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-   -   How often do you re-grease your trailer bearings? (http://www.wakeworld.com/forum/showthread.php?t=782730)

RPM_DLX 08-15-2010 10:12 PM

How often do you re-grease your trailer bearings?
I did a search but came up with nothing. I was curious on how often you make it a practice to pump in some grease. My trailer has bearing buddies so its pretty easy but I dont do it after every outing. I typically do it after every 3-4 (I am 5-10 miniutes from the lake) outings but i am not sure if that overkill or not enough.

moon 08-15-2010 11:21 PM

I've often wondered this myself. Last season we took about 200 mile trip and I didn't grease my bearings before we left. Low and behold, got to our destination and one of them had failed on me. So much that a shop had to cut and weld a new shaft on, as well as replace rotor and other crap. I got lucky, in that we didn't cause an accident by the wheel/ tire flying off at 65 mph on the freeway. We jacked up the trailer and the wheel came off without me putting a tool to it (scary). I'd like to hear what other have to say about this because I was told even though the manufacture says not to repack for several years I've heard other say you still need to every season. Also, this season I've been regreasing mine about every other trip to the river (50-60 miles round trip).


h20king 08-16-2010 5:28 AM

trailer bearings should be re packed every year if you tow any distances.Bering buddy's are not your buddy they only add grease to the front side of the outer bearing which does nothing for you. the inner bearing is the support bearing.The only real system that will service bearings while still on the trailer is the easy lube axle when you add grease it goes down a path in the center of the axle and adds grease from the inside out pushing out the old grease and replacing it with new.If your trailer just has bearing buddy's the axle assembly must be removed from the trailer and bearings re packed by hand

08-16-2010 5:45 AM

You mean the the hub assembly... Removing the entire axle in order to grease the bearings would be dumb. Both bearings carry the load too.

h20king 08-16-2010 6:49 AM

Sam take your chances but the inner bearing is the one that Carry's the load and is more often then not the one that fails there is nothing more dumb then being stuck on the side of the road with a blown bearing while everyone else is on the water.When I say axle I refer to the hub assembly bearing buddy's will only add grease to the outside of the outer bearing and none to the bearing itself.If you don't have easy lube axles the hub should be disassembled and the bearings re packed and the preload adjusted yearly

cadunkle 08-16-2010 7:22 AM

I disassemble and repack every year and give 1-2 pumps of grease every outing or two. Bearing buddies aren't perfect but are better than nothing.

08-16-2010 8:06 AM

I have changed probably 2,000 trailer bearings and the rear bearings usually fail first because the bearing seal fails. The rear seal fails first for many reasons, often because someone forced it out with to much grease. I worked for a rafting company in Moab for three summers and they had six five ton three axle trailers and twelve smaller tandem axle trailers that got used and abused to death, everything from highway miles at 75 mph to 40 miles of small boulders to the Deso. Canyon put in. I was constantly changing, packing, and repacking the bearings.

I also have a BS degree in mechanical engineering...

The spindle places equal weight on the bearings by design! It places a downward moment on the inner bearing and an upward moment on the outer bearing. The spindle is designed so the weight of the trailer puts equal downward forces on both bearings by placing the sum of the forces directly over the center of the spindle. By doing this you place the equal weight on the bearings.



If the bearings are serviced regularly they will last a long, long time.

Many people will switch to a fancy oil bath system after a bearing failure thinking its the way to go, but don't do it on your boat trailer! If you loose a bearing buddy you can easily get home. If you lose, crack, or otherwise damage the silly oil bath system all your lubricant drains out and you are sitting on the side of the road.


There are lots and lots of new fangled trailer bearing systems out on the market, I assume you are talking about a system like this:


Lots of sillly lines to break...

But nothing will replace the time tested system that comes on your trailer! Just learn to maintain that system and learn the signs of failed bearings...

Leaking rear seals:

To much oil:

trace 08-16-2010 8:46 AM

I agree with Sam, and I'm another BSME too. High temp grease packing is way better for things that get submerged in water when they're hot from braking. Oil bath bearings carry a lot more risks. Both bearings take the load equally, by design. This is the same reason that car idiots wear out their hubs early with incorrect offset rims.

