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Old 09-17-2014, 10:29 PM   #15
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Based on what you stated -
The lug nuts were over tightened - however that would NOT impact wheel bearings
The brake backing plate nuts were tightened inconsistantly however it sounds like the backing was still attached. Again if it was still attached there is NO relation to failed wheel bearings

I do not know of any clips that hold wheel bearing together. The wheel bearings are held in place by a washer, backed by a nut, covered by a nut cover and pinned with a cotter pin (or key) to the spindle tip.

With that stated, it is critical to install and tighten the wheel bearing nut orrectly and then install the cotter pin correctly. It is circumstantial that the other fasteners were incorrectly tightened and may be the wheel bearing nut was as well.

Personally when a (tire shop) shop uses an impact to tighten stuff I get real concerned. Use it to remove parts, know your socks off. Go the oyther way when there are specific torque specs and sequense, my dollars go to a different shop and I never go back.

Manufacturers spend tens of thousands of dollars to make stuff and design the servicing. For a $50 an hour tech to ignor all that was created is goofy.

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Old 09-17-2014, 10:45 PM   #16
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Were the bearings blue from heat?

Most every wheel bearing failure is because of overheating, overheating is almost always caused by over tightening the spindle nut.
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Old 09-17-2014, 10:59 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
Were the bearings blue from heat?

Most every wheel bearing failure is because of overheating, overheating is almost always caused by over tightening the spindle nut.
Or dirt/debris. Auto manufacturers moved to sealed wheel bearings because of servicing concerns induced more harm than good. Better materials (mostly grease) allowed to non-servicing of wheel bearings. On a travel trailer it is as important to check drum brakes as it is to service bearings. When ever the industry fully moves to disc brakes look for sealed wheel bearings (hubs) as a piece to that with removeable disc.

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Old 09-18-2014, 07:20 AM   #18
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Just a point to note .....

It can be ok to use an air impact wrench to apply wheel nuts if it is used in conjunction with an appropriate "Torque stick."

Torque sticks look like ordinary 1/2" drive extensions, but have a torque rating stamped on them and are often colour coded, They can be bought in sets or individually.

They will limit the amount of torque that the impact wrench can transmit to the lug nut to the value stamped on a torque stick.

They are ONLY for use with impact wrenches, not with breaker bars or similar.

I was a bit skeptical about them and bought one to try. After tightening several bolts with it, I cross checked the results with a digital torque wrench I have that is supposed to be quite accurate (and also tried an old beam-type torque wrench). The torque stick seemed to work as claimed.

Obviously a torque stick was not used in the case of this lost wheel, as it was stated that the torque was checked and found to be 180 ft-lbs.


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Old 09-18-2014, 07:25 AM   #19
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I personally don't care for the sealed hubs. I never have trouble with the old style, I never have to "wonder" if they are going out, and they are cheap to maintain.
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Old 09-18-2014, 07:31 AM   #20
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I personally don't care for the sealed hubs. I never have trouble with the old style, I never have to "wonder" if they are going out, and they are cheap to maintain.
As well, regular bearing servicing gives an ideal opportunity for you to check over the brakes and have a really close look at your tires.

I just repacked my wheel bearings a couple of weeks ago and found one wheel out of four not braking at all - broken magnet wire. All fixed now!

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Old 09-18-2014, 08:47 AM   #21
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many shops carry insurance for 'errors'.
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Old 09-18-2014, 09:09 AM   #22
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Where specifically is this Circlip? I am not aware of the use of them in bearing assemblies
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Old 09-18-2014, 10:29 AM   #23
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Pictures would help too.
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Old 09-18-2014, 12:45 PM   #24
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Hi All,

I'm looking for some wisdom from the collective knowledge base here.

So what do you folks out in the Airstream community think?
There is only one thing you should do, and the sooner the better.

Contact YOUR insurance company, and let them handle the issue.

In that way, you can win, and without making any enemy's.

Andy
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Old 09-18-2014, 02:54 PM   #25
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Need a picture of the failed circlip that you have identified as the culprit (although I do not know where a circlip is used to retain bearings) and by whom/why was it identified as the cause. I question the experience of the person offering this explanation.

Many/even most tire shops use an air wrench to almost tighten lug nuts ... then finish with a torque wrench. It makes a HUGE difference in torque values whether the bolt is new / dry or older and lubricated. It is not uncommon to have the torque values go up by 50% or more when removing a nut/bolt assembly that has been oxidized or heated ... likely both happened in your case.
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Old 09-19-2014, 06:34 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
There is only one thing you should do, and the sooner the better.

Contact YOUR insurance company, and let them handle the issue.

In that way, you can win, and without making any enemy's.

Andy
That seems like a very reasonable idea.
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:10 AM   #27
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Thank you all for the amazing response

I have to say this forum has an exceptional level of participation from a very knowledgeable community and I really appreciate everyone's input and thoughts.

A few points of clarification should hopefully close the loop here:

1) I have little to no interest in starting a lawsuit. I believe the shop owner is an honorable man who is trying to run a small business as best he can with the limitations anyone faces with employees, a broad range of all shapes and sizes of RVs that he services, and of course customers of varying levels of intelligence and social graces.

2) When the incident occurred, we were on a back road close to the summit of a fairly high hill with no services and minimal shoulder access. When we heard the groaning sounds, we stopped the vehicle to inspect the trailer and found the left wheel to be a little warm, but in 98 degree heat we dismissed this as a significant factor. We did however try disengaging the electric brake controller from the trailer temporarily and moved forward a few hundred feet but saw no corresponding change in the noise. Having reached the summit about a quarter mile later, we re-connected the e-brake for the descent and maintained a slower speed around 30 MPH to play it safe. This turned out to be a significant factor in the minimal damage we ended up sustaining, which could have been far worse at a higher speed.

3) With regard to the actual mechanics of what occurred, here is an excellent analysis that was given to me which pretty much sums up what I feel everyone who owns or works on trailers with the open hub mechanism should know:

(Begin quote)
The circlip was somehow damaged during dis assembly. These little things are made if rust prone spring steel. Sometimes fusing them to other parts requires a twist, bend, or whack. If damaged the piece is damaged and can fail under load with no obvious sign or warning. I suspect your original clip was reused and failed leading to your unpleasant event. It was a .18 cent part that lead to this. A good mechanic will never reuse these as they are so cheap, however usually not at hand, and a lousy trip to the hardware store is a pita!
(End quote)

4) I presented this information to the shop owner and invited him to meet, which he has agreed to do to come up with a fair resolution. The upshot from where I stand is this:

I agree with the shop owner that it is a ridiculous design to have a 10 cent clip play such an integral role in keeping the assembly intact, but since this is apparently a relatively common problem, the general consensus seems to be that it should be standard practice to replace the circlip any time the bearing set is worked on due to the crappy nature of the clip's material.

If there is a moral to this story it is for anyone who works on older axle systems to keep a supply of various sizes of circlips around to replace the old one during these types of jobs to avoid this happening to them or any of their customers who I have not doubt any reputable shop owner takes personal interest in looking out for their well-being. Not to mention their own reputation.

So that's where the adventure has brought me to date. Thanks again to everyone for your invaluable input and happy 'Streaming!
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