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Old 05-20-2014, 10:59 AM   #1
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DIY Wet Hubs

I just completed installing wet hubs on our 07 Diplomat and thought it would be useful to anyone else contemplating doing this for me to post a description of the work along with part numbers and tools required. Bottom line, this is not hard, but the hub, brake drum and tires are heavy. So, if you are interested in doing this yourself, read on. If not, this is a long post and may not interest you.

My wife didn't want me to do this myself, so I arranged for a local mobile mechanic to help me @ $90/hr. Turns out his neighbor's house was burglarized the day before and he needed to download some security camera footage for the police, and therefore couldn't meet up with me at the scheduled time. So, having already prepped everything, I decided to go it alone.

My coach has 35,000 miles on it and Monaco says the wheel bearings need to be repacked at 30,000 miles. Lots of others have posted that their bearing grease was good way beyond this mileage. However, we are planning a long trip in hot weather so I thought it good to at least check mine. Upon further consideration, I decided that since I would be paying for the labor anyway, why not retrofit wet hubs.

So I purchased the following parts, supplies and tools:
1. Wheel seals (C/R 3508 - $38.29 ea.),
2. Hub oil (Lucas Hub Oil, 2 qts. @ $8.58 ea.)
3. Stemco wet hub caps (STE 303-4024, 2 ea. @ $20.96 ea.)
4. 2 9/16" axle nut socket (AFF 18504, $23.43)
5. 2 1/4" axle jam nut socket (Napa w34572, $18.99)
6. 33mm Lug Nut Socket (Napa w83033, $16.99)

I also used my previously purchased Harbor Freight torque multiplier that I think can be purchased now for around $150. It provides a 1:3.3 torque multiplication. I also had a 3'/4" drive impact gun that I used to spin the lug nuts off and back on. I used a dial indicator with a magnetic base to set end play (I think a cheap one is about #20 at HF) and my 200# torque wrench to measure torques (using the torque multiplier). I used a slide hammer for removing the seal from the hub and a pry bar for removing the other half of the seal from the spindle. A 12 T bottle jack, ball peen hammer, drift punch and cold chisel were handy as well. I used up almost a full roll of paper towels, about a quart of kerosene and a can of brake cleaner cleaning everything up.

To prepare for the job, I placed blocks under the jack pads and, without dumping air, jacked the coach up enough to get most of the weight off the tires. Then, I used a 12T Harbor Freight bottle jack to lift up the axle on the end that I was working on, just enough for the tire to clear the ground. I blocked the axle with short pieces of 4X4 for safety. Taking the tires off was not hard. After taking off the lug nuts, I was able to "walk" the tire off the hub and roll it over to lean against the garage door jam.

The brake drums are held on with 3 9/16" bolts. Once pulling the bolts, the drums easily slid off the hubs. The drums are heavy, so I had to get myself over them to avoid straining my back.

Pulling the hub was easy. Mine has a washer under the jam nut that is bent up to hold the nut from backing off. After straightening that, I was able to take the jam nut off, the washer, and the keyed washer with holes that align with a stud on the axle nut. (Sorry I don't have pictures. Wheel bearing grease and cameras don't mix well.) The axle nut came off by hand. The hub needed a little persuasion to overcome seal friction and bearing-to-spindle friction, but it came off with little difficulty, although it is heavy.

Upon getting it off, and removing the outer bearing (TImken HM 212049), I found that my hub was filled with grease that looked brand new. In fact, it all looked brand new. So, I do not think that I needed to do this at this time, regardless what Monaco says about repacking the bearings at 30K. My hubs had handfuls of grease that I scooped out with paper towels until I got it all out. I used a slide hammer to pull the hub seal and then took out the inner bearing (Timken 3782 097 19). I washed the bearings in Kerosene and wrapped them up in paper to keep them clean (that's what I had available).

For assembly, I pre-lubed the bearings with Lucas Hub oil and put the inner bearing in place. The oil seal (C/R 35058 is the type that can be installed by hand without a seal driver. It is two piece as was the original, with a seal ring that slides over the spindle when the hub is installed, and an outer seal that pushes into the hub. It is installed as an assembly into the hub.

The mobile mechanic had suggested that I polish the axle at the sharp edge where the tapered part meets the larger diameter, and the corresponding edge of the bearing inner race. This would help keep the bearing, which is a close fit, from snagging the axle as it is installed. So, I used a small diamond hone to just ease the sharp corner at this point on the axle, and also used a round diamond hone to ease the sharp corner of the inner bearing race. This could also be done with sand paper or emery cloth. I cleaned both thoroughgoing with brake cleaner to get any grit off. (Actually, I found all this this out after having struggled a bit to get the first hub back on. The mechanic had called me to set up another time and in the conversation, he offered this tip. It helped the second hub go on much easier.)

