Bearing failure is a common problem with boat trailers. Immersion in saltwater, long periods of no use followed by high-speed runs to boat ramps and plain old fashioned neglect often cause bearings to fail.
My Galeforce 5.5m gets used at least twice a week, most weeks of the year and I used to use a different bearing protection system on my Dunbier trailer. Having kept grease up to this system religiously, I didn’t have too much to complain about. The trouble with most bearing protection systems is that they rely on internal pressure to work and if you use too much grease the rear seal will give and let water in. Unfortunately, you never really know what is going on. The grease can be contaminated with saltwater and there is no way of knowing, short of pulling things apart regularly, to see if they are doing their job correctly.
After looking at the Durahubs system on another trailer I was convinced it was the way to go. The Durahubs system uses an oil bath and its polycarbonate window means you can always see how things are going. It’s a sealed system that relies on correct sealing rather than pressure from within to work.
Durahubs come in kits and are available at lots of auto product outlets. In each kit there are two Durahubs with rear hub seals (both Holden and Ford are offered) plus special bearing oil that is as thick and sticky as honey. A Loctite adhesive is also supplied.
Installing a Durahubs system is not hard as long as you follow the step-by-step instructions on the pack. There are, however, some things to pay special attention to.
Your first job is to get the hub off and remove the old bearings. New bearings are the way to go and this means that the old bearing cones will need to be knocked out with a punch taking care not to damage the inside of the hub.
Once the cones are knocked out you need to clean the entire hub. It’s also time to have a good look at the axle stub.
The rear axle seal needs to go onto a stub that does not have any pitting or wear marks. This allows the seal to do its job while keeping the oil in place within the hub. Emery paper is supplied and the idea is to tear it in strips to clean up the stub. On a new trailer there won’t be any wear on the stub axle (it still needs to be shiny clean) but as my trailer was well used there was a fair amount of pitting.
Even after some hard work with the emery paper it was obvious the pitting could not be removed. My options were either a new axle or buying a pair of Speedi Sleeves at a bearing outlet. I chose the latter!
Speedi Sleeves need to be an exact slip-on fit on the stub axle so a Vernier caliper was used to get the exact diameter of the axle. Don’t rely on manufacturer’s sizes for this: always measure the diameter exactly prior to buying the Speedi Sleeves. Axles are often produced over, or under, size.
When fitted the wafer-thin Sleeves provide an entirely clean surface for the seals to fit on and mine were given a coat of metal glue and pushed into place over the stub axle with a bit of pipe.
Keep in mind that my trailer has a hard life and needed the Speedi Sleeves: your’s probably won’t need them and if it’s new or near new it certainly won’t.
Once the Speedi Sleeves were fitted new cones were fitted within the hub. With cones and rear bearings fitted the rear (Ford) seals were tapped into the rear of the hub with a thin coating of Loctite special sealant applied on outer surfaces.
With the front bearings in place the outer washers and nuts were fitted, and once correctly tensioned each split pin was inserted. My last job was giving the Durahubs their own smear of special sealant and tapping them into place.
I rotated the hub until the filler plug was at the uppermost point and then opened it and fed oil in until it reached the halfway point. This took a little time and the hub was then left to sit as the thick oil dispersed through the bearings. A small top up was necessary after the rest period in order to reach the half way level. The cap was then screwed into place and the road wheels fitted.
Fitting the Durahubs was around an hour and a half’s work. If the Speedi Sleeves were not required it would have been much quicker but I consider the advantages offered by the Durahubs well worth the extra effort.
A trailer does not need to be new to fit Durahubs. Mine wasn’t. If wear on the stub axle is present, Speedi Seals can bridge the gap for the hub’s rear seal to work efficiently.
I check my Durahubs every time before I go fishing. Where salt water is involved it pays to be vigilant and checking them is just so easy to do.
If you are installing Holden rear seals watch that the double lip on these does not fold over and fail to seal correctly. Rotating the seal within the hub should take care of this.
The Durahubs’ polycarbonate window has a heavy duty rubber centre which is meant to expand or contract in accordance with levels of heat or cold, as well as barometric pressure, so some movement (flexing) is to be expected.
I know that not everyone will fit their own Durahubs and it would be easy for a workshop to install them. Boaters on the Gold Coast can have Leroy De-Paiva fit their hubs. Leroy has a marine workshop at 19 Currumbin Creek Road and can be contacted on 0410 511 717.
If you’d like some prior info on the job at hand take a look at the Durahubs web site on --e-mail address hidden-- .Durahubs are also bringing out larger units for much larger trailers (eg. Landcruiser size hubs) very soon. It will pay to watch the web site for this development.Reads: 3015