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Old 05-03-2012, 11:59 PM   #1
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Permanent greased wheel bearings

So I just discovered that the wheel bearings on my 2010 27 Flying Cloud are permanently sealed with grease. Not sure this is a good thing. Has anybody had experiences good or bad with this? Thanks
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:09 AM   #2
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I was thrilled when I found out the wheel bearings on my 27FB International never needed lube, while reading the manuals I was dreading the chore of packing bearings, took me back to the 1960s and some of the old cars I owned. I phoned Airstream and was told I had never lube bearings. I think they draw that line at 27' and longer on the current fleet.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:16 AM   #3
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From what I understand they are an offshoot of the front wheel bearings on virtually all cars made today that never need service until they are at their service life, which should be very long.

When you get replacement Dexter axles you can get conventional, zerk fitting in hub, or never lube varieties. On my replacement 3 years ago I chose the zerk fitting ones, but I think today I would go with the never lube one. Time and technology change, sometimes for the worse, but very very often for the better.
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Old 05-04-2012, 03:21 AM   #4
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From what I understand they are an offshoot of the front wheel bearings on virtually all cars made today that never need service until they are at their service life, which should be very long.

When you get replacement Dexter axles you can get conventional, zerk fitting in hub, or never lube varieties. On my replacement 3 years ago I chose the zerk fitting ones, but I think today I would go with the never lube one. Time and technology change, sometimes for the worse, but very very often for the better.
There is a real problem with never lube bearings.

They con people into thinking that they NEVER have to check the brakes, ever, as well.

The electric brakes should be visually examined and adjusted every 10,000 miles.

Andy
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Old 05-04-2012, 06:04 AM   #5
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I've have never lube bearings on the Airstream and on a single-axle boat trailer. They both have performed perfectly over tens of thousands of miles and, in the boat trailer's case, being dunked in water fifty times a year -- twice per trip. On a previous boat trailer, I spent more time packing wheel bearings than fishing. Never lube bearings are a blessing.
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Old 05-04-2012, 06:08 AM   #6
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So I just discovered that the wheel bearings on my 2010 27 Flying Cloud are permanently sealed with grease. Not sure this is a good thing. Has anybody had experiences good or bad with this? Thanks
Not necessarily permanently sealed with grease. More likely permanently sealed to keep out dust and dirt, and using a greaseless composite bearing material. The Corps of Engineers (where I work) uses greaseless composite bearings for the hinges of floodgates weighing over 100 tons, and the bearings are good for over 20 years even with that much weight loaded on them, underwater in a saltwater environment. Greaseless composite bearings ought to last the life of your trailer, or at least the life of your axles. All you have to do is make sure the seals remain intact. Greaseless bearing material lasts a long time, but it can be easily damaged by being scratched up by particles of dirt.
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Old 05-04-2012, 06:28 AM   #7
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Just remember, having bearings you never have to pack doesn't mean you have brake shoes you never have to look at. It is a lot cleaner job pulling the drum off for a look every year or so.
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:01 AM   #8
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i think there is a thread somewhere about the life expectancy of the sealed bearings. the figure of 80,000 miles comes to mind which is the point around where she replaced her bearings.
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:56 AM   #9
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I have seen a number of failures of sealed bearings on cars and a friends 4xr4 truck.

In 40 years with trailers and lots of miles I have never had a bearing failure on a serviceable bearing and they don't need service all that often.

I am not sold on the idea of anything requiring grease that can't be serviced.

When I bought my truck I drilled and tapped the non greasable ball joints and installed fittings.
I check the wheel bearings when I need to service the brakes.

I have yet to replace a bearing or a front end part and have 567K on the truck.

It is messy and not fun doing the service myself but I think it has paid off
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:23 AM   #10
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I have seen a number of failures of sealed bearings on cars and a friends 4xr4 truck.
Most failures of sealed bearings start with failure of the seals. As previously stated, greaseless composite bushings will last a long time, as long as they don't get dirty, but if they get dirt in them, the'll be scratched to a fare-thee-well in no time and will fail.

Problem is, too many people think "greaseless" means "out of sight, out of mind" and never check the seals, either.
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Old 05-04-2012, 09:08 AM   #11
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Not necessarily permanently sealed with grease. More likely permanently sealed to keep out dust and dirt, and using a greaseless composite bearing material. The Corps of Engineers (where I work) uses greaseless composite bearings for the hinges of floodgates weighing over 100 tons, and the bearings are good for over 20 years even with that much weight loaded on them, underwater in a saltwater environment. Greaseless composite bearings ought to last the life of your trailer, or at least the life of your axles. All you have to do is make sure the seals remain intact. Greaseless bearing material lasts a long time, but it can be easily damaged by being scratched up by particles of dirt.

This sort of bearing (high load, very low speed) is a completely different thing than trailer wheel bearings, which are rolling element (almost always tapered roller) bearings that spin at relatively high rate, are made of hardened steel and require lubrication. Grease is oil, suspended in a soap, that insures that metal to metal contact doesn't actually occur by forming a dynamic wedge of oil between the parts.

I have disc brakes on our trailer, so I can check the brakes w/o removing the hub.. When I set up the bearings, I make sure that they're not too tight, which is what destroys roller bearings, and I check them at the first stop on every trip for any heating; I also check for any noise, roughness or excessive play when I check the brake pads.

At some point I'll regrease the trailer bearings... but that will be a lot of miles from now.

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Old 05-04-2012, 09:33 AM   #12
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This sort of bearing (high load, very low speed) is a completely different thing than trailer wheel bearings, which are rolling element (almost always tapered roller) bearings that spin at relatively high rate, are made of hardened steel and require lubrication. Grease is oil, suspended in a soap, that insures that metal to metal contact doesn't actually occur by forming a dynamic wedge of oil between the parts.
I stand corrected. Thanks.
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:37 AM   #13
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I had a Honda Accord that I put 346,000 miles on without even thinking about the bearings. My son then took it down to UC Berkeley and used it for a couple of years before eventually selling it.
We do pay attention to our wheel bearings on boat trailers since we are always in salt water. We always use a product called Bearing Buddy that is really a tight rubber cap that keeps the bad stuff out. The grease needs to be clean otherwise you are just sanding the bearings rather than lubricating them. Making the jam nut to loose or tight is a product of experience. I have a cheap infared laser temp gauge I keep in my glove box. I use it a lot on bearings, tires, brakes etc. It's cheap insurance to keep your running gear safe.
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Old 05-04-2012, 01:01 PM   #14
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Hmmmm, a little over 2 years ago i took my 27FB to an Airstream dealer to have the bearings repacked. They charged me for it, told me I should come back once every two years. I just checked, I have the Dexter Never Lube axles. Should I be concerned? Could repacking them cause damage, or do you think maybe the service department did nothing at all?
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