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Old 02-01-2008, 12:39 AM   #1
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Regreasing wheel bearings on a new Airstream

I know this subject has been chewed on, but I'm sorry I can't find earlier threads.

I bought new a CCD 28 in 2004. The first thing I did was take it to Alaska on an Airstream caravan. On returning I received a letter from Airstream saying the bearings needed to be packed with grease because very little was put in at the factory. Upon repacking the bearings we found no more than a tablespoon or two of grease in each bearing.

I do not understand why the wheel bearings need to be periodically repacked on this trailer. I have put 30,000 miles on it since the repacking, and a total of 50,000. I use an infrared temperature gun and measure the bearing temps periodically while on the road. I'm told by bearing engineers that the reason bearings fail is through contamination.

Bearings will show their discomfort by abnormally heating up so watching them with a temperature gun will give fair warning that the bearings need replaced. I have not seen any significant tempearture rise in any of the bearings.

Grease contains lubricants which on warming up provide "oil" to the bearing. After usage the bearing cools down and the "oil" congeals again ready for use the next time. Nothing goes away, modern lubricants can go through this process indefinitely.

Bearings are hardly ever repacked on automobiles, or anything else made within the recent past.

So why is it that bearings need to be repacked "every year". With todays good lip seals that protect the bearings from contaminates they should never require lubrication. Thanks, Gerry
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Old 02-01-2008, 01:37 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by nangoff
... sorry I can't find earlier threads....
read/search ONLY in the axle subforum...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f437/

where there is a thread or 2 on this topic.

the 04s? had the bearing recall issue,

that must have been the purpose of the letter.

your observations have been made be 4 and are valid...

just read a while and all the greasy views will become clear, or not.

cheers
2air'
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:07 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nangoff
I know this subject has been chewed on, but I'm sorry I can't find earlier threads.

I bought new a CCD 28 in 2004. The first thing I did was take it to Alaska on an Airstream caravan. On returning I received a letter from Airstream saying the bearings needed to be packed with grease because very little was put in at the factory. Upon repacking the bearings we found no more than a tablespoon or two of grease in each bearing.

I do not understand why the wheel bearings need to be periodically repacked on this trailer. I have put 30,000 miles on it since the repacking, and a total of 50,000. I use an infrared temperature gun and measure the bearing temps periodically while on the road. I'm told by bearing engineers that the reason bearings fail is through contamination.

Bearings will show their discomfort by abnormally heating up so watching them with a temperature gun will give fair warning that the bearings need replaced. I have not seen any significant tempearture rise in any of the bearings.

Grease contains lubricants which on warming up provide "oil" to the bearing. After usage the bearing cools down and the "oil" congeals again ready for use the next time. Nothing goes away, modern lubricants can go through this process indefinitely.

Bearings are hardly ever repacked on automobiles, or anything else made within the recent past.

So why is it that bearings need to be repacked "every year". With todays good lip seals that protect the bearings from contaminates they should never require lubrication. Thanks, Gerry


The larger part of the reason to repack bearings every 10,000 miles, is to inspect and repair the electric brakes, and to replace the grease seals.

Cars and trucks are used frequently. Travel trailer use is a fraction of automotive use.

Electric brake magnets last about 20,000 miles, shoes last about 50,000 miles, normally.

But, adjuster springs break all too many times. Brake dust accumulates. The shoes wear out of adjustment.

Ignoring the bearing pack, ignores the brakes as well.

And then there is the rule of thumb that the running gear should be rebalanced every 10,000 miles as well.

Ignoring the bearings, brakes and balancing for more then 10,000 miles, is asking for problems, that quickly become expensive.

Having serviced Airstreams for almost 42 years, has more than demonstrated the need for proper and timely servicing of the running gear and it's components.

Andy
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:37 AM   #4
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Debris can get into the wheel bearing area because the cap seal isn't liquid tight. As mentioned above the usage typically is such that condensation can build up causing rust from the non-use. And the grease can break down from heat generated. The weight handled by these trailers is much greater than cars of today with sealed wheel bearings.

It's a PM deal also. As Andy stated above gives the operator opportunity to look over other areas too.

On the car I drive (a 12 year old Lincoln with 155,000 miles) it has never had front wheel bearings repacked.

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Old 02-01-2008, 10:27 AM   #5
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And then there is the rule of thumb that the running gear should be rebalanced every 10,000 miles as well.
I'm going to show a little ignorance here: What exactly is meant by "running gear" besides the brakes and bearings? I'm coming up on 10K and will have the bearings packed for the second time within the next 2-4 weeks so I guess I need to have the other stuff balanced, too.
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Old 02-01-2008, 11:33 AM   #6
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I'm going to show a little ignorance here: What exactly is meant by "running gear" besides the brakes and bearings? I'm coming up on 10K and will have the bearings packed for the second time within the next 2-4 weeks so I guess I need to have the other stuff balanced, too.
Running gear, is the tire, wheel, hub and drum assembly.

Namely, everything that turns when the trailer is in motion.

