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Old 07-06-2015, 10:07 AM   #1
roy
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Default Hub bearing failure

Yep after 3 years and 30k miles our XT276 had a major inner bearing failure on the right forward hub last Friday near Tuscaloosa Al. Complete with a hub fire and all. I had just stopped for gas, 13 miles later I was flagged down by a trucker and as I looked in my rear view mirror could see nothing but smoke bellowing from my rear wheel location. Quickly to the shoulder and hopped out to see a small fire at the back of the hub. Grabbed the on board fire extinguisher and hit it once then twice. Fire was out, trucker had stopped to with his extinguisher and also called 911 so two fire dept pumper trucks and 3 state troopers showed up. Fire dept checked the rig with their gadgets for hot spots which were none. Hub was still at 220 degrees so I dumped two bottles of water on it.

They assisted me to get it onto the flat dirt under the over pass I stopped under. I called roadside assistance using my AMA membership and after haggling and looking for help the next two hours a guy finally showed up. I had the wheel and hub off by then and it wasn't pretty. Guy removed all the damaged bearings and races then left with hub to get repair parts. About 4 hours later and $460 bucks later we were back rolling.

We got home Sunday after the trip fine. So I've scheduled a repair/inspection/service to axle hubs and brakes next weds at a specialized trÃ*iler repair place. I'm also purchasing a complete new hub with bearings instÃ*lked so if it happens again I will just rip old hub off and install the new one kinda like a spare tire. It truely sucked sitting on the highway for 6 hours and at the mercy of roadside repair thieves.

Our situation last Friday 7-3-15


And yes the bearings had been greased annually using the oem grease buddy fittings. Those are useless don't trust them for proper bearing maintenance. I won't ever use mine again. Yearly I'm taking it in for $230 and having all four hubs pulled and bearings properly repacked along with brake inspection. I do think the heat from the flame damaged the brake on that wheel so the magnet may need replacing.

This all could have been much worse anytime a fire is involved on one of these things. Quick action by a stranger and me knowing where the fire extinguisher was stopped it. I could have watched a lot of money burn up had that fire got out of control. Btw I never felt anything before I noticed the smoke. Trailer was straight and no vibration or anything. I wasn't doing but about 62 mph when it happened luckily.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:05 PM   #2
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Roy ~ certainly not a pleasant nor inexpensive experience.

Why do you think the bearing failed? Do you think the 'thru the axle' bearing grease system failed to properly lube in the inner bearing in this instance?




Had that happen on the front wheel on a car once years ago and sadly, it also 'welded' the inner bearing race to the spindle and the spindle turned blue from the heat, fried the wheel cylinder, runed the brake shoes/springs and the drum too.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:19 PM   #3
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Roy,

Glad you managed to minimize your ordeal with a "relatively" minor expenditure. Everything you said is very common place and everything you plan on doing is what all my experienced friends tell me that they do. Greasing wheel bearings via the convenient fittings usually does one of two things .... 1) allows excessive grease to pass through the bearings into the wheel hub which likely then ruins the brakes ... 2) doesn't allow new grease access to parts of the bearing assembly which will in all cases, lead to failure, just depends on when. All my friends with 25 years plus of pulling travel trailers all remove and hand pack their bearings at the beginning of each season.

Every single time I stop for anything I always go around the trailer and touch the tires, the wheel and the hubs individually and if all is well, they are never hot to the touch. Even on a 100 degree day, they are normally just a bit warm but that's all. If you had done that when you got gas, you probably would have detected excessive heat in that wheel.

Glad no additional damage occured and that everyone is ok



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Old 07-06-2015, 01:37 PM   #4
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I think the easy grease fitting just allow to much grease in and not necessarily in the right places. Yep I had just walked around feeling the tires and wheels at the previous gas stop just 13 miles back no indication of a soon to be failure. It happened quick trucker said he smelt asbestos and thought it was his rig then happened to just see smoke off my right side wheel well then a small flame appeared all this within a mile. It happened quick and luckily I got it hauled down before stuff started welding itself together.

