Camp trailer wheel bearings

Hi all,
Quick question, what is the average km out of a set of bearings, I know it's a trick question.. (How long is a piece of string) but just curious to here others replies.. Leaving in March for 8 weeks, Canberra to Perth and back.. I realize there are heaps of factors
Involved, be nice! Thanks Odog
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Reply By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 17:38

Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 17:38
Hi Odog,

I repack on an average every 10k.
The last lot went for around 40k before I replaced them.

Having lost a wheel when the races collapsed, I am repacking and replacing on a minimum set of distance kms. Even the above may change.

I have to service the magnets on the brakes anyway, so a repack is not much more time and $$.

bill
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 17:41

Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 17:41
They can last for many years if you inspect and service the hubs with some regularity. In my view, moisture is the main killer; it gets sucked into warm hubs when they take a cooling bath on creek crossings etc. Despite the grease, corrosion soon takes hold on all of those lovely shiny metal surfaces. I've had two campers over 10 years and the caravan over 5 years - had/have spare bearings for them all and haven't replaced an original yet.
AnswerID: 524227

Reply By: Ross M - Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 17:57

Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 17:57
Odog
Hard question.
For example, a Landcruiser/patrol with properly serviced bearings may do 300,000km and may not require replacement.
If the bearing metal quality is poor as some/lots of trailers are, then possibly a short life, if Timken or some of the Japanese brands they may run for hundreds of thousands with correct lube.
A camper is probably more lightly loaded and not as stressed but has smaller bearings than a big 4wd and about the same as a smaller 4wd so should last a long time.

Always best to carry spares of bearings, grease, seals, cap for anything unexpected though.
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Reply By: Member - Odog - Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 18:37

Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 18:37
Thanks heaps, I do have spare sets, but just cleaned and repacked the original ones today, I was tossing up on putting new ones in, and keeping old ones for spares, but after reading your replys, I'm satisfied that all should be good, and I'll just keep a check on them as we go. I never go with putting cheap or suspect brands, get what ya pay for works for me. Thanks again, it's good to have feed back, gives you a lot more confidence. Cheers Odog
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Follow Up By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 21:41

Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 21:41
You probably have guessed already that if you carry a spare seal, bearings and cups, washer,castle nut, split pins, bearing cap and a tub of grease you'll be guaranteed never to have a roadside issue !
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Reply By: Notso - Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 19:21

Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 19:21
Inspecting the bearings is a good idea for other reasons as well. The electric brakes require regular inspections as well, particularly on camper trailers as they get a flogging on rough tracks. So at least every 10,000 would be my suggestion for the whole wheel and brake assembly.
AnswerID: 524236

Reply By: The Bantam - Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 19:48

Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 19:48
As ya say... how long is a piece of string.

What particular bearings are they?

What brand of bearings where used?

How carefully where they handled when they where installed?

How heavily are they loaded in realation to their designe capacity?

What size wheels are being used?

What sort of grease is being used?

Are they exposed to water?

How frequently are they repacked?

I've had vehicles with over 300 000km on the clock on the original bearings.....but a large motor car manufacturer designed and specified the bearings in the application.

Trailer manufacturers nearly all of them ( I don't care how much you paid for you camper or caravan) do not have the design capacity of the large manufacturers and they use parts they can buy cheaply.

Almost without exception trailers are carried on bearings closer to their design capacity than motor cars.

Helll the majority of caravans would still be carried on either snotty early holden front wheel bearings or marginally better ford falcon front wheel bearings.

Unless you specifically specified it, your camper or caravan will not be carried on bearings of the capacity or quality of those on the towing vehicle....even if you want it and are prepared to pay...good luck with gettinmg that.

And there lies the problem.

The single most important thing is to check your bearings regularly, simply by jacking up the wheel and rotating it by hand...feeling and listening.

the second most important thing is to have the ability to change your own bearings on the side of the road with reasonable confidence & ease.

The best way to achive this is to carry a complete loaded hub...yeh its bulky..and if your maintenence is good you will never need it.

But it reduces your road side repair time a hell of a lot.
.
.
.
.
.Now I have a little box trailer that has done quite a few miles since I built it back in the 80's..and its still on its original bearings.

On the other hand...I can not recall driving brisbane to sunshine coast and back without seeing some poor unfortunate on the side of the road with seriuos bearing or tyre failures.

