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Open Roads Forum  >  Class A Motorhomes  >  Maintenance Issues & Tips

 > Catastrophic Bearing Failure

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wrgrs50s

Scurry, Tx

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Posted: 03/04/18 06:00pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I purchased an infrared heat sensor gun from harbor freight and occasionally check my tire and wheel temps on stops while on the road. If any are not similar to the others you will know to investigate further.

I have found many uses for it, such as air temps from the AC, heat from the floor registers, and etc. for inside the trailer. I used to use it on my racecar checking exhaust from each header at the head to determine cylinder temps. A misfiring cylinder would always be cooler. A screaming hot pipe could indicate a lean condition.


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mowingman

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Posted: 03/04/18 06:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I drive a school bus. About a month ago, I had the left front wheel fall off due to bearing failure. I did not have any students onboard at the time, as it happened first thing in the morning. Had no real warning then, "bam", front end on the ground due to a wheel bearing failure.
Was doing about 55 on a rural highway when I heard a loud metal screeching sound. It only lasted a split second. I though maybe one of the defroster fan motors had failed. Then, I noticed a little road walking from the front end. Within seconds, the left front wheel assy fell off the axle end, and went rolling into oncoming traffic as I skidded onto the shoulder. Pretty scarry for a minute. Wheel went into the ditch and did not hit anyone. We have a great preventive maint program, and inspect busses daily, but it can still happen at anytime.

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 03/04/18 07:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Years ago on a large pop-up. It was making a "clicking" noise but I did not know where the noise was coming from. Destroyed the bearing a the hub, but not the spindle.

Simply touching the grease cap (or use a cheap thermal gun) during fueling stops will let you know if they are going bad.

4x4ord

Canada

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Posted: 03/05/18 04:30am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I was pulling our tandem axle dually gooseneck loaded fairly heavy. When I arrived at my destination and got out of the truck I thought I smelt something. I looked under the trailer and saw flames coming out of a brake drum. Brakes and bearings were the only thing that needed replacement.


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devildog1971

Rome

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Posted: 03/05/18 06:59am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had that happen on a class B no noise no change in driving, I was scanning mirrors and saw a barely recognizable amountof white smoke pulled over and It immediately had a flame shoot out. the previous owner or maybe the factory had sprayed some type of foam insulation on the frame as soon as that flame shot out and touched the foam the foam burned furiously as though you had light gasoline the fire spread instantly everywhere the foam was. Two highway patrolman were sitting where I pulled over neither had a fire extinggusher that hd not been already used. nothing was left except the frame and steel wheels and the propane tank.I managed to get my dog and wallet out with me. The wrecker driver that arrived with a rollback wrecker said he had never seen a vehicle burn so completely and all four wheels were warped from the fire. the engine had everything burned off the outside and the aluminum transmission was sagging. This occurred about a two weeks after nine eleven, and temporary rules were in effect where you could not rent a car in one state and drop the rental off in another state. We rented the smallest U-Haul truck we could in order to get us and our dog home. The Louisiana highway patrol was very helpful, they took us to a motel anthem a hour later came back and took us to supper, along with dropping off a bag of dog food and a bowl to put it in and a bowl for water for the dog. The next day they arrived and drove me to the U-Haul facility. That was also at a time when there were no body cameras or car cameras those two State Troopers helped us out of the goodness of their hearts.

Old_Spirit

Orlando, Florida

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Posted: 03/05/18 07:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I left out the details of my “adventure” with wheel bearings to see if anyone had experienced this failure in a Class A motorhome without feeling compelled to respond to my tale. I will now complete my story. LET THIS STORY BE A WARNING TO THE UNINIATED.

In May of 2015, my wife, our grandson, and I were preparing to go on a three month road trip. We had been planning this for two years, and now Dillon was old enough (5) for a trip like this. Part of this preparation was taking the rig to a shop for some brake work as it had been pulling to the left on the last couple beach trips. The mechanic found out the right actuating shaft between the air brake cylinder and the wheel was partially frozen and would not rotate the 'S-Cam' to work the shoes. They fixed it, solving my brake problem. (More on this later.)

The first week in June, I brought the rig to the house to get it loaded. Three days later we were on our way, singing the travel song from the movie The Three Amigos. We managed to get 30 miles up the turnpike when suddenly, without any warning, we heard a loud crack like a pistol shot followed by an ear splitting squeal. I immediately pulled off the road and got out. The front right wheel was smoking and oil had spewed out of the hub all down the side of the coach. Our disappointment was almost overwhelming.

I had the coach towed back to the shop that had done the brake job. A day or so later the insurance rep assessed the damage. He concluded that since this wheel had a problem, the other front wheel was probably going to follow soon, and instructed the shop to repair them both. It took two months to complete because of parts availability. This ended our vacation plans for that year because we have custody of Dillon and he had to return to school.

