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Old 10-26-2007, 11:57 AM   #1
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Too much maintenance?

Over the past five years I've been regularly posting about maintenance topics on this forum. However, it occurs to me that "too much maintenance" is a possibility. For example:

1. Wheel bearings are frequently recommended for annual dismantling and re-greasing. I don't do this. I only tow the Airstream about 1500 miles each winter, and for 8 months the trailer is up on blocks to prevent galling of the bearings and distortion of the tires. Stripping down the bearings involves exposing the bearings to contamination from dirt and dust and water. In addition the inner race of the bearing cannot be dismantled for inspection of the internal parts. I therefore have to wash the grease out of the bearing, and rely on feel and sound to check the bearing. This is hardly a thorough check. I therefore rely on spinning the wheel for smoothness, and rocking it to check end float. If there is any doubt, I fit a new bearing from a high quality manufacturer. I might strip down the bearings and replace the grease every five years.

2. Furnace. I see recommendations for annual servicing. I don’t do this. We probably use the furnace for 6 hours a day for 60 days each winter. Servicing involves removal of the furnace, splitting various gasket joints, disturbing wiring and connectors, and hoping that, on re-assembly, the unit is working as well as before. I have carried out my own overhaul, cleaning, and fitting of new parts. However, I prefer to rely on visual inspection of the color of the flame (no yellow), inspection of the color of the exhaust (no excessive carbon), and a digital carbon monoxide meter and alarm. I also have a stainless steel grille fitted over the exhaust tubes to prevent mud daubers nesting in the furnace. I will probably carry out a full overhaul every five years.

3. Refrigerator. As we rarely use the refrigerator on propane I would service the jet and flue only about every five years.

4. Door locks. Graphite powder is recommended to lubricate locks, but it is easy to overdo this, and jam up the locks with graphite. A light dusting on the keys once a year does it for me, and I’m very sparing on oiling hinges, as this tends to get on clothing.


5. Brakes. I see recommendations for mileage and time intervals for brake adjustment. At only 1500 miles each year, I prefer to judge the efficiency of the brakes on the road, monitored by my digital infrared thermometer for even braking over the four wheels, as an indicator of requirements for adjustment. I also measure the current consumption with a digital multimeter. I would dismantle and inspect the magnets and linings every five years when I re-greased the wheel bearings.

6. Stainless arms on Zip Dee awning. These arms would look better after using a mild abrasive polish, but stainless relies on a very thin layer of oxide for its “stainlessness”, so I just use soap and water.


I don’t recommend these procedures for others, and our mileage and weather conditions will vary our maintenance schedules. I just thought that it was an interesting discussion point. BTW, I try to make up for the above lack of maintenance by being obsessive about tire pressure and temperature, rig loading and weight distribution, carbon monoxide monitoring, condition of propane lines, water leak prevention, cleanliness of the water tank, frame corrosion etc, so perhaps I’m forgiven.

Nick.
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Old 10-26-2007, 12:58 PM   #2
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Just one thing to say. I like your style. Nud said.
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Old 10-26-2007, 01:03 PM   #3
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Nick,
I agree with you all the way. When's the last time you packed the bearings on your auto or truck............?
How bout the heater in same?
Use it or lose it.
We're fulltimers and us all the parts of our Stream.
Good thread from someone who know's what he's talking about.
Gary
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Old 10-26-2007, 01:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickcrowhurst
Over the past five years I've been regularly posting about maintenance topics on this forum. However, it occurs to me that "too much maintenance" is a possibility. For example:

1. Wheel bearings are frequently recommended for annual dismantling and re-greasing. I don't do this. I only tow the Airstream about 1500 miles each winter, and for 8 months the trailer is up on blocks to prevent galling of the bearings and distortion of the tires. Stripping down the bearings involves exposing the bearings to contamination from dirt and dust and water. In addition the inner race of the bearing cannot be dismantled for inspection of the internal parts. I therefore have to wash the grease out of the bearing, and rely on feel and sound to check the bearing. This is hardly a thorough check. I therefore rely on spinning the wheel for smoothness, and rocking it to check end float. If there is any doubt, I fit a new bearing from a high quality manufacturer. I might strip down the bearings and replace the grease every five years.

5. Brakes. I see recommendations for mileage and time intervals for brake adjustment. At only 1500 miles each year, I prefer to judge the efficiency of the brakes on the road, monitored by my digital infrared thermometer for even braking over the four wheels, as an indicator of requirements for adjustment. I also measure the current consumption with a digital multimeter. I would dismantle and inspect the magnets and linings every five years when I re-greased the wheel bearings.

I donít recommend these procedures for others, and our mileage and weather conditions will vary our maintenance schedules. I just thought that it was an interesting discussion point. BTW, I try to make up for the above lack of maintenance by being obsessive about tire pressure and temperature, rig loading and weight distribution, carbon monoxide monitoring, condition of propane lines, water leak prevention, cleanliness of the water tank, frame corrosion etc, so perhaps Iím forgiven.

Nick.
There are many parts of our country, that are still fortunate to have "rain," and/or high humidity at night.

During the summer months, because of the ambient temperature, hub and drums and the bearings do get warm from just sitting out in the sun.

When night time comes around, the humidity increases sometimes dramatically.

Since the bearing systems are not sealed, moisture will collect in the hubs, because of these temperature changes. This will happen without "any" towing related heat.

Therefore, it "is" wise to inspect the bearings every 10,000 miles, "or once a year."

If you doubt the above facts, then remember what has happened to thousands of "double pane windows," especially the wing windows.

Assuming that moisture has not collected in the bearings, is a huge possible safety risk. If the moisture is there, then the bearings or a part of a bearing can rust. That will lead to an early bearing failure.

