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Old 11-01-2008, 10:21 AM   #29
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Interesting thread. I have one of the infra red thermometers and used it on an extended RV trip last year (non-AS at that time). Very handy.

I was surprised how closely the temperature of all four wheels read. Very little above ambient, and all within a couple of degrees of each other. I tended to do a quick check at each rest/fuel stop. Probably overkill! I will use it with our new (to us) AS.

I read Andy's comments with interest, and probably should take them to heart. Even as a retired Mech Eng., I tend to be a little lax in the preventative mtce dept!

I do believe however that I will be doing my own repacks in future - I have done them before at times on various trailers.

Reason? bad experiences with RV dealers. I don't know how common this is in the industry, but I feel that I have been "taken" once for sure, and now maybe twice.

Several years ago, I bought a recent model used Award 27ft trailer from an RV dealer. I paid a considerable "dealer prep" price. At teh time, I specifically asked, and was assured that this encluded a wheel bearing inspection and repack, so we pulled the trailere maybe 7,000 miles that season.

A year later, I pulled the wheels myself and was horrified to find that in all four hubs, the grease was hard and caked, and the roller bearings had started to deteriorate, spalling off bits of surface metal.

At that point, the trailer was about five years old, and I doubt very much that the bearings had EVER been serviced since new.

I thanked my stars that I found the problem in time, and had to change out all the bearings. I seriously doubt we would have completed one other long trip without a potentially costly failure on the road with all the associated cost & inconvenience.

I wrote a "polite" letter to the dealer several hundred miles away to advise him of my findings - thinking he would want to know. He never even had the courtesy to reply - I wasn't even asking for any recompense.

More recently, when we bought our used Airstream this September, I paid the
AS dealer $300 over and above the purchase price all other related charges, specifically to inspect the bearings/brakes and repack the bearings so that I could be confident all would be well for an extended trip we have planned for this winter.

I have no indication that they did not do the work, but I have nagging doubts!

When I looked at the detailed bill, I saw no itemized charge for new grease seals. I questioned this, and was told all was fine and no new seals were needed.

I guess I'm too polite or too much of a sucker!

In hindsight, I should have taken them to task on this. If they did manage to pop the seals out without damaging them (I never have much luck doing that with grease seals!) I still think that good practice would dictate that they should have replaced them with new seals in any event. Am I wrong?

I won't likely be able to check things myself before we head south this winter, but I have written AS to see if they can sell me a set of 4 seals and one spare inner/outer bearing set to carry on our trip as a precaution!

I will certainly pull the wheels myself next spring - or maybe even when we are set up in an RV park in th southern US this winter, although I guess that is frowned upon!


Brian.
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Old 11-01-2008, 01:01 PM   #30
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You are right that modern lubricants last a long time. But, they do wear out and oxidize over time. Moreover, seals tend to wear out faster than the grease itself - especially on non-sealed bearings and that can rapidly lead to contamination-related wear and ultimate failure. Timken itself says that ~ 50% of bearing failures are due to "inadequate" lubrication, which includes worn-out lubricants and contaminated lubricants.

So, I personally favor regular inspection / repacking as an "insurance" factor. It's cheap compared to the value of my trailer and my time. And that way I can do any necessary replacement where and when I want, rather than alongside a road. I did that sort of roadside replacement once, and that was once too often.

BTW, while an infrared thermometer is a useful tool, there are a lot of confounding factors, such as brake use, differential sun load, tire heat, water splash cooling, etc. that can lead to erroneous conclusions. And while they almost certainly will tell you, despite the confounding factors, of a bearing that is in the final stages of failure, I just don't want to wait until then to deal with a developing problem.
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Old 11-03-2008, 04:24 PM   #31
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Repacking bearings

Modern lubes do indeed last a long time.

The problem with repacking frequency, is that there is more to consider than just miles.

Unused or seldom used Airstreams, do indeed pick up moisture in the grease cavity of the hub. It can set there, for some owners, for a long time.

Only one problem with the lack of use.

That water can and does attack the bearings to the extent of causing rust.

Repacking at least once a year, regardless of how few miles, pays many dividends, by removing that water from the bearings.

Ignoring that simple PM, is asking for bearing failures.

Most bearing failures, are the result of improper, or lack of simple care, on the part of the owner.

Andy
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Old 11-03-2008, 05:02 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by scottanlily View Post
grease can get sloppy and runny ,usually from cross mixing greases ,the (soap) as its called,part of the base stock of grease is not interchangable unless the same type of grease is used ,the soaps cause the grease to become unstable it breaks down becoming runny and not able to provide the protection as needed .you can see this when your wheel hubs have slobbered grease out and around the wheel surfaces.
Scott,

That's excellent information. I have E-Z Lube hubs on my trailer, and I when I pumped fresh grease in, I made the mistake of not expelling last year's grease completely. (I did have one brake drum off because I couldn't find the brake adjuster starwheel - it was installed backwards, only took a minute to fix - and saw that the brakes had been replaced along with the axles in 2006, so I wasn't concerned about the linings for this year.) But as you would have predicted, I have grease leaking out from around the baby moon hubcaps, and now I know why. Thanks!

At least the brakes worked a lot better when I got them adjusted properly. Next year I will need to do the full service.
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Old 11-03-2008, 05:03 PM   #33
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Running gear, is the tire, wheel, hub and drum assembly.

Namely, everything that turns when the trailer is in motion. So how does one get all this on a machine to rotate?
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Old 11-03-2008, 05:08 PM   #34
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Running gear, is the tire, wheel, hub and drum assembly.

Namely, everything that turns when the trailer is in motion. So how does one get all this on a machine to rotate?
Check out the balancing method that we use, that's in our web site.

