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Old 06-05-2011, 12:43 AM   #1
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1976 23' Safari
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Wheel Bearing Help Needed

Okay, so I've read all that I can without spending an entire day reading. Today I repacked the wheel bearings on my Safari. Picked up new seals and things were going well.

When I was installing, after reading and watching videos, they say to torque the nut down to about 20-30 ftlbs to seat the bearings and then back off until finger loose. Problem I had today with this is that once it was finger loose and I'd slip the cotter pin in the hole, I had what I felt was too much play in the wheel when pulling the tire back and forth once the wheel/tire was reinstalled. Typically when I check bearings on other trailers (travel trailers with brakes new to me) any play is bad.

Is it bad if I tighten the nut down by one hole on the castle nut to remove the play??? Everything I read says you want the nut finger tight. I'm guessing this would put the nut at about maybe 5-10 ft.lbs.

I drove the trailer about 30 miles and the hubs felt warm, not to hot to touch but you could feel the heat. I jacked up the rig after the smoke test and found that I had a little play in the wheels on the back axle. Should I go one hole further on the castle nut or forget about it???? How much heat on the axle is too much? Thanks for the help!!!
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Old 06-05-2011, 12:51 AM   #2
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Once the initial tightening and backing off, I select the first hole which gives the slightest bit of play when rocked at the tire.. In other words, the next tighter adjustment point would give no play at all. I back off to the first hole which gives any indication of play, and thats my adjustment.

So yes on all my wheels there is the slightest hint of play and some have a bit more than others because of the rather coarse adjustment capability of the nut.
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Old 06-05-2011, 01:16 AM   #3
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So I sounds like I shouldn't knock the dust cap off again and go one more notch tighter on the wheel with the play. I left the beauty caps off so I can feel how hot the hubs are at stops and adjust the nut if needed. Sounds like a little play in the wheel is acceptable.
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Old 06-05-2011, 01:21 AM   #4
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I wouldn't worry about it unless one point tighter still gives a little play, or the nut can be turned by finger to the next setting point. My method and the "finger loose" method give identical/very similar results.

One thing I do is jack it up once in a while just to rock the wheels and see if everything is OK. I've caught a few bad bearings over the years with this check.
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Old 06-05-2011, 05:09 AM   #5
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I think a little play is a must. I tightened one up a bit to much once and it ate itself up in short order. Remember that when they heat up they have a different clearance than when cold. I would go for a notch loose before a notch tight.
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Old 06-05-2011, 07:43 AM   #6
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I worked on race cars for many years. The wheel-bearing adjustment method of "tighten, back-off, finger-tighten" is OK if you check at top of the tire and assure that you have some wobble play, BUT not exceeding TWO MILLIMETERS for a 15 inch tire. This is the tolerance for wheel-bearing clearance that I have most often seen in service manuals. I always err on the loose side and never had a problem with a 165mph Camaro running 24 hours at Watkins Glen.
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:32 AM   #7
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Sounda like looser it is. Also, are you suppose to add grease to the cavity of the hub? I didn't read anything about this. I only put grese on the races and bearings.
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:15 AM   #8
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Sounda like looser it is. Also, are you suppose to add grease to the cavity of the hub? I didn't read anything about this. I only put grese on the races and bearings.
Thats correct. Just the races and bearings. Forcing grease thru the bearings thoroughly, not just smeared on the outside.
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:50 AM   #9
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Okay, last question I promise. Would it be bad idea to remove the dust cap, snug the nut down and then go back to finger tight after running the bearings (not the fresh repack.....well about 30 miles on them)?

Just to be 100% clear, it is ok to have a little play in the wheel when the nut is finger tight?

Just trying to make sure I'm doing things the right way. I don't want to be the guy on the stranded on the side of the road with the wife and little kids. Thanks for the help!
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:54 AM   #10
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I like to put a thin layer of grease in the hub cavity between the bearings, too. This is to keep the bare cast iron from rusting and turning loose rust flakes that can get into the bearings. Just grease it a bit, like a baking pan and rub in more if it dries out or disappears between service intervals. Never pack it full though!

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Old 06-05-2011, 11:59 AM   #11
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Relax, if you have a bit of play you're good. You tighten the nut the first time and turn the wheel a couple times to seat the bearings and squeeze out excess grease. Do it once and forget it. Just feel the hubs when you stop for gas.

I like the idea of a "wiggle check" once in a while. It gives the opportunity to inspect the tires, too.
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Old 06-05-2011, 12:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mile2885 View Post
Okay, last question I promise. Would it be bad idea to remove the dust cap, snug the nut down and then go back to finger tight after running the bearings (not the fresh repack.....well about 30 miles on them)?

Just to be 100% clear, it is ok to have a little play in the wheel when the nut is finger tight?

Just trying to make sure I'm doing things the right way. I don't want to be the guy on the stranded on the side of the road with the wife and little kids. Thanks for the help!
Do you want to be the guy on the side of the road adjusting his bearings after 30 miles?

You should have no problem if you grease the bearings properly and adjust them as others have mentioned here. A little movement on the wheel is fine when you are done. A point and shoot thermometer is a good investment if you want to check the operation as you travel. I like to coast into a rest area using the engine to slow down the rig and apply as little break as necessary to stop. Get out and see what the temperature is for each of the wheels at that point. I always can tell which side of the trailer is in the sun because that side runs several degrees warmer.
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Old 06-05-2011, 12:04 PM   #13
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Here is the one I have used for the past 4 years with Mobil 1 synthetic grease:

Lisle 34550 Handy Packer Bearing Packer


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Old 06-05-2011, 12:05 PM   #14
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I use a 12" long wrench to tighten the nut as I rotate the brake hub, then I move the nut back "one flat" and find a hole for the cotter pin that is close to that position. Never put grease in the dust cap because the heat from the hub will push the dust cap off due to the build up of pressure.....putting grease in the dust cap will not flow back into the bearings as a lot of folks think.
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