Caravan bearing & brakes servicing

Submitted: Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 15:01
ThreadID: 103539 Views:2603 Replies:4 FollowUps:10
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Becoming a grey nomad soon and have got the rig and the shak sorted. (SWB Prado pulling a 14' Goldstream Explorer ST).
Now wanting to save a bit of cash on the service costs and also "on road" repairs I wonder are there any good reads on how to go about the servicing?
Not too stupid about the pulling off and refitting but more about what sort of grease is recommended these days and electric brake info (never done that before!!). Is a high temperature grease essential? How do I know when the brake magnets need replacing (before they stop working preferably)?
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 16:19

Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 16:19
Here's a link to

Scroll down the page and you will see articles on both Servicing Wheel Bearings and Adjusting Brakes amongst other tips.


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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 16:20

Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 16:20
Scroll down the page to the Maintenance section for these articles.
Oh for an edit function.

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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 16:51

Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 16:51
Good idea to get into this, if you are half handy and safety conscious..... as is often said around these forums, one big plus is that you actually know what has been done to your brakes and bearings (many of us have tales to tell about leaving such work to others).
I use HTB grease - has never let me down. As for magnets; mine have a groove and small holes in the faces that indicate wear depth... when gone they should be replaced. BTW - magnets can fail before they wear out - they get such a flogging in there on gravel roads that the magnet's inner circuitry can fail. Good idea to a have complete set of service spares and a tub of grease for 1 hub while away.... you'll then never have an incident of any sort and can pass the cobweb covered kit on to the next owner.
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Reply By: olcoolone - Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 18:05

Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 18:05
Don't take this the wrong way....... if you have to ask questions on the internet you should not be doing it.

Brakes and wheel bearing can be fatal if done wrong, it's not rocket science but you have to have a sound knowledge before attempting it. it could lead to legal prosecution if something did go wrong.

My advice to you is instead of asking over the net, ask someone in the know and ask them to show you in person how to do it. Ask your local mechanic and explain why you want to learn.

There is nothing wrong with learning and it's a good idea..... but distant learning can be hit and miss...... and the internet can be very misleading.

The other thing is don't get into the idea wheel bearings need to be done every 6-12 months, too many people do wheel bearing religiously too early, the more times you pull something apart and put it back together; the greater the risk of something going wrong ........ boat trailers an exception.

One other thing; an infrared thermometer is a good idea to have for checking wheel bearings and brakes.
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Follow Up By: fisho64 - Monday, Aug 05, 2013 at 22:12

Monday, Aug 05, 2013 at 22:12
pretty good advice there-wheel bearings are very basic mechanical knowledge but its essential to know the "why" as well as the "how".

Infrared thermometer-probably un-necessary. If you cant touch it its too hot unless maybe youve come down a long steep decline.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 18:25

Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 18:25
Seriulosly..this is not rocket science, if you service your tow vehicle it should not be a problem.

High temperature grease is not necessary on drum brakes, never the past common lithium grease ( castrol LM) would have been the go.

These days its hard to go past "Lithium Complex" or blue grease....everybody makes one..castrol market theirs as either LMX or Boating was previoulsy branded as APXT.
Its all over the old lithium greases like a rash, way higher melting pont and very good water resistance.

having said the HTB is not necessary, Blue grease may not have the high temperature performance of bentonite ( that is what HTB is) but it is well within spec in most non competition disk brake applications where HTB would have been spec'ed in the past...and it is all over HTB from a water resistance point of view.

One of the critical things with electric brakes is getting the backing plate properly centered and aligned......this has never been an issue with proper drum brakes on real vehicles..but trailers being the rough and butcherous things they are.....check out this issue..there are plenty of articles and threads on the matter.

adjusting & servicing these brakes is no more difficult than servicing drum brakes on any passenger or commercial vehicle.....but remember they are rough and butcherous in comparison.
Nothing to bleed, no seals to leak.....hell actually less trouble than normal drum brakes.

plenty of information to be had.

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Follow Up By: John and Regina M - Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 21:13

Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 21:13
Everything is easy to those who have done it before.
So I hope 'The Bantam' and others will accept responsibility if something goes wrong. Ol is right. Stuff it up and bleep can hit fans, and usually it's the innocents that cop a face full.

It's why I no longer offer advice on a public forum, despite having been an auto electrician for 38 years. There are already enough 'experts' out there. And some even know what they're talking about. Most don't.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 22:56

Saturday, Aug 03, 2013 at 22:56
OH for goodness sakes lighten up......anybody would think no one works on their own vehicles.

Of course I do not accept responsibility for the work of others...if you work on your own vehicle it is clearly your responsibility to make sure the work is done correctly and your information is correct.

