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Old 01-12-2016, 10:00 PM   #1
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Brakes, Bearings and Spindles

Last Winter I replaced my 10" travel trailer brakes at about 7,000 miles in preparation for an extended trip. I'm going to break up what I have learned into several items for clarity.



Photos here:

Brakes And Bearings by lynnmor | Photobucket

Here is an overview with approximate total trailer miles of the service, replacements and repairs:

1,000 miles the wheel bearings were repacked and new aluminum wheels were installed with LT tires. The drums, wheels and tires were balanced as a unit. One brake was not properly connected and that splice was repaired.

7,500 miles the drums, brakes and bearings were replaced and assemblies were balanced.

18,000 miles the drums and armatures were turned and the defective wheel bearings were replaced.

See below what I found and why I replaced the various components. Note that I am discussing #84 spindles and 3,500 lb. axles that are used on many, and possibly most, travel trailers.



Brake Drums

At 1,000 miles, I found the original Al-Ko drums to be out of balance by as much as 5.5 oz. I compensated for that by installing the heavy spot of the wheel opposite the heavy spot of the drum, and then balanced the assemblies.

At 7,500 miles the drum armatures were grooved and galled so deep that I would have had to remove twice as much metal that is allowed to true them. I'll add more about that later. The Al-Ko drums were replaced with Dexters.

The Dexter drums were cast much better and the balance was out 1 oz. or less. I should add here that neither manufacturer balances the drums.

The Dexter drums had the bearing races pre-installed and eTrailer supplied the bearings.

At 18,000 miles, the Dexter drums were turned and about half of the allowable amount was removed from the armatures to true them.


Brake Assemblies

When I saw the deep grooves in the Al-Ko armatures it became apparent that the magnet design was part of the problem. Note the unbroken line of steel at the bottom edge of the magnet. That area didn't wear down with the rest of the magnet and it cut into the armature face. Compare the larger Dexter magnet to the Al-Ko magnet and you will see why I switched brands.

Here is my theory why there is excessive magnet and armature wear:

You might have read that new brakes are very weak and need to be burnished by doing numerous hard stops. Most likely a driver would increase the controller setting possibly up to its maximum to get any reasonable amount of braking. Now remember that even though braking is weak, the magnet is attracted to the armature with maximum force. Now here you have two new surfaces, ( the magnet and the armature) that have not yet mated properly. The result is galling and the beginning of wear that will feed on itself.

This time around, I will forgo the burnishing operation and even turn down the controller for a while. Yes, that is not a great idea from a safety standpoint.


Bearings

When I bought the new Dexter drums they had the bearing races pre-installed. I used the cheap Chinese bearings that eTrailer shipped with the drums. That turned out to be a mistake as I discovered during the inspection at 18,000 miles. The poor quality of the steel, the poor finish and even a ridge left from a faulty grinding operation caused the bearings shed metal and were on the verge of major failure.

Note that some rollers were failing while others were not. I used Valvoline grease.

I replaced all bearings and races with USA made Timken. This time I used Timken grease.



Spindles

There is a design flaw in the #84 spindle. The spindle shoulder, where the inner bearing contacts, is only .028" wide by design. With manufacturing tolerances, this could be as little as zero.

I found excess bearing clearance in one spindle. Upon inspection, I found the bearing had worn into the tiny shoulder mentioned above. The shoulder contact area was only .021" wide.

There is no easy fix for this problem. The bearings have a .14" radius that is not ground. If that extremely small contact area wears away, the bearing will be loose and not run true. The seal diameter should have been designed larger.
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Old 01-12-2016, 10:16 PM   #2
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If I read your report correctly, you were towing with your brake controller set to maximum. That is not correct. Trailer brakes (after proper adjustment) should be set so they will barely lock-up the wheels by correctly setting the controller, then backed off just enough to prevent same.
Only then are trailer brakes set properly.
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Old 01-13-2016, 03:00 AM   #3
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If I read your report correctly, you were towing with your brake controller set to maximum.
Read it again, you don't understand the problem.
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Old 01-13-2016, 04:20 AM   #4
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You have found fault in every component.

