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Old 08-03-2009, 08:12 AM   #1
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Bearings and Seals

Yesterday, My Dad and I repacked the bearings. I have a new (2year old) Henschen axle.

On the curbside the seal had a spring and on the streetside the seal had a smaller rubber piece with no spring.

The axle was installed by a dealer (not in Denver) because I was recuperating from a knee replacement at the time.

Has anyone come across this situation before? I wonder if the seals are installed by the dealer at the time the axle is put on the trailer, or, if they came that way with the axle.

I could not find any seals that would match at NAPA. We carefully checked them out and there weren't any nicks, dents, scratches etc....and we had to re-use them. I am just curious as to why one had a spring and the other was a completely different type?
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:15 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by centennialman View Post
Yesterday, My Dad and I repacked the bearings. I have a new (2year old) Henschen axle.

One the curbside the seal had a spring and on the streetside the seal had a smaller rubber piece with no spring.

The axle was installed by a dealer (not in Denver) because I was recuperating from a knee replacement at the time.

Has anyone come across this situation before? I wonder if the seals are installed by the dealer at the time the axle is put on the trailer, or, if they came that way with the axle.

I could not find any seals that would match at NAPA. We carefully checked them out and there weren't any nicks, dents, scratches etc....and we had to re-use them. I am just curious as to why one had a spring and the other was a completely different type?
It could be the installing shop damaged one of the seals supplied, and got a replacement.
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
It could be the installing shop damaged one of the seals supplied, and got a replacement.
Thanks Terry! That makes sense. I am going to hunt down the replacement seals and have some on hand for next time.
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:33 AM   #4
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If the axles came from Henschin as a Complete axle the seals were installed at the factory. If you bought just the axle and had your backer plates and hubs reinstalled on the new axles then the shop that did the job probably had 2 different seals in stock.

Most people suggest the spring backed seals be used. Unless you are going through water frequently it is not a big thing considering you will remove the seals long before they will fail because of the frequency that one has to check the brake magnets.

Not sure how you removed the seal without damaging. Normally I have to drive them out with a hammer and damage is a given. It is a general rule to replace the seals every time you remove the hubs to repack or replace the bearings.

A side question.

You say your axles are 2 years old. Was there any level of orange coloring to the grease or the spindle when you removed the hubs? I ask this because I replaced my axles 3 years ago and the factor supplied grease had discolored, Ashland Oil.
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:45 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
If the axles came from Henschin as a Complete axle the seals were installed at the factory. If you bought just the axle and had your backer plates and hubs reinstalled on the new axles then the shop that did the job probably had 2 different seals in stock.

Most people suggest the spring backed seals be used. Unless you are going through water frequently it is not a big thing considering you will remove the seals long before they will fail because of the frequency that one has to check the brake magnets.

Not sure how you removed the seal without damaging. Normally I have to drive them out with a hammer and damage is a given. It is a general rule to replace the seals every time you remove the hubs to repack or replace the bearings.

A side question.

You say your axles are 2 years old. Was there any level of orange coloring to the grease or the spindle when you removed the hubs? I ask this because I replaced my axles 3 years ago and the factor supplied grease had discolored, Ashland Oil.
We carefully removed the seals by gently running an open end wrench around the circumference underneath the rubber. They easily "popped" out. There was no force involved and it did not damage them at all. I didn't have any choice other than to re-use the seals I had. We carefully inspected them (even with a magnifying glass) and they were fine. I will seek out some of the ones with springs to have on hand for next time.

The color of the grease was still red, everywhere, including the spindle. It looked as if the last packing had just been done. When I bought the new axle, I had the brakes, drums....everything replaced all at once.
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Old 08-03-2009, 09:17 AM   #6
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Chineseium bearings

Steve
Did you notice the make and country of origin of the bearings and seals after removing and cleaning the parts?

I was more than surprised to find Chinese bearings in my almost new replacement axle. They did not look good and the seals had let dirt and brake dust in so out they went and replaced by Timken USA made bearings and seals.

I did try the NAPA route and than made the long drive to the closest Airstream dealer. If it is not too late I can dig out the serial numbers.

Let me know.
gary
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Old 08-03-2009, 10:18 AM   #7
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I have a 2006 Safari -- with neverlube bearings. The maintenance recommends lubing every 12 months -- but I have read that this is not necessary -- and 3 - 5 years is recommended?

