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Old 09-19-2020, 01:26 AM   #1
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Front wheel bearing re-pack

Hi folks!

I saw in the chassis manual (which we never got with the motorhome) that the front wheel bearings are supposed to be re-packed every 30,000 miles or annually.

Just curious to know if anyone has followed that guideline and if so, how much did it cost you?
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Old 09-19-2020, 05:56 AM   #2
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When I first bought my rig in 2008 it had ~50K miles on it and it went in for a complete service.

From then on I just monitored the front bearings and I would use a long syringe on a grease gun to add a little new grease. No problems but I started to have concern on miles/age It had ~95K miles on it so in 2013 I had my wife take the rig to Josam's in FL and had the oil bath wheel seals and new bearings installed. They also did a complete chassis inspection and fixed a couple minor things for ~$550.

Now I just have to pop the halve moon and look at the oil level. I talked the Joasm's shop foreman over the phone and he said I should never have to worry about them again. To change the oil just remove the outer hub cap and let oil drain and refill.

The cost differential between a repack versus a change to oil bath seals/hum is minimal.
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:08 AM   #3
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I would do a full inspection (disassembly and cleaning) every 30,000 miles or so (that would probably be 5 years depending on hoe much driving you do). Many of the service recommendations on our Coaches come from the parts manufactures recommendations which are based on heavy-truck use, not RV use (sitting mostly).

With grease packed bearings, you can easily remove the bearing cover and take a look at the condition of the grease. See if it looks clean and no signs of moisture or metallic particles. If the grease is clean and plentiful, you "may" be (probably are) good for a while more. You should do a visual inspection at least every other year.

However, that visual inspection still doesn't tell you reliably if the bearings are worn or need adjustment, so it does need to come apart at some point for a full cleaning and inspection. I like to jack up each wheel and rotate it checking for smoothness of rotation and bearing play/movement while doing the visual inspection. Grab the tire and try to rock side to side. Any noticeable movement and you need to tear into it.

PS. On the subject of changing from grease packed bearings to oil filled hubs. I would not switch. I think the grease packed bearings are better.
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Old 09-19-2020, 08:21 AM   #4
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Not that I don't trust anyone but I don't trust anyone. Unless you bought your RV new you don't know what service the wheel bearings ever had. I don't care if you have service records or not.
Having worked in auto repair shops and dealerships since 1960 and having owned my own auto care center from 1982 until I retired and sold the business last year I have seen some poor quality work. Especially from flat rate shops. I also specialized in front end, suspension work and frame repair on every vehicle imaginable for several years when I worked at a car and truck dealership. I had many wheels off and found wheel bearings which had fresh looking grease in the outer bearing and the inner bearing looked like it had never had grease changed or added. Most of this came about after disc brakes came into the picture on domestic cars and trucks in the early 70's. The flat raters would pull the grease cap, pop the outer bearing out and swipe the bearing with grease and put the wheel back together. They didn't want to take time to remove the brake caliper to remove the hub completely and do the job right. I had more than a few vehicles come in with a noisy bad wheel bearing only to find the outer bearing had plenty of grease while the inner bearing was almost totally dry. Today's cars and light trucks are for the most part equipped with hub and bearing assemblies which don't require repacking as they are sealed assemblies. Heavier duty applications are a totally different animal but a flat rater can still cut corners to make a fast buck.
I was taught differently early on and always removed both bearings, cleaned the bearing, inspected the bearing and bearing cup carefully and did a proper and thorough repack with a pressure bearing packer. I taught my techs to do the same. If I caught anyone doing differently they were on the carpet out the door.
I would highly suggest you either do the job yourself, have a knowledgeable person help you do the job or find a shop which can be trusted to do the job right. New inner seals aren't all that expensive. I also suggest they be changed anytime a hub is removed which isn't often if it has been serviced properly.
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Old 09-19-2020, 11:36 PM   #5
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Interesting stuff people - thanks for posting it. I never knew you could convert to an oil filled hub. Sounds interesting.

It really bothers me that the size of the motorhome makes it hard to work on myself. I have lots of experience cleaning/repacking/re-sealing hubs - doing the work is not a problem. The problem is the size and weight of the unit. I've often thought of buying one of those electric impacts that can do 500 foot pounds.

If I had one, and a good cement pad, I'd be sorely tempted to lift it up on the front jack and have at it myself.
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Old 09-20-2020, 05:15 AM   #6
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Only in the RV world do you repack bearings annually..,among other things. Over time the grease gets pushed out of the bearing and hardens. 2 years ago when I put new tires on the front of our “new” rig, I checked the tightness of the bearings while on the jacks with a bar under the tire. I also removed the cap and drilled a 1/2” hole in the side so I could add a cup of 90 weight gear oil to soften the grease, but not enough to need oil wheel seals. I haven’t repacked the many trailers bearing I own for 50 years by adding oil to them...OK, I do the boat trailers that get backed into water.
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Old 09-20-2020, 05:50 AM   #7
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I've got a decent amount of maintenance experience, +30 years in mining heavy equipment and one time was Maintenance Manager for a large mining complex with 4 mines and processing plant, the mines had their dedicated fleet of equipment and maintenance staff. I am very familiar with what it would take to pull the front tire/hub assembly.

The reason I decided to go to oil bath was that I did not have a good place to even try and pull the front tires/hubs off to try and repack. The tires weighs about 130 lbs, which I can handle. No idea how much the hub weighs and unless you have a decent it way to lift it horizontally and parallel with the spindle you have a good chance of damaging the rear seal and although not as critical with grease still could be a long term problem. And you won't know you have a problem until you start slinging grease all over the place including getting into your brakes. Something I didn't want to deal with.

Most of the newer chassis's come with the oil bath hubs so I decided to go this route when I thought it was time to do a repack on the front bearings. Once done it is easy to monitor and service. Cost would have been comparable to just a repack and since I had it done at one of the best chassis service shops made it all the better.

Seemed logical to me.
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Old 09-20-2020, 06:18 AM   #8
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I think using grease or oil in the front wheel hubs is fine. I would just stick with whatever the manufacture used. But whatever lubricant methods is used, the important thing is to inspect it regularly.

The US Army released a report stating why they were switching all their oil bath equipment to grease. There are several reasons listed - report attached. Some of the reasons the Army listed wont apply to us RVers (quicker combat readiness, etc.) but the majority of reasons stated is enough for me to stay with grease packed bearings.
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Old 09-20-2020, 01:00 PM   #9
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I've seen this document before but my thought is that the military invests a substantial amount of capital in both equipment along with the staff to maintain the equipment.

I have no doubt that they follow the maintenance recommendations a lot closer then most private companies as they have the money and people to do the maintenance. They probably do pull the wheels on a prescribed interval and do a complete bearing and seal change and have the correct equipment to handle the hubs of whatever they are working on.

Military equipment is usually run a lot harder and in more harsh environment so it is justified. I doubt you'd want an armored truck breaking down in the middle of a conflict for lack of grease.

I have no doubt that the document you've attached is correct for their purpose.



My RV will never see they conditions the military sees or be run as hard (unless you listen to my wife complain about my driving). For me I'm willing to pop the half moons off and do a visual check of the hub oil on a regular basis.

How often do people pull the wheels/hubs to repack the grease???

Plus, although in my younger day I had handled large components, I am getting too old to deal with it now.
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Old 09-20-2020, 01:11 PM   #10
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If you run a lot of miles on your coach a year oil bath is the way to go if your coach sits a lot grease packed are better for the bearings.
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