These things give many users years of trouble free service.

Without trying to be rude, could there be some fault in your work ?

Do you use a porportinal brake controller ? The brakes seem to be over worked. Could be miss wired.

Are you cleaning the bearings and setting the bearing preload properly ? They look like there was contamination in the grease.

How are you finding a 5.5 oz, out of balance condition, in a brake drum ?

If this is a 10' trailer, what kind of load are you carrying ?
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:05 AM   #5
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These things give many users years of trouble free service.
What does your 10" trailer brakes look like after 18,000 miles?
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Old 01-13-2016, 11:21 PM   #6
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Read it again, you don't understand the problem.
lynnmoor said "You might have read that new brakes are very weak and need to be burnished by doing numerous hard stops. Most likely a driver would increase the controller setting possibly up to its maximum to get any reasonable amount of braking."
That's what caused me to make my reply.
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Old 01-13-2016, 11:24 PM   #7
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The key word in there seems to be "new", as in "new brakes".
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Old 01-14-2016, 04:08 AM   #8
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On page 11, Dexter describes the burnishing of new brakes. I found that the braking effect increases gradually over about 1,000 miles. The burnishing advice from Dexter is just a first step. Again, since one would feel little braking until the brakes are seated, the controller might be set higher to compensate. That high setting might cause the new magnet to chew into the new armature because they are not yet seated together.

http://www.dexteraxle.com/i/u/614960...ric_Brakes.pdf

Brake shoe material has changed considerably since the days of using asbestos. The old material produced almost full braking from the start. The new material uses adhesion technology that, for lack of better words, gums you to a stop.
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Old 01-14-2016, 04:39 AM   #9
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You have found fault in every component.
I report the facts, perhaps I wasted my time.

These things give many users years of trouble free service.
Yea, right!

Without trying to be rude, could there be some fault in your work ?
I have only done this type of work for a half century, so I'm not good at it yet.

Do you use a porportinal brake controller ? The brakes seem to be over worked. Could be miss wired.
I have a $60,000 brake controller that conveniently came with a Ford truck.

Are you cleaning the bearings and setting the bearing preload properly ?
They are cleaner than yours, and there is no such thing as preload on a trailer bearing.

They look like there was contamination in the grease.
Self-destructing bearings will contaminate the grease.

How are you finding a 5.5 oz, out of balance condition, in a brake drum ?
I have balancing equipment in my tool & die shop. How do you check yours?

If this is a 10' trailer, what kind of load are you carrying ?
It is a 26 FOOT travel trailer with an overall length of 29 FEET and 1 INCH. The load is the usual items and has about 6,240 pounds on the two axles.
My replies in RED.
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Old 01-14-2016, 06:26 AM   #10
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My replies in RED.
That explains it all.
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Old 01-16-2016, 09:33 AM   #11
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Are you sure Timkens are still made in US, my son lives in Canton, I think the engineering etc are still in US, not so sure about production.
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Old 01-16-2016, 11:16 AM   #12
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Are you sure Timkens are still made in US, my son lives in Canton, I think the engineering etc are still in US, not so sure about production.
That's why I have a photo of the bearing and the box. Here is just the bearing photo:
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Old 01-16-2016, 02:15 PM   #13
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lynmoor,

Let's say that bearings made in the USA weren't available. What, in your opinion, would you use? Japanese? Just curious, in case I'm ever in one of those "You need a widget, and you can't get a Timken widget here" places. Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-16-2016, 03:12 PM   #14
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Consider this. Japan has shipped motorcycles to the USA for years and years. They can make quality bearings. Which ones??? I've used T0YO bearings and they are good.

We live in an area of the country that has a lot of industry. It's not heavy industry like Gary,IN or Detroit. It's JB Hunt trucking, Wally-World, Tyson's, I went to a supplier of bearings to these industries and they recommended the TOYO's and so far it's been accurate. They also were not exactly sure where Timken bearings were made these days.

TeJay
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