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Varsol? If I got to an automotive store and they don't have it, what comparable products/brands are out there? What type of cleaner is it?
 
  #4  
Old 03-17-06, 10:14 AM
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You can get it at most hardware stores.
 
  #5  
Old 03-17-06, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Chrisatunc
Howdy-

I have one of those red folding 4*8 trailers that you see all over eBay. I bought it in 2003, use it every now and then, but I figure it's time to repack the bearings. I haven't added grease to them since I bought the thing because every grease canister I pick up has warnings about matching the detergents of the existing grease. I do check the rims every time I use it to see if they're hot (which I know would be one sign that something's wrong) and it's been fine. I think I've put off lubricating the thing long enough so I'm committed to fixing it this weekend.

I of course have no idea what type of grease was orginally used in the factory. If I'm buying good ole' marine--grade trailer axle grease from a big box home improvement store, can I just fill up the bearings (without taking them apart and cleaning them) or is it crucial to clean them thoroughly to make sure the new grease isn't compromised by the old stuff?

If I must clean them, if gasoline a good cleaner or is there something safer and/or most effective?

-Chris

folding trailers are ultra light duty I dont think you need to clean bearings just pack with any good chassis grease, what's the GVW or Axle rating ? should be under 1k #
 
  #6  
Old 03-17-06, 10:21 PM
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it would probably be a good idea to clean take apart and clean the bearings and hub allow them to air dry and inspect them for any excessive wear or damage and then repack them, as per cleaner gasoline or diesel would work fine, while there may be more safer solvent out there you could purchase if you wish.
marine grade white lithium or any high temp grease would work.
 
  #7  
Old 03-18-06, 10:23 AM
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You could clean and repack the bearings this time. Next time simply add (purge) the grease with the same type. For that matter, most automotive wheel bearing greases are lithium-based and compatible with one another.

I'm assuming there's a zerk fitting for regreasing. Otherwise, they need to be taken apart, and cleaned and repacked each time.

The big killer of wheel bearings is water and dirt intrusion. The seals are considered consumable items and should be replaced each service.
 
  #8  
Old 03-22-06, 10:20 AM
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Thanks for the tips. I didn't check back for the last posts before I went to work over the weekend.

Yep, axle rating is ~1k. Tires are rated for 1160, but that's irrelevant due to the axle rating and the fact that my V-6 accord isn't suppoed to tow more than 1,000lbs. Also, since the trailer weighs ~250lbs I usually end up towing no more than 700lbs. I try to watch out for that sort of thing since I'm not sure how Honda trannys stand up to this (even if I do follow the manual specs for trailer weight).

Once I opened up one side, I realized that they were probably ok as-is (still plenty of grease and no rust or wear). On the other hand, I was already there and didn't want to be intimidated by a job that I had put off for a while (I get intimidated by some things and end up over-thinking them). I know that this is probably one of the easiest automotive jobs out there but I am constantly picturing rolling down the road and watching my load fall off b/c one of my dried-out wheel bearings gave out.

When I took apart the bearing assembly, the first puzzling thing was that the inner bearing (not on the side of the lugnuts) couldn't be removed; it had been put inside the cylinder and then the seal was keeping it in place. There didn't seem to be any way to remove this seal (it's a metal part with a rubber edge to it) to completely free the bearing without destroying it and therefore I didn't do it; it was just kind of floating around in there (but it wasn;t broken). I just left it in place and scrubbed in and around it with the toothbrush. I wish I could have replaced this seal just so I knew it was a complete job. I would have to order it from somewhere far away and pay more for shipping than the parts.

Varsol (degreaser?) wasn't available at my local hardware store or at HD but that doesn't surprise me b/c I have bad luck finding most things that people recommend to me on this site. I used ZEP industrial degreaser and it did the job just fine. I used a toothbrush to clean the bearings and got out every last bit of grease that I could. The bearings were in good shape, thankfully; the trailer probably has ~1,000 - 1,500 miles on it and I wouldn't expect them to be worn out yet (unless my lack of lubricating for 3 years had caused problems). There are zerk fittings for next time, luckily, but they are rusty on the outside; hopefully the potential for that little amount of rust entering the bearing chamber chamber is low. Lettng the parts dry is certainly crucial but they had already developed a fine layer of rust in less than an hour (obviously I wiped them down again when I saw this). Rusty vs 'damp' bearings - I'll take 'damp'; I towel-dried as much as possible and gave them 30 minutes in the sun.

The new hi-temp grease I used was 'Lubrimatic' (I think?) Polyurea based grease that's carried at the big-box retailers (it's in a blue container and the grease is blue, too). I will now be able to use a grease gun and won't have to do a complete cleaning in the future since I KNOW what's in the bearings now.

Thanks for the tips.
 
  #9  
Old 03-22-06, 12:27 PM
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most parts stores carry seals for common trailer axle sizes and im sure you could of taken the old seal in and they could of matched it up for you with no problem the seal retains the inner bearing on most vehicles and trailers that have servicable wheel bearings.
 
  #10  
Old 03-23-06, 07:53 AM
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what you see is what you get!

Let's keep in mind with ultra light duty equipment come ultra light duty components. Anytime you intend to repack a bearing or two, they should be cleaned and inspected, replaced if neccesary. Unless of course this is your lawn tractor. I most certainly don't want to be traveling behind some one doing 75 mph, with a trailer that simply has added grease.

Oh, one more thing, about the lawn tractor, I recommend clean and pack for them too. Their friggin bearings are expensive as all get out.
 
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