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Old 11-01-2019, 10:42 AM   #1
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A question of maintenance

My impression from commentary in the fora is that most folks do routine bearing & wheel maintenance & I do the same. Is that normal or borne of experience? I just think it's prudent.

This has led to a question from my wife as to why we don't see more RV's down on the road (glad we don't) but I get passed by RV's that don't look like any maintenance has been done.

What prompted the question is that a couple of years after a tire failure (2015) I had a bearing failure in 2017 on the same wheel position (road-side rear). Unfortunately, I wasn't where I could to the repair so I had to take it to an industrial trailer shop for repair (replaced bearings & hub). I had lubed the axles every year using the EzLube capability but suspect (and later saw some comments) that the grease I used (Mobil 1) wasn't compatible with the original grease but who knows.

After I got home, I updated the other 3 wheels with self-adjusting brakes and put in new bearings packed with Mobil 1, torqued the spindle nuts to 50 ft-lbs, & backed off to allow the pin to go through. I didn't pull the hub replaced by the trailer place to verify the bearing adjustment (more on that later).



She wondered if others have the same type of experience or are we doing something unique. Is this a weight or loading issue since the failures have been on the same wheel or could it just be that the crap roads are taking a toll on the camper. Bridge approaches seem to be where we have had problems. I run usually about 65 mph & rarely push it to 70 so I donít think speed is the culprit.

I do wish there was a place close by that I could take the camper to and get each wheel weighed when loaded. The only way I can see doing that is find a motor carrier enforcement officer and get them to do it but there is some risk involved there. If Iím overweight, there will most likely be a fine involved.

Fast forward to this October. I was going to pull the wheels to install internal TPMS sensors and thought it would be a good idea to pack the bearings at the same time, Good thing I did, we wouldn't have made it to Florida from central Indiana this winter without serious issues.

I found the tire on the road-side rear (the same one that had a tire and bearing failure & fixed by a trailer place) worn past the point of safety. The wear pattern was a bit strange. It also had maybe an inch of movement at the tire top so that led me to pull the hub (new bearing for sure). What I found was definitely disconcerting as the outer bearing had gotten hot enough to stick to the race. The inner bearing seemed to be ok but the race had some scoring as well. As I pulled the other wheels and bearings, I found that the outer bearings had gotten hot enough to stick and pull, the inners were scored but not to the point of freezing. What is a puzzling me is that the grease that had been in the bearing when packed was gone. One wheel had was dry between the inner and outer bearings & I know that area was full of grease when I had done the initial replacement.

I replaced the races and bearings, repacked with AMASZOIL NGLI#2 grease & replaced the tire. Then I started on the other 3 wheels. The bearings that had been packed with Mobil 1 were all in varying stages of bearing failure down to the point that one looks like it may have turned on the spindle a bit (probably a new axle in the future. All bearings and races have been replaced at this point. I used eTrailer for the parts, unfortunately those are not Timken, NTN, or SKF bearing but some Chinese brand (says China on the bearing) so I will start acquiring sets of US or German bearings for the camper & plan to replace them sometime next year.

When I pack a bearing I use a combination of 2 techniques. First, since I use the NGLI#2 tube grease, I used a new grease gun with a grease needle to initially pack the bearings then use my finger to work the grease through. Iíve done it this way for years & it seems to work well. Once the inner bearing and seal are installed, I pack the area between the inner and outer bearings with grease. Grease is relatively cheap so I try to pack enough in that the cavity is relatively full once the spindle is in place. Then I put grease on the outer race, install the bearing, retainer washer, and castellated nut. Spindle nuts are torqued to 50 ft-lbs then backed off to allow the retainer key to be inserted. I turn the wheel while torquing the nut so that Iím not getting a false reading & that the bearings seat properly in the races.


I'm open to suggestions on how to prevent or identify what is causing this,
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:20 AM   #2
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Al, reads like you do exactly as I've done for many years hand packing the bearings annually, other than I just use a high temp parts store brand bearing grease & I never torqued the castle nut (no torque wrench), always went by the feel spinning the wheel, 45+ years & no bearing failures KNOCK ON WOOD. Not sure why on this particular RV your having all the issues. Possibly overloaded??
One exception, I do not/will not use the EZ lube under any circumstances stances. The factory or the selling dealer used it apparently before I purchased & while snowbirding the 1st winter with it I decided to inspect the brakes/bearings only to find all 4 brake drums FULL of grease due to grease bypassing the cheap Chinese grease seal, fortunately I was reimbursed for the brake assemblies & drum turning, my labor was free.
So my recommendation is NEVER use the EZ lube feature!!!
If you find a state DOT scale somewhere you could offer to pay for individual wheel weights to know for sure, don't think they'd fine you if you explained you're situation. We stayed at a KOA that offered this for truck & RV for $50, money well spent for peace of mind.
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:29 AM   #3
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Don't know if this helps but this is what i do each spring.

Pull the seals - inner and outer bearings and wash out thoroughly. Clean all grease from the hub.

Repack the bearings. I put a blob of grease in my palm and drag the bearing thru it until it comes thru the rollers. I use a "long fiber wheel bearing grease" i think its Valvoline but not sure - i will check next time i am in the shop.

I then pack grease in the center of the hub and install the greased bearings and new "double lip seals".

I take this time to inspect and clean the brakes and adjust them. Including the wiring and magnets.

After the outer bearing install the washer and nut and tighten the nut while spinning the drum. I use a large pair of Channellock pliers and tighten the pretty good then loosen them completely then tighten by hand till i can install the cotter pin.

