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Mid-Lake Rock

Help! Bearing Problem

17 posts in this topic

Last August, I replaced bearings, races and seals on my boat trailer. It was on its fourth year with factory bearings. I pulled the boat up until December, then in April and May of this year without issue. Three weeks ago, on the way to the lake I lost a bearing buddy. Sucked it up and backed the trailer into the lake, knowing I'd have some clean up. A week after that happened, I took the the hub off, put in another set of bearings, new seal and new bearing buddy. Pulled the trailer about 20 miles at highway speeds, arrived at the boat ramp and noticed the hub was warm. This past week, I took out everything and noticed that when I took everything apart that some of the grease was now a light gray color, different from its dark green/blue color (metal shavings?) I went on to replace races, bearings, seal and bearing buddy. I carefully packed the bearings with plenty of grease, following the instructions that are at the top of this forum. Tonight, I pulled the trailer 30 miles at highway speeds and again the hub was warm. Not hot, but warm. The other hub was cooler. Anyone have an idea of what is going on? The only things I can think of are:

1. I purchased a new tube of marine grade grease. Could this be a poor batch of grease?

2. Is the nut too tight against the bearings? I set it somewhat tight with a ratchet to "seat" the bearings, then eased off and set is so I can remove the nut by hand (yes pin is in place).

3. Hub? I don't know what may have changed, but I'm willing to hear suggestions.

4. Seals? When I replaced bearings last year I used a seal that came with the bearings and it worked. However, I noticed that it was not the same depth as the one that came from the factory. In the last two weeks, I've replaced the seals with the original style that is sold for Shoreland'r trailers. In the photos, the Shoreland'r is on the right, the other came with the bearing kit.

Seals1.jpg

I'm at a total loss and now prepared to pull this hub for the third time in three weeks. The only things that changed from when I did the job last year are the grease and the seals. Any and all advise is much appreciated. I'm going to get after it on Tuesday night so I can fish on Wednesday night. Thanks.

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Do you see any where on the bearings or the spindle or the washer or the backside of the nut?

I wonder if there is an issue with seating the bearings. If your using a ratchet you can be applying a bunch of unnecessary force. I use a small pair of channel locks. I tighten the nut with the channel locks, loosen and then snug (as soon as I start to feel a bit of resistance).

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A bearing has to be run a few miles to seat in, warm to the touch, I think is ok. Hot , can;t hold hand on the hub, trouble.I always recheck bearing after a 10 or 20 mile run, you can usually tell if all is well. On all my trailers, I have 6, I make sure the seal has the spring around the inter face of the seal. I think this holds the seal on the axle better and less water gets in the bearing when unloading the boat, might not be true, just what I think.

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That's just what I was thinking airjer. Too much pressure on the bearing cage causing the cage to distort. Basically all you need to do is to tighten the nut 'til you feel resistance (so hub doesn't spin too freely) then back the nut off so most resistance is gone and install cotter pin. The bearings should slide onto the spindle easily, so you don't need to use any force. You don't need to 'seat' the bearings using a ratchet, just a crecent wrench, channel lock or even just a plier will do. DON'T crank the nut down, it's not necessary. I'm finding that this procedure is much easier to demonstrate than it is to explain. It's a matter of experience and 'feel'. Phred52

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Is the same grease used on both sides? The hub will feel warm as said before. The marine grease, is it a high temp bearing grease?

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I've had just about every bad bearing experience.

Is the side where the buddy fell off the same side that's getting hot? Was the spindle/axel smooth when you cleaned it up? When my rear seal blew the heat and friction wore into my spindle/axel. I had to get a whole new axel and seals, bearings, racers. etc..

One side is cool or room temp while the other is warmer - do you have enough grease?

Also, I'm with everyone on wrenching the castle nut on to set the bearings. You should be able to push the tire/hub all the way back then screw that castle nut by hand on and jimmy the bearings back with your other hand. They should slide right in there with a little bit of force, but not much.

I always spin the tire, so I know it doesn't have friction.