I was full load with full fresh water tank, racebike, pit scooter and all my gear plus our usual stuff but even with all that we are still 500#s under the trailers gross allowable weight rating. Like I said this things been making this run along this highway now 3 years and 30k miles just guess it was time. Looking back I had noticed months back that wheel appeared to look like it had some negative camber at the top as it sat on driveway. My driveway has a slop though due to a tree close by riding up the slab there so I attributed that to the visual. Guess in reality that could have been the bearing showing wear then and allowing the wheel to not sit properly on the slindle.

One things for sure it had plenty of grease everywhere and that's what fueled the eventual fire. The bearing was crushed bits of metal unrecognizable except for the races. Cage completed chewed to powder. Outer bearing would have went in another mile and then the whole wheel would have come off I'm certain.
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Old 07-06-2015, 01:50 PM   #5
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Now I know what that little coiled water hose is for .... putting out wheel fires

Quite a story and so much for my "touch theory". Guess it's not such an indicator after all. Good thing you got whoaed up in time or it could have been much worse.



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Old 07-10-2015, 06:47 PM   #6
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Glad to hear the only thing hurt was your wallet. Fires are not good and can cause a lot of damage REALLY FAST!!! I hand packed my bearings before my first trip like 2 years ago but not since. Haven't used it much because of all the repairs and parent duties getting in the way. I probably put maybe 500 miles on it since I had it. But after hearing your story I'm going to hand pack my bearings every year and before I go on any long trips I'm going to buy a complete Hub/drum, bearings, and backing plate assembly (etrailer.com has good prices). So If I have any issues I can do a complete overhaul myself if need be. I wouldn't have any idea who to call for help if something like that happened to me.
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Old 07-10-2015, 07:07 PM   #7
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I wonder of one of these temp sensing guns would be more accurate than touching the wheel hubs?

http://www.amazon.com/Neewer-Thermom...W4YSM6T0MXHWZX

This one is pretty cheap .. some are alot more expensive.
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Old 07-12-2015, 02:18 PM   #8
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Well I took it upon myself to check all the wheel bearings yesterday. All remaing 3 wheels looked in good condition but the grease was real dirty and way to much of it everywhere. I'm not using the grease buddy fittings anymore instead I'm removing hubs at least once a year since its so easy. I get a visual in the bearings and I pack quality grease in the way.

The roadside repaired wheel was a disaster. Shoddy work on the repair meant I had to replace both bearings and seal again. Moron had tightened the nut to tight and the bearings he put in were scorched pretty good in only 300 miles. He also had some seal in there that was not the right kind. So $44 more dollars and I have it done right. Not only did he rob us roadside he didn't know what he was doing to begin with. I will be ordering a complete hub with a bearing and seal assembly already installed and it will be kept inside camper for any future failures like this. I'm not dealing with roadside thieves anymore.

Be forwarned those buddy axles are a disaster waiting to happen. No way they can properly grease the bearings but they do a good job of making a mess.
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Old 07-12-2015, 03:10 PM   #9
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Roy,
I take it you have the Lippert axles with the Super Lube hubs ~ anyway that is what came on my 2012 XT276.
I've lubed them using the grease fitting on the end of the axle but haven't disassembled them to clean/hand pack the bearings.

May I inquire as to where you acquired the "spare" hub w/greased bearings & back seal already installed ...... and the cost?
Or just the numbers of the bearing sets (inner & outer) and the double lip seal?

I read thru many camper/rv forums and some claim no problems in years of use with multiple brands of trailers .. and some otherwise.

thanks for the info.
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Old 07-13-2015, 07:15 AM   #10
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Eagle I will get you a part number as soon as I pick up the hub. The bearings are standard 10 1/4" hub stuff.

Outter bearing L44649
Inner bearing L68149
Seal GS545

Most camper places have the bearings and seal in stock.
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Old 07-13-2015, 07:37 AM   #11
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Thanks Roy

Will be running about 2,000 miles soon and considering getting a bearing set just in case.
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle
Thanks Roy

Will be running about 2,000 miles soon and considering getting a bearing set just in case.
Not a bad idea. Knowing what I know now scares me to think of those long trips I've made on a wing and prayer. Not a job you'd look forward to doing on the side of the road but with spare parts in hand its doable if you catch in time and the spindles not damaged.