Any advice or opinions welcome.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:48 AM   #8
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Steve
Did you notice the make and country of origin of the bearings and seals after removing and cleaning the parts?

I was more than surprised to find Chinese bearings in my almost new replacement axle. They did not look good and the seals had let dirt and brake dust in so out they went and replaced by Timken USA made bearings and seals.

I did try the NAPA route and than made the long drive to the closest Airstream dealer. If it is not too late I can dig out the serial numbers.

Let me know.
gary
Gary,

The bearings were made in China. Everything was fine with mine, no dirt etc.... and the seals were fine. I am, however, going to hunt down some American made bearings and the right seals.

Thanks!
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:03 PM   #9
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This is the reason I asked about the color of the grease. This is what I found when I opened my 2 year old axles. Chinese bearing and seals but Ashland grease.

The reason I opened the axles at that time was the complete lose of ALL brakes. The reason for the brake failure was the Chinese magnets. When they ware the dust forms a cement in the center hole and afixes the magnet to the arm. Once the magnets ware to the limit of the cemented arm the magnets no longer contacted the armature and I had no brakes.
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:07 PM   #10
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:32 PM   #11
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Some like the seals with springs better, but if you replace the seals frequently, I doubt it matters. Airstream OEM seals do not have springs and the best ones (much superior to the OEM ones) Inland sells do not either.

Airstream recommends repacking the bearings every 6 months or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. I doubt many people do it every 6 months and a lot don't do it every year. Since trailers sit a lot, water can collect in the hub and compromise the grease. If they are pulled a lot year 'round, the water would probably evaporate, but few people do so much driving.

Getting the inner seal out without damaging it did not seem that difficult to me. I used a 1" dowel about 8" long and tapped the dowel against the seal using a rubber mallet, working my way around it to push it out evenly, hitting it a little harder after a few go 'rounds until it fell out. The wood dowel is easier on the seal and working around it prevents bending it. Whether you replace them is up to you.

Check the bearings and races carefully for scratches, burning. All these parts are cheap (the best seals are not) although it adds up for 2 axles. I have read magnets last about 20,000 miles. At that point you can buy a new backing plate with everything new including shoes cheaper than buying shoes, springs and magnets. Seals, races and bearings are separate. You can also get a backing plate with self adjusting brakes. Since the OEM plate is not self adjusting, adjusting brakes frequently is important.

Neverlube bearings include the danger of packing too much grease into the hub since you can't see what's in there and leaving no air space in the hub to allow the grease to cool. You still have to check the seals and the rest of the innards annually, so I'm not sure you gain anything with them.

When I saw how much a dealer wanted to repack the bearings and adjust the brakes ($160 an axle) and that didn't include any new parts except maybe the seals, I decided to do it myself. It's a tedious and dirty job, but I sure saved a lot of money. I got a bearing packer and that saves a lot of time. Cleaning the old grease out takes a lot of time. I first blew out as much grease as possible with a compressor, then washed them in a solvent, let the solvent evaporate, and repacked them.

Gene
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Old 08-03-2009, 03:27 PM   #12
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I wiped as much grease as I could off the bearings and then soaked them in the solvent and cleaned them with a brush. Then, I blew them out with a compressor and soaked and cleaned them again. The final step was once more with the compressor and everything was clean.
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Old 08-03-2009, 03:39 PM   #13
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Most "experts" will tell you never to use a compressor to blow grease or solvent out of a bearing ... risk is that it will spin a race or roller (or ball) up to a very high speed (dry) and score / gall it. I'm not sure whether those experts are right, but it seems to be a bit of received wisdom. I personally have occasionally ignored those experts, but a) only using pretty low air pressure, while b) physically holding everything tight in an absorbent rag so that nothing can move. No bearing failures have resulted, but it's probably tempting the gods. As always, YMMV.
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Old 08-03-2009, 04:11 PM   #14
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I called Jackson Center and got the model number for the grease seals for my Airstream. I ordered them from Out-of-Doors Mart and got the blue ones that "a well known" Airstream repair shop sells for half that shop's price. I took them to my local trailer mechanic and had their mechanic use them. I also ordered an extra set for next spring when it's time to do it again.
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