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Old 02-20-2017, 02:52 PM   #1
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Sealed wheel bearings??

Recently on a Facebook group I ran across the age old question. when do you pack your bearings? In the discussion someone mentioned they have sealed wheel bearings. Some people didn't believe the man so I googled it. Low and behold they do exist!

Anyone here have any experience with them?

Can you take the regular bearing and race out and replace them with sealed?

Where do you get them?

I have a 93 Jayco 5th wheel. we put on about 4,000 miles a year. Im going to have to replace my wheel bearings soon. They were questionable last year but I packed them anyway and crossed my fingers. This sound like a good deal to me. I am farmer I work on many pieces of equipment so I am familiar with what a sealed bearing is. I have seen them fail but anything with moving parts is going to fail eventually.
06 forest river Cardinal 34 TS towed by 03 freightliner Columbia HDT 435 hp 60 series Detroit, 10 speed, 3:55 gears with full locker. 260 inch wheel base. I am a Father, Farmer, and A Trucker.
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Old 02-20-2017, 03:26 PM   #2
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Not sure but my educated guess is if a bearing is a sealed unit then it will/may have synthetic grease in it which is good. Most rear wheel hub bearings are sealed units and get 70-K + miles on them.

Since they are a sealed unit which means the race is part of the set up then how will you do a bearing adjustment?? Just off the top of my old head that may be the primary reason why sealed bearings are not used with a two bearing set up which is designed so wheel bearing play can be adjusted.

Rear hub bearings are sealed and do not require an adjustment. Starter and alternator bearings are sealed and do not require an adjustment.

So with that thinking my guess is there is little if any side load on sealed bearings. On sealed bearings their primary forces are at right angles to the axis of rotation and little forces at a 45 degree or like you were going around a corner. The tapered roller bearings main purpose is better side force friction reduction and control.

Just because that is my opinion now does not mean that things have not changed and maybe they do make sealed bearings that would work for a trailer or set up using the two tapered roller bearings and therefore will require an adjustment.
TeJay Auto Instructor/4-yrs USAF/ Liz: RN/ WBGO 2014 Vista 30T/ F-53/CHF/5-Star/Koni * Bella & Izzy * Golden /Cocker mix/ Louie The Cat* All Retired
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Old 02-20-2017, 05:40 PM   #3
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If you have the part numbers for the bearing and race you might be able to find a sealed bearing to replace the set. Do some searches using the bearing numbers and you may get lucky.

I working in the mining industry for years, there are applications for sealed bearings.

Good Luck
Jim J
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Old 02-20-2017, 05:57 PM   #4
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Most of the sealed bearings are/were Dexter NevRLubes--there seems to be a trend away from them, it has been mentioned that they may fail without warning, since there is no adjustment. And they are machined to the axle spindle, so you can't replace a sealed bearing with a standard, or vice versa.
I had NevRLubes on my '05 Suites until just before a trip to AK in '12--opted to replace them arbitrarily and they were all in good shape. Replaced them again in '14 when I upsized the axles. Traded it off last month with the '14 models still in and having gone thru another AK trip in '16. So my experience with them has been positive.
I think they are much harder to come by nowadays.
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Old 02-22-2017, 07:38 PM   #5
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Sealed bearings have been around a long time. My 37 years in the truck repair business I have seen these come and go. Most of the time in the "lifetime" or Unitized hub assemblies you can only use the same as a replacement. Same goes for the regular bearing assemblies. There have been many concerns about the sealed bearing units. We have seen many early failures and the sealed units are more expensive. It is better in my opinion to take good care of your standard bearings than to rely on the sealed units and not do routine maintenance.
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Old 02-22-2017, 08:24 PM   #6
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Would never buy another trailer with Never Lube bearings.
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Old 02-22-2017, 08:47 PM   #7
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Dexter actually shipped us a free set of Easy Lube axles to replace our Never Lube axles and paid a shop to change them. We had two bearing failures in less than 10,000 miles. I would not even consider owning an RV with Never Lube bearings. RV was a Titanium by Glendale 5th wheel.
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Old 02-23-2017, 06:51 AM   #8
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The Never-Lube bearings had no distance between the races. That design caused way more stress than a conventional design with the bearings spaced some distance apart. Stupid design by stupid engineers.
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Old 02-23-2017, 06:54 AM   #9
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Most motorcycles run sealed bearings since they don't see the side loading like an auto/truck or a trailer sees.