Andy
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:37 AM   #35
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When I had my 06 Safari repacked last, the parts manager at the dealership asked me if I'd seen the difference between the grease seals Airstream has them use and those they install on SOBs? He pulled out a heavy disk and compared it to a lightweight item that he said didn't cost much to stock and often is bent on installation. For those who save a few $ on seals, I would consider spending a few more.

We had a bearing failure on our previous trailer (an SOB) that was still in the axle warranty period. We had it serviced every 10,000 by the dealer and it was not due when it failed. The cost to replace was over $800 (couldn't replace the spindle and backing plate separately on those). It was not possible to tell why it failed...only the brake pads and drum were holding the wheel on.

The job was covered by the warranty. The Tech said most failures are due to seal failure.

Matt
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Old 01-24-2009, 11:15 AM   #36
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When I had my 06 Safari repacked last, the parts manager at the dealership asked me if I'd seen the difference between the grease seals Airstream has them use and those they install on SOBs? He pulled out a heavy disk and compared it to a lightweight item that he said didn't cost much to stock and often is bent on installation. For those who save a few $ on seals, I would consider spending a few more.

We had a bearing failure on our previous trailer (an SOB) that was still in the axle warranty period. We had it serviced every 10,000 by the dealer and it was not due when it failed. The cost to replace was over $800 (couldn't replace the spindle and backing plate separately on those). It was not possible to tell why it failed...only the brake pads and drum were holding the wheel on.

The job was covered by the warranty. The Tech said most failures are due to seal failure.

Matt
When doing a "major brake" job, which includes a bearing pack, always replace the grease seals.

There are a number of cheap grease seals out there, and then there is the kind that Airstream uses, that are far superior, hands down.

Does the Airstream grease seal cost more? You bet it does, but again, the cheapo's often fail, and I have never heard of the original Airstream factory seal failing.

As with cheapo anything, you get what you pay for, and take the risks and/or suffer the consequences, at least with respect to Airstreaming.

Andy
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Old 01-24-2009, 02:56 PM   #37
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There are a number of cheap grease seals out there, and then there is the kind that Airstream uses, that are far superior, hands down.

Andy
Andy
I appreciate your advice - if I make an error on maintenance intervals, I want it to be on the safe side! The cost of the maintenance is a fair trade against a road-side break down.

I like to do this kind of maintenance myself - part of my Airstream hobby, plus the Airstream dealer is an hour away. Is there a way to know the part number for the seals, and what brand of seal to buy - so I get my hands on the 'good' seals? I hate to have to take everything apart before I even know the parts I need to buy, which is what the dealer said I needed to do (that is, they have no way of knowing the parts on my trailer based on year/model/serial number info - at least that's what I was told). And I don't think the dealer necessarily buys 'Airstream' seals - probably just gets whatever the local parts suppliers have on hand.

Also - I think this is the year I'm finally going to upgrade the axle assembly (plus wheels and tires) on my 05 16' CCD for greater load capacity. So I'll be in touch to see if we can get together about 'spring break' time.

Thanks again
Bob
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Old 01-24-2009, 03:36 PM   #38
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If you upgrade the axle assembly, don't overdo it. Airstream had an issue with their supplier a few years ago. Seems the axles were TOO firm (heavy duty) and the tightly sprung axle beat the trailers to death. Caused them to use Dexters for a few years.

Too much capacity is not better.

Matt
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Old 01-24-2009, 04:19 PM   #39
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If you upgrade the axle assembly, don't overdo it. Airstream had an issue with their supplier a few years ago. Seems the axles were TOO firm (heavy duty) and the tightly sprung axle beat the trailers to death. Caused them to use Dexters for a few years.

Too much capacity is not better.

Matt
ONLY AIRSTREAM specs the axle ratings, not any axle manufacturer, ever.

Airstream switched to Dexter, because of a Corporate to Corporate problem, and disagreement, never as you have suggested.

The people at Airstream and Henschen go to lunch together, often. But they are not the Corporate.

The problem was a grease/warranty issue, not axle ratings.

For your information, Airstream has also spec out axles, that were under rated for the intended job, that has caused some failures.

We have all the specs on the original axle ratings, and encourage upgrading some of the time.

On occassion, we have refused an upgrade that we felt was excessive, unless that owner was willing to send us a "hold harmless agreement."

It's way to easy today, to fall into a lawsuit trap.

Hope this clarifys the issue.

Andy
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Old 01-26-2009, 02:25 PM   #40
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What about the grease seal? I am going to have my bearings greased in a couple of weeks before heading down to the Florida State Rally. I will have the work done at a generic utility trailer dealer who has performed work for me in the past. I have no idea what seal they use or if I can specify what they use. They have done good work and seem to know their stuff, but they are not an Airstream service shop...even though the owner is an Airstream owner.
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Old 01-26-2009, 02:30 PM   #41
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What about the grease seal? I am going to have my bearings greased in a couple of weeks before heading down to the Florida State Rally. I will have the work done at a generic utility trailer dealer who has performed work for me in the past. I have no idea what seal they use or if I can specify what they use. They have done good work and seem to know their stuff, but they are not an Airstream service shop...even though the owner is an Airstream owner.
You can purchase 2 sets of Airstream grease seals.

One for now, and a spare set for later.

A stocking Airstream dealer will have those seals.

Andy
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:14 AM   #42
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Running gear, is the tire, wheel, hub and drum assembly.

Namely, everything that turns when the trailer is in motion. So how does one get all this on a machine to rotate?
40 years ago we used to spin balance wheels on the car. We had a balancer that clamped on in place of the hubcap and a roller driven by an electric motor to spin the wheel. For the rear wheel we started the engine and put it in gear (on the hoist).
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