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Old 08-05-2014, 10:21 AM   #1
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Wheel Bearings/"Bearing Buddies"

I discovered a grease leak on one of my wheels after my last camping trip.
My fault for not having this area checked when I bought this TT used a few months ago. My mechanic will tend to repairs as required and re packing all 4 wheels next week. He recommends installing what he calls "Bearing Buddies" so I can grease all the wheels myself on a regular basis in the future. Is this a good idea ? Are there any negatives to this method of bearing lubrication vs. actually re packing the bearings every year or so ? It seemed like a good idea so I told him to install them when he does the work next week. I know this is about the best place for a second opinion from those who know a lot more than me.
Thanks for any help.
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Old 08-05-2014, 10:38 AM   #2
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Bearing buddies are great for boat trailers that are regularly submerged in water and driven short distances, probably equipped with surge brakes if they have any. To force out water contaminated grease.
Using bearing buddies on TT equipped with , electric brakes can result in the excess grease contaminating the linings and magnets . JMHO.
Inspect brakes and repack wheel bearings annually or 5 to 7k miles depending on use.

Edit: Wheel breaking packing is not rocket science, if you're at all handy, with tools, you can perform this regular maintenance your self, save some $$.
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Old 08-05-2014, 10:51 AM   #3
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The major problem with "bearing Buddies" or similar products is people tend to over lubricate the bearings. They give a grease gun several pumps to be sure they get enough to the bearings, but in reality more often than not they pump in so much over time that they push the grease past the inner seal. Then it gets spread around on the brake shoes/pads, drums/rotors, and cylinders/ calipers. When that happens you loose breaking power. You also end up cleaning off the grease, replacing the pads/shoes, and the wheel seal.

In my opinion you're better off to just setup a schedule by either time or miles and remove the wheels and repack the bearings. At that time you can also inspect the bearings and races for problems.
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Old 08-05-2014, 11:36 AM   #4
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Bearing Buddies use a spring to keep pressure inside the hub. The problem is that this pressure forces grease out around the seals, and is designed for boats that submerge the wheel bearings. The grease being forced out is not good for electric brakes. Bearing Buddies have no place on a travel trailer or any other trailer with electric brakes.

Some TTs have a lube system sort of like Bearing Buddies... The difference is there is no spring to keep pressure on the grease. There's a rubber cap on the center of the hub. The cap is removed and grease is pumped while the wheel is being rotated. This forces the old grease out the front where the cap and zerk are. I use these just as a maintenance item. I can see the old grease coming out and look for metal in it. I have found a bad bearing this way, prior to being out on the road side with the boat jacked up. I have these on my current TT, and use it the same way.

Enjoy...
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Old 08-05-2014, 11:54 AM   #5
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Some TTs have a lube system sort of like Bearing Buddies... The difference is there is no spring to keep pressure on the grease. There's a rubber cap on the center of the hub. The cap is removed and grease is pumped while the wheel is being rotated. This forces the old grease out the front where the cap and zerk are. I use these just as a maintenance item. I can see the old grease coming out and look for metal in it. I have found a bad bearing this way, prior to being out on the road side with the boat jacked up. I have these on my current TT, and use it the same way.
EZ-lube axle, bearing greasing, should not be used as the only bearing maintenance, you only see the grease expelled from the outer wheel bearing, everything from the inner builds up between the inner and outer bearings inside the hub. You need to pull the hub to check the brakes and seals and clean out the grease, maybe not as often as regular axles , but still needs to be a full re-pack now and then.
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Old 08-05-2014, 12:41 PM   #6
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Pulling the hubs off when time or mileage suggests service isn't a difficult job. A jack, jack stand, a couple of hand tools and the bearings can be serviced. In addition, it gives you a chance to check the brake linings, other components, and properly torque lug nuts. E-Z Lube or Bearing Buddies don't give that opportunity to inspect and the Bearing Buddies can definitely allow grease to be pushed out past seals.
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Old 08-05-2014, 02:04 PM   #7
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I personally would find another mechanic as this one does not seem to be familiar with the major lube systems.

"Bearing Buddies" are designed for boat trailers to keep water out of the hot hubs when they are dipped in colder water during launching. The hot hubs, when dipped in the cool water creates a vacuum which wants to suck in water. "Bearing Buddies" help prevent this.

"Ez-Lube is a completely different system. The grease reaches the inside bearing through a special slot in the axle spindle.

Unless your trailer came with EZ Lube on a Dexter Axle, there is probably not a slot in the spindle, and thus no grease movement to the inside bearing.

You cannot install Bearing Buddies or EZ-Lube and expect grease to reach the inside bearing UNLESS you have the special slotted spindle.