Using the trailer often, if you wish, gets rid of the water and/or moisture.

It is the seldom or little used trailer that can have the problem.

Andy
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Old 10-26-2007, 07:13 PM   #5
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I agree that some go a bit overboard on maintenance things but that shouldn't cause one to completely ignore it either.

For an example of what Andy is talking about, see the picture of the spindle at Bryan and Dave's Greasy Adventure. This is a high desert area with little rain. The daily temp changes can cause what little moisture there is to creep in and do its thing.

I had a spider creep into my propane match, a small one, and that made it nearly unusable. For some reason, spiders like propane and the residual smell in water heater and furnace blowers can attract them over time. That means burners obstructed by flamable material that builds.

Same with batteries. What kills them is sitting, unattended and lonely.

Bearing repacking is as much an inspection as it is a maintenance procedure. Hopefully that is all that most of the routine maintenance entails. The less you use your equipment, the more carefully you need to inspect it to make sure it is ready when you need it.
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Old 10-27-2007, 07:58 AM   #6
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...being a new owner, it is important to 'know' your airstream and it is really awesome to have a forum to make call out assistance. Knowing about the basics, tires wheels, heating, towing, electrical and knowing with practice where everything is and what it does is important...my latest question is beneath the aluminum skin of the airstreams,- what is the fundamental insulation packing. Does anybody know? We are going to winter in Oklahoma and expect a mild winter (maybe!)...we plan on under-pinning the girth of the trailer with 2' hieghth plywood that is anchored at the base with railroad ties (thus won't have to attach anything to the vessel itself)...also in freezing conditions does one leave the water 'streaming so as not to freeze, we only use the hotwater for batheing and dishes so we turn it on and off, so while not in use, I have heard one could place a lightbulb near the source of water (tank) and this will keep it from freezing....well I have blabbed enough. Whats ya'lls story?
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Old 10-27-2007, 11:08 AM   #7
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I do not grease the wheel bearnings once a year, not on any of my vehicles nor on my trailers. Although I live in the humid South, I've never had a problem. Any condensation seems to be taken care of by the grease that is covering all the bearings and races. If this were a large problem, I wonder what happens to those bearings that are lubed for "life?" I'm not discouraging anyone from doing theirs once a year, as is often recommended. I'm only saying once a year does, indeed, sound a bit like overkill unless there are unusual conditions, like a boat trailer which is submerged in water.
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Old 10-27-2007, 11:43 AM   #8
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I'm only saying once a year does, indeed, sound a bit like overkill
I think that is on the opposite end of "too much maintenance" and getting close to the question of just how much is enough? - and how can you tell?

The annual bearing job idea is a standard recommendation and that means it is probably very conservative in many cases. It is probably a good place to start but how do you know if you should maintain that schedule or not?

This reminds me of the discussions about the maintenance computers on new automobiles. Some folks are still into changing their oil every 3k/3mo while others accept what the car computer says while yet others totally ignore such things except to add oil on occasion if it looks low.

Your trailer doesn't have a computer to monitor use so you have to go back to the time schedule. You also can't send the oil in for a test to determine if in needs changing or not. Lug nut torque, battery electrolyte level, lights, connections, hitch bolts, safety chains, and many other things depend upon a schedule first followed by experience gained later. That experience is gained by following the schedule and seeing how often maintenance is really needed for your environment and circumstances.

If you do not know how to tell if maintenance is really needed, are uncomfortable with using experience that way, or are changing environment or circumstances, then figure that into your maintenance schedule, too. You always have the mfg rec's to fall back on and then hope that whoever is doing the work is doing it right.

You don't want surprises on the road but have to accept that no matter how much you put into maintenance they are still a risk. So you balance things out to suit your way of thinking and learn from experience. It is not an easy nor a trivial decision.
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Old 10-27-2007, 12:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Leipper
You don't want surprises on the road but have to accept that no matter how much you put into maintenance they are still a risk. So you balance things out to suit your way of thinking and learn from experience. It is not an easy nor a trivial decision.
Very well put, Bryan.
Nick.
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:39 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In
Assuming that moisture has not collected in the bearings, is a huge possible safety risk. If the moisture is there, then the bearings or a part of a bearing can rust. That will lead to an early bearing failure.
The statement of "a huge possible safety risk" if inspection and re-greasing is not carried out is of serious importance, if true. I therefore e-mailed the Technical Support Department of Timken, and asked if bearing inspection and re-greasing was advisable when a travel trailer was not used for several months, in view of the possibility of moisture entering the bearings with large temperature changes.
The reply, from Colin Brett, was that moisture could be drawn in, but the recommended procedure was not to strip and re-grease, but to prevent any problem by the following:

1.Ensure that you are using a Moisture absorbing Grease rather
than a Repellent grease

2. After using the trailer, allow the bearings to cool. Jack up,
then rotate the wheels to ensure an even coating of grease within
the bearings, and repeat the rotating of the wheels occasionally during
the trailers inactive period.

3. Ensure that the Seal is also well greased

.......................................

I assume that a "moisture absorbing grease" is a traditional soap grease. I need to do a little research on that for suitable brands in the USA. (anybody??).
As regards the rusty stub axle in Bryan's photo, I would need to know the maintenance history of that axle to come to any firm conclusion. For example, it is logically "possible" that when it was last overhauled, a fresh oil seal was not installed, thereby allowing water ingress. There are, of course, several possibilities for this corrosion and bearing failure.

I will carry out the procedure as recommended by the bearing manufacturer.

Nick.
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Old 10-31-2007, 04:50 AM   #11
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if there is any doubt on this subject check out this thread.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...ure-37271.html

as it has been pointed out by some, it is not the bearings as much as the brakes that need attention.

john
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