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Packing bearings over full #5464471 06/27/20 08:41 PM
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JHZR2 Offline OP
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Curious about packing bearings. Im familiar with my old Mercedes cars - the grease to be used is to be measured by mass, with a fraction in the inner and outer bearing, and the rest in the cap. Very specific.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I know that if those are overpacked above the intended mass, the oils tend to seep our past the friction-fit grease cap, and onto the wheel.

So enter today’s case. Severe use on tropical roads with extreme grades and turns, including somewhat off-road use. This was just before the launch point, at a transition point from road to gravel, which probably had a 3-4” drop.

This bearing was a year old, and probably saw 25 full submersions in tropical salt water.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


Obviously no bearing buddy is in use. Grease seals must have failed. Planning on installing bearing buddies. But the facts of my car’s bearings come to mind. Granted this trailer never goes faster than 25mph or further than 5 miles. There’s no such thing as a highway where it is. But the trailer and boat are fairly heavy, and terrain severe.

So, a bearing buddy packs the inner and outer bearings, and all the intermediate space with grease, right? And then intent is to have a bit of over pressure so the water can’t enter. But isn’t that precisely over greasing? Won’t the grease and bearing get overheated? It’s exactly what one is supposed to not do on my Mercedes. So what gives? Does this over pressure that would get worse as the bearing and grease heat up, just seep out the rear grease seal? Do they drop grease all over as a result?

Perhaps compared to what I showed, life is extended even if overheated... but in ideal conditions are bearing buddies and all that extra grease actually good for anything?

Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5464480 06/27/20 09:00 PM
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ammolab Offline
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Always packed as much as I could get in there for cars and have a bearing buddy on my trailer pumped full with grease gun.

Never had a failed bearing or an overheated one....can “too much grease” overheat a bearing????


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Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5464481 06/27/20 09:01 PM
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Buy the real bearing buddies install them and follow the directions and never mind what you thought you know about greasing bearings because it isn't necessarily so You will need to buy and install shaft savers on the sealing surfaces on the axle so the seals will last and seal.


2015 F150 2.7
2018 F350 6.2
Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5464486 06/27/20 09:12 PM
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4WD Offline
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Tie Down Engineering spindles can “repack” by displacement via the rear port so that old grease is swept past both bearings. (On to a newspaper or paper towel).

With a Bearing Buddy ... you still hand pack the bearing, install the BB ... and top up via the fitting until the end piston strokes. Now you have a dynamic grease chamber ...

Unlike TDE, have to be careful not to keep pumping since it can pressure up on the rear seal.
A Bearing Buddy Can help prevent water ingress ...
(something I never have either)

Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: ammolab] #5464495 06/27/20 09:23 PM
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JRed Offline
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Bearing buddies (get the real ones, as CT8 said) have a mechanism that vents excess grease/pressure.

Originally Posted by ammolab
Always packed as much as I could get in there for cars and have a bearing buddy on my trailer pumped full with grease gun.

Never had a failed bearing or an overheated one....can “too much grease” overheat a bearing????


The main concern on anything with a grease zerk is that Joe Hamfist is going to pump thirty shots of grease in it and blow the grease seal out. Bearing gets hot, grease thins out and then all leaks past the seal.

I imagine it's very difficult but not entirely impossible to do the same on a hand packed bearing.

Last edited by JRed; 06/27/20 09:25 PM.

06 Subaru Impreza WRX - Sold. The only mechanical thing I'll ever love.
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Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5464503 06/27/20 09:39 PM
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Silk Offline
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Surely you would pick that up before a wheel fell off ?....?

Your use sounds like what all boat trailers in NZ do. Trailer axles here use a seal that doesn't seal on the axle, they seal on the hub, with a s/s sleeve. If used with a bearing buddy they will just burp a bit of grease and not blow out a conventional seal.


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Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5464545 06/27/20 10:49 PM
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Chris142 Offline
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Many years ago I had an old Scout. Every weekend I played in our local river. It was a constant wheel bearing battle. No matter what grease I used or seal type water always got in. Once it got in the bearings failed soon after.

During a busy summer I was pulling both axles completly apart and replacing the bearings and races every month.


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Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5464693 06/28/20 08:05 AM
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Kestas Offline
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A corroded bearing indicates seal failure. It doesn't take much to be a leaker. Power washing is another reason. Automotive wheel bearing seals withstand roughly 2 psi pressure. Those are sealed with 4 lips. I'm not that familiar with trailer bearings and their specific problems.

Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: CT8] #5464740 06/28/20 09:22 AM
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JHZR2 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Silk
Surely you would pick that up before a wheel fell off ?....?

Your use sounds like what all boat trailers in NZ do. Trailer axles here use a seal that doesn't seal on the axle, they seal on the hub, with a s/s sleeve. If used with a bearing buddy they will just burp a bit of grease and not blow out a conventional seal.


It went very fast. Heard noise roughly 100ft, was nearly at the launch, pulled in to investigate and the tough transition I think was the final straw.

As noted, this bearing was a year old.

Originally Posted by Kestas
A corroded bearing indicates seal failure. It doesn't take much to be a leaker. Power washing is another reason. Automotive wheel bearing seals withstand roughly 2 psi pressure. Those are sealed with 4 lips. I'm not that familiar with trailer bearings and their specific problems.


For sure it’s a seal failure. The seals on these spindles I’m seeing aren’t worth much. Here’s the other side removed this am. Difference is the outer bearing had a lot more (not very good) “grease” in it than the other side.
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

That said, I don’t think it’s power washing, unless the friction fit hub cap is to blame. We can’t easily pressure wash the back side of the spindle. That gets effectively 0 psi flush, briefly.

But these are third world launch points. The trailer is submerged, and often the rear of the truck is in the water...

Originally Posted by CT8
Buy the real bearing buddies install them and follow the directions and never mind what you thought you know about greasing bearings because it isn't necessarily so You will need to buy and install shaft savers on the sealing surfaces on the axle so the seals will last and seal.


Im not so sure that “what I know” is so wrong, since the bearings in these Mercedes cars are often good well past 200k. I reused mine after my brake job, set properly, with the measured amount of grease. I’ve also seen firsthand when the grease isn’t measured.

What doesn’t happen with these is a bad rear seal.

There absolutely is a max amount of grease, for example, I found the SKF formula G = DB/10, where G is grease in ounces, D is bearing outer diameter, and B is bearing width.

There’s something also to be said about the amount of grease for a given speed of the bearing. These never see over 25mph. But I’m not aware of that calculation.

So for us, full overpack, given speed/distance might be ok, while it may have bad consequences if used, say, on highway.

Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5464785 06/28/20 10:32 AM
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Eddie Offline
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I never packed a wheel bearing overfull. Just made sure the ball or roller bearing cage was 100% full and an an amount in the outer shell and end. I never had a bearing fail and I'm sure I've done 100 in my lifetime of wrenching. Ed


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Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5464912 06/28/20 01:30 PM
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I’m sure a heavy boat on a single axle trailer in severe terrain doesn’t help. Especially the severe terrain. Both grades and turns.

But I also think the seal isn’t working. The back side of the spindle is corroded and not smooth. So it can’t seal.

I’ve also found that the help has NOT pressed the seals into the hub sufficiently...

Here’s the one they installed yesterday. Two submersions.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

This is what the spindle looks like.

[Linked Image]


Redid them both. Cleaned the one that was submerged in gasoline. Greased new bearings both side with calcium sulfonate grease. Took the boat out and pumped them up again at the launch point.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5464920 06/28/20 01:38 PM
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Chris142 Offline
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Are you putting the seal on the spindle then putting the hub on?


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Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: Chris142] #5464972 06/28/20 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris142
Are you putting the seal on the spindle then putting the hub on?


That was me looking at the seal vs surface roughness of the spindle...

This was my first time messing with it. I installed the seal in the hub then the hub on the spindle. I think the prior “installers” pressed the seal on, then the bearing, then the hub... that would explain LOTS.

But the spindle is still corroded and rough. I went over it with a steel brush but no dice. I put a bead of grease outboard of the seal, and worked it in, which hopefully helps.

Got to where I needed, so all good for now. Two new hubs, bearings, and buddies.

Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5465010 06/28/20 04:17 PM
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Al Offline
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One thing I do know the green Exxon Unirex N-2 grease is almost in a class by itself with regards to water and almost every other possible application.


Re: Packing bearings over full [Re: JHZR2] #5465307 06/29/20 12:41 AM
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Silk Offline
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Here's the type of seal we use on trailers, it's fixed to the axle, and spins in the stainless sleeve. Far better for salt water immersion than a standard wheel hub seal.

[Linked Image from fishing.net.nz]


1987 BMW R65 - Penrite VTwin 20-50
2005 Nissan Expert - 5W-30 Castrol Edge
1996 Volvo T5 - Penrite HPR15 - 15W-60. Ryco syntec filter.
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