Hi, I have Dexter EZ Lube axles, but am considering pulling tires and hubs to examine inside condition of bearings and brakes. This trailer is a 2004 which I purchased just over a year ago. I've gone over JBarca's sticky on annual brake and bearing inspection/service (very well written). How far can I go before the point of no return at which point I'd have to replace seals or anything else? In other words does pulling the hub result in the need to change seals or can I simply reassemble to original condition without risk of damage to insides. My current intention is to do a dry run to ensure I can go through the process without running into difficulties. Once I am able to do this I plan to carry a spare hub, bearing/s and seal ready to install. This would allow for a quick swap and the ability to work at leisure on the removed unit for later use on the next wheel. For equipment I anticipate using, I have jack stands (2), bottle jack (8 ton), torque wrench, breaker bar, hand grease gun and brake adjuster tool. Thank you in advance.
In a normal situation you can pull the hub and replace it without damaging the inner seal. That presumes the seal is already in good shape, and isn't damaged in the process. Just undo the outer nut, pull the hub off, do whatever to the brakes and put the hub back on. Where you need to replace the seal is when you remove it to get at the inner bearing. You probably need to remove and inspect the inner bearing far less often with ez-lube hubs than with the older type where you need to remove the bearings to repack when servicing.
Good idea to inspect. I almost ran over a car last trip that slammed on brakes 50 feet from a quick yellow in heavy traffic. I pulled all 4 wheels the next week, and found one of the linings laying in the bottom of the drum on 2 of the wheels. The metal shoe was still where it was supposed to be, and my TPMS never showed high temps because the lining was just laying there not touching anything. I guess the adhesive they used wasn't up to the task. Local Napa store had the shoes, but Trailer Depot.com had the whole assembly for less. At my house in three days, and an hour to install.
After you remove the cotter pin, castle nut and outer bearing, carefully support the hub with both hands at the 4 and 8 o'clock positions and pull the hub straight out. Hold the hub the same way when you put it back on. A seal in good condition should not have to be replaced after just removing the hub.
2002 Keystone Cougar 286, 8,400lbs loaded, pulled with a 2004 F150 Supercrew, 5.4, 3.73 gears. Retired and enjoying life
BC, you might not have to pull the seals, but it's gonna be hard to inspect the bearings without doing so. I'd recommend having the seals on hand, pull the seals and bearings, clean 'em and repack 'em and do the job right. Then you'll know where you stand. You might have a bad bearing and won't know without taking the bearing out. BTW, pulling the seals generally destroys them.
The only way to inspect the bearings is to pull them out and clean them. You're looking for any pitting or bluish color. When you pull the inner bearing, you have to remove the seal, which will destroy it. New seals are not expensive.
What are the signs you're seeing that make you believe the bearings are going bad? If they have grease they should last for many thousands of towing miles if used with adequate dust covers in place and no signs of grease leaking into the drum or onto the wheel. Another sign that bearings might be bad is running hot after a jaunt on the highway and NOT using brakes to bring the trailer to a stop.
2011 F-150 HD Ecoboost 3.5 V6. 2550 payload, 17,100 GCVWR - 2004 F-150 HD (Traded after 80,000 towing miles) 2007 Rockwood 8314SS 34' travel trailer
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If you just pull the hubs you can inspect the brakes but not the inner bearing unless you remove the seal. If your going that far just pull the seal and the bearing. You can clean, inspect and repack. Why wait for a hot drum or growling sound to tell you the bearing is bad. If you hand repack the bearings and still use the EZ Lube hub feature from then on, use the same grease. Some greases are not compatible with each other. While you are at it, make note of the bearing and seal part numbers.
I'm "assuming" (and we know how that goes...) that you want to pull "a" drum, look and see, make sure you have the right size bearing etc and get the lay of the land before you tear into the entire rig and have all parts on hand. Did I get this right?
As was stated by prior posters, when you pull the drum, hold the drum very much on center and do not let it drop down or left to right which could tear the lip on an aging seal. Then when putting it back in wipe any dirt for sure off the spindle by the brake plate and gently put it back on. For sure inspect the seal lip before putting it back on.
Now the unknown, your camper is a 2004, it may have been built in late 2003. You have no idea what the prior owner did or did not do. If they never pulled this apart before and just did the EZ lube, well the seal may be blown, deteriorated or actually OK. This is a real risk. You might get lucky or not.
I myself would only risk this on 1 wheel to check parts. I would have a new seal ready to go on in the event you need it. Yes, you may waste $3 to $8 bucks on a seal, but you are up agasint time and not sure you have all the right parts. You may find you need entire brake shoes, magnets etc. If you find you nicked the seal or it just plain let loose when you pulled the drum, you for sure do not want to on purpose put a drum back on with a damaged seal. It is almost a guarantee that grease will fly out of a nicked seal, especially on EZ lube spindles.
Here is what a nicked seal looks like on standard manual grease bearing setup. I found this on my camper which I bought used from the prior owner. Odds are this came from the place that did the annual inspection. They did a quick drum and tire pull at once not separating the 2 parts. With all that weight the seal dropped hard and nicked it. The shoes were greased soaked and this is from a standard bearing pack. A EZ lube has lots more grease to fly out.
I have a bunch of extra seals on hand and bearing too. This is after you know for sure the right parts. This way you are all set the next time. If you need new shoes, search for an entire brake plate. You can buy the entire thing new cheaper than the parts. You get new shoes, new adjusters, new magnets, the pivot arm bushing etc. Here is one place I have used with good service and pricing. http://www.easternmarine.com/Electric-Trailer-Brake-Assemblies/ The are real Dexter new parts and not a knock off private label brand.
Good luck and hope this helps
John & Cindy
2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10
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2004 Sunline Solaris T310SR
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