I then spun on the axle nut used the torque multiplier to tighten it to 200 ft. lbs. while rotating the hub to seat the bearings. (I used three hands for this task). Then I backed the nut off and re-torqued the nut to 50 ft. lbs. Then, I backed it off 1/2 turn. (This is the procedure called out in the Spicer Steer Axle Service Manual, which is available for download online. (AXSM0038 Sept 2013, Axle: E1202W). I checked the end play by putting the dial indicator mag base on the hub and the indicator pointer on the axle end (like shown in the service manual), and by pushing and pulling on the hub, measured about .030 clearance. The manual calls for .001-.005. (But I knew that upon tightening the jam nut, the clearance would decrease, and this was the recommended back-off for the nut). I then installed the washer with holes, backing off the axle nut slightly to align the stud on the face of the nut with a hole in the washer, slipped the jam nut washer on and threaded and torqued the jam nut to 200 ft. lbs. Upon measuring the end play with the dial indicator, I found it to be between .0025 and .003 - perfect for me. (Actually, I re-did the first one a couple times to get it right. The second one only took one try.) Looks like backing off the axle nut 1/2 turn after torquing to 50# is about right. I then spun the hub a few revolutions and re-checked the end play a couple more times with comparable results.

I then staked the jam nut washer over to hold against one flat of the jam nut, and installed the Stemco wet hub cap using the screws from the old hub cap. I filled the hub through the center of the Stemco cap. It took filling it several times to get it to the level of the fill line. He hub oil is about like STP in viscosity and it takes a while for it to drain through the outer bearing and level out in the hub.

Re-installing the break drum was straight forward, as was the wheel and tire, although both are heavy. I "walked" the wheel and tire into position, and with a little pushing and shoving, got it on the studs enough to screw on the lug nuts a few turns. Note that the brake drum has 10 stud holes and 3 cap screw holes. That makes the spacing between the cap screw holes uneven so you have to "clock" the brake drum correctly to align the cap screw holes.

After spinning the lug nuts down with the impact wrench, I lowered the axle and torqued them to 500 ft. lbs. using the torque multiplier.

I took the coach for a short drive to spread the oil around and after letting it sit overnight, rechecked the level. It was good.

So, that is it. It cost me $210.68 for the seal, hubs, oil and sockets for this job. Of course, I also had the sunk cost of the other tools that I had previously purchased. This job may not be worth it for most, but for me, it was. I got to do a little hands on and learned a bit more about my coach. I hope this post is helpful for anyone else contemplating doing it yourself.

Cheers,
Roy
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Old 05-20-2014, 01:15 PM   #2
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I doesn't sound like an easy D.I.Y. job, but if you say so I believe you.

You can do mine when we meet up in Q next year
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Old 05-20-2014, 01:42 PM   #3
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Professional view on hub conversion.

Just wanted to throw my experience into this conversation,

The standard shop time for a leaking wheel seal with outboard drums - just labor is 2.2hr (labor $$ is location dependent). Now going from grease to oil with cleaning the hub out is going to add maybe .5hr per side. For the tech it's the same job either way, the adjustment changes a little but still he/she are doing the same thing. So take that info and you can figure the labor out and compare. Price for parts will very, but The OP is giving realistic figures.

Bear in mind, you will now be subject to leaking wheel seals. Now yours brakes can get contaminated and need to be replaced, even to the point of losing some stopping ability if not caught. Just wanna put it out there for all to digest.

Think about 30,000 miles in our coaches. It's likely 5 years which is a good point to check them anyway. And oil hubs still require attention in the same sense. I'm not opposed to it at all, but I feel there are other places the $$ might benefit better. Napa or a local truck shop will have all the parts and pieces. Heck, you could change cast iron hubs to aluminum and gain some CCC!!

Best regards in which ever way you go. Just make the effort to perform regular preventative maintanance and you are money a head.

Allen
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Old 05-20-2014, 02:45 PM   #4
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Yeah, probably not an easy DIY in total. But certainly within the ability of someone used to doing this kind of work on cars. If I could back up time and knowing what I know now, I probably would have looked at the grease oozing out of the outer bearing and chosen to button er back up for 30K more miles. I also went back and forth on whether to install wet hubs. There again, it would have probably been better and definitely cheaper to leave it as is.
So, i'm not advocating here, just passing on info.
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:35 PM   #5
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I had mine done at a shop in Mesa, AZ, last week and converted to wet hubs. They charged 2 hours per side and $40 for each seal and $28 for each hub cover. I thought this was a reasonable price.

When I checked the fluid level yesterday, one side looked low and I will have to go on line to understand the min/max markings. I'll try Googling the part number they used, as it was not Stemco. Might even call the shop. I see a CR number on the cover, but it is not same as the part number on invoice.

It looks like they cleaned the new hub covers with brake kleen and fogged 3/4 of the clear plastic window on both sides. Also, they have some bushes in the back section of this facility with stored vehicles and additional parking. I got my coach back with some Arizona pin striping that fortunately rubbed out with compound. I guess they got too close to one.

