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Thread: Best trailer wheel bearings?

  1. #1
    Member russiarulez's Avatar
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    Default Best trailer wheel bearings?

    I recall seeing someone on here suggest a brand of bearings to use instead of the cheap chinese ones, did a search and couldn't find that post.

    Could anyone suggest a brand of reliable bearings and where to get them in Anchorage?

    I just had to buy the whole new axle/hubs and everything for my boat trailer and it came with the chinese bearings, I'd like to upgrade them to something more reliable, since last week a bearing failed on the trailer coming back from Seward and it wasn't fun...
    I keep my hubs checked and full of grease, always check if they heat up, bearings/races were only a season old and failed for no apparent reason...

  2. #2
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default

    Not sure of brand, but go to Alaska Bearing on International Airport Rd. in Anchorage. I have started putting sealed bearings in my wheelers and have had good luck. I don't know if you would want sealed in your road trailer though... They are very knowledgable there and will give you a much better price than NAPA or Schucks.
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  3. #3

    Default US made bearings

    Timken are generally thought of as being high quality, I haven't checked for a while but last time I did they were US Made
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    Default Grease-um & Check them

    I always stop about half thru my trip to the Kenai and check the hubs.
    If you will get out and place your hand on the hubs you will feel them getting warm long before they fail. Same thing when you get home -check them for heat. If you use bearing buddy caps it really helps keep the water out. If you launch in salt water grease them more often -
    One of the main problems is some people think there boat trailers have wings and can be towed at 70 miles per hr - that's fine until you hit a bump and look back and the trailer is 18 inches in the air.
    How stupid is it to be wasting tons of salmon and halibut as bycatch in the Bering Sea and then have the coastal villages hollaring they have no food? It's got to stop!

  5. #5
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Bearing Buddies....a warning.

    If you use these (I like them...), make sure not to over grease them! I have watched friends pump these things up till the springs are completely compressed against the outer flange. DO NOT DO THIS!!

    When you grease a bearing buddy, simply put enough grease in it to see the spring/cup START to move. At this point you have filled the cavity up and there is enough grease in it. If you continue to pump grease in and compress the spring, you run the risk of the bearing buddy being pressed out of the hub while on the road. The constant spring pressure is enough to press the bearing buddy out of the hub simply with the help of normal road vibration.

    Not only does the buddy then become a missile for oncoming traffic, if it's launch goes unnoticed, the grease will rapidly be tossed from the hub (all over your boat/trailer) and the bearing will seize causing major headaches on the road when you are 50 miles from the nearest parts store!

    I heard a story about this very event happening to a guy with a triple axle trailer towing a large fiberglass ocean boat. The trailer began swerving out of control when the wheel locked up and put him in the ditch.
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    I have used bearing buddies as well. I do like them, but not for boats. I'd rather go with a cap system, as if you over fill the bearings, you also run a risk of pushing out the oil seal at the back of the hub (I made this mistake).

    As far as bearings go, use Timken, they are the top of the line. I've changed all of my trailers (and axles) to the Timken line. US made & good support service. They'll even cross reference numbers for you to ensure you get the right one.

  7. #7
    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Bearing buddies do have their place, HOWEVER they do not replace taking the entire bearing assembly apart atleast once once a year and cleaning everything up, repacking them by hand, and reassemblying it. I have seen so many that the outer bearing is in great shape do to the buddies and the inner bearing is dry and toast. Do not reply on the bearing buddies to actually pack your bearing for you. You will destroy the inner bearings in a couple of seasons.

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    Default Timken

    Just replaced all bearings and seals on a two axle boat trailer with Timken. The small shop on K-Beach in Soldotna carries all that you need. I have also had Toyo bearings that have been just fine.
    I do agree that you have to be careful how you fill the buddies or caps. One time I just finished re-packing both bearings and hubs, then filled it up and blew out the the new seal.
    My old man said that bearings need to be changed in the driveway, not the side of the road.

  9. #9
    Member russiarulez's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the advice everyone, Timken is what I was thinking about...
    I'll stop by Alaska Bearing today see what they have.

    I had bearing buddies on mine, and did blew a rear seal once before when overfilling them.

    After reading all the replies I'm thinking that either the bearing buddy fell out or the rear bearing wasn't getting enough grease.. who knows...

  10. #10

    Default A Time To Grease

    Timkin is the way to go and bearing buddies are the way to go, however greasing a bearing buddie when it's cold I think is the cause of most problems.
    Grease at the end of each trip before the grease has had a chance to cool down and the bearing buddy will work like its supposed to, if your trip ended at the dock the bearing cavity will get filled with grease prior to being drowned and if your back home it will get filled with grease and be ready for the next road trip.

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    Default Bearing Buddy Full Mark

    All the bearing buddys I have seen have a little tiny pinhole about half way up that will release any extra grease thats placed in the unit. It's important to watch that hole when filling the hub. Filling past that point will cause grease to be scattered all over the rim. Just make sure to keep the hole open.
    How stupid is it to be wasting tons of salmon and halibut as bycatch in the Bering Sea and then have the coastal villages hollaring they have no food? It's got to stop!

