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Old 07-22-2014, 07:10 PM   #1
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Do bearings need friends?

Or rather, Buddies...?

I am a life long boater and have always run bearing buddies {or similar other brand greasers} on all of my boat trailers. Traditionally the reasoning being you come off of a multiple mile road trip on a hot summer day, whip around and back straight down the ramp and stick your hot axles right into that COLD {think shrinkage} water.

This process supposedly causes the parts and grease to shrink and expand and possibly leaving the bearing dry or dry-ish.

The bearing buddy concept is, as I am sure you all know, to put a few pounds of spring preload on the grease itself thus keeping the bearings packed at all times, swelling and shrinkage be damned.

This raises a question, if I am not backing in and out of water and all heating and cooling process' is done slowly and gradually is there really a need to use spring loaded caps?

I mean if my airstream is backing down into a lake/river/ocean I think I have bigger issues that grease in my hubs.
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Old 07-22-2014, 07:15 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by MacDad View Post
I mean if my airstream is backing down into a lake/river/ocean I think I have bigger issues that grease in my hubs.
So do I. Unfriend the bearing buddies.
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Old 07-22-2014, 07:30 PM   #3
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Bearings don't need buddies cause they got Seals to keep them company!

Ok, back to serious answers cause I ain't got one this time.
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Old 07-22-2014, 07:59 PM   #4
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I guess they are all right for boat trailers, though the only trailer bearing I have ever had fail was on a boat trailer with bearing buddies. As long as you do your annual PM bearing shouldn't be an issue.

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Old 07-22-2014, 07:59 PM   #5
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I never used Bearing Buddies due to thermal cycling, it was always to displace water from submerging the hubs. I'd skip them.
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:36 PM   #6
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That is what I was thinking...hey I got one right finally..
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:06 PM   #7
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A twist on that is oil filled hubs. Those hubs have seals that are liquid tight. Whereas regular grease seals are just not that tight. It is the water that is the issue, not only does it cool a hot hub the water (with dirt) flows into any opening that is not tightly closed. A wheel bearing seal that isn't water tight does not have as big a task if all it is doing is keeping dirty air out.

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Old 07-22-2014, 10:45 PM   #8
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Bearing Buddies and the like attempt to push grease into the outer bearing when the grease is applied. Other than a small spring, I don't see how there's any real pressure that will do anything except keeping it on the back side of the outer bearing. They don't do anything for the inner bearing or grease between the bearings. I've greased the one's on my brother's boat trailer and those springs are weak. Grease usually just oozes around the edges once the spring is compacted. If it's going past the retaining spring it can't be going the other way with much force. I believe it's about as effective as filling the dust cap with grease.

I have a Ranger trailer where the spindle axle is hollow, grease is forced through the spindle end (pretty good force), between the bearings, where openings in the inner axle will allow it to ooze out around both bearings once the area between them is filled. This pushes out the old grease with the new grease. Still, I repack them each year and replace the inner seals if they are leaking.


There is the concern with using this type of spindle on travel trailers, the grease can be forced past the inner grease seal and onto the brakes. The same with Bearing Buddies.

Your AS trailer shouldn't ever be immersed but with a heavy rain, puddles might be deep enough to allow water to enter if your seals are bad. Use a good waterproof grease, like they use for boat trailers, and check your inner seals. Repack them if you see grease leaking onto the wheel and tire from a bad seal.

Avoid boat ramps
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