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Thread: Oil bath hubs and bearing buddies

  1. #1
    Member Boreal's Avatar
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    Default Oil bath hubs and bearing buddies

    I just had to replace bearings, and it got me thinking what people think about oil bath hubs or bearing buddies. How well do oil bath hubs hold out in the salt? Are bearing buddies only for the outside seal, or do they actually push a little grease in the bearing if it gets low?

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Member SkinnyRaven's Avatar
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    In theory they are similar. I currently have the oil bath, you have to keep an eye on the oil color. Water intrusion will result in a milky solution. Bearing buddies have a spring in the cap, a loss of lube and the spring tension replenishes the cavity.

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    Premium Member bmunsell's Avatar
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    I think bearing buddies are close to worthless. They look like they are pretty trick but in practice if you actually put enough grease into one to push any grease into the inside bearing you blow out the seal. Think about it, the old grease has to go somewhere. For me bearing buddies just made me complacent and lazy, figuring that since I was putting new grease in every year I was good to go, but then a rash of bearing failures showed me it wasn't working. The best I have seen for axles and bearing lately are the spindles with the grease zerk in end that actually has channels drilled into it that direct the grease to the bearings.

  4. #4

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    Seems like the oil bath is the way to go since you can visually see the oil and if it emulsifies. Not sure how easy is or the $ to make the conversion. The bearing buddies should have a spring loaded piston in them so when you pump grease in the piston pushes out and there should be a relief hole to to relieve excess grease/pressure, otherwise you blow the seal out the back as bmunsell states. Also they do not force the grease through the bearings as with the spindles/zerk configuration that forces grease through the inside bearing to the outside where you can see the grease color (emulsified) and tell if the seals have been leaking. These are also not fool proof because they have a rubber seal that snaps into the outside dust cover and if you leave too much grease in the hub and don't compress the rubber seal the grease heats up and blows the rubber seal out exposing everything to the elements...best to carry spare seals. I think one of the bigger issues is people drive a distance to the launch ramp and launch immediately with warm hubs/seals and the water enters the seals due to the quick cool down in the water.

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    Member breausaw's Avatar
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    rhorn wrote:

    I think one of the bigger issues is people drive a distance to the launch ramp and launch immediately with warm hubs/seals and the water enters the seals due to the quick cool down in the water.

    I don't think this is a problem in Whittier.
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I've got posi-lube axles on my trailer. Every time I retrieve the boat I pull the caps and put about 5-7 squirts of fresh yamalube greese into the bearings to provide both fresh greese and to flush any water out. I bought my trailer used so don't know the history of the trailer but after 3 seasons I pulled the bearings inspect and re-pack them. No problems with rust and the bearings look great.
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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    We have both styles and they are both decent systems. Sure beats pulling apart the bearings and repacking by hand on a regular basis.
    If a person takes the time to check the bearings regularly and maintain them, either system is a benefit to the operator.
    However, if you think it is maintenance free. bulletproof or overgrease the buddies, then you are bound to get bit sooner or later.
    Use common sense, check your bearings often, don't back the trailer in with hot bearings and don't overload your trailer.
    I also see alot of snowmachine trailers with the little donut wheels carrying too much weight and doing 70 mph on the road....you are setting yourself up for a roadside emergency. Those wheels are spinnig twice as fast as your 20" truck tires.
    I run both systems on multiple trailers and have not had a problem in 20 years of towing.....now I probably just jinxed myself!
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    Member Kodiakfly's Avatar
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    I have oil bath. They've been great to me. You do need to watch the color of the gear oil though...but remember a trace amount of water can turn the oil milky. Point being, if you see a milky bearing, don't freak. As long as there's oil in there, you're ok for a bit. I'd not drive cross country with a milky hub, but I have one that I had all season long and while I'll be replacing it yet this spring before I launch again, it was never a problem.

  9. #9
    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    I have the oil bath type. Last year I pulled them apart and inspected the hubs and bearings. Everything looked great. Refilled the hubs and away I went. Easy process and I'm pretty impressed with this setup so far.
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    Member Akgramps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkmail View Post
    , don't back the trailer in with hot bearings and don't overload your trailer.

    BK
    That is some good advice right there....!

    I have the oil bath type on a single axel riverboat trailer, only dunked in salt water rarely, but I like em and considering converting my dbl axel trailer over........
    “Nothing worth doing is easy”
    TR

  11. #11

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    I went this way last summer to repair a damaged spindle.......still inflated today since last July. I'll be switching my other five spindles over as service dictates. Great service as well and he is very willing to share his knowledge.

    http://www.airtighthubs.com/products/index/9

  12. #12
    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkmail View Post
    Use common sense, check your bearings often, don't back the trailer in with hot bearings and don't overload your trailer.
    BK
    I agree that backing the trailer in the water with hot hubs/bearings probably isn't the best idea, however if your hubs are getting hot to begin with, you've already got a problem, regardless of whether you put them in the water or not.

  13. #13

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    I wasn't sure several years ago when EZ Loader started using oil bath bearings, but they have been great and seem to run cooler. Glen

  14. #14
    Member Jimw's Avatar
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    i like mine 6 years and no failures, pluse the windows are prefect for watching the fluid levels...
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  15. #15

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    + for oil bath. Takes away the "wondering" completely.

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