Posted by Tim on 9/11/2013 to Boat Trailers
Although trailer bearings are an extremely simple and small part of the wheel, they have a tremendous impact on just how well the trailer itself will function. You have to face the fact that faulty bearings will essentially take your trailer out of commission. However, there is no need to fret over the potential cost of making the repair. This job is a simple one that can be done from home by virtually anyone with the right tools.
If you have made it to the point that you need to replace the bearings, then the chances are good that you have had to grease them before or, conversely, you have never greased them which has lead to the problem you are now facing. Either way, it is time to open up the wheel hub. It is wise to do this job before they actually break or lack the ability to provide smooth rotation so that you do not end up doing the job on the side of the road. Before you begin the process of removing the wheel hub, you should get together the following tools in order to get the job done. Gather pliers, a hammer, a lug wrench, and a flat-head screwdriver.
The first step in the process is to loosen the lug nuts. Only loosen them slightly at first just before you use a jack to lift the trailer far enough off the ground to lessen the pressure on the tire. After the tire is in the air, completely remove the lug nuts. The next component that you must deal with is either a dust cap or bearing protectors. In the case of a dust cap, use your screwdriver to pry the part off. If you are removing a bearing protector, removal may be more difficult, requiring a few taps with a hammer.
Access to the bearings is protected by the cotter pin. This pin holds the castle nut in place. Remove the pin and nut in order to reach the washer which must also be removed. The wheel hub should now simply slide off of the spindle situated in the wheel center. Any difficulty in removing the hub may indicate further damage beyond just the bearings. In the worse case scenarios, you may have to rock the hub back and forth, make use of a rubber mallet, or bite the bullet and take the trailer to a professional.
The next pieces to take off are the outer bearings and the spindle washer. You can then remove the inner seal and inner bearing as well. It is smart to do a little maintenance at this point in the process because most of the work is already done at this point. Clean both the inner and outer cages for the bearing in order to remove as much old grease as possible. Finally, remove the old bearings, and put the new ones in place. If there are signs of rust or corrosion on the cages, then it is a good idea to replace these parts as well. Apply new grease when you reverse the removal process in order to ensure smooth rolling for a long time to come. This procedure outlines the most basic way to get the job done. It can be performed more quickly, however, with the help of a specialized tool known as a bearing packer.
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