Check your trailer bearings

Not wanting to teach Granny to suck eggs or offend anyone by suggesting this, but worth checking your trailer bearings from time to time and espically before making a long journey to, for example, the Nationals.

The trailer bearings are a pretty simple job to change (see below) and cost £10 from, for example, Macsalvors in Redruth.

The trailer bearing code numbers for Winder trailers is L44610 but if you are in any doubt knock your bearing out and they are stamped the outer section which is the bit pressed in. Also make sure you have a spare wheel for your trailer as the recovery companies get "difficult" if you do not have one and can bill you extra for recovery.

A bit of a guide for the trailers and bearings.

Lift, jack up, brick, block of wood or get the wheel off the ground somewhat and put your hands at 7 and 1 on the wheel (taking the wheel as a clock face and not digital!!!). Rock the wheel and see if there is any play? Move your hands to 9-3 positions and rock again, If there is more than a mm or two (less is better) then the bearing is worn or poorly adjusted.

To change the bearing, take the wheel off with the trailer jacked up. Pull off the centre cap and you will see a greasy split pin through a castle nut (you will see why when you see it). Bend the split pin straight and taking a hammer or the back of your pliers knock the slit pin out and undue the castle nut and retaining washer and keep safe.

 A gentle tug on the hub (bits with the wheel nut threads on) and the hub will come off in your hands with HALF of the bearing.

The other HALF should be attached to the stub axle (bit that the bearing push on to and the castle nut locks too) The bearings are tampered roller bearings and if over tightened they just jam so have this in mind. Tug or gentle tap the half left on the axle from behind and they should pop off.

 Now the hub houses the two outer casings of the bearing which if you were desperate you could leave in place and just add the two new inner bits of the bearing but that would be desperate and not good in the long run as they wear and get damaged by not being used so they will wear the new bearing out.

Put the hub on a flat hard surface and you will see that the inner section has a groove between the two outer bits of bearing (sounds odd but trust me you will see the grove when you have the hub in your hand) Take a large chisel or blunt fat edges screw driver if that is all you have and place the tip along the groove until it meets to bearing case. Beat and beat again until it dislodges and the case comes out.

Do both sides of the hub but keep the casings as you will need them in a moment or two.

Take the new bearing and apply a wee bit of 3 in 1 or engine oil and smear around the outer edge of the new case of the new bearings. (do not put them on the bench/floor/ground etc as they collect grit and that wrecks the bearing). Push the new case into the space where you just knocked the old one from, you will see it does not seem to fit! Place in the vice and slowly wind it in until the bearing case starts to move in, when it is flush you will see you need to still go further so take the old bearing outer and put it over the new one and wind in the vice some more until the new case sits squarely in the hub. Gently tap out the old case that just pushed the new one in with the chisel/screw driver and hammer. You have just pressed in a new bearing case.

Do this for each side of the hub.

The inner bearings fit on the stub axle, one has a rubber back and that fits against the trailer side to stop the grease coming out, so fit that one first and coat it with axle or lithium grease before you slide on the hub. After sliding on the hub grease the other inner bearing and slide it along the stub axle, followed by the washer and castle nut.

NOW DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE NUT but tighten in enough that it just pinches up on the bearing and you feel the slightest bit of resistance when you turn the hub IF YOU have to use EFFORT IT IS TOO TIGHT AND SLACKEN IT OFF until the hole in the stub axle lines up with the castle nut slots so you can refit the split pin.

Try the hub again to make sure it is still tight enough.

TOP TIP: Put the wheel on with two nuts and rock the wheel and spin it to make sure it has no play and that it is tight enough and adjust until it is how you want it. Tight wrecks bearing, loose wrecks tires, so you need a Goldilocks moment!

Take off the wheel. Then fill the split pin, castle nut area with more grease and re fit the dust cap then put the wheel back on and tighten the nuts.

Job done now you can start the other side.

If the bearing does not come of from the stub axle, even when beaten, then you need a bearing puller (maybe you can borrow or hire one) .

 So you need.

  • New bearings.
  • New slit pins if yours are FUBAR.
  • Chisel or big blunt screw driver.
  • Hammer.
  • Socket set or adjustable spanner for the castle nut.
  • Vice or workmate thing.
  • Grease.
  • Blocks of wood/ bricks or axle stands.
  • Rubber gloves as you get a bit greasy.

I would guess at about an hour if you take it easy (40 minutes to the first, 10 for the second when you have got the hang of it and ten minutes to suck teeth and drink coffee while smiling at just saving about £60 in labour costs!). Hope this helps a little bit.

Steve and George (George did the knock out and take parts on the first side).