Boat Maintenance Tips June '13

Boat Maintenance Tips June '13
Wheel spindle should be free of nicks, burrs, grooves – and clean before bearing installation.

We see quite a few wheel bearing failures on boat trailer axles. There are times when you can pull into a repair shop and there are times you may have to handle it yourself on the side of the road. Tandem axle trailers have an advantage over single axle trailers – losing a wheel bearing can be easily dealt with by removing the casualty wheel-tire assembly and placing a jack under the axle, lifting the axle as high as possible, and then securing the axle well clear of the road surface (so it won’t drag) with chain or rope around axle and frame. This will allow emergency travel to a repair destination.

Single axle trailers have to be repaired on the spot and here are the critical points that can make the job a great deal easier.

Jack up axle directly under the spring or end of axle where it meets the spindle, remove the wheel-tire assembly, place this under the trailer as safety device in case of a fall, remove the cotter pin or keeper device, remove nut, remove hub.

Spindle surfaces should be smooth. If you see any metal rings on the shaft, this is a bearing race and has to be removed.

Bearing races are hardened to resist wear to the point of being brittle; tapping on the back to remove is one way but not always successful. Striking hard with the face of a hammer on opposite sides will crack the race and allow for removal. Whether you have a bearing kit or a new hub assembly, the most important thing to do is feel the bottom of the spindle for grooving. These grooves have to be removed by filing aggressively to make the spindle smooth, if not new bearings will not go all the way on and you will not understand why. (Grooves are always on the bottom where you can’t see them).

Carry a spare hub assembly, lug wrench, file, hammer, crescent wrench, emery cloth and rags. These will prove to be invaluable in a bad moment and remember to inspect wheel bearings for smoothness and quiet operation once a year, it is cheap and can bring peace of mind.

Have a safe season,
Chris Mapp
Coastal Bend Marine – Port O’Connor, TX
361-983-4841 –