“Easy-lube”-ing your RV axle bearings? Take note!

“Easy-lube”-ing your RV axle bearings? Take note!

 

By Roger Danforth

Much has been written about the wisdom of pulling your trailer wheels apart every year or two and taking the time to inspect and repack the axle bearings. Oftentimes you’ll hear a response like: “Why waste the time? Just put on a lube system that allows you to pump fresh grease into the system. No need to fool with jacking up the rig and tearing down the hubs.”

Well, if a picture paints a thousand words, let this one say it all:

photo: Butch Williams

The jury is still out about the use of a “Bearing Buddy” or “Easy Lube” system on an RV axle. I’m still not convinced that the system is all that great, in that, if you pump in a different kind of grease than is already in the system, you may easily have fatal compatibility issues. But even without that point, the picture illustrates the wisdom of periodic inspections of the inside of those hubs.

Here’s the back story: One of our readers, Butch Williams, does a fair amount of RV maintenance on a professional level. One of Butch’s customers uses a lube system on his 2004 fifth wheel. He was preparing for an extended RV trip and dropped by Butch’s business to inquire about maybe having the wheels inspected. Butch strongly urged the man to do it, and squirming a little, the man decided to go for the inspection.

When Butch yanked the wheels to expose the inner workings of the brake system, here’s what he says: “The bearings looked fine, BUT the brake shoes were coming apart – unbonding. Notice the lining, separating from the shoes.” Three out of the four wheels showed this same problem. Butch’s conclusion is frightening: “Had this not been caught and repaired, most likely, the linings would have come totally detached and jammed between the other shoe lining, and could have locked up the wheel.” Talk about bringing your RV trip to a screeching halt.

Yeah, lube systems may be a lot easier, and far less time-consuming than a manual bearing lube job – but if the system lulls you to sleep about other things hiding under that brake drum, you could be a lot worse for wear.

##RVT811

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5 thoughts on ““Easy-lube”-ing your RV axle bearings? Take note!

  1. Keira Bianchi

    Jeez, do we still need to point out that Bearing Buddies are not designed to replace axle lubrication? EZ lube system is, and will pump grease through your bearings forcing most of the old grease out through the cap area of the wheel hub. Bearing Buddy is different. If you use Bearing Buddy to lube, it pushes the grease out the inner seal which makes a mess on the inside seal area of the wheel hub, and might cause it to leak

    1. Steve

      People should read about Bearing Buddies. They are not a lubrication system. They are designed for boats. The concept is you pump them up to put tension on the spring / plunger. Then you drive to the lake. When you back into the water with the boat trailer, the cold water causes the grease but more so the air in the hub to contract. With the bearing buddy as the pressure in the hub reduces, the spring loaded plunger pushes grease into the hub to compensate. If you do not have the bearing buddy pumped up a little or do not have them, when you back into the cold water, you may draw water into the hub and into the bearings. When you head home, your bearing has water in them which leads to failure as water and grease do not mix.

      These hubs look like the have been submerged given the rusty condition. It is doubtful they would work even if the lining had not detached (because of rusty shoe.

      I am all in favor of checking hubs one every couple years, but the EZ Lube system works if used right. Like jack up the wheel and spin it as you grease – and only 3-6 pumps per wheel. (I might get challenged on the number of pumps)

  2. Goerge Howard

    I have the EZ Lube system and after learning how to properly lube them I have never had a problem but every other year I pull it apart to do just what you are saying to inspect the shoes, races, bearings, magnet, wires, spindle and drum. As a note I bought our F/W at a VERY large discount because the previous owner or shop messed up the EZ Lube system. The owner came up a little hot on a stop light and proceeded to stop, the F/W pushed him through the intersection! Scared him into selling the trailer. That was 20 years ago. Never a problem after fixing the wrong seals that were installed and learning how to properly lube the bearings.

  3. Vance

    I had EZ lube axles on a boat trailer and I had that problem of grease leaking past the inner seal. Since the trailer didn’t have brakes, it didn’t matter that much but I did have to take the bearings out and pack them by hand.
    My fifth wheel has disc brakes. Until a month ago, I had Nev-R-Lube bearings/hubs. When one of them ran out of grease, seized up and ruined the spindle, I found out that Lippert no longer used those bearings and axles. They had to replace both axles, I assume so they would match. They were replaced with EZ Lube axles. I’m glad because I have heard so many horror stories about the Nev-R-Lube bearings. I will be sure to watch the inner seal as I’m pumping grease into the fitting.

  4. George

    I’ve gone the “through the axle” lube route and later found that forcing the grease in caused the rear seal to leak, putting a lot of grease on my brake shoes. Once the shoes are contaminated they are no good. I now do the full tear down once a year and have total peace of mind.

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