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Old 06-18-2008, 02:55 PM   #1
2005 31' Classic
Bedford , New Hampshire
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 9
short circuit/mice entry point/bearings replaced

I went to start the bearing repacking task for the first time and as soon as I hitched up the brake controller indicated a short circuit. Some of the other posts about troubleshooting brakes had helpful info like using a jumper across the 7 way plug to energize the brakes. Normally there is a noticeable buzzing sound when the brakes are activated, but there was nothing, even though the jumper wire got hot, indicating current was going through it. I also tried pulling the breakaway switch pin, and found the switch got pretty warm after a minute or so. Voltage back at the brake wires and on the downstream side of the breakaway switch measured about 2 volts which rapidly dropped off to zero - all this pointed to a short, but where to find it?

Back in January I found evidence mice had gotten in and had been under the sofa, but all this wiring looked fine. I traced the light blue wire from the 7 way plug to the black junction box under the sofa , where it connects at one post with the dark blue wire coming back in from the breakaway switch. There is also a black wire connected here - the manual only shows #12 blue wires in the brake system, so I thought maybe this was the brake lights. When I connected this black wire to positive from the battery connections, it sparked and got warm fast, so this was the wire that was shorting out. This wire joins a white ground wire, and goes into a grey insulation jacket just before it goes out the floor right where the 7 way and breakaway switch, etc wires come in. The wires travel along the streetside of the trailer, and enter the underside near where the stabilizer jack is located. For about a three inch length, all the insulation had been nibbled away, exposing the wires where they enter the trailer. I wrapped the wires in electrical tape and some heat shrink tubing, then tested again and found the short was fixed. The good news was that the mice only ate enough insulation to get inside the trailer and did not chew any more of the brake wires inside where repairs would be difficult or impossible. This seems like the obvious spot to check for a short first, but I had gone down the path of disconnecting the brake wires at each wheel and trying to test the magnets - I'll know where to look first if I have trouble again

On the bearings - surprised to find that there was red grease applied over the original brown grease - I am sure this was not done at the factory, but rather at the now-defunct dealer. The red grease was just slopped on the outside of the bearings rather than being packed into them. The bearings from the first wheel seemed fine after a careful cleaning so I wound up re-using them.
The other three had the red grease as well, but the outer bearings did not look right - they did not have the shiny chrome appearance of new ones, but had a brownish-yellow discoloration. The inner bearings looked ok, except for a dark brown/black discoloration on the inside surface where they contact the spindle, and the grease had a bad sort of burnt odor. On top of that, I checked for play before disassembly and could not get any noticeable rock when trying to move the tires. It seemed to make sense now to just replace everything, and so I bought four complete sets of inner and outer bearings and races from a Timken distributor, picked up a brass drift punch set, and went at it. Maybe this was overdoing it, but I feel a lot better about the new bearings

I am wondering if I should go back to the first wheel and just replace the bearings there too instead of running with the original set?

I was relying on the fact that we bought the trailer new at the end of 2005 and we hadn't done that many miles yet so I skipped this exercise last year Anyway, learned a lesson here

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Old 06-18-2008, 03:41 PM   #2
Well Preserved

1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 19,573
I think the red grease may have been applied as part of the bearing recall from around that time. I dislike mixing lubricants, as you never know for sure what the additives in the different formulas will do with and to each other.
As for the bearings, it wouldn't hurt to replace the only ones you haven't done, that way you will have a baseline for when they were replaced. There is probably nothing wrong with the ones there now, but it is kind of like replacing tires, you may as well do 4 if you do 3.

Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 06-18-2008, 05:33 PM   #3
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1991 34' Excella
Princeton , New Jersey
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 6,309
Images: 12
I think what you saw in the bearing was Red Valvoline grease originally applied at the factory.

I installed new axles in 2005 and when I repacked the this spring I found just what you are describing. The grease in and around the rollers was orange and the grease not subject to motion was the original red color. Also the underside of the spindles were marked rust brown. See the attached picture. There was no scoring or pitting on the spindles but the discoloration did not leave a warm and cuddly feeling.

I talked to Valvoline and they said the grease has water in it as it comes from the factory. Not sure why.

I talked to Henschen and they offered no help at all.

I took pictures of each of the bottoms of the spindles and will compare them when I next repack the bearings.

I suspect another thing you will find is the seals are only single lip and when you go to install the correct double lip seals the spindle will be rusty at the contact point for the outer lip. The hole thing is cheap Chinese.

I would also ask you to look at the magnets just where they float on the arm. Magnet dust had collected in the hole to a point that the magnets no longer floated but in fact were stuck to a point that I had no brakes because the magnets could no longer contact the armature.
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2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 06-18-2008, 06:43 PM   #4
2005 31' Classic
Bedford , New Hampshire
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 9
Hi Terry, HowieE,

thanks for replies - I think I will go ahead and replace the bearings in the first wheel - now that I've had so much practice it should go pretty fast.

after all the postings here about bearings and not mixing grease I was pretty concerned about seeing two types. The manufacturing date on the trailer is 11/04, so this probably does relate to the recall. I had called the factory for help in diagnosing the short and mentioned the grease mixture, the guy seemed surprised and said that was not done at the a/s factory.

the pictures are very helpful - my spindles do have similar discoloration on the bottom - same as yours, no scoring or pitting but I don't like it much. The seals were the double lip style, and I bought a set of new ones from an a/s dealer. Didn't seem to have any rust around where the seal sits though.

The magnets move on the arm fine - no sign of sticking, but that is a great point you bring up - an important check to make for annual inspection.

I think my brakes are fine now, I only have one side connected back up but there is the familiar humming sound if I sit in the truck and tap the brakes. I am planning to road test before heading off on the first trip.


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Old 06-18-2008, 07:20 PM   #5
Well Preserved

1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 19,573
Some discoloration is normal, and to be expected. The rusty-looking stuff may well be from water intrusion, so by all means, replace the seals and make sure the dust caps on the hubs are straight and round, and make firm contact with the inner edge of the hub.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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