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Selmer

Bearing Buddies...

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Selmer

I purchased a used boat and trailer late last week. I've been doing little bits of work on it here and there, pulling out the radio, disconnecting the Autoblend system, putting in rod holders and net holders, etc. I finally got around to checking out the trailer and hubs. It has Bearing Buddies installed on it - I've never owned a trailer with these buggers on them, but have used and maintained trailers with the buddies on them. As I understand it, I should pump in grease until I JUST see the outside cap start to move out, then quit. As soon as I saw the outside cap move, I stopped pumping. But I simultaneously heard water coming out the back side - sure enough, I see water dripping out the back side. I've never seen this before with bearing buddies - is this normal with boat trailers? Or should I be pulling the bearings, checking seals and re-packing with marine grade grease just to know that it is done the way it should be done? I'm a little OCD, so my temptation is to pull the bearings and make darn sure that my seals are good and bearings are good, simply to prevent a break-down on the road. Thoughts? Opinions?

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Wanderer

If it were new to me, I'd probably pull em and repack. Belt and suspenders type of deal.

In theory the buddies should keep the hub full of grease and not allow the water to take up space. How much did you have to pump in before moving the cap? That should be a tell for how well the former owner stayed on top of it.

In the past, if I jacked the tire off the ground, checked for bearing play (little to none) and could spin the tire without hearing the bearings and it spun for a while, I was good to go.

2c

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Selmer

I pumped way more lube to make the cap move than I should have had to. That's part of my concern. One had grease all over under the bearing buddy "bra" cap, the other was clean. This concerns me. I don't normally run far to launch my boat, but a couple lakes are 100 miles one way, and I'd hate to be that moron sitting on the side of the road staring at a trailer sitting on the ground...

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Rick G

If it were me I would just take the hubs apart, clean all the old grease out, inspect and repack the bearings. It realy isn't too hard of a job, and then you will know for certain what you are dealing with.

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Selmer

That's what my gut tells me to do Rick. Supposed to rain tomorrow, so I may just go take them apart tomorrow morning then re-assemble tomorrow night to make sure I can buy the parts I may or may not need.

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Tom7227

It seems to me that what you don't know is whether there is corrosion on any of the parts. Sounds as if the previous owner didn't put enough grease in the setup. Most seem to overdo it and have grease all over the place. Since the cavity wasn't filled with grease water go in. If it sat all winter or longer then corrosion is possible. Take it all apart, scoop out the grease and clean things up and see how things look. I wouldn't be surprised if you ended up having to get new bearings.

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efgh

Water in the hub equals rust, rust on a bearning equals failure. Take them apart and inspect to have peace of mind.

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ozzie

take the bearing buddies off and buy a new hub assembly from northern that has the grease zerk built into the back of the hub. They are way more user friendly, you start with new for piece of mind, and you pump grease in until it comes out the front which is a better system. I even bought a 3rd and keep in my boat incase of a break down I have a quick easy repair. Good luck

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fivebucks

The other thing you don't know is how old some of the grease is. Grease will break down over time and will not be as effective. I would be re-packing.

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Selmer

Well, I brought the boat back to the house this morning after dropping kids off from school. Jacked it up, put it on stands. Sure enough, one side growls like an angry dog, the other isn't glass smooth. I pulled both hubs, all bearings. Three of the four were bad - not terrible, but not good. Replaced them along with the race. Repacked everything with new marine grease, put new seals in, loaded the hubs with grease, popped them back on. Took me about four hours start to finish, but I had to deal with some unrelated stuff in the middle. Now they spin like smooth butter and I won't worry about them failing on the road this season. I think next time that I'll look into the hubs from northern with the grease zerk and channel all the way through to get grease to the bearings...

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Selmer

ozzie - which hub is that? I've looked over at Northern and don't see it. I assume you mean Northern Tool and Equipment?

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MaxGoldman

I think some people think misunderstand bearing buddies that they don't need to do any repacking (I'm not saying you're one, just generally), but if I were you I'd be repacking them every year. The grease doesn't really get the back ones good and if water gets in then it's in and you gotta take em off if you don't want problems in the future. I look at bearing buddies as a "quick fix" in a sense. For me I'd always rather be safe than sorry.

