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  • "Old" bearing grease

    I now have 5 trailers and have to admit I haven't been religious about greasing or even inspecting the bearings.

    My latest addition is a 1996 jet ski trailer so I thought I better give it a look since I know nothing about it's history.
    I was pleased to find the axle is a genuine Dexter and the spindles were filled with new-looking red grease.
    I removed the outer bearings & cleaned them. They are perfect. The spindle looks perfect. The rear seal looks perfect & doesn't leak.
    I put it all back together & added more grease from my red gun.

    Now the questions:
    * Should I trust my eyes or should I have cleaned every bit of grease off and refilled?
    * Is there one grease preferred for all trailer uses (landscape, utility, submerged boat trailers, etc)? So far with my spotty maintenance habits I'm favoring red Mystic.
    Of course I actually don't know if the "old" red grease was Mystic.
    Currently at 7 rigid-hull floating things, not all are powered.

  • #2
    I have 5 trailers as well. Way back when I did Fall maintenance on one trailer and didn't have enough of any one kind of grease, so I mixed 2 together and finished the job. On my way back from vacation that next Spring I stopped for gas and noticed my wheels were pouring out a concoction that looked like oil. Fortunately I was only a few miles from home. When I broke down the wheels the 2 greases apparently were not compatible and they completely liquefied.

    Now I use one grade of grease and use the same thing in all of my trailers. The manufacturer states a shelf life, so I buy new every 2 years.

    Haven't had a problem since.

    One of my trailers is only driven locally, 3 or 4 miles at a time. It has bearing buddies and I see no rear seal leakage or reduction in pressure. Those have not been repacked in 6 years I think, so maybe usable life is longer than they say.
    2019 SeaRay SPX 190 OB & Mercury 150 4-Stroke & Merc 5.0 Kicker
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    1964 Sea Nymph 14R & 1970 Evinrude Sportwin 9.5
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    • #3
      Most greases you buy off shelf at your local big box are going to be lithium based. There a couple different types of lithium grease, but all compatible with each other.

      Maybe I'm just lucky, but I usually have some random grease in the greasegun, and don't really give a second thought to it. I tow thousands of miles per year, and have NEVER has a bearing failure. I've repacked very few bearings in my life, mostly on junk that I was given and rebuilding.


      Yeah I wouldn't believe the shelf life. If it is 2 years sealed in the tube, it is certainly less once it is exposed to oxygen. There might be a couple OCD iboaters who repack every bearing every year or two, but the majority do not. I have trailers I've personally owned for 15+ years that have never had a repack.

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      • #4
        It probably makes sense to wipe off as much of the old grease as you can, while the bearing is disassembled. Then repack with new grease. That will eliminate any incompatibility, and it is not hard, once the bearings, races and seals are exposed.

        I use "Boat trailer wheel bearing grease" for all my applications. It is water resistant, which is fairly unique, and I believe if it can work in boat trailer wheel bearings, other applications (lifts, tie rods etc) will be less strenuous. Wallyworld and others sell it.

        I would recommend the use of "bearing buddy"-type products, as they can help keep water out of the bearings. If you trailer any distance, the bearings should be disassembled and cleaned and regreased on some sort of fixed schedule.

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        • #5
          You guys are making me feel better about my lax trailer maintenance!

          It DID bite me in the *** once. Six years ago I bought my vacation lake cottage and it came with a pontoon boat & trailer. That trailer likely had never been out of the neighborhood since new (90's) and was fine to launch & retrieve my 'toon every season. 3 years ago I decided to sell the old toon & buy a newer used one so I trailered the old one home to put it up for sale. About 45 minutes into the trip (4 hours total) I pulled into a gas station to fill up. While there I did a walk-around and noticed that on one side the wheel looked funny. The dustcap was gone, wheel was cocked on the spindle and there was no cotter pin, nut, washer or outer bearing! It could have detached at any point and dropped my boat on its side.
          I had to make arrangements for the trailer & boat to be picked up on a roll-back and taken to a local garage for repair. Paid thru the nose for a new hub & internals and had to make the trip again to retrieve it for the rest of the trip home.