Your mechanic should know the difference. (Maybe he does but did not explain it to you well.)
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Old 08-05-2014, 05:29 PM   #8
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So, while out camping last week, a fellow came by and we started talking bearings. My trailer being newish, he thought it probably did not even have conventional bearings that come apart to be packed but instead a roller bearing one piece that basically is not serviceable. Anyway got me wondering so I pulled off the trim piece on the wheel center and removed a rubber cover and behold there is a grease zerk. So now I wonder what I an looking at. Could this be the EZ-Lube? How does one know? BTW... same gent told me of how he went through the buddy bearing grease seal failure replace the brake thing some time back. Cost him several hundred to fix.
Only bearings I ever packed were on a snowmobile trailer.. no brakes to fool with. Guess I will look for a video for packing TT wheel bearings.
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Old 08-05-2014, 06:31 PM   #9
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Check your axles. Are they marked "Dexter" or have an engraved serial number (Dexter engraves the number) ?

If they are Dexter, you have E-Z Lube. Go to their website or You Tube and there are videos about how to use them properly.
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Old 08-05-2014, 07:08 PM   #10
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Go read all the opinions on this. I say no. You risk costing yourself a lot of money, all in the name of saving money and time.

And Bearing Buddies are even less of a substitute when compared to EZ Lube axles.

EZ Lube axles are grease channels in the spindle to the inner bearing.
A Bearing Buddy usually is a cap that lets you force grease into the hub cavity, and almost guaranteeing the grease to go INWARD to the brakes. Ensuring you buy more brakes.
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Old 08-05-2014, 09:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip426 View Post
EZ-lube axle, bearing greasing, should not be used as the only bearing maintenance, you only see the grease expelled from the outer wheel bearing, everything from the inner builds up between the inner and outer bearings inside the hub. You need to pull the hub to check the brakes and seals and clean out the grease, maybe not as often as regular axles , but still needs to be a full re-pack now and then.
I could not agree more... I repack/inspect/replace every 2 years. Just did the whole thing 3 weekends ago. But, as an interim, before long trips, The EZ-Lube method can show things if you know what to look for. If the grease looks like metallic paint... UH OH!!! Time to pull the hub and clean everything... and replace the bearings and seals. If the grease doesn't start coming out pretty soon... STOP!!! Pull the hub and look at the rear seal. Under no circumstances should anyone just keep pumping in grease wondering where it's going...... If you do it's gonna contaminate your brakes. And please, have it jacked up and have the wheel rotating...

Some think the EZ-Lube hubs are a horrible thing. To me (licensed aircraft mechanic) they are just part of a maintenance regimen that keeps me going down the road, and not sitting beside it getting my silver locks blown out of place by the passing semis...
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:05 AM   #12
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Thank you one and all for your fantastic advice. It is rare to get 100% agreement on any subject and unless I missed a pro-comment this subject resulted in a total condemnation of the Bearing Buddy system for use on a TT with electric trailer brakes. Now I must try to learn how to repack wheel bearings. I plan to watch the process on my trailer next week when they service my unit and I might learn how to just by watching. I will be calling my service guy today to cancel the Bearing Buddy installation and stick with just having new seals and a re-pack to get me back on the road.

If you have any bearing re-pack advise or how-to sources I might read please chime in !!

This is the BEST RV information web site on the web.
Thanks again for the help.
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:35 AM   #13
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Easy lube spindles and bearing buddies were developed to allow one to fill their hubs with grease on trailers that are submerged in water..

"My mechanic says just give it a few shots every once in awhile". Why do the bearings need additional grease when there is no leak?

You should get in the practice of pulling the hubs every 2 years and repack your bearings and replace the seals. Pumping grease into a hub with either bearing buddies or through the hub grease fittings on a travel trailer is looking for problems. As you pump grease into a bearing buddy, the grease pressure expands a spring in the buddy which pressures the hub seal. As the seal finally gives way, your brake drum and your wallet gets a grease job.


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Old 08-06-2014, 02:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schrederman View Post
Bearing Buddies use a spring to keep pressure inside the hub. The problem is that this pressure forces grease out around the seals, and is designed for boats that submerge the wheel bearings. The grease being forced out is not good for electric brakes. Bearing Buddies have no place on a travel trailer or any other trailer with electric brakes.
Very well put.... Since I towed small (Less than a ton) trailers I used BB's on them, And on both of them had at least one inner/rear seal fail and leak grease all over the tire.

Bearing Buddy seals are supposed to be resistant to this type of failure.. I did try one, Forget how well it worked, but not sure it helped all that much.
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