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Old 04-16-2013, 10:43 AM   #1
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Bearing Repacking Questions

I finally got around to pulling down the bearings in our 2007 T-276SR this weekend. They have never been done since new even though I did shoot a pump from the grease gun into them every season (I know I streched the service interval a lot longer than I should have). The first challenge was finding the grease seals locally. After a few phone calls and a trip to the parts store, I managed to get 3 wheels done before I had to quit. I'll probably get the last one done one evening this week. They looked really good except for one outer bearing the grease had turned brown from the original black. The bearing looked perfect after I cleaned it so I repacked it and put it back in. Does anyone have any ideas what would cause it to turn brown? I didn't see any evidence of water or rust.

The next thing I noticed is the castle nuts were different from one axle to the other. The nuts on the front axle had 5-6 slots and the nut on the one rear wheel had 10-12 slots. I'm expecting to find a similar nut on the other side of the rear axle. Because of the large gaps between the front castle nuts, the bearings on one side were a little looser than I would expect. I'm wondering if I should "upgrade" the castle nuts on that axle to ones like that are on the back to allow for a finer adjustment amount. Then, my common sense kicks in and tells me they lasted for 6 seasons without being repacked so why worry about it? Has anyone else noticed different parts on their front/rear Al-Ko axles?

Finally, the Al-Ko service manual says:
While slowly turning the hub/drum tighten the spindle nut to approximately 20 ft/lbs then loosen. With drum stationary (do not rotate), retighten the spindle nut to 7 ft/lbs (zero clearance) then back off one slot (0.001
"-0.010" end play) and align cotter pin hole.

Since I don't have a torque wrench that goes down to 7 ft/lbs, I did what I have done in the past with Dexter axles which is to tighten the nut with a wrench until it's snug, not tight, and then back off to the next slot in the nut. Does this seem too tight? Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?

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Old 04-16-2013, 04:13 PM   #2
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I know I'll probably get jumped on. I've never used a torque wrench. I've tightened car bearing for years doing it this way. While rotating hub tighten with wrench till snug back nut off till loose and hand tighten and back off till castle slot lines with key hole.
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Old 04-16-2013, 11:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by campin'dude

Finally, the Al-Ko service manual says:
While slowly turning the hub/drum tighten the spindle nut to approximately 20 ft/lbs then loosen. With drum stationary (do not rotate), retighten the spindle nut to 7 ft/lbs (zero clearance) then back off one slot (0.001
"-0.010" end play) and align cotter pin hole.

Since I don't have a torque wrench that goes down to 7 ft/lbs, I did what I have done in the past with Dexter axles which is to tighten the nut with a wrench until it's snug, not tight, and then back off to the next slot in the nut. Does this seem too tight? Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?

Understanding the principle of what they are saying is key.

You tighten the nut pretty good while rotating the drum. This is to get all the play out so you have zero play and actual preload on the bearing. Some manuals say 50 ft lb, some 20 ft lb. In this case a few ft lbs is not going to make it any more right or not. You do not really want 100 ft lb nor 10 when seating the bearing of this size.

The real key is after doing the preload, to absolutely not rotate the drum when you back off the nut. If it moves, start over. If it moves you can loose the zero play state.

Then once the nut is backed off you hand spin it up until it stops. This is to take you to zero preload. The nut needs to spin free. If it has a galled thread, fix that first, it needs to spin real free. The 7 ft lbs is a new one. If you take it up to just kiss the bearing by hand and know your there, that's it. A real 5 to 7 ft lb is not much and unless you have a calibrated torque wrench it may be off 3 to 5% any way.

I agree with 0.001 to maybe the most 0.005 running clerance however 0.010 in my opinion is too much. I know that is an Alko thing. If you actually read up on Timken bearings the best is to run absolute known preload. The issue on wheel bearings is how to measure it properly. So even Timken recommends spin the nut to get to zero preload and create very slight running clearance.

I'm not saying the 7 ft lbs is wrong, it just comes from a different tech writer rather than explaining what you are trying to accomplish.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:21 AM   #4
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Depending on the castle nut it maybe impossible to torque it and still get the cotter pin in. If you bring it back to the first notch it usually is all the grease clearance you need. You most likely can do 7fp with you bare hand. You could count the threads to the inch and divide by the number of holes in the castle nut and come up with a figure but life is too short and it does not make that much difference.
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:27 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone for the replies.

John, Your writeup was very helpful. I am going take the spindle nuts loose on the 3 wheels I have already repacked and follow your procedure suggestions just to be sure I have the running clearance set properly.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:34 PM   #6
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The closest you can possibly get a 14 TPI castle nut with 6 slots is + or - about .006" with only one hole in the spindle. So it's either too tight or at least .006 clearance best possible case and it's generally a few thousands more. If it was that critical there would be a better method of locking the adjusting nut other then a cotter pin. Just about all critical preloaded bearings are shimmed.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:07 PM   #7
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See if this helps. From the leader who everyone copied

http://www.timken.com/en-in/solution...nt_English.pdf

Many ways to accomplish the same end goal.

I can't find the older tech sheet on the Timken site, they keep updating it and that site is enormous.

John
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Old 04-22-2013, 04:36 PM   #8
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I finished the bearing job on Saturday. The docs provided were a help and I think I was able to set the bearing running clearances properly. Thanks again everyone for the info and suggestions.

The maiden voyage for the season is this weekend... can't wait to go camping!
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:53 PM   #9
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And how often should this be done? I got new tires last summer but I have never had this done?
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:58 PM   #10
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I do mine every year the little 13" tires turn fast and it gives me a chance to have a look at the breaks and all the bushings in the suspension. It's a couple of hours all spent.
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:29 PM   #11
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I don't do mine enough...

I added new grease once two years ago, but I have yet to pull them apart. It's on the list of things to do, but I'm not sure if it'll happen this year.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apackoftwo View Post
And how often should this be done? I got new tires last summer but I have never had this done?

Hi Joan,
How many years have you owned the camper? It may not be about how many years you yourself do it, as much as the last time the prior owner may have done it.

If you want the text book answer, Dexter/Alko recommend once a year or in some cases once a year or 12,000 miles. They have to recommend something that technically fits a broad range of users.

http://www.dexteraxle.com/i/u/614960...rings_3-13.pdf

In the life of a camper there is a real big difference between 1 year or 12,000 miles. For some, it may take 5 years to get 12,000 miles... While others may do cross country camping (the lucky onesÖ) and do 12,000 miles in a year.

And then there are camper brakes, most are manual adjust, (someone has to physically do them) that should be adjusted approx every 3,000 miles. And 3,000 miles can fit many folks once a year. However you do not have to pull a brake drum to adjust the brakes.

Some states have BMV trailer inspection programs that must pull a wheel and inspect every year. A good shop will tell you if you have a mess inside when they pull a drum. And some shops can create a problem as they are not paid to replace the grease seal and cut the seal putting the drum back on.

So what is an average camper person suppose to do? There is not a one size fits all answer but here are some thoughts.

When you buy a "new" or used camper, best is to repack the grease in the bearings, check all brake parts, adjust the brakes and go have a good time camping. Yes, brand new trailers have the bare bones minimum grease in them and brand new brake shoes need readjusting after about 200 miles.

Now that you have your camper brakes/bearings all sound you can start to create an active preventive maintenance program on them from a sound starting place based around how you use the camper.

The 3,000 +/- 500 miles brakes adjust check is on top of the list in my opinion and fits campers well. Left not done, stopping performance degrades.

On the grease, wheel bearings are often totally forgotten about. Here is a recent example of an owner complete with EZ lube axles who has done nothing for a long while. RV.Net Open Roads Forum: Towing: Smoked Bearing -- Spindle Damage - Axle Replacement??

When my son bought his ~ 10 year old pop up one of the 1st things we did was pull the wheels and brake drums off. Sure enough the grease was hard, dried up and has not had attention in years. The brakes where rusted up pretty good too. Not to mention the junk scotch lock wire connection on the brakes. Sorry, but I detest that type of cheap connection used open to the weather.

If yours has not been done since you have owned it, it is time. Once you have the bearings repacked with high quality grease by someone your trust now it comes down to how you use the camper. If you only put 500 to 1,000 miles a year on quality known grease repack it will not die in a year. In this case 2 years between grease repacks could be considered. However each year the brakes should be checked they work correct on all 4 wheels. There are ways to do this that are not hard to do and you can do. If you need help on how to do this, let me know I can give you some methods. Again do an adjust every 3,000 miles.

If you are towing 8,000 to 10,000 miles a year, then yes an annual grease repack is prudent as it will be 16 to 20,000 miles on 2 years and that is pressing your luck.

In my case I do my own, I use high quality wheel bearing grease, I know exactly what I have and I do them every 2 years by the hand pack method even though they are EZ lube axles. My mileage on the 2 year mark can be in the 8,000 to 10,000 mile range. One of these days I'll get to that in one year....YEH!!! And then I'll do them once a year.

Hope this helps

John


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Old 05-01-2013, 03:56 PM   #13
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Unless you are driving a ton of miles, I think doing it every year is over kill. I try to do mine every other year and do the same with my boat trailer which goes in and out of the water. I always check out the seals though and put a few pumps of grease in on the off year. I also carry a grease gun with me. Twice while towing my boat I had a bearing buddy fly off on the highway. You never know when you will need that grease gun.

The first time I did my Sunline, I was surprised to see that the axle spindles were actually machined without enough material all the way around. Alko really cheaped out on that one. Very poor manufacturing in my opinion.
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