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Old 02-11-2019, 07:37 AM   #1
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Wheel bearing questions...

I've decided that my axles will suffice for at least a few more years. However, last wheel bearing repack, I noticed some ever so slight damage to 2 of the 8 bearings. They still functioned as expected and there are no marks of damage to the spindle or the races on the hubs, yet I think next wheel bearing repack I will replace all 8 bearings (2 axles) as they are now more than 15 years old.


I got the part numbers of 25580 for inner bearings and LM67048. Of course Airtream says to get them from an Airstream dealer, I found both of these part numbers widely available so here are my questions:


1) Can I replace the bearings without replacing the races?


2) I found Timken parts everywhere (seems to be the brand of choice on several forums), some made domestically, some foreign made. I assume if I buy a 25580 or an LM67048 it's pretty much the same part in size, dimension and function as I'd buy from an authorized Airstream dealer?


I realize these are sort of rudimentary questions, but I've never replaced bearings before and being they are such a crucial component to a safe journey, just wanted to bounce this off a few extra sets of eyes before I move forward with it.
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:06 AM   #2
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No Races must be replaced with bearings. They mate to each other through use. Its not that hard (but patience required) to drive races out with a flat drift punch and hammer. Be sure to seat new ones well around the entire circumference. There will be a distinctive ring to the sound when fully seated all around.

Your local auto parts store can cross reference bearing part numbers.
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:09 AM   #3
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Personally, I would buy the highest quality, domestically made part available.
Replacing the race is not necessary if there is no sign of wear or damage. I would replace them just so it's done.

Repack with synthetic grease for cooler and longer service life.
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomicNo13 View Post
Personally, I would buy the highest quality, domestically made part available.
Replacing the race is not necessary if there is no sign of wear or damage. I would replace them just so it's done.

Repack with synthetic grease for cooler and longer service life.

I strongly disagree. This is automotive 101. Flies in the face of my automotive school training many years ago, as well as my 35 year career as a manufacturer's tech rep.
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:51 AM   #5
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New bearings, new races. Do it once, do it right!! Get quality American bearings/races at a bearing supply store. Wheel bearing grease is a "must", whether it is synthetic or not. Check your brakes at the same time and replace if required.
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:59 AM   #6
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I bought USA Timken from Amazon at a good price. I threw away the bag of Chinese bearings that came with the brakes. Maybe not necessary but I felt better with the Timken. Not a big expense. Yes, do the races also. And the seals. Yes, replace them now rather than on the road. Yes, other people do it differently and do not have trouble. But some do. Most caravans I have been on have had a bearing related failure to deal with. Hard sometimes to tell if it was initially a brake failure or a straight bearing fail, so be diligent inspecting the brakes for worn parts and good operation.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:25 PM   #7
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Thanks. Will take a closer look at the whole assembly this spring. I had planned on replacing the hub assemblies as they are a bit over 15 years old, but I might have only about 25k on the running gear since I bought the Safari new back in Dec of '03. Obviously replacing the bearing races would be the lower cost alternative as I am not sure I really need new hubs...at least yet.



In terms of grease, I use NLGI#2 synthetic grease with a calcium sulfonate complex thickener (Amsoil). I've been using that grease since the 4th year I've owned it (Airstream factory repacked them under a recall warranty after year one of ownership). The synthetic stuff is so good (IMHO) that combined with the low annual miles, I have been known on rare occasion to do a bearing repack every 3rd year, and only after year 3 was there even a hint of the grease even beginning to breakdown if at all. RV running gear must take a lot of abuse because even my 4x4 doesn't get bearings repacked for maybe 40-50k when a brake job is done.



In the end, it sounds to me that the part numbers Airstream puts out are not really Airstream specific, and I can in fact use a high quality bearing and races with identical part number and it also sounds like at the very least, replacing the races are not a bad idea either. I had figured as much, but always great to bounce it off the forums as a sanity check.



Thanks again for all the input!
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:35 PM   #8
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The bearings are not made by Airstream and neither is the entire axle assembly. These were vendor items with the vendor specifying the bearings at the time of final assembly of the axle. While the manufacturer may specify buying from them or a dealer, truth is they are buying them from a vendor. Depending on the arrangement is may be less or more money to buy from Airstream. However generally the market place will favor a non-Airstream source as to price.

In 2003 the axle vendor was Henschen. A company that was owned by Airstream however it was a separate company. So again Henschen would have specified a vendor for the parts and assembled those parts. Henschen did not manufacture bearings.

As far as wheel bearings go, age is NOT a factor at all. Care or maintenance is everything. 50 year old (or more) wheel bearings can still be good if regularly maintained.

Having a spare set (with grease and seals) would be highly recommended while you are traveling on the road if you don't have a set already. In the unfortunate event you should need to replace while traveling you would not have to rely on a parts store. And as stated above the metal to metal contact of the bearing to the race does create a hard to see wear pattern. When replacing bearings, punch out the race and drive in a new race. The first time you may be a bit nervous. Just know what you are punching out, rotate the assembly so you are tapping all around the race edge and you will do well. Looking at one of many youtube vids may help as well.

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Old 02-11-2019, 03:12 PM   #9
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Many YouTube videos exist but this video was presented by Timken on their TheTimkenCompany YouTube https://m.youtube.com/user/TheTimkenCompany channel. If you stray from their channel, your choice.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:47 PM   #10
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RockAuto has great prices on Timken bearings.
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