The tires, wheels, hubs, hub covers, and interior of coach had no grease anywhere. Sort of hit and miss considering all of it.

Mine are a little different than Roy's, as I have disc brakes. I should have done it myself, as I had all the tools, along with the ability. Just too many projects going on now to tackle it.

I'll call the shop and let them know my thoughts.

Roy, if you could, would you post a picture of yours, showing the oil level.

Below is mine (if I posted correctly.)

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Old 05-21-2014, 12:20 AM   #6
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Here is a picture taken at night with a flash. Hope you can make it out. My hub caps have an oil level line about 1/8" outside the red plug. The "oil level" lettering seems to correspond to this line. I read on the Yahoo Monacoers site that the oil should between this line and the bottom of the fill hole. Mine actually looks a little high in this picture.
BTW, our mechanic got grease on his jeans and shirt but his wife said she can get it out with Awsome.
Roy
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Old 05-21-2014, 09:46 AM   #7
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Here are a couple daytime pictures. Now I see a second line outside of the lettering. Looks like the oil level should be between them.
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:02 AM   #8
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Roy, looks just like a trailer or car front axle repack job, just a lot heavier!

Why exactly did you want to go to a wet system?
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Old 05-21-2014, 11:14 AM   #9
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Well, that's a good question. A lot of people have said it is a good idea. Our previous coach had wet hubs (Winnebago DP). I have 35K miles on this coach and Monaco and Dana literature both say greased hubs need to be repacked at 30K mi. We are facing a long trip in hot weather, so I decided to do them.

Considering that it is about the same amount of work to install wet hubs as repack, I also decided to switch over. That way, I can conceivably just replace the oil if needed later on. Whether this was actually a justifiable thing to do is still a question to me.

You may have read above that my grease was like new. So, after taking the first hub apart, I was thinking that I was doing work for nothing. But am a little OCD and when I get into something, I usually go beyond what is minimally necessary. I am sure oil hubs will be fine, and at least I got a chance to learn how this is done.

After all, I sometimes think my coach is more of a project than it is an RV anyway. Having done this though, I discover that like many other things, there are strong opinions on both sides. Hopefully my write up will be useful to someone else contemplating doing this.

Cheers,

Roy
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Old 05-21-2014, 12:28 PM   #10
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Nice write up, Roy. Nice thing at this point is an oil change is easy and something that can be done most anywhere. Also you can really indulge the OCD by doing a used oil analysis on the hub oil.

I've considered this, too, although I'm in the grease camp. One thing I discovered in doing research is that the grease for the hubs is semi-liquid. I had assumed for years it was like the chassis grease.
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Old 05-21-2014, 12:51 PM   #11
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Let me start by saying I don't have any extensive knowledge of this issue and have no preference for the effectiveness of either design. However, my coach came with wet hubs (the Stemco ones, same as Roy's pics) and I like being able to simply pry off the front hubcaps as part of my routine maintenance and know for sure that all is ok because I can see the oil level is up to the full line. I assume it wouldn't be as easy to know that all is ok with the grease level in a greased hub. So wet hubs work for me.
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:13 PM   #12
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Coma,
That's interesting. My hub grease seemed to be about the same consistency as typical wheel bearing grease, except it was blue in color.
Roy
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Old 09-23-2014, 08:08 PM   #13
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Bearings

Quote:
Originally Posted by rmcb View Post
Coma,
That's interesting. My hub grease seemed to be about the same consistency as typical wheel bearing grease, except it was blue in color.
Roy
I just did our first repack at 14,000 miles (7 years) and the bearings looked new with blue grease that was surprisingly pristine.

The shop had problems finding seals for the Beaver, which is equipped with Dana Spicer Series E steering axles and hub ends. In all, I was in the bay for six hours and they charged me for five. Parts were $150.

The technician suggested a repack every year, but we'll go broke doing that. Any suggestions?
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Old 09-24-2014, 06:47 AM   #14
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Greease Re-Pack

Howdy,

I am sure my bearings had never been serviced. I purchased the coach last summer and a month ago I decided it was time I check them. I purchased all the tools and my grease was also a Blue color and looked new. The outer bearing grease was a little darker in color but the bearing and race looked new. I called Timken and talked to a tech who advised the slight discoloration was nothing to be concerned about and should be expected. I pondered the switch to "Oilers" but I figured with 85K and no issues with grease why switch. I used a high quality Valvoline lithium base moly fortified grease that the Timken tech said was overkill.

I know what you mean the brake drums are Heavy and I up sized my tires after I bought the rig to 295/75's and they are heavy too. The trick is to barely lift the coach off the ground so you can simply lean the tire on and off!

Good job should last forever, I will check end play but will likely never re pack again.
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