          This is why I'm upping my maintenance game.
          Currently at 7 rigid-hull floating things, not all are powered.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by H20Rat View Post
            Most greases you buy off shelf at your local big box are going to be lithium based. There a couple different types of lithium grease, but all compatible with each other.
            The Stalube marine grease I use is aluminum complex base. It is not compatible with lithium grease.

            1998 Wellcraft Eclipse 24 Cuddy
            Volvo Penta Duo-Prop 7.4L "LK"

            2006 Sun Tracker Party Barge 21
            Mercury 90 4-Stroke FI
            "Common sense is not very common"
            "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." -- John Wooden

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            • #7
              I bought a tube of Mobil 1 red synthetic grease once. Gun constantly dripped red oil on my garage floor. If that wasn't bad enough, after all the oil separated out the remaining dry red paste plugged up the gun head.
              I thought "Mobil 1--gotta be good stuff!"
              Never again.
              Currently at 7 rigid-hull floating things, not all are powered.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by guy48065 View Post
                I bought a tube of Mobil 1 red synthetic grease once. Gun constantly dripped red oil on my garage floor. If that wasn't bad enough, after all the oil separated out the remaining dry red paste plugged up the gun head.
                I thought "Mobil 1--gotta be good stuff!"
                Never again.
                All grease can separate. I use Mobi-1 on trailers other than my boat trailers. Never an issue with a little bit of separation.
                1998 Wellcraft Eclipse 24 Cuddy
                Volvo Penta Duo-Prop 7.4L "LK"

                2006 Sun Tracker Party Barge 21
                Mercury 90 4-Stroke FI
                "Common sense is not very common"
                "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." -- John Wooden

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                • #9
                  With boat trailers that use the Super Lube system with the rubber cap in the spindle cover and grease fitting in the spindle you can pump in new grease till all the old grease exits out of the spindle cap; if there is no sign of water in the grease and the bearings run smooth there is no need to take it all apart for manual packing.
                  As far as grease I used to use Pennzoil Marine and then changed to Lucas Marine when Pennzoil stopped selling their marine grease. Same bearings in these hubs since I bought the axle from Champion Trailers in 2004. Never had separation problems with either grease...
                  1988 Four Winns 200 Horizon
                  4.3 OMC Cobra

                  98 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0 Selectrac
                  07 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 5.7 Quadradrive II

                  "While air doesn't freeze....rust never sleeps"

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                  • #10
                    https://www.machinerylubrication.com...ed-separation-

                    https://www.machinerylubrication.com...rease-bleeding
                    ....

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lou C View Post
                      With boat trailers that use the Super Lube system with the rubber cap in the spindle cover and grease fitting in the spindle you can pump in new grease till all the old grease exits out of the spindle cap; if there is no sign of water in the grease and the bearings run smooth there is no need to take it all apart for manual packing.
                      As far as grease I used to use Pennzoil Marine and then changed to Lucas Marine when Pennzoil stopped selling their marine grease. Same bearings in these hubs since I bought the axle from Champion Trailers in 2004. Never had separation problems with either grease...
                      Ahhh the EZ lube system. I call it the LAZ-Lube system for people who are too lazy to properly inspect and pack their bearings. With a boat trailer, it is especially important to inspect the bearings since water can enter through the rear seal. The Pontoon trailer I bought with the LAZ-Lube system had pitted inner bearings on all the hubs. In addition, if you have drum brakes, it is possible to blow out the rear seal with the LAZ-Lube system.

                      Here is a picture from an RV site I am on who had this issue happen to him.

                      1998 Wellcraft Eclipse 24 Cuddy
                      Volvo Penta Duo-Prop 7.4L "LK"

                      2006 Sun Tracker Party Barge 21
                      Mercury 90 4-Stroke FI
                      "Common sense is not very common"
                      "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." -- John Wooden

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                      • #12
                        and have to admit I haven't been religious about greasing or even inspecting the bearings.
                        This makes me quite angry.

