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Old 04-05-2005, 12:26 PM   #1
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Wheel Bearing Replacement?

I'm getting ready to repack the wheel bearings on our 2001 Bambi 19', and am considering going ahead and replacing the bearings. My wife & I put about 10,000 miles on the Bambi last year, but I don't know how many it had on it before we got it (the PO said about 2000). I thought it might be good to start fresh and know what I have. My questions are as follows:

1. is it a good idea to simply replace wheel bearings periodically even when the visual inspection looks okay?

2. How many miles should a set of bearings last?

3. Should I use original equipment bearings from Airstream or is there a better replacement bearing?
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Old 04-05-2005, 12:53 PM   #2
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Why are you thinking about replacing the bearings? If they are not scored, pitted, burned, etc. then just clean & repack them.

If you do decide to replace the bearings, then you should also replace the cups/cones at the same time. This is because the old component has a distinct pattern worn into its raceway and mixing it with a new matting component may set up edge stresses along the raceway. Timken recommends that the mating of components, the bearings and cup/cone, be from the same manufacturer.
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Old 04-05-2005, 01:06 PM   #3
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Dave, unless your bearings have signs of wear, i.e. scarring or bluish brown color, I would leave it alone.
I recently replaced mine, which had a lot of wear signs, and also the trailer is a 1959 model and I didn't know how long it had been since they were replaced.
I would love to replace the whole axle and brake set up with a newer beefier spindles and anti lock disc brakes, but it's way down on the list of house hold expenses!
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Old 04-05-2005, 04:19 PM   #4
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Dave,

#1 - No
#2 - With frequent maintence (repacking) for ever, or at least 100,000 miles
#3 - Makes no difference. Airstream does not make the bearings. If they are quality bearings like say Timkin or ? they will do the job. And then service them well.

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Old 04-13-2005, 07:47 AM   #5
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My 94 has crossed the USA many times before I owned it. I suspect it has well over 100k miles on it. I just pulled all the bearings, six wheels, two inner bearings had a slight trace of brown on them but the races were clean. Bearing were tight, so I repacked and will know to look at them again next year. I dreaded doing this job but when I finally did it took no more than a couple of hours to do it all. Time well spent, one broken brake spring and a missing brake adjuster, linings looked good.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:26 AM   #6
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Just repack them. Good Timken bearings are often replaced with cheaper bearings made in China. I would rather have old Timkens than new Chinese.

I have an equipment trailer that has close to 10K miles on it, over a 7 year period. Never repacked.
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Old 04-13-2005, 10:03 AM   #7
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We had a long time (family owned, 3rd generation) dealer tell me that the bearings used in these trailers are actualy better than those used in cars. Is it really necessary to repack/replace bearings if this is true?

I know there is a general feeling in the forum that this is necessary work. I am just hoping to present the counter opinion and get some open and honest thoughts/discussion.
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Old 04-13-2005, 10:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sovereignrwe
.....Is it really necessary to repack/replace bearings if this is true?....
Tear down, clean, inspect, repack, check the brakes - once a year - will take a couple of hours.

Cheap insurance.
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Old 04-13-2005, 10:25 AM   #9
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Checking & repacking the bearings is just as important as changing oil in your TV only you donít have to do it as often. A dry bearing will bring your trip to a halt require a very expensive repair up to replacing the axle, also you may need a flatbed tow to the repair shop.

"Yes" you need to check & if required repack it is a very important part of routine maintenance. I check my boat bearings twice a year and AS every other year.

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Old 04-13-2005, 12:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by garry
Checking & repacking the bearings is just as important as changing oil in your TV only you donít have to do it as often. A dry bearing will bring your trip to a halt require a very expensive repair up to replacing the axle, also you may need a flatbed tow to the repair shop.
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Old 04-13-2005, 02:19 PM   #11
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Then why might a long time Airstream Dealer tell me that it isn't important as the bearings are better than cars and we don't perform the same work on cars - which tend to go many more miles in the life of the car?

Are we hanging on to a myth and doing work merely because we have always done it that way or have always been told to do it that way?

Again, please know that I am not trying to be argumentative, rather challenging in an effort to understand.
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Old 04-13-2005, 02:34 PM   #12
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I am not sure I understand the above question, however I will give it a shot.

The wheel bearings in a car are used far more than in any Airstream. However, the load on those wheel bearing on an Airstream (or most trailers) are usuall maxed out or close to being maxed out.

So in a car application the cleaning and repacking used to be at 30,000 miles. However there are a fair number of vehicles, where the bearings are never serviced. (repacked) My Lincoln listed below is an example. The rear wheel bearings in a Ford Escort is another example I can think of. These wheel bearings are sealed and never repacked. Only replacement when necessary. My Lincoln has 127,000 mile on it and the wheel bearings have never been looked at.

On a trailer, the wheel bearings have a total different experience. Either at rest for long periods of time. (Not necessarily a good thing) Or supporting a fully loaded trailer going down the road at speed. The type of load that an Airstream wheel bearing experiences is one of being maxed out. I would expect that the quality of a trailer wheel bearing to be better than a car, cause if the use. And frequent (annual) inspection to be necessary for the same reason.

As to replacement just because or to get to a known starting point ..... well that's a bit much in my opinion. Visual inspection should be good enough to find out what are the condition of the bearings. If they look good repack and be done.

And as a side note, I have also seen debris introduced by the person servicing the wheel bearings. Which is another reason auto manufacturers have gone to sealed bearings.

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Old 04-13-2005, 05:39 PM   #13
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When I bought my 1975 As 2 years ago I put on new tires and inspected the brakes and replaced the wheel seals, cups and cones. The old ones showed some wear on them. I also replaced the grease in the electric jack at the hitch.
It is important to listen to AS people to learn what to do with your trailer before you have big problems.
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:41 PM   #14
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Grease in the bearings services the same purpose as oil in your engine and that is "friction managment.

Go to the Timkin website they are most likely the ones who made your bearings.
This is a link to the FAQ page.
Also do a google search on wheel bearings.


http://www.timken.com/industries/industrial/faq.asp#22

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