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Old 08-05-2016, 09:49 AM   #1
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Wheel Bearings

I have a 2016 29 foot Coachmen that came with buddy bearings to grease the wheel bearings. I have heard mixed reviews, some say good to use, some say better off not using. What should I listen to and how should I proceed.
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Old 08-05-2016, 10:02 AM   #2
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Wheel Bearings

Assuming you are referring ez-lube axles, I have done both. I have confirmed the easy lube design will replenish the grease in the cavity and bearings. Three downsides, 1)it does take a bunch of grease and time to spin wheel/pump it in and 2) it does not promote the physical inspection of the bearings 3) there is a higher risk for a rear seal failure due to pumping grease in.

I can tell you that I have not had a failure due to lack of grease but I have had a failures due to a bearing defect (pitting) and rear seal failures fouling the brakes. Both of which would have been caught with a visual inspection.
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Old 08-05-2016, 10:31 AM   #3
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when I had the fifth wheel I pulled the wheels every year and cleaned and inspected the bearings and brakes.. after 3 years I replaced the bearings and races.. Now I have a motorhome and pull a car on a dolly.. do they same thing with the dolly bearings.. cheap insurance if you ask me..
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Old 08-05-2016, 10:40 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bjlakatos View Post
Assuming you are referring ez-lube axles, I have done both. I have confirmed the easy lube design will replenish the grease in the cavity and bearings. Three downsides, 1)it does take a bunch of grease and time to spin wheel/pump it in and 2) it does not promote the physical inspection of the bearings 3) there is a higher risk for a rear seal failure due to pumping grease in.

I can tell you that I have not had a failure due to lack of grease but I have had a failures due to a bearing defect (pitting) and rear seal failures fouling the brakes. Both of which would have been caught with a visual inspection.

I agree with your first point about the amount of grease, but that's only the FIRST time. After that, a couple of pumps pushes the grease through.
Always jack it up and spin the wheel. Also, I like to do it on hot days and leave the grease gun in the sun an hour before, so it flows very easy... that saves the rear seals.

Use the ez-lube, but do it right.
Any grease you add will be better than procrastination on the more labor-intensive route.
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Old 08-05-2016, 12:19 PM   #5
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Too many threads on this forum from people who have pumped in too much grease and then lose their brakes. This results in a big bill to clean everything up and replace all the pads.
Do it right and pull the bearings apart once a year and do it the old school way. You won't have to worry about your brakes.
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Old 08-05-2016, 12:34 PM   #6
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I only have about 2500 miles on the trailer, do I need to repack the bearings yet?
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Old 08-05-2016, 01:18 PM   #7
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I use 10k mi or annually whichever comes first
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Old 08-05-2016, 01:45 PM   #8
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For a brand new trailer or used but new to you, hand packing the bearings is the only way to know the bearings are lubed correctly.
Also check brake adjustment, and proper tightness of the castle nut and replacement of the cotter key.
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Old 08-05-2016, 04:32 PM   #9
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You really only need to pull the drums, adjust the brakes and repack the bearnings once a year, unless you're putting 50K a year on your rig!
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Old 08-06-2016, 06:27 AM   #10
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I followed the EZ Lub instructions to the letter. Two of my four wheels had grease infiltrate the brake shoes/drums. No more EZ for me, it wasn't easy (EZ) to pull the hubs, use brake cleaner to clean all the grease off the brake shoes, drums, etc. I'm going back to the process I've used for 20+ years, hand pack the bearings, never had an issue then, and won't in the future!
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Old 08-06-2016, 06:52 AM   #11
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I only have about 2500 miles on the trailer, do I need to repack the bearings yet?
You are already 2499 miles too late. Often there is not much grease from new and the brake and wheel bearings are not adjusted correctly. I will never put a trailer in service before making the corrections.

The EZ-Lube thing is a joke. Those that say it only takes a lot of grease the first time aren't telling you that it takes that much every time, if you want to bring fresh grease to the outer bearing.

Here is a thread where I shared some information: Brakes, Bearings and Spindles
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:02 AM   #12
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I have read up a lot on this subject. Having greased non-RV bearings for over 40 years I couldn't figure out why RV's need more frequent inspection/maintenance. The way I understand it this is due to the electric brakes. RV hubs/bearings with electric brakes run much hotter than a non-electric drum brake hub. This isn't just because of brake usage, but that brake magnet is lightly rubbing all the time and the normal operating temperature of the hub is higher than a non-electric brake hub. This slowly cooks the grease and makes it thin and oily and more likely to leak past the seal directly into the brake drum. The design of the easy lube hub requires that bearing cavity to be completely full of grease to pump out. You actually would not fill a hub to the brim when repacking a bearing, you want some air space.
Although many have no issues with the easy lube hubs I can see how they can allow grease into the brake drum, read-no more brakes! My trailer doesn't have them but if it did I wouldn't use them. When I get a new trailer I'll install disc brakes. Not that a leaky seal can't get oily stuff on the rotors, but I'd think it's much less likely. Why RV builders still use drum brakes is beyond me. This is especially true on those big 5th wheels. Most trailers can out weigh the tow vehicle by a good amount, why not have better brakes on all that weight?
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Old 08-07-2016, 06:55 AM   #13
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I only have about 2500 miles on the trailer, do I need to repack the bearings yet?
Yes!
Just because the trailer is new does not guarantee well greased bearings.
I greased mine the week I bought it.
3 years and 20,000 miles now. Lots of grease pumped and no issue with seals.
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Old 08-07-2016, 03:48 PM   #14
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Bob 1340... I like the way you think but have to throw you a little curve... the drag of the magnet is not enough to generate a high enough temperature to thin or over heat the grease in my opinion... I often walk around my coach when I pull into a rest stop... and hit the tires, hubs, and brake drums/rotors with a temperature gun... I never find the hubs in the trailer any warmer than 120*F even on a very hot day... tire temperature is usually under 125-130* and brake drum surface temperature or rotor temperature is often in the 350-400* range after the stop... and it can be over 500*F if I've stopped quickly because the off ramp of the rest stop is short..

I do believe that its important to use a full synthetic grease with a drop point in the 450-475* F range... I do agree that most bearings aren't set up correctly from the factory... I do check mine for play, when the axle is on a jack once a year... pushing and pulling the top/bottom of the tire when its up in the air with no load on it.. Drop point is a rating/test of the grease when its heated.... and it starts to drip off a stick in drops.. BTW most chassis grease/u-joint grease (one size fits all) usually has a drop point in the 275-325*F range...

I was taught to tighten the bearings to take out the pre-load and push out excess grease... and than loosen the pre-load nut and than reset it to take out all the free play and to bring the lock to the next setting where the cotter pin can be inserted...

I guess I take my trailer apart every 3-4 years... and I tow at least 15K miles a year... but this is in line with the greasing of front wheel bearings on the older cars... you clean and grease the bearings when you do the front brakes...

I do have ez-grease style hubs.. and will give it some grease (2 pumps) annually with the wheel spinning each fall before we head off for our winter home...
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