I think it comes back to maintenence.
Bearings don't spit the dummy in 5 minutes......if they fail catastrophicly they have almost certainly been dodgy for quite some time.


SO. jack that wheel up and spin it by hand ..then..either
.smile quietly ...mmmm...smooth.
Or
have a little snarl and say.....I got you you little bastard...ya not stranding me! .

cheers

AnswerID: 524238

Follow Up By: Member - Odog - Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 20:14

Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 20:14
Thanks Bantam
All great advice, I have never had a bearing fail, although I have helped others who have been sitting on the road side over the years. Have always replaced them instead of servicing them on the boat trailer, due to the salt water. But the camp trailer doesn't get backed in the ocean... And as yet no river crossings either. Good to know that, when looked after, can last many km though. We will be doing around the 10000km mark, on this trip, so will check them on a regular basis. Cheers Odog
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 11:12

Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 11:12
particularly in the boating market there are a lot of bearings that get replaced for no good reason whatsoever.

If the bearings are clean smooth and in good condition there is no good reason for replacing them.

A wash and a repack with good grease and they will continue for many Km.

That brings up the matter of grease.

There are still those persisting with the old greases...the old lithium ( like castrol LM) and bentonite ( like castrol HTB).

Particularly in trailers ya cant beat the newer BLUE lithium complex greases....( currently castrol LMX or boating grease...formerly APXT).
Every lubricant company sells a "Blue Grease".

These blue greases have more than adequate temperature performance and are highly resistant to water.
Like the older greases they can also be baught fortified with graphite, molibnium disulphide or teflon....if ya keen.

cheers
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Reply By: Member - Tony (ACT) - Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 09:34

Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 09:34
For the price of a wheel bearing set I put new ones on every year, as I average 7 - 10,000k on a trip. And I have 4 wheels on my camper, and also carry a one set as spares.
AnswerID: 524258

Follow Up By: Member - Odog - Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 09:45

Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 09:45
G'day Tony
This trip the wife and I are doing will be our first extended trip (8 weeks)
We should cover around 10000km, I was courious to see the avarage life of the bearings, I always carry spares, and will keep an eye on them as we go. I have always just changed them, but think now if they seem ok I'll just clean and repack them. Cheers Odog
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Reply By: Sigmund - Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 20:26

Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 20:26
For safety's sake on the 2nd-hand camper trailer we bought I put in quality new bearings.

20k km later I took at look at them and the blue grease was still mostly blue.

No dips in the water in the meantime though but there had been plenty of pounding and dust.
AnswerID: 524303

Follow Up By: Member - Odog - Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 21:32

Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 at 21:32
Hey Sigmund
That's good to here, I've been using morleys ? Grease.. Red stuff.. Next time I ll find the blue stuff, few replys have suggested to use the blue stuff. The bearings that are in it are Japanese... So I'm happy with the quality of them. I have never put much faith in wheel bearings, maybe a bit parinoid... Lol.. But lot of blokes are saying that they do last quite a while. Great to know. Thanks. Odog
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 01:00

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 01:00
Blue is the conventional colour for standard lithium complex grease.

Lithium complex may come in other colours, particularly if it is fortified with something.

Nulon market a PTFE ( teflon) fortified lithium complex that is red.

When you buy a grease look on the tub...it will have the type of grease stated.

cheers
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Reply By: Malcolm 02 - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 10:12

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 10:12
The part that wears out first is the seal, ounce that is worn then the dust/water gets in and the damage to the bearings begins. When you repack your bearings you should replace the seal. Most reputable bearings will last a very long time if serviced and the grease is kept clean.
What to look for when the bearing is cleaned for repacking is rust or pitting, any sign of either replace the bearing.
A note on packing a bearing, this involves pushing the grease into the gap between the rollers of the bearing, not just slapping a bit of grease around the bearing before assembly. I have serviced new trailers that were supplied brand new with bearings lubricated like this and thus needed replacing.
On the first run check that the hubs aren't hot and that there is no play (looseness) just to be sure that all is well.

Hope this helps
Mal
AnswerID: 524333

Follow Up By: Axle - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 15:08

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 15:08
I agree Mal, the bearing is only as good as the hub seal, if water gets in after doing a creek crossing, then its good by to that inner race in a very short time, because the water drains away and the contamination stays in there ..like having grinding paste in there, mud holes are the worst..lol.


Cheers Axle.
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