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Thread: Boat trailer bearings 101... Every boat owners need to know how

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Middle of Nowhere


    Yes, this is something that alot of people neglect and end up on the side of the road, great write up CB!

    My new boat has oil filled bearings, while there is less maitenance you still must check and service them from time to time.

    I also agree that this should be a stickey.

  2. #12


    Thanks for the write-up!! Very informative!!


  3. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    seal beach


    Thanks for the intensive sharing

  4. #14


    As the job gets further and further, the beer cans get more and more. hilarious!

    awesome DIY post

    keep em coming!

  5. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    LA/Orange CO area


    Great post- good info :) saving some $$$$ - NICE!

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Loudon TN


    Cutbait you are so right dude. Bearing buddies are a false sense of security. I replaced my entire axle myself in my garage through - I purchased the spindle through the axle model and I highly recommend it. Dude it was like 200 bucks and if any of you look at the design combined with double lipped seals on the back side....... its pretty hard to get water in the hubs. This is a super easy project and anyone can do it. The only thing it required on my part was a few more Miller high lifes combines with some brats on the grill. Thats the way we do it out here lol

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Ca. Coast


    You got your own Sticky!!!! Fantastic!!

    At first I thought it was for, How many Beers does it take to service a wheel bearing? Or, How much Beer money you can save when you service your own wheel bearings. Trail Blazer must of been there..

    Nice job Mike

    Last edited by Which Way Out; 10-24-2013 at 06:44 AM.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2010


    Quote Originally Posted by cutbait View Post

    You older boat guys, do yourself a favor and inspect and regrease. Save ya tons of money from having to pay a guy or having a tow truck pick your rig up from the side of the freeway.
    Didn't realize, but its not "you older boat guys" I should of said you guys with older boats. HAHA

    Thanks WWO

  9. #19


    Quote Originally Posted by cutbait View Post
    So being a boat owner for years, I learned real quick how to keep the trailer bearings in working order.

    Every season they should be inspected and greased. Shops will charge upwards of 200 dollars for 5.00 bucks worth of grease.

    Learn to do this yourself, save tons of money and come with the grips of understanding the mechanical workings of your axle.

    I've seen many boats on the side of the road with no tires, burnt axle, etc,,,,..

    So I took a week and worked on Double A's rig. Rebuild carb, new fuel lines, rebuild fuel pump, change out and repair poppet valve and replace Thermostat and changed the lower unit oil

    Took the time to show Double A how to regrease/replace his trailer bearings and now he is set for a season of fishing with no doubt of save travel.

    First off, I named his boat the party animal,,, He's blasting the 1987 sticker on the windshield.

    Had some fun at his expense

    Well here we go..

    Standard wheel removal.. break lugs free before you jack

    Wheel is off

    Inspect and remove line and such that could tear your seal, like this boat had

    Next is the bearing buddy removal, if you have just a hub cap it works the same.

    Strike once with the mallet or hammer {hammer not prefferred} one direction, then opposite, repeat... Take turns striking from each side

    As you can see its just pressed in

    Now for a little pet peave about Bearing Buddies.

    It is common for owners of trailers with bearing buddies to swear off trailer bearing maintenance with a false sense of security that the Bearing buddy keeps the water out and greased bearings.

    Bearing buddies DO NOT keep water out, they help.

    Bearing buddies Do NOT prevent bearing wear

    All they do is spring load a supply of pressurized grease into the hub, which aids in keeping water out and pushing grease to the bearings. Bearings will still wear, water will always get in eventually.

    Here is how a BB works, That spring on the inner lip compresses grease behind the plate and forces grease back applying pressure

    Heres the plate on the backside

    OK back to the tutorial

    With the BB out of the way, Its time to remove the cotter pin that is locking the castle nut in. Both pictured in the grease

    With the castle nut off the entire hub will slip off the axle spindle

    Here is the spindle, notice the discoloration from being hot at some point in time. {probably PO burnt bearings}

    With the hub off, the front bearing slides out, the bearings on this boat were in like new condition, I did not pull the race out, as they were in like new condition also.

    With the front bearing out its time to knock out the back seal and bearing. You will need a long punch and make absolutely sure you are striking the meaty part of the back bearing and not any part of the flimsy seal as it will warp and no longer function as a seal.

    Here is the back side and a view of the seal

    How to place the punch to catch that back bearing

    Sucessful removal

    Now clean inside the hub and use solvent based cleaners to clean old grease from the bearing cavities

    In this pic you will notice the race I spoke of earlier, That race accepts the tapered bearing, the bearing spins on the spindle and race and the race is wedged into the hub. Now if you have to replace worn bearings you MUST replace the race as well.

    Same method for removing the race as the back side bearing and seal, Strike with a punch from opposite end. Now when installing new races, Use an exact fitting socket or pipe. DO NOT scar the inner lip of the race with punches or screw drivers, it will destroy a new bearing

    See the angled race inside?

    Here is the complete hub components. Cleaned and ready for regreasin and installation.

    When regrease, make sure you push the new grease up and through the cage that holds the roller bearings

    Made two quick vids on how to push the grease through

    Reinstall greased bearing in the back fitting on the race perfectly, make sure to smear some grease on the race first. Then tap the seal back in

    pack a handful of grease inside the hub and slip back on the spindle

    Slide the front bearing back on, then the washer spacer between the bearing and castle nut, hand tighten the castle nut, then use your wrench and tighten the castle until you cannot freely spin the hub, this is setting the bearings to the race.. Once you cannot spin the hub, back off until the hub spins freely and make sure there is no side to side play in the hub.

    Backing off the castle should only be 1/4 turn or so, Once your comfortable with the friction of the hub, slide the cotter pin through the castle nut into the hole in the spindle and bend the cotter, locking the castle nut

    Tap the Bearing buddy back on, shoot some grease in with a grease gun until the spring is compressed and reinstall tire and thats it!

    Only tools you will need are a Mallet, Crescent wrench, long punch and pliers for the cotter pin

    You older boat guys, do yourself a favor and inspect and regrease. Save ya tons of money from having to pay a guy or having a tow truck pick your rig up from the side of the freeway.
    If you grease them after retrieving your boat, the water is forced out of the bearing. I agree that once or twice a year it's a good idea the tear it down and regrease.

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