Bearing Buddies have worked well for me for the 15 yrs that I've been trailering boats. They get checked about every 3 outings, a couple pumps of grease a few times a year, and I feel my hubs for excessive heat whenever I think of it after a longish tow. Never had a bearing failure. The bearings on my current 1996 trailer are original as far as I know. Only thing I've had to do to them since I bought this boat in 2001 was replace the inner seals once when my brakes failed & overheated.

h20king 08-16-2010 9:16 AM

this is the easy lube axle notice there is no lines the grease travels down ports in the spindle and adds grease from the back foreword notice no bearing buddy's either.bearing buddy's are better than nothing I'm just pointing they are not the proper way to service your bearings

Shooter 08-16-2010 2:33 PM

Good info Sam! I'm not very educated on this and have a few basic questions. When greasing my bearing buddy, I have difficulty releasing from the grease fitting. Is it one size fits all? How do you know when the buddy is low on grease or has been over filled?

08-16-2010 3:16 PM

Yes, Zerk Fittings are universal. It's a tight fit so that the gun can properly form a seal with the fitting and you get grease through the fitting versus all over the outside of the grease gun (if that makes sense...)

You can find most of your answers over at the Bearing Buddy site... but to answer your question...

How do I check the grease level in the hub? Grease can be added to the hub through an easily accessible grease fitting located in the center of the Bearing Buddy® piston. Lubricant level can be checked by pressing on the edge of the piston. If you can rock or move the piston, the hub is properly filled. If the piston won't rock or move, add grease until piston moves outward about 1/8 inch. When adding grease, always use a hand grease gun. An automatic grease gun will destroy the hub's inner seal.

mikeski 08-16-2010 3:42 PM

Whenever I tow I check my bearing temperatures each time I stop for gas (simple hand on wheel near hub test, if it's too hot to touch it needs to be watched and maybe serviced). The big challenge is getting the boat stopped without heating the brakes before I check things. I watch my bearing buddies and make sure they are still floating with the spring creating pressure on the grease then I check for heat around the wheel and hub (assuming I didn't just engage the trailer brakes). I don't overfill the bearing buddies and make sure they are in the middle of the spring range. Knock on wood, my hubs have never been off my 2005 trailer and they still run cool and smooth. I like to see about 1/4" of the blue floating ring protruding from the center of the hub. As Sam describes, this is after the rock and move piston test. My wheels do not collect grease on the inside or on the outside.

dingleberry 08-16-2010 4:36 PM

Just curious - my trailer came equipped with a "pressurized hybid oil" system. Basically, the only check they recommend for the first five years is to annually jack up the trailer and check the bearings for rocking or side-to-side movement. Does anyone have any experience or other recommendations for this kind of system?

08-16-2010 5:00 PM

Yes, I have serviced "The Vault" system before. This system is big with toy hauler guys that go to the dunes because it is effectively sealed and doesn't let sand get in. I have never heard of anyone using them on a boat trailer though. Usually grease within the hub of a boat trailer gets hot and actually vaporizes to a degree when you put the boat into the water. This vaporization creates a small vacuum which often breaks the seals on a system like the vault. This is why you generally don't see a sealed system on a boat trailer.

dingleberry 08-16-2010 10:00 PM


Originally Posted by SamIngram (Post 1623038)
I have never heard of anyone using them on a boat trailer though.

Thanks for the input, Sam.
While maybe not common, the following is from the manual linked above:

The slight (3-6 psi) pressure the VAULT system generates inside the hub
chamber WILL NOT damage the inner oil seals. The pressure inside the hub is
needed to keep water out of the hub chamber when the hub is submerged under
water during boat launching and retrieval.

So, at least it seems that the manufacturer has planned them for use on a boat trailer. I guess that I was just wondering if there were any common problems to watch out for. But, if hardly anyone else uses them for this application....

acurtis_ttu 08-17-2010 8:16 AM

I change mine ( oil bath) every 2 years, but every stop I make I check the temp of hte bearing ( place my hand on them). I can also visually check the oil level. I dont' put alot of miles on my trailer every year.

thesack 08-17-2010 8:17 AM

Just make sure you follow what the manufactor suggest for greasing the bearings and what type of grease to use. Using the wrong grease can cause premature bearing failue. I would highly recommend not to use heat on the bearing to determine when service is needed. A bearing can run hot for many factors, i.e. over or under lubrication, recently lubricated, external temperature sources, bearing failure, etc. It can also run cool for many factors as well, i.e. properly greased, external sources, a complete bearing failure, etc.

chris4x4gill2 08-19-2010 4:51 AM

Sam: From one ME to another...great write up!