Since an Airstream is designed to be flexible, if the running gear is not reasonably balanced, then the shell will shake and twist, when in motion, resulting in many types of damages, that could have been avoided.

Shearing rivets, fatigue cracking the frame and/or shell, breaking wires, water leaks, LPG leaks, appliance damage, furniture damage, ruining tires, are just some of the things that happen, when the running gear balancing is ignored.

Service departments stay very busy, putting Airstreams back together again, that have shaken apart.

Other brands of trailers have the same type problems as well.

Andy
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Old 02-01-2008, 11:51 AM   #7
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It is my understanding that bearings on automobiles are heated up daily and the lube gets to all surfaces. On a trailer, it might sit for months on end, condensation may set in and rust develop. Once this happens and you take the trailer out again, the rust contaminates the grease and you start having addition friction until the bearing fails.
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Old 02-01-2008, 12:12 PM   #8
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I'd like to know, hear, from folks who have never had their bearings repacked. Not withstanding the comments above, if you repack the bearings every 10,000 miles you'll never know if a bearing will last longer than that. I seem to recall that Airstream or somebody is putting in sealed bearings now designed to last the life of the trailer. Is the bearing itself is the same. only the seals different? Also, seems to me that a car bearing would be more prone to failing when it daily went through heat/cold cycles bringng in water (condensation) each time.

Again, I'd like to hear from those who never have greased their bearings, what their history has been, preferrably on newer trailers. Thanks, Gerry
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Old 02-01-2008, 12:29 PM   #9
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Also, seems to me that a car bearing would be more prone to failing when it daily went through heat/cold cycles bringng in water (condensation) each time. Thanks, Gerry
Non-permantly sealed car and truck wheel bearings (like the style for Air Stream trailer) used in a daily or at least very frequently will heat up the grease and vaporize the condensation. Air can move in and out because the seal at the cap is not air tight. In addtion the the grease is continously being moved in and around the bearings.

When bearings are not used, say for 6 months to years, like a travel trailer te air in the bearing cavity may contain moisture. That moisture may condense on the bare metal parts. The metal parts may be bare because when the bearings were not used the grease may slide or settle over a long period of time, exposing bare metal. It isn't a huge issue. And regular PM as noted above is the fix.

In a sealed bearing situation like most automobiles for the last 10 to 15 years, keeps the air out of the bearing area. No moisture to be an issue. Also the usage is such that the grease is moved around on a very regular basis. Lastly the load on a car even a big luxury car is far less than the load of a travel trailer wheel bearing or some larger trucks like a F250 or larger.

I am not aware of sealed wheel bearing system that contains grease for trailers of any type. Not that they do not exist, it is just I am not aware of any.

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Old 02-01-2008, 12:31 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by nangoff
I'd like to know, hear, from folks who have never had their bearings repacked. Not withstanding the comments above, if you repack the bearings every 10,000 miles you'll never know if a bearing will last longer than that. I seem to recall that Airstream or somebody is putting in sealed bearings now designed to last the life of the trailer. Is the bearing itself is the same. only the seals different? Also, seems to me that a car bearing would be more prone to failing when it daily went through heat/cold cycles bringng in water (condensation) each time.

Again, I'd like to hear from those who never have greased their bearings, what their history has been, preferrably on newer trailers. Thanks, Gerry
We sell many axles, that are replacements for those that were damaged because of improper bearing maintenance, even for trailers built since 2000.

Lives depend on proper running gear.

Assuming the running gear is indefinitely ok, is a huge safety risk.

Axles equipped with "never lube bearings" also have electric or disc brakes.

To assume that they last as long as the bearings, is a myth.

Hubs or rotors should be inspected every 10,000 miles, regardless, and more often if the trailer is seldom used, since water does collect in the hubs.

If not, then safety issues are being ignored.

Why most owners will spend upwards of $100,000, or more for an Airstream trailer and a good tow vehicle, and then question the normal running gear inspections that are suggested at every 10,000 miles, or once a year, is a mystery repair shops will never understand, but stand by to profit from it, everyday.

Shops love it.

Andy
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Old 02-01-2008, 12:38 PM   #11
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So, if bearings are sealed and disk brakes are being used, what then? Gerry
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Old 02-01-2008, 12:47 PM   #12
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So, if bearings are sealed and disk brakes are being used, what then? Gerry
Disc brakes, electric brakes, don't matter.

Every 10,000 miles or once a year, which ever is first.

Andy
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Old 02-01-2008, 12:54 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info Andy. I learn from this forum every day on how to better take care of my beloved Airstream. I knew from this forum to have the bearings repacked every year and have the brakes inspected while the drums were off. I took the AS by my local tire dealer and had the tread inspected at the beginning of last season, but I didn't know about the balancing of the wheels, drums, etc. at 10K intervals. I will probably have between 9K and 10K when I have the bearings repacked before the camping season begins this year (it starts early here in the south) so I will have the shop add these maintenance items to the list.
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Old 02-01-2008, 12:54 PM   #14
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Andy, am curious, how much do you charge for servicing a set of wheels? And what do you do for this? In my case 4 wheels on a CCD 28. Thanks, Gerry
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