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Old 08-09-2009, 10:11 PM   #1
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Alpine Owners Club
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 129
Vibration under load

About half-way into our 3000 mile trip I started noticing a vibration climbing hills. Suspecting U-joint problems due to other posts, particularly late model Alpines, I bought a grease gun and Lucas #2 Red & Tacky grease. I performed a grease job in Zion NP, which seemed to resolve the issue. Later in Yellowstone, after a drive on dirt and gravel construction for miles, the vibration was back worse than before. Another grease job in Yellowstone didn't help. Now I was noticing vibration when the jake was slowing me, along with climbing, and even just driving on level freeway. I finally couldn't take it anymore, and stopped today (Sunday) at Missoula Freightliner. The attached picture shows the damage to one of two U-joints. I had them change both, to be safe.

Less than $300 later, and another WRV issue is resolved. Hats off to Freightliner for 7 day service bays, and for getting us in with no appointment on a Sunday afternoon. We were in and out in about 2 hours, and they were busy!

The tech recommended greasing the U-joints every 5k miles. Our coach had 5100 miles on it at the time of repair. I greased the joints at delivery (1900 miles), and then 3 additional times. The assumption is WRV didn't grease them well, and once the damage had begun, no amount of additional greasing would stop the destruction from continuing.

I didn't know I needed another project.
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Scott & Marcia Hicks
2009 Alpine 40' FDQS 75809
Portland, OR
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:16 PM   #2
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Location: Raymond, Washington
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I agree with the 5K lube interval on u-joints. I do our joints at 3K interval and I plan on changing out both joints with Spicer joints next year at about 70K.
20 plus years of overseeing lube men in truck shops I can tell you that very few will take the time to get lube pumped thru all 4 sides of the joint. An air powered lube gun can blow out the seal on one side and that robs the rest of the needle bearings of lube. If care is taken not to use full pressure on air powered lube gun then seals have a better chance of surviving. Personal choice is hand grease gun and do it yourself.

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Old 08-11-2009, 11:27 PM   #3
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Location: TX
Posts: 495
This week, when having my coach brake lines inspected and repaired - along with other routine maintenance - at Buddy Gregg Motorhomes in Lewisville, TX, they also discovered that the u-joints were bad. At 27,500 miles, this is the 2nd time this has happened, with the first time at about 13,500 miles. They told me that one of the zerks was missing the ball bearing that prevents the grease from coming back out. Strange. Makes me wonder about the initial replacement or about the workers that did the lubing in between these two incidents.

Anyway, I now have two new u-joints that I'm sure are done properly. I've had other work done at Buddy Gregg over the past 5 years, and they have always done a good job.
Dale & Karin
2006 Alpine Coach Limited 36FDTS
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Old 08-12-2009, 01:24 AM   #4
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Workhorse Chassis Owner
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Location: N. Palm Springs CA (in winter)
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After having a universal snap on me on a hill in San Francisco 25 years ago, I always manually wiggle the drive line to see if there is any movement at the universal joints prior to using the grease gun.
If you have any universals on your vehicles that do not have a zerk (grease) fitting, inspect them more often and replace at the first indication of problems. If a universal snaps, there is the added possibility of expensive damage to to drive line if it hits the ground.
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