I would never consider a sealed bearing on my TT.
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Old 02-23-2017, 07:00 AM   #10
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Much like Rambeau, I'll never own another trailer with sealed bearings (i.e. Nevr-Lube). You fail a bearing, you might have a chance on saving the axle. If not, and like my case, second owner of a Titanium, had to pay for replacement axles though at a greatly reduced price. These bearing capsules are not interchangeable with the conventional bearings. The 5200/6000 pound axles are the most notorious. If you want more nasty history on Nevr-Lube bearing axles, here's a place to start: or you can search the Titanium Owners Group website here -
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Old 02-23-2017, 07:27 AM   #11
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There are many areas of cars, trucks, or just vehicles in general that have gone through modifications or attempted improvements for two reasons.

To reduce the need for routine or scheduled maintenance and to remove the consumer from the mix. If and when some areas of any vehicle are not regularly maintained by competent technicians they will begin to emit harmful exhaust emissions or require unscheduled service which usually falls onto the dealer to rep[air for free.

What has changed?? I'll just list a few items. The COP ignition coil design. COP is "Coil Over Plug. That was introduced to eliminate spark plug wires that failed causing higher emissions. We have no ignition points which changed and needed constant adjustments to maintain a good spark. We no longer have carburetors, ignition caps or rotors for the same reasons. All fuel and spark is controlled by the CPU as of 1980. Torque to yield bolts for aluminum engines.

The auto industry had to guarantee that your vehicles emissions would last 50,000 miles.

The TT industry has tried with little luck the use of a grease gun to lubricate wheel bearings. The boating industry did it based on the fact that the trailer wheels were immersed into water every time the boat was launched. If you tell an owner to give it two squirts of grease most will think if 2 is good then 4 or 5 or 6 are better. The inner wheel seals get blown out and which usually the drum brakes.

Then the never lube bearings were tried again with mixed results. Part of this was begun based on the fact that the TT industry is the only industry which expects the owners to re-pack and lube the cheap bearings every 12,000 miles or 12 months.

I say that based on this fact. When we had a lot of FWD (front wheel drive) vehicles with the 2 bearing front wheel design, (just like a TT) we usually packed those bearings when we did a front brake repair of usually around 30,000 to 40,000 miles.

Then why is it that the TT industry expects owners to do that re-pack every 12 or 12?? Very simple. They are covering their butts because of the cheap CHINA bearings which may either be under rated for the weight or just cheap and probably won't last.

We had a TT and after just one trip (maybe 2,000 miles) to FL and back home all bushings on both axles were worn out completely. Why would they expect anything less. They were made out of plastic instead of a bronze material. Yes bronze is more expensive but it will last for many, many miles.

Sealed bearings have their place but it's not on a 2-bearing system which has a lot of side loading.
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Old 02-23-2017, 08:12 AM   #12
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With all this talk about sealed wheel bearings, I'll bet 90% of the front wheel drive cars on the road use them. They last into the 100,000 mile range and beyond.

Bulldozers use sealed bearings in the track idlers and wheels, talk about extreme duty. The only grease fitting is to adjust the track tension.

It's not the bearings, They are a proven design. It has to be the application.


Got me thinking, maybe a little low on tire air pressure, or a little heavy on the trailer brake application adjustment, or a little over the designed bearing speed, or maybe a combination of some of the above is the cause of sealed bearing overheating and then failure.
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Old 02-23-2017, 12:53 PM   #13
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We have had Never Lube bearings on our last two 5th wheels with no issues. Does not mean that we will not in the future but 7 years for the 1st 5th wheel and 5 years on the current one.
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Old 02-23-2017, 02:38 PM   #14
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You are absolutely correct on the application of the sealed bearings. With the FWD drive vehicles they all have a hub bearing and CV axles. The CV axles allow turning of the front wheels while applying power and allows for the up and down suspension movement. The CV axles are probably absorbing the side thrust abuse and not the sealed bearings. The hub sealed bearings keep the axle in place laterally and vertically.

To use them on a 2 bearing set up like a TT or the older style RWD vehicles it has to control and absorb laterally, vertically and at an 45 degree angle or leaning pressures. The tapered roller bearing was the perfect design to absorb stress in all directions.
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