Wheel bearings can make or break a trip.
When summer comes along, we like to head up to Eildon to water ski. We do our best to prepare the boat and the trailer in advance, as breaking down is certainly not much fun.
A few years back, we limped back home with a trailer bearing that was not far off glowing red, with smoke everywhere and the wheel wobbling like mad.
Again, not much fun!
Unfortunately, the previous owner of the boat trailer must have spun wheel bearings in the past, because when I replaced the wheel bearings, I noticed the axle was quite badly scored.
I looked at getting a new axle made to suit, as being an American trailer, parts are hard to find here.
In the end I fitted up Speedy Sleeves to the existing axle, and we replace the bearings every third of fourth trip up.
So I have learnt to be more vigilant with this trailer and will at some point replace the trailer with a tandem axle model, but for now it is manageable.
One thing that I want to share with you though, is a very simple check of the wheel bearing. If you do this often enough you will learn your trailer and will pick up any problems before they arise.
I will stop on a long trip and will touch the wheel hub with my hand to feel if it is hot.
By doing this you will be able to feel if the bearing is running hot and you should be able to catch it before it becomes a problem.
I always carry a spare wheel bearing set or spare hub that I have greased and is ready to go.
The idea is that if you catch it before it becomes a problem you could replace the bearing or hub before it damages the axle.
I do this simple check with any type of trailer, camper and encourage anyone to do the same.
I also recommend carrying spares and, depending on where you are going, possibly even two sets. In this case, also make sure you have right tools for the job and know how to do it.
We travelled the Gibb with a few other people a while back. One of the recommendations was to take spare wheel bearings or even hubs. One of the families did bring a camper along and had a problem with a bearing, which resulted in a damaged axle and a three-week wait to get the trailer repaired, because parts needed to be shipped in.
If spares were carried in, I could have replaced the worn bearings for them and possibly avoided the breakdown altogether.
Sure, carrying spares is tricky, as you can often carry too much, which adds to your overall vehicle weight and reduces space.
However, wheel bearings for a camper or a trailer are something that I believe should be carried at all times – particularly when travelling remotely and things can go pear-shaped quickly!
So, my tip is to regularly check your hubs for excess heat in order to avoid a bearing meltdown. Hope this helps.