I work with bearings daily (although not these kinds) and on my trailers, I repack once a year for the most part. If I'm going to be taking a long trip I also check prior to the trip. If done properly, no reason to do any more.

h20king 08-19-2010 6:24 AM

Just a heads up I have a new boat and trailer I just bought last summer and have not put many miles on the trailer since I only live 8 minuets from the ramp.During disassembly to repack my bearings before we head the 409 miles to Shasta I discovered the seals on the rear axle had gone bad the preload was way to tight and the brakes were way out of adjustment it would have not made the trip and this is a new set up.SO just because you have new gear does not mean you are good to go they should be repacked yearly if you tow allot if not I would think you could go every other year but always check everything before any log tripJMTC

tre 08-19-2010 7:24 AM


Originally Posted by h20king (Post 1624348)
During disassembly to repack my bearings before we head the 409 miles to Shasta I discovered the seals on the rear axle had gone bad the preload was way to tight and the brakes were way out of adjustment it

I have done 100's of brake jobs on track and street cars and I would love to know what you mean by "brakes were way out of adjustment". What did you have to adjust?

h20king 08-19-2010 7:43 AM

I have drum brakes on all four wheels on one axle the brakes were set to tight and the other they barley engaged on the back of the backing plate there is a cap under the cap is an adjustment wheel

tre 08-19-2010 10:20 AM

Doh! I know nothing about drum brakes. All my cars and boat trailers have always had calipers/rotors. I thought I could help but all I can say is "good luck to ya".

Shooter 08-19-2010 11:17 AM

i have never had my bearings repacked and I tow a lot. how much should i expect to pay to have this done?

08-19-2010 12:03 PM

Do you ever have an "Annual" performed on your boat? A lot of dealers include this, some do some don't.

A regular old auto repair place should do it relatively cheaply, probably in less than an hour.

srock 08-20-2010 11:53 AM

Yea, I don't know what price are repack should cost. I know its easy but I don't have the time. So I'm guessing $100 to $200 bucks

2006maliblue 08-23-2010 1:24 AM

Does anybody know what type of oil goes in the oil bath bearings? Thinking I should drain and put new fluid in before our big road trip starts.

meathead65 08-23-2010 11:12 AM

^^^^ EZ Loader specs either 80-90 hypoid gear oil, or straight 50 weight motor oil in their oil bath hubs. When we do them at my shop, we use Yamaha outboard lower unit gear lube in them.

2006maliblue 08-25-2010 12:55 AM

Thanks for the info Meat, you wouldnt happen to know how high they should be filled? I didn't see any marks on the hubs?

espritv8 08-25-2010 8:18 AM

Damn, I'm lucky i came across this thread. I never greased my trailer since I bought it this winter.

I hope nothing major was damaged... :(

tonyv420 08-25-2010 2:06 PM

how do you get the bearing buddys off, in order to get to the nut that holds the hub

08-25-2010 2:25 PM

From the Buddy Bearing FAQ

6. How do I remove Bearing Buddy®? Lay a block of wood against the side of the Bearing Buddy® and strike the wood with a hammer. Place the wood on the opposite side and hit again. Continue this procedure until you "walk" the Bearing Buddy® out of the hub. Don't disassemble the Bearing Buddy® to attempt to remove it.

Just like this, but it's better to place a block of wood between the hammer and the bearing buddy so that you dent it or make it go out of round!

You pretty much see the entire process over at Planet Nautique here

tonyv420 08-26-2010 11:09 AM

Thanks Sam, that helps. I didn't want to damage the bearing buddy tryin to get it off. wasn't sure if it was threaded on or not.

srock 08-26-2010 11:41 AM

How do you know the size of everything?

08-26-2010 12:36 PM

Most of our trailers are going to have the same size spindles, but not all... A lot of times the race is included with the bearings, but here are the most common sizes:
Inside bearing | race
L-68149 | L68111
Outer bearing | race
L44649 | L44610


and just an FYI, the standard grade bearings at NAPA are the same exact bearings that you can buy in a "Bearing Kit" at Walmart! Napa price is around $70 for one axle, while the Walmart price is around $30. I've had good luck with them, but change them out every 3-4 years if they need to be changed or not.

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