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Bearing Buddies

9 posts in this topic

Anybody know of an easy way to remove bearing buddies from a hub. Last time I did it I took a piece of a 2x4 and held it at an angle against them and beat it with a hammer. It worked but took a while. Also what are peoples opinions about the need to remove bearing buddies to repack wheel bearings. If you keep the buddies full is it really a must to repack every year?

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Just tap them lightly with a hammer while spinning the wheel a little at a time. They are just a press fit, so they usuall pop right off.

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Bearing Buddies are great for keeping the bearings greased, but keep a close eye on the inside seal on the axle. Sometimes those can fail and leak grease out.

I like to replace the bearings every other year. I consider it cheap insurance against a delayed or ruined trip.

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I just use a rubber mallet! Works good and doesn't ding anything up!

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All sound advice, but what I think you are really asking is "do I need to repack or replace the bearings", forgive me if I'm answering more than you wanted to read.

As an engineer, what I use as my determining factor is heat. I am always checking the temperature of my hubs with my finger after trips, often right at the launch just as I pull in. At the same time, I also look to see that the buddy has plenty of "spring travel" left to keep the bearing well lubricated. If a hub begins to get warm, (140 degrees would really concern me, mine will run more typically at about 90 degrees max. and both should be about the same, even on a hot day), I will then take action soon! Well lubricated tight bearings will not generate much heat. With my bearing buddies well packed, it just hasn't been an issue.

Everything I read about bearing life is related to both lubrication and heat. If they are well lubricated (and that means without water or dirt contamination, hence the need for bearing buddies) and if heat does not build up excessively, the bearings will last indefinatly.

Just use the bearings in you're car for an example. Virtually all come lifetime sealed and lubricated. They are tapered roller bearings, the same kind as used on trailer axels. And I can't remember the last time I had to replace a bearing on a car. Yet my car gets a whole lot more miles on it than my boat trailer. But car bearings don't get immersed in water that often, trailer bearings do.

Trailer bearings are failing much more frequently than the car bearings. The cause is water and dirt contamination, lack of lubrication, and heat buildup. Even a small amount of water contamination will cause an undesirable acidic reaction. Bearing buddies, by virtue of the spring, keep the bearings under a a constant positive grease pressure preventing water and dirt from entering.

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Thanks for the replies!! I was asking because the boat I have now I bought used and I dont know if the bearings have ever been replaced. I pulled them out last year cleaned them out and repacked them again and they looked fine to me (no excess wear that I could see) but I dont know how long they are supposed to last or what to expect. I make several 350 plus mile trips every year and I dont want them to go out on the road. I think I may just buy a new set this spring to be safe, I guess I have a few more months to think about it!

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Carrying a spare set of bearings for your trailer is pretty cheap trip insurance. My brother and I had a bearing go bad halfway to Red Lake a couple years back. Checked three places to get bearings, limped it the rest of the way there, and then found out the new bearings were the wrong ones. Killed a lot of our fishing time. Usually bearings will go in the dark on a weekend, when everything is closed.

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And they have a knack for going in the rain also. Best bet is to carry a spare set. And as mentioned check the temp of the hubs with your fingers. If its hot pull them, inspect and repack or replace. Once they get hot they can get really hot in a hurry. if the grease melts you will be running metal on metal and the bearings will disintegrate in a hurry. If this happens you can also badly damage the spindle, possibly requiring an axle replacement. grin.gif

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I used to carry spare bearings about 15 years ago, not since then. There is no magical alternative to repacking/replacing bearings on a regular basis. I dont bother with spares anymore from thousands of miles of trailering without a failure. Bearing buddies are great, but not needed with proper maint. and common sense. With everything that could go wrong, it is nice to not worry about the bearings or tires. A side note, northern tool carries whole hub assemblies with bearings and bolts at a reasonable price. If the hub is dinged up or cant get a race out, or in a short time frame, just put on a whole new unit. Good Luck.

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