After i install the tire i spin it while pumping some grease thru the fitting till some starts to come out.

This is what i do and have done for years and have never had a bearing failure yet. Also about mid season i raise the wheels and while spinning the tire add a little grease.
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Old 11-01-2019, 02:10 PM   #4
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50 lb of torque and backing off only one nut face is way to tight. It won't matter how good your grease is. I've been a HD mechanic for 20 years and a set of 500lb duel tires on a trail doesn't even get set that tight.

you should hand pack your bearings, then assemble with a hand full of grease in each hub. this is only a emergency type grease as it will melt when the bearings get hot and flow to failing bearing. (basically bearing has failed but it might not seize before you get stopped and repaired).
Now for adjusting the bearing.
1. torque to 50 lbs while spinning hub and tire. then stop bearing from spinning and back nut off. basically this will set the bearings on spindle and ensure they will go on in a perfect straight adjustment.

2. hand tighten with fingers while spinning. you should be able to feel very small amount of top to bottom play. stop spinning to check play. Keep moving castle nut until you feel no play. then back it up until you can get the cotter pin in. But you must have some play.

3. If a bearing is left at the no play point the roller is press against the inner race and will generate heat. I also will never use the ez grease nipples. having to much grease has been known to cause heat as well. And there is a risk of pushing the seal and contaminating the brakes. Seals are cheap but brakes are not, I do this every 15,000 km which is close to 10,000 miles.

Also get rid of all bearings that are china made. timken bearings are best, SKF can be made in either china or USA. So make sure you car getting USA made. When changing bearings make sure outer races are always replaced.
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Old 11-01-2019, 04:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dagst1 View Post
I use a "long fiber wheel bearing grease" ...
I think a big cause of bearing failure is people using the wrong kind of grease. I think many failures are because people are using a lithium chassis grease and not a fibrous wheel bearing grease. I've been doing truck maintenance and automotive repair since the late '60s, as a hobby and as income while I was going to college. You need to use wheel bearing grease in wheel bearings. I use a dual cone bearing backer, https://www.amazon.com/Lumax-LX-1310.../dp/B000MD3EL2, to pump grease into a bearing.

Another thing many people do wrong is spinning a wheel bearing with compressed air to dry it after washing the bearing. You can blow it with compressed air to get the water out, but do not spin it with the blow gun. And, make sure it is thoroughly dry before you repack it.
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Old 11-01-2019, 05:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavisK View Post
I think a big cause of bearing failure is people using the wrong kind of grease. I think many failures are because people are using a lithium chassis grease and not a fibrous wheel bearing grease. I've been doing truck maintenance and automotive repair since the late '60s, as a hobby and as income while I was going to college. You need to use wheel bearing grease in wheel bearings. I use a dual cone bearing backer, https://www.amazon.com/Lumax-LX-1310.../dp/B000MD3EL2, to pump grease into a bearing.

Another thing many people do wrong is spinning a wheel bearing with compressed air to dry it after washing the bearing. You can blow it with compressed air to get the water out, but do not spin it with the blow gun. And, make sure it is thoroughly dry before you repack it.

I should have added all that. Only use grease that is labelled wheel bearing grease. Most tubes of grease now contain bits of teflon. wheel bearing grease will not. Or it will be very fine, if it does contain any additives.
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Old 11-01-2019, 09:41 PM   #7
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Travelin Texans, dagst1, Miniozzy3, & DavisK, THANK YOU!

Thanks for pointing out the error in my process and how I had tightened the bearings. I went back and re-read the Lippert manual. I will go out tomorrow, pull the tires back off, pull the caps, pull the pins, undo the nuts, and then retighten using your procedure (same as in the Lippert manual).

You probably saved me a disaster so if we ever meet in person, I owe you a beverage of your choice.

I will acquire over the winter and spring some Timken, SKF, or NTN bearings (US or German) & redo this again next year.

I appreciate everyone on this forum. Even though I've been working on vehicles and such for most of my 70 years, I appreciate those with more experience and teach me something.

Travelin Texans, dagst1, Miniozzy3, & DavisK thanks again for your counsel.
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Old 11-01-2019, 09:53 PM   #8
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Glad to be of some help. That's the good thing about the camping family.
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:48 PM   #9
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Glad it was caught before disaster. I envy you if your close to 70 and still doing your own work. I’m only 49 and constantly think I should be paying someone else these days.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Miniozzy3 View Post
Glad it was caught before disaster. I envy you if your close to 70 and still doing your own work. Iím only 49 and constantly think I should be paying someone else these days.

There are days that I have to wonder but I've been doing as much of this as I could for a long time just to save money and let us go do other things. I started when my dad was still farming & had to work on tractors to keep us going. It's been just a way of life for me.



I saw where you are a heavy truck mechanic. You have my respect as that isn't easy. Our grandson is just starting heavy diesel school but but has a couple of years to go. He loves it. He's in school but working for a tire shop doing brakes, bearings, and the other things he's certified for.



I did diesels in my younger days but I don't have the tools to do the new electronic controls. I did mechanical diesels, gas engines, pulling engines, and motorcycles. When I got out of the Army I did service work on the side on Jaguars, Volvo's, and Rover's mostly on SU & Stromberg carbs. Now I do stuff I can like basic maintenance but if it requires any of the code readers or the service consoles, I have to rely on the dealers.



Thanks again for your help.
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