                        Earlier this year a very large area, not very far from me, was set on fire by a trailer that had lost a wheel. Quite clearly, that would have been a lack of maintenance issue. Personally, I feel the person responsible should have been charged with the cost to put the fire out, and pay the land owners for recovery. Had that happened, it would have been a strong message, you cause a fire, in any way, you're going to pay for it! Sadly, all he did was say 'sorry for the accident' and was allowed to blissfully carry on life... It wasn't an accident, it was completely avoidable, with a few minutes of maintenance.

                        https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-...again/11857328

                        Guys, DO YOUR MAINTENANCE! I can't stress it strongly enough. Trailer bearings are about as basic as it gets. If you can't maintain them, or aren't willing to pay someone else to, you shouldn't be allowed to own a boat/caravan/trailer!
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                        1972 Bertram ‘Bahia Mar’ 20
                        2006 Mercruiser 4.3MPI (0W617679) w/Alpha One Gen II (0W829301)
                        (Original - 1972 '165' In-line 6. Previous - 1994 4.3LX)


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bruceb58 View Post
                          Ahhh the EZ lube system. I call it the LAZ-Lube system for people who are too lazy to properly inspect and pack their bearings. With a boat trailer, it is especially important to inspect the bearings since water can enter through the rear seal. The Pontoon trailer I bought with the LAZ-Lube system had pitted inner bearings on all the hubs. In addition, if you have drum brakes, it is possible to blow out the rear seal with the LAZ-Lube system.

                          Here is a picture from an RV site I am on who had this issue happen to him.
                          Perhaps that could happen if someone never pumped in new grease because for sure you'd see milky grease coming out the spindle cap!
                          I grease these 2x a season and have never had water intrusion or bearing problems with this system and that’s 16 years in salt water. That one in the pic, either they never touched it or used cheap seals.
                          1988 Four Winns 200 Horizon
                          4.3 OMC Cobra

                          98 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0 Selectrac
                          07 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 5.7 Quadradrive II

                          "While air doesn't freeze....rust never sleeps"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Lou C View Post

                            Perhaps that could happen if someone never pumped in new grease because for sure you'd see milky grease coming out the spindle cap!
                            I grease these 2x a season and have never had water intrusion or bearing problems with this system and that’s 16 years in salt water. That one in the pic, either they never touched it or used cheap seals.
                            Don't count on it. I actually tried the LAZ-lube and didn't see any milky grease. Said screw it and pulled the hub anyway. Very first one had pitted bearings from water intrusion.

                            So..how do you inspect your brakes if you don't pull the drums?

                            The picture was from a year old trailer with the original seals.

                            Another thing I do is always use USA made Timken bearings/races and Tinken seals. Have yet to find US made Timken seals though.
                            1998 Wellcraft Eclipse 24 Cuddy
                            Volvo Penta Duo-Prop 7.4L "LK"

                            2006 Sun Tracker Party Barge 21
                            Mercury 90 4-Stroke FI
                            "Common sense is not very common"
                            "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." -- John Wooden

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                            • #15
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                              These drums have a hole on the outside to adjust the brakes and you can see how thick the shoes are. I do remove the drums every 4-5 seasons to check everything especially the wheel cyl. If the seals look like they are starting to seep I change them then. But I’ve never seen milky grease when doing this. I use triple lip seals I get from Champion Trailers in Slidell, La.
                              the most I ever got from a set of wheel cyls was 6 seasons but those were the old style ones with the boot. The newer style with the O-ring seal last longer.

                              I modified the old style wheel cyls to keep water out. I took the boot off and packed the area under the boot with OMC/Evinrude triple guard grease then used high temp rtv to seal the boot to the wheel cyl. This keeps out water and keeps them from seizing.

                              The new design O ring seal is even better, no where to trap water.
                              Last edited by Lou C; March 27th, 2020, 08:30 AM.
                              1988 Four Winns 200 Horizon
                              4.3 OMC Cobra

                              98 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0 Selectrac
                              07 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 5.7 Quadradrive II

                              "While air doesn't freeze....rust never sleeps"

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