Little thing I noticed before mine actually failed was that wheel had developed a slight negative camber at the top of it. You could visually see it but I passed it off as maybe the slope of my driveway was causing it. Not the case it was indeed that inner bearing beginning to fail. With a new bearing set in it now that wheel is vertical like the one behind it.
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Old 07-13-2015, 11:06 AM   #13
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Did you go with Timken bearings/races or the cheaper china ones?

What brand was on the axle from the factory?

Thanks
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Old 07-13-2015, 11:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle
Did you go with Timken bearings/races or the cheaper china ones?

What brand was on the axle from the factory?

Thanks
I put the same thing back in it that was originally in it and they were Tekonsha made in china. Problem with bearings is they are not easily bought locally. The stock ones have 30k miles on them. The remaining 3 all looked and felt good as a new set in my hand. If properly greased on e a year I don't see brand making a difference. Issue is the easy grease fittings don't properly grease the bearings. Hand packing along with inspection once a year minimum will be my routine. It's just not that hard really. Jacking the thing up is the most labor intense part of it. The hubs come off easy once the spindle nuts taken off. Just don't over tighten the nut on reinstall. Basically line back up with the hole it cane off with, next hole on but will be too tight. Spin it and listen for any abnormalities add wheel and move to next one.
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Old 07-13-2015, 12:05 PM   #15
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OK ~ may just buy the cheaper china ones to carry along if ever needed.

I've packed thousands of bearings on vehicles in the 60/70's to know how to remove bearing/race & seals/clean/hand pack grease/install race&bearing and reinstall hub/torque on spindle so not to loose or tight.

Thanks.
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Old 07-13-2015, 02:51 PM   #16
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I have a friend with 25 years of experience pulling a "fiver". He repacks his bearings once a year and uses one of the readily available devices made for this purpose (as opposed to doing it literaly by hand with the old school scoop across your palm method). They cost less than $25 and he swears they do the best job at getting grease everywhere it needs to be without getting grease all over the place. I Googled them and there were simply too many to pick one to link here. He said that he got his at an Auto Parts store.



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Old 07-13-2015, 07:54 PM   #17
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Just something to think of. All the hubs that i have seen the races are pressed into the hub/drum. If you have a bearing failure it will at the very least damage the race if not totally destroy it. I suggest buying a whole drum with races already installed and a set of bearings. This way it's just rip off the bad and install new. Unless you have a hydralic press stored in your trailer. Lol
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Old 07-13-2015, 08:32 PM   #18
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The bearing races aren't that hard to change out. All you need is a hammer and punch. Tap old one out and new one in. Even big hubs on transports are changed by hammering old out and new in.
When you have the hub off to check and pack bearings get a helper to hold brake controller lever to apply trailer brakes and brake magnet should hold a screwdriver and drop it when level is released. Good way to check brake magnet operation and wiring to the wheel you are working on.
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Old 07-14-2015, 08:19 AM   #19
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Above is correct, easy to change the bearing race w/hammer and punch as have done many. In fact, have never replaced a wheel bearing without replacing the race too...and installing a new seal.

Only have limited experience w/electric brakes so thank on hint w/screwdriver to check the wiring & magnet.

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Old 07-14-2015, 10:45 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by towdriver
The bearing races aren't that hard to change out. All you need is a hammer and punch. Tap old one out and new one in. Even big hubs on transports are changed by hammering old out and new in.
When you have the hub off to check and pack bearings get a helper to hold brake controller lever to apply trailer brakes and brake magnet should hold a screwdriver and drop it when level is released. Good way to check brake magnet operation and wiring to the wheel you are working on.
ok I used punches to remove them but never to install them. I always had a press available at my shop. So i always used that to make sure I didn't damage the race and to make sure it's seated properly. The only races I ever changed on trailers were on backhoe trailers. Etrailer has a hub/10"drum and bearing set for like 40 bucks so im just going to buy that kit but it's good to know a hammer and punch will work for installing the races.
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