But for goodness sakes lets not believe that simple straight forward mechanical work is beyond ordinary people.

There is very good information available.....and yes on the internet.
Because of the internet we have got better access to more and better information that ever before

Anybody who is not traveling purely major cities and bitumen roads should be able to repack and replace bearings and adjust & service trailer brakes.

Bearing failures on trailers are all too common...and almost without exception it is due to lack of service, not because the owner has done the service themselves.

The original poster was asking for pointers & information...would you rather they simply blundered in completely ignorant and did the work.....there are plenty that do.

As far as most not knowing what they are talking about.....what a load of complete and utter rubbish.

There are some very knowelegdable people on the internet and on this forum who are generous enough to share what they know.

If you have any doubts about what I have posted above.
Start by going to the Castrol web site and reading their application information about greases.....if you want to know more ring the Castrol help line and ask to speak to a lubricants engineer....they are all too happy to talk about grease & stuff.

As for procedures for repacking bearings...every automotive service manual ever published will give procedures in detail.

the only difference is that the pretension adjustment on trailer axles is much coarser than most cars.

As far as the issues with brake adjustment....check either the brake system manufacturer web sites or the trailer parts supplier web sites.

Hell there are even books and web sites that show step by step procedures.

Please if you are at all mechanically competent, don't let any body tell you, you should not be doing basic mechaical work.

And please of you have good information, don't throw in with the cop out of not helping people.

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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, Aug 04, 2013 at 09:17

Sunday, Aug 04, 2013 at 09:17
Good reply Bantam.

Some of these doomsdayers must lead a pretty ordinary sort of life.

The best way to learn is to do it yourself, with the aid of an accurate "work shop manual", or in the case of wheel bearings and trailer brakes, a well written guide, such as the ones on the site.

Having completed the task yourself, you are better prepared should you need to perform some maintenance in the back of beyond.
It's one thing to take spare parts along on a remote trip, but someone needs to be able to install them should the need arise.


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Follow Up By: Member -Dodger - Sunday, Aug 04, 2013 at 16:38

Sunday, Aug 04, 2013 at 16:38
Totally agree with Bantam.
I have been servicing my own vehicles since I first got my license.
How I learnt was to ask our local mechanic who was only too willing to help in fact I got a part time job with him servicing cars of all types including some trucks.
These days one can simply go to U-Tube and put in how to do what it is you want to do and many vids will come up. Watch as many as you can and you will soon sort the chaff from the wheat.

There are too many doomsdayers on these sites.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Aug 04, 2013 at 18:20

Sunday, Aug 04, 2013 at 18:20
There is this thing called competency, it would be nice to think everyone has the same skill sets.

Being in the mechanical trade we see people who attempt to do something who don't even know how to use basic hand tools properly...... you night thinks I pulling your leg but it's true.

Every week we have someone who has referred to the internet as a source of information who has done something wrong.

I see where the medical professionals are coming from, they say more people do self diagnosis by Googling their symptoms.

I'm a classic example, ask me to build a house or a brick wall..... no problems easy, the question is is it done right, maybe not.

Everyone's an expert until something goes wrong.

On brakes it could be something as simple as putting the drum shoe springs on correctly.

It's not rocket science but hands on learning is so much better.

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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Aug 04, 2013 at 22:54

Sunday, Aug 04, 2013 at 22:54
Well the problem is mechanics never hear from the home mechanic that gets it right.

Seriouilsy, this is not rocket science....the procedures and assembly diagrames are openly available..

Truth to tell a great many home mechanics will do a better job, because they have all the time in the world and they will go and get information and proper advice where a great many mechainics will simply assume that they know better.

Afterall most light trailers and light trailer components are assembled by people who have bugger all in the way of qualifications ot training.

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, Aug 05, 2013 at 16:59

Monday, Aug 05, 2013 at 16:59
I think it's called embarrassment..... and most don't like the 50% loading per hour under the clause " if you screwed it up and want us to fix it". LOL
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Follow Up By: Kenrconn - Thursday, Aug 08, 2013 at 10:05

Thursday, Aug 08, 2013 at 10:05
Firstly I apologise for not replying to all of you who so quickly jumped to my assistance. New grandchild and work commitments took up most of the last week.
Well I didn't realise that a can of worms could be opened by my question. I have had a look at the recommended reads and all help to some extent but now I know where to look for further research.
In answer to olcoolone, I do have some mechanical degree of competence as I re-built engines in my (much) earlier years but have been unsure about whether the bearing and braking systems used nowadays is much, if at all, different to the "old" days. It appears not. I therefore assure olcoolone that I would not pull anything apart that I don't feel confident about putting back together.
Once again thanks to all respondents.
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