Good luck

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Thanks for the replies.

airjer - I did not find any wear on the parts. Spindle looks great, the bearings I removed look good.

efgh - Last night when I left the lake, I drove about 3 miles at 50mph and stopped at the gas station. The hub was cool. I then drove about another 25 to 30 miles at highway speeds and the hub was warm. I could hold my hand to the hub without discomfort. However, there was heat on the one side and none on the side I repacked last year. I also like the spring on the inside of the seal. I had to do some searching to find this seal.

Phred52 - I think I understand what you are saying. I do have some channel locks that I can use. I had a friend helping and I think he may have torqued a little to hard on the nut before backing off.

fishing tech - It is not the same grease. I purchased a new tube of grease this spring. The old grease is Slick 50. For the new hub, I am using LubriMatic Trailer Wheel Bearing Grease. It is the dark blue/green stuff. I also have a tube of Quicksilver grease at home that I have not used. It is the creamy white stuff that says it is rated for marine trailers.

Since the hub is only getting warm and not HOT, would you guys give it another shot on the road for a short trip, or pack new bearings (I have an extra set that are new) with new grease, new seal and go easy on the nut? Many thanks.

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Ebass - I checked the spindle and it looked really good. I checked for any rust, pitting, etc. and it looks like a brand new spindle. The trailer is a 2004. I felt warmth on both sides of the hub and I used a lot of grease.

After reading the replies, I'm starting to think the castle nut needs a small turn to the left.

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Its possible that one side has more grease in it than the other side. The more grease the more heat that can be retained. Its a downfall of boat trailer bearings since the least amount of grease keeps the bearings cooler but allows cavities for water/condensation to sit. The more grease the less room for water/condensation to form but the bearings run hotter.

If there warm its not an issue, If there hot there's a problem. If you didn't see any wear or anything unusual than your probably all right.

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i have had the same problem when i seat the bearings i use a channel lock also just tight then back off when i put the castle nut on if i back it off just so the cotter pin goes in its almost to loose the wheel wiggles side to side then after driving it its so loose i can grab the wheel and go back and forth what do i do i used to have the same problem going to tight not trying to hijack this just need desperate help like this guy does also seals are new and all bearings and races

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Its possible that one side has more grease in it than the other side. The more grease the more heat that can be retained. Its a downfall of boat trailer bearings since the least amount of grease keeps the bearings cooler but allows cavities for water/condensation to sit. The more grease the less room for water/condensation to form but the bearings run hotter.

If there warm its not an issue, If there hot there's a problem. If you didn't see any wear or anything unusual than your probably all right.

Very interesting. I have the same symptoms of one hub being warmer than the other. That side also happens to spit a bit of grease on the wheel while the other side is clean. Makes sense. Thanks for the tip.

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Can you push pull the tire and feel a slight bit of movement? One thing you should do is loosen the castle nut so tire spins free, then with a channel lock spin the tire as you tighten down the nut. tighten until the tire slows and you can feel drag on the bearing. Make sure you have a washer between the nut and bearing. There are several methods on bearings. It might be advantageous for you to contact the mfg of the trailer and ask them if they have a procedure for this. I have run into hubs that you tighten completely down, then back off one turn spin the wheel then tighten half turn and that is the way to seat the bearing pack. I would never worry about a warm hub however hot or smoking is an issue. You may want to repack with regular wheel bearing grease especially if the seals are holding and not allowing water in. Good luck Jeff

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To loose is way better than to tight! My right side is the same way. I have to back off quite a bit to get the cotter key through. If you have seen the number of sloppy bearings that I have seen with the amount of miles and weights that they are exposed to, you wouldn't be worrying about it.

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Thanks for all the replies. I did put a lot of grease in the hub on both sides, then only pumped in a small amount through the bearing buddy. The whole grease thing seems to be a catch 22 type situation. A lot of grease can mean heat and too little can trap water.

With regard to the castle nut and hub, I'm going to repack and when I get to the nut I'm going to follow some of the suggestions above and not torque down too much. Thanks again for the responses and advice. I learn a lot on this forum.

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If one wants to get technical, you can wrap a string around your tire, attach a your fish weighting scale and pull the string while watching the scale. You should have between 2-4 pounds on the scale if you want your bearings set correctly. (You may want to test your scale first, since some are....how do we say, less than accurate) ya know, that 10# walleye that your buddy caught that weighs only 8# on your scale.

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