We did get in a few trips to the beach over the next several months. On the last trip I noticed a bit of leakage on one of the leveling jacks and decided to get them all looked at by the Big Foot dealer in a nearby town. About 40 miles into the ride to the dealer's shop, a repeat of the events of the first bearing occurred. Only this time it was the Left Front wheel. Let me remind you that this wheel was repaired when the right front was done. Although nearly 10 months had passed since the first repair, just slightly over 300 miles had been put on the coach. This time the shop did the repair for free.

Fast forward to June 2017. I brought the coach to the house to load up for the trip we didn't get to take two years earlier. I'm not sure why, but it seems to take 3 days of thoughtful labor to get ready. Finally, we buttoned up the house, climbed aboard and headed out. This time we managed to get 200 miles before the Right Front bearing failed again. This time disappointment was augmented by anger.

It was clearly evident that there was a solid connection between the brake job and the first failure. It was also clear that the mechanic doing the repair had bungled the job on both wheels, the right one twice. Bearing failures are so rare that the vast majority of people never hear about it much less experience it.

Research and my long experience with auto mechanics confirmed my suspicions that the bearings had been severely preloaded causing the failures. The normal expansion that occurs when any moving piece of machinery heats up had no where to go. All the normally available expansion allowance had been taken up by over torqueing the bearing retainer nuts. The stresses built until only explosive destruction would relieve them.

If anyone experiences any wheel bearing failure, make certain the repair mechanic can describe to you the process followed to make the repair. You can learn this for yourself by watching a YouTube video on the subject, then you'll know the mech knows what he's talking about or not.

When I tried to get the shop to do it right on their dime, the regional manager told to either pay for the repairs or get my rig out of his shop or he would start charging me storage.

My court case will be heard soon.

Stim

NE Florida

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Posted: 03/06/18 08:25pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I worked on Semi's and trailers for over 30 years, supervised 3 shops in 2 states.
My guess is BOZO put spindle nuts on with impact!
Seen it too often in shops that I did not supervise!
I have run many service calls for burnt out wheel bearings.
I have had to cut off races welded to spindles and polish spindles for new bearings to fit many times.
Front wheel bearings usually give notice way before they are that bad.
I also had a R front seal let go on a 1993 KW that I was driving and when I hit the brakes it made a hard right turn into a Jersey Barrier! Luckily it just scuffed up the wheel studs.

Stim

NE Florida

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Posted: 03/07/18 08:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

After thinking about it, there is also a chance that the mechanic(?) did not put the spindle nut back on properly.
Small vehicles will use a cotter pin/castle nut to secure.
Larger vehicles will use some combination of double nuts and/or keepers.
If not put together properly RF would possibly try to keep tightening as vehicle went forward. (righty-tighty) Not sure about the LF. ???

Old_Spirit

Orlando, Florida

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Posted: 03/07/18 10:50am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Stim wrote:

After thinking about it, there is also a chance that the mechanic(?) did not put the spindle nut back on properly.
Small vehicles will use a cotter pin/castle nut to secure.
Larger vehicles will use some combination of double nuts and/or keepers.
If not put together properly RF would possibly try to keep tightening as vehicle went forward. (righty-tighty) Not sure about the LF. ???


The running gear on this coach uses Double Nuts, Retainer and Jam. I think your original assessment was correct. The "BOZO" one.

Old_Spirit

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Posted: 03/07/18 11:11am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Stim wrote:

I worked on Semi's and trailers for over 30 years, supervised 3 shops in 2 states.
My guess is BOZO put spindle nuts on with impact!
Seen it too often in shops that I did not supervise!
I have run many service calls for burnt out wheel bearings.
I have had to cut off races welded to spindles and polish spindles for new bearings to fit many times.
Front wheel bearings usually give notice way before they are that bad.
I also had a R front seal let go on a 1993 KW that I was driving and when I hit the brakes it made a hard right turn into a Jersey Barrier! Luckily it just scuffed up the wheel studs.


The "normal" failure process for properly installed bearings begins most often with loss of lubrication. This leads to brinnelling of the rollers (somtimes the races too) which causes chips to break off the roller. These chips are often large enough to jam roller motion and the resulting sliding causes so much heat that stresses destroy the bearing. The difference between this type of failure and my situation is that this failure mode gives plenty of noisy warning. In a car this noise occurs over a period of time and is loud enough to alert the driver to get it fixed. If this failure mode occured on my coach, I would not have missed the noise, but there was no warning noise, nothing. It was instantaneous. By the time I knew there was a problem the damage was done.

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