Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Whaler Repairs/Mods
  Trailer Bearings

Post New Topic  Post Reply
search | FAQ | profile | register | author help

Author Topic:   Trailer Bearings
Caceman posted 08-26-2001 02:28 PM ET (US)   Profile for Caceman   Send Email to Caceman  
Can anybody point me to a good resource on how to remove/install and grease trailer bearings? Thanks.


whalerron posted 08-28-2001 05:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalerron  Send Email to whalerron     
Try this article. It refers to repacking bearings on a car but it is identical to doing it on a trailer.

Dr T posted 08-28-2001 06:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
There are also exploded drawings and text on the web pages for Bearing Buddy ( and Trailer Buddy ( that address some unique problems associated with boat trailers.

When I repacked my bearings last weekend, I used brake degreaser to clean the hubs.

Basically, they go back together the same way they come appart. You will need a Hammer, pliers, a big wrench, a punch, and a screw driver.

Four Tips

1. Make sure you use a marine grade grease
2. Make sure the bearings are greased before you install (very messy, but worth while)
3. Pack the entire hub with grease before you install.
4. Use a Bearing Buddy or similar bearing protector.

whalerron posted 08-28-2001 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalerron  Send Email to whalerron     
If you are not using a spring loaded dust cap like a Bearing buddy, DO NOT pack the hub with grease. Instead, put a layer of grease in the hub that is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch think. You must leave some space for air. If you don't the grease will expand from heat and it will pop out the inner bearing seals.
Dr T posted 08-28-2001 11:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Agree. My items 3 and 4 have to go together.
Dr T posted 08-29-2001 09:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Forgot to add:

If you use regular hubcaps, instead of bearing buddies, and do not fill the hubs completely full of grease, this will lead to bearing failure much more rapidly.

As was pointed out, hubs heat up as they turn. and this causes the air inside to expand. When you back the trailer down into water, the assembly cools rapidly. This creates a vacuum that will suck the water inside the hub assembly. Even if you use a marine grade of grease, this standing water will ultimately find its way to the bearings and races, causing them to rust and fail.

triblet posted 08-29-2001 09:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
And to do it right, you'll also need a
torque wrench with a real low range. The
nut is very lightly torqued. Mine is 20
INCH pounds. I had to special order the
torque wrench.

Packing the wheel bearings is a lot quicker
with a packing tool. Any big autoparts store
will have them.

It's not terribly difficult, just a bit messy
and time consuming.

Bearing Buddies come in stainless and plated.
If your trailer will ever see salt water, get
the stainless. They are only a couple of
bucks more.



Dr T posted 08-29-2001 04:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     

I have wondered how you do that. My spindles have one hole for the cotter pin. The castle nuts seem to only give me three choices: Way too loose (not even finger tight), a middle position, and obviously too tight.

I have just taken the one in the middle.

Is there a better way?


Dick posted 08-29-2001 08:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
Easy and cheap way to take the mess out of packing bearings is a pair of latex surgical gloves. They are also great in the shop for painting and staining.
triblet posted 08-30-2001 10:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Dr. T, you are probably about right. I torque
the nut, spin the hub a bunch, torque again,
repeat several times. Now loosen a touch and
torque again. Now it's decision time. If
just a little tighter will make the holes line
up, tighten. Otherwise, loosen. Put the pin

It's worth seeing what the torque is like
just grabbing the nut and hand tightening it
in case you ever have to do it in the field
and don't have the torque wrench. I keep a
cheap beam torque wrench in the hub kit I
keep in the truck.


Dr T posted 08-30-2001 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     

Thanks for the gory details. I use the same technique, sans the torque wrench. (I keep an oversized vice grip with the hex head and a f vice grip with needle nose in my pickup to work on mine. The big one doubles as a hammer in an emergency).

Perhaps if I had a big, heavy boat like your Montauk I would get the torque wrench. Given the white hair my bearings have cost me over the last month, all I can say is that I am glad that the 13 is a light boat.


smo posted 08-31-2001 11:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for smo  Send Email to smo     
Here's a great discussion on how bearings fail and what people do wrong with "Bearing Buddies" that makes them fail:

triblet posted 08-31-2001 06:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
The fundamental problem there is the squirt
of grease into the hub every trip. Only add
grease if it needs it. You can tell by
rocking the piston assembly (the bit with the
grease fitting). It should rock about 1/8".
If it doesn't, add a little grease and try
again. No need for set screws.


Caceman posted 09-04-2001 09:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for Caceman  Send Email to Caceman     
Thanks guys. I think I will have the local shop take care of it this time around. They can put in brand new bearings, etc. This way, I'll know that it was a professional job. My trailering will be between San Antonio and Corpus Christi, TX, about 300 miles roundtrip. I'll be seeing a lot of saltwater, so I definitely plan on getting some Bearing Buddies.


Dr T posted 09-05-2001 01:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     

I understand your desire for a "professional" job, but let me caution you that you need to be careful.

Recently there was a thread in the Performance section ([url] in which several of us detailed our horror stories. In my case, the "professional" who repacked the bearings put a bearing with a 1.0625 in. inside diameter on a 1 in. spindle. This was not good, especially since I pulled the trailer from San Angelo, Tx to Steamboat Springs, CO and back to Denver. This included 5 major mountain passes and a number of significant grades. I am very lucky that something did not break.

So, if you don't want (or don't feel comfortable) doing the job yourself, please CAREFULLY select the guy that is going to do the job for you. You really wouldn't want to lose a wheel half way across the causeway between Corpus Christi and Port Aransas (been there, done that, not fun).

Good luck.


Dr T posted 09-05-2001 01:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Try this link to the "Wheel Falls Off Trailer" thread:

triblet posted 09-05-2001 10:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Caceman, boat trailers should have Bearing
Buddies even if they only see fresh water.


Post New Topic  Post Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | RETURN to ContinuousWave Top Page

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Freeware Version 2000
Purchase our Licensed Version- which adds many more features!
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 2000.