Oil-Bath or Grease Bearings on Boat Trailer

longputt

Active Member
Right before the lockdown I had an oil bath hub fail. Because the manufacturer has been shutdown I wasn't able to get parts, but it looks like they are about to open and I'm getting ready to order parts.

This is a tandem axle trailer and I am about to order a new hub (or 4). My feeling is the oil-bath is a bad idea I've had bearing buddies stuck on my old greased trailer and I've never had a failure, after some abuse. I think this oil-bath bearing went from fine to failed in less than 75 miles, the cap was gone so maybe something flew up and hit it?

What experience does anyone have? I'm about to spend either $75 for a new oil-bath hub or $400+ for 4 new greased hubs. I've seen retrofits for oil to grease but it requires a unique bearing buddy (threaded) and I'd like to have all 4 the same so that I can switch hubs around, if needed, to get home.

If you had to do it again would you choose grease or oil-bath? What experience do you have?
 

longputt

Active Member
10 years with oil bath hubs on my Calkins tandem axle trailer and never an issue.

Have you done any maintenance? Mine was 12 years old and I drained the other 3 and one was pretty nasty black. I put a magnet into the oil and found a small amount of metal (not enough to worry about).
 
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bennysbuddy

Oil seals are the deal,but they need thier due diligence. I would change the rubber seals every five years. The rubber seals are what eventually fail no matter what style lubrication system you use. You can overload bearing buddy’s with grease and actually push out the back seal and cause road grit & water to enter & ruin you bearings.
 

gt

Active Member
Have you done any maintenance? Mine was 12 years old and I drained the other 3 and one was pretty nasty black. I put a magnet into the oil and found a small amount of metal (not enough to worry about).

no never did any maintenance besides looking at the level in the glass window to make sure the oil was clear and full. in and out of the salt water with nothing more than a fresh water rinse each and every time.
 

Bowbonehead

Active Member
I think as with anything there is some maintenance required I have both and have had no issues with either I do however keep an eye on them anytime on a longer trip I will check them for heat at a stop ie getting fuel or coffee or after a short time after starting just to give myself peace of mind ....... I think you took a rock creating your failure ..... changing out the oil is a simple procedure as is greasing the buddies ........
 

c-dawg

WFF Supporter
A lot of long-haul semi trailers