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Capt. H (Ret.)

Good job!! You should be good to go!!

Mike

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Esox_Magnum

I have buddies on all my trailers but still pull apart and inspect/replace/repack yearly...

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Tom7227

I have bearing buddies on a boat trailer I seldom use. Last year I wanted to go out with it and so I started repacking. I wanted to put the cup style things back on. I ended up buying two separate sets and neither would go on despite carefully sizing them

So I had to go back to the bearing buddies. As I cleaned them up I found that there was a lot of gunk preventing the cup from going back down to the bottom of the bearing buddy. It a took a bit of work to get the totally cleaned up and retracted down to the bottom. If that isn't done then you have a great place for water to accumulate and wreck things pretty quickly.

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Selmer

I intend to repack bearings every fall, as it goes into winter storage, then I know I'm good for spring. I don't put thousands of miles on my trailer - if I repack yearly I should be able to make these bearings go quite a few years. Now that I've done it once it will go faster the next time. smile

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ClownColor

Karavan also has a great system but I don't know if you can add it to all trailers or just theirs...not sure why you couldn't.

I think it's a lot easier IMO. You don't have to take anything off or a part.

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Wanderer

Interesting you bring up Karavan. I'm a out to find out how it works. We bought a used Karavan pontoon trailer last year and had the dealer replace the bearings before picking it up so we were good for last season. I'm going to be pulling one side this weekend for service since it looks like the seal failed and there's grease all over the inside of the rim. The bearings aren't smooth on the test spin either.

Since they look different than anything I've serviced before, I'm curious how it works.

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Great Outdoors

If you replace trailer bearings, make sure you purchase a high quality bearing, not cheap ones.

You're asking for trouble if you shop for the lowest price bearing available.

High quality bearings along with a good annual inspection and greasing program, will eliminate your trailer being the one without a wheel on the side of the road.

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leech~~

Some times with Bearing Buddies on people tend to over fill them and the grease blows out past the back seal. I've done that. wink

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efgh
Some times with Bearing Buddies on people tend to over fill them and the grease blows out past the back seal. I've done that. wink
Or if the seal is good, it blows the bearning cap off and you drive 20 miles on a gravel road.

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ozzie

Selmer- It is the Ultra Tow Ultra pack...check out their stuff on line and you can watch videos and they show the system. Pretty slick. They run right around the $50 range but on sale right now for $40. Be careful cause they make a cheaper model without the zerk and that runs for about $35 or $40 regularly.

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NEANGLER

Not a fan of bearing buddies, heard stories of them popping off due to back pressure and the ended up happening to me and fried my spindle- so a new axle. Sticking w caps that have been issued w the hubs and just repack every year and check every time before long trips.

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Wanderer

Karavan also has a great system but I don't know if you can add it to all trailers or just theirs...not sure why you couldn't.

I think it's a lot easier IMO. You don't have to take anything off or a part.

Just took the right sides off (tandem axle) and found the races were bad but the bearings weren't. First time I've seen that. It tells me the dealer did put new bearings in but left the old races in and they were bad already. Also on the Karavan hubs there's really no open space behind the race to pound them out with a punch. Not sure how to get them out so I'll take them to the shop tomorrow. Probably the reason the dealer didn't change them either.

The spindle has a zerk on the end and a channel to a dual port at the rear bearing. You're pumping grease directly to the inner side of the rear bearing through the spindle itself. You might get some to the front bearing but not much due to the flippin 16 penny nail sized cotter pin holding the castle nut on! That was a pain to get out. And FYI, you don't have to bend your cotter pins to a 90 degree angle to keep them in place... Just get a bend em in you're good. Just enough to keep it in place.

The caps hold a rubber bonnet that covers the zerk and the hub assembly, basically the front seal of the hub.

I like the grease channel in the spindle but I'm not really a fan of the rest of it. One of the most difficult bearing replacement jobs I've ever done for a trailer.

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harvey lee

I have buddies on all my trailers but still pull apart and inspect/replace/repack yearly...

+1.

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