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picksbigwagon

Oil bath trailer hubs

15 posts in this topic

anyone here run the oil bath trailer hubs? are they water tight? How do you switch from grease bearings to oil bath ones? Does it involve installing new "Clean" bearing and degreasing the whole hub? Just curious

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I have them, they came on a boat trailer I got 2 years ago. So far the only thing I've done with them is check the fluid level and color, and everything's been fine so far.......and so far I like them. Not sure how much that helps you. I don't know about converting grease hubs to oil bath hubs.

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I believe the oil bath hubs are a complete "system", meaning you install a new hub, bearings, oil, and the cap.

I've thought about switching my snowmobile & boat trailer over to oil bath but haven't gotten around to doing it yet.

The ones I have been looking at are Turbo Lube and are running about $50-60 per hub.

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Kodiak XL prolube at northertool is about 40 bucks a hub, but it doesn't say anything about replace the old bearings with new.....Thanks Hanson

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I just popped over to the Northern Tool site to check those out but couldn't find them.

They do carry the Turbo Lubes I was looking at and are priced at $49.95 I believe.

Sounds like a fun project doesn't it? What is most appealing to me about the oil bath hubs is you can visually inspect the oil level through the cap. As long as the oil is at the correct level, you know your bearings are in good shape. And no more repacking bearings!

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You don't have to repack bearings, but you do need to change the oil. My sister has them on her Ranger trailer and I showed her how to change it the first time. These things have been around for years on heavy trucks and trailers, I talked to a friend of mine that owns a trucking company (300+ trucks), he indicated they have phased them out as the fleet renews, they are only used on trailer and steering axles. His issues with them were leaks, if one developed you can lose lube oil quickly resulting in almost instant bearing failure. Seems the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" may have some merit here. Grease packed bearings have been getting the job done for an awful lot of miles, newer isn't always better.

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good point

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If grease hubs where perfect they wouldn't have the oil bath hubs. Don't fool yourself, grease hubs require more maintenance than oil bath hubs do. You still have to repack the bearings and replace the grease every so often just like the oil. They both require work and they both make a mess, it's just a different mess. Either one will last almost forever if the water is kept out and the lube is kept clean.

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I've had the Sure Lube brand on my Karavan trailer for 7 years and they work fine! No disassembly of hub to clean out bearings, just shoot a small grease tube through in the fall, the grease is changed, and they're good to go for next year!

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I have a friend that converts all of his trailers (Boat, RV, Snowmobile trailers, etc) to oil filled hubs rather economically. He pulls the grease seals out and goes to the autostore and gets an "oil seal" of the same size. Oil seals I guess normally have a spring on the inside I guess. Also at the auto store or the hardware store he gets brass or plastic 1/8" pipe plugs. Next, he cleans all of the internals in solvent. Reassembles the hub and bearings, installs the new oil seal, assembles onto the spindle and sets the endplay. Next he drills out the bearing dust covers in the center to accept the 1/8" pipe plugs, installs the dust cover onto the hub with gasket sealer, fills with synthetic gear oil untill it runs back out the fill hole, and then installs the pipe plug. Check the oil level and condition periodicly through the pipe plug.

He has done it this way on all of his trailers for the past 20 years and has never had an issue. I may try it this way next time I service my bearings. smile.gif

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The bearings are all the same whether you use a 'wet' lube (usually gear oil) or grease.

The biggest issue is the seal - with most grease seals you don't have a tight enough seal for 'wet' lubed.

Truck hubs use a special seal for their wet hubs.

The most popular for boat trailers is still the bearing buddy where the hub is full packed with grease, and probably does the best job of keeping water out (when installed and serviced properly). I've seen these last 10 years by people who fish 5 times a week, putting a boat in and out of the water every time.

Another thing to consider is what a good number of trucks have changed to in the last 5 years or so - Using the wet hub system, but using semi-fluid grease, viscosity "00" (rather than "2" which is the normal pumpable or bearing grease). (Steer and trailer axles only, not drive axles.) This greatly reduces the leakage problems.

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We changed our front axles to oil bath several years ago due to popular demand. Fine and dandy, but now the complaint is oil spattering on the wheels/leaks so there is rumblings of going back.

IMO, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. grin.gif

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Let's see here.

Both designs have well over 100 years of service, with oil bath having been used in both drive and non drive service. grease bearings have also seen both drive and non drive service, with non drive service being much more common.

The key to either one is still service.

Grease will help to keep water out of the hub becouse it will act as a barrier. But alas, as the seal wears, the gap becomes harder to fill with grease (were talking thousanths of an inch here, not visible to the naked eye gaps). When the grease and seal no longer keep the water out, soon after, your a statistic on the side of the road, getting greasy in your favorite pair of shorts and tee shirt.

Oil bath rely's on a pressurized seal to keep a barrier between the oil and the outside world. Once this barrier is breeched, oil loss, and contaminate penetration will occur. This means the seal is past it's service life, and should have been replaced, just like the grease seal.

Is one better than the other??? IMO, no. It's a wash so to speak. Unless you blow the seal off the hub, you shouldn't loose all the oil needed to keep the bearings lubed. But, you will be adding excessive wear to the bearings if you allow them to run with minimal oil. This, in turn, will cause premature failure. "Bearing buddies" are prone to failure too. When they fail, they cover everything around them in grease. Just as ugly, if not uglier than a little oil splatter.

In the end, it all boils down to opinion. Which do you prefer to do??? Add a couple shot's of grease once in a while, or check and maybe add oil???

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I changed my grease hubs to the Turbo Lube hubs from Northern a few weeks back. The first hub I got to seal perfectly. The second hub hasn't sealed and continues to leak a small amount of oil. I've followed the instructions from Turbo Lubes website on the retrofit process. Any of you have luck out their getting your leaky seals to quit leaking?

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How about liqualube hubs. My trailer came with them and was used very heavily (by a friend) before I got it and they are holding up very well after nearly 10 years. No leakage, I just drain the lube into a cup every spring and refill with fresh. Never a problem

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