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    A year or two ago there were some posts about a system that required the grease you pumped in to go thru the inner bearings first and then out to the outers so you knew that both sets were getting grease when you topped them off. I haven't had the time to research that more but thought it was interesting when I read it. My bearing buddies have worked fine so far - I too have followed the reasoning that greasing them when they are warm (after running the trailer loaded) is the best time to grease 'em up. Just still wondering about that other system - anyone have any follow up?

  13. #13
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    Default Hubs

    If it's 75 to 80 out and you have been traveling at 65mph for awhile how warm should the hub feel? thanks...DB

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    You should still be able to hold your hand on the hub without getting scorched....

    Bearing Buddy also has a seal assemble that I like a lot......many of today's spindles have some rough machining....the BB seal system has a stainless sleeve that goes on first, then an O ring and then the seal.....it sure stopped all my problems.

  15. #15

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    It is best to just change out the entire axle. Put an axle under the trailer that has Full Floating Axles on each side and not worry about it anymore. Use a pickup axle or one of the commercially available ones with Full Floating inner and outer bearings. Always use synthetic greases and gear lubes on trailer axles.
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    Member Tolman24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bushboy View Post
    A year or two ago there were some posts about a system that required the grease you pumped in to go thru the inner bearings first and then out to the outers so you knew that both sets were getting grease when you topped them off. I haven't had the time to research that more but thought it was interesting when I read it. My bearing buddies have worked fine so far - I too have followed the reasoning that greasing them when they are warm (after running the trailer loaded) is the best time to grease 'em up. Just still wondering about that other system - anyone have any follow up?
    I have the sure-lube system on my tandem trailer. There is a grease zerk on the end of the shaft that allows grease to go through the center of the shaft and exit between the inner bearing and the grease seal. As you grease it the new grease will flow from the back of the inner bearing through the inner, fill the cavity of the hub and then through the outer bearing. As you pump the grease you are effectively repacking the bearings. You can see the grease pushed through the outer bearing and know that everything is full of grease. Packing the hub with grease is also supposed to help with water intrusion. After running the speed limit to Seward the hub is cool to the touch. At the end of the season while it is warm from hauling it home I will pump grease through until I see new grease coming out and be assured that the bearings are packed with new unsalted grease.

    I did lose one bearing as I did not realize that I needed to grease it until I could see the grease coming out and instead just gave it a couple of pumps and it eventually dried out, not good. I just went through the bearings this weekend after 4 trips to Seward and one to Homer. Bearing were in good shape, spindle was in good shape, plenty of lubricant. The rubber grease seal on the inside of the hub was worn and allowing a little grease to escape. Popped the old seal out and put a new $3.00 seal back in and I was good to go.

    My plan is to check the bearings at the end of the season and replace as needed. Replace the grease seal at this time. I also hand pack the bearings but there is no reason to and I am not sure why I do it other than I have always done it that way.

    I now also carry a spare hub with lug nuts on my spare, along with a set of bearings. If you don't screw up your spindle you can change it out in 1/2 an hour on the side of the road in necessary.

    I pulled a jpg of the system I have on my trailer. Hopefully I attached it correctly.

    Since we are talking trailers. Don't forget to check your lug nuts before every trip and return. I had a wheel loosen up leaving Homer on Monday. I have no idea why it loosened up as I had checked it the trip before. I ruined a rim and hub and almost had it separate from the trailer before I got to Ninilchik. That could have been real bad. As it was I had to tie up that axle and come home on 3 tires and that was the reason for going through all my bearings. Even the bearing that was taking the entire load on one side was in good shape. I changed them anyway just to be sure. New check list has added taking the 4 way and hitting the lug nuts before heading out or home to make sure they are tight. 60 seconds could have saved me a hundred bucks or more. Pretty good wages.
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  17. #17
    Member russiarulez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tolman24 View Post
    I have the sure-lube system on my tandem trailer. There is a grease zerk on the end of the shaft that allows grease to go through the center of the shaft and exit between the inner bearing and the grease seal...
    Yeah the new axle I got has this, very convenient...
    I'm just afraid of popping out the rear seal if I put too much grease in...

  18. #18

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    I have the sure-lube spindles on the axles of my King tandem axle trailer. I to was hesitant to put a lot of grease through the hub and blow out the rear seal on the hub. Three out of the fours hubs are leaking some grease out of the rear seals already. But we were taking a trip to Seward and I did not have time to install new rear seals on the hubs, so I went ahead and filled the hubs with new grease via the zerk on the spindle. I monitored the rear seals for grease coming out of the seals and saw none. So I ended up pushing out the old grease and new grease is now in the hub and bearings. I wish I would have not waited so long to do this as it took a long time with a grease gun to completely fill the hubs back up with grease. I saw no addtional grease coming out of the rear seals going to and from Seward. I still want to replace the rear seals that are leaking some grease.

    So I like the spindle design and think it does a good job of allowing you easily keep new grease on the bearings.

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    Thanks Tolman24 - exactly what I was looking for.

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    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    The guys at Trailer Craft told me to grease the bearings right before I back into the water. 2 short pumps will do it. The drive down heats the bearing and also creates a cavity in the existing grease (where the bearing is spinning).
    The warm bearing will suck the cool grease into and coat the bearing while filling the cavity. This prevents the water from having a place to enter the assembly.

    So I unplug the lights and grease the bearings before hitting the water.
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