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Old 07-12-2010   #11
Plunk your magic twanger!
Gremlin's Avatar
New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2010
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I've been dealing with the same thing a lot this year. Last year I bought a homemade trailer, took it apart and repacked everything with grease. I reused everything including the grease seals. This year I took it apart before the season and found the bearings on one side to be dry and rusted. I took everything to the parts store to find replacements only to learn that it is all old and odd-sized. They put a micrometer on everything and gave me the nearest thing they had. I bought two of everything to do both hubs. The rear seal didn't fit very well and I destroyed one trying to get it to seat. Finally I was confident that the one side was good but I was now short one seal for the other side (an hour round trip to get another one). I pulled the grease cap and the other side didn't look dry like the first so I put off doing it.

Suddenly, without hearing any bad noises, I lost the tire after a great day floating. I had enough parts to rebuilt it to get it home and then spent father's day at the parts store getting a new set of everything to make it right before hitting the river again. I still don't trust it is right and ordered a new axle and hubs that I can get replacement parts for.

Up until now, I have kept the hubs out of the water when loading and unloading. I was hoping that with new, good seals and annual maintenance I would be okay backing the trailer down further and sink the hubs.

Does anyone have good or bad experiences sinking their trailer?

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Old 07-12-2010   #12
dgosn's Avatar
San Juans, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
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Posts: 485
Originally Posted by lhowemt View Post
We're inclined to fix it ourselves ($$, if it would save), but I'd rather be playing and gardening than learning about bearings and hubs, personally.

I think we'll be repacking these regularly in the future, and spares will be going in the toolbox.
It's a messy job, BUT you oughta learn how in the comfort of your driveway and in close proximity to liquid refreshments. It sure beats trying to do it on the side of the interstate in a blizzard, I can attest that sucks.

Grease, grease, and grease some more whenever you think about it. I carry a mini grease gun in the tool box. You ID and MT folks don't seem to have many putin/takeouts where you can float a boat onto the trailer, so you are probably saving some wear there. JC Whitney and other interweb sites have axels for cheap, they should be easy to put on. You may want to think about getting the biggest tire you can fit on the trailer, less rotation = less wear.

I saw a trailer shoot a wheel off at 70mph, toasted the hub and axle. It was funny only because he'd had been bragging about NEVER having to lube his bearing buddies.

Now I better go grease my axles after talking shit!

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Old 07-12-2010   #13
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
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Originally Posted by Gremlin View Post

Does anyone have good or bad experiences sinking their trailer?

Um, this might be our problem. Our raft & frame are heavy, and last weekend it was just the two of us, and not a soul at the takeout (freaky - 4th of July - WTF) to help. So instead of taking the frame off the boat and loading them separately, we backed into the river just enough to float the boat up next to the trailer and we could horse it up ourselves. I didn't think we got the hubs in, but we may have. It seems too coincidental for it not to be the cause. That's why I'm thinking waterproof hubs/seals/bearings etc.
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 07-12-2010   #14
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billings, Montana
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Sounds like you have it covered, good info from good folks. If I might suggest this stuff. It is marine grease meant just for bearings that are subject to dunking. You should be able to get it from napa in your area. It specifically resists washout due to submerging. (even the best of seals seem to let a little water in) It is made by Sta-lube. All that I use. Good luck!
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Old 07-12-2010   #15
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billings, Montana
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Hate to repost, but bearing buddies are junk. If you do replace an axle go with EZ lube axles made by dexter axle. They are built with a drilled out spindle with a zerk on the end that allows the grease to push through the back bearing forward. If you are careful to allow time enough for the grease to ooze forward and not pop the seal out the back it will repack the bearings without taking the wheel off. These are the standard nowadays, and it is hard to find a good trailer without them. They also do not have springs but incorporate a pressed in torsion axle with dropped spindles , no axle across the middle (way better clearance).
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Old 07-12-2010   #16
dgosn's Avatar
San Juans, Colorado
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What he said.

I have to replace one of my DExter EZ lube axles(bent), the whole thing with hubs is like $250, I always back the trailer in the water when possible, well worth it to me.
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Old 07-12-2010   #17
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Bayfield, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
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First I will admit to not having read every post or watching the video so if I am redundant I apologize. Packing the bearings correctly is important. Simply smearing grease on the race and rollers will not do. Another important and often overlooked part of all of this is assuring that you adjust the re packed or new bearings to the proper running clearance. A wheel bearing that is too tight will self destruct quickly, and too loose can cause the grease to prematurely run out and cause burnelling (pitting) of the race. With a little research this can be done easily by even the most non mechanical. Good luck!
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Old 07-13-2010   #18
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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Posts: 94
Get a new axle

I went through this last year. Went to ainsworth repair in denver and they took good care of me.

They got a replacement, welded the brackets on, and had it back to me in 2 days. ~150 bucks out the door.

Ainsworth Trailer Repair ? Denver, CO

You're gonna end up doing this in the long run. No point in wasting 100 bucks on a new hub and bearing.
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Old 07-13-2010   #19
Paddling Since: 1975
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wheel bearings are to easily maintained not to be one of the items on your check list, same as your boat and gear. Repack the bearings with bearing grease at least twice a year and more often if you submerge your axles in water, to check for wear jack the trailer wheel off the ground and shake it in and out looking for slack, tighten the axle nut just enough to take the slack out, do not over tighten the axle nut.If you are afraid to get a little or a lot of grease on your hands take it to a shop.
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Old 07-13-2010   #20
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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If the spindle's bent, just get a new axle

I went through something similar after spending a summer in MT where I was able to back down into the river on the fine concrete boat ramps after doing solo after-work floats near Libby. After coming all the back to CO, the bearings failed that fall, the spindle was shot, and I made the mistake of assuming a new axle would be much more expensive than repairing the spindle. The shop that had the trailer re-welded the spindle on crooked and a few months later I noticed the tire was wearing very unevenly. I don't remember the exact pricing but I think I was able to get the entire axle & bearings replaced for about $75 more than the yearly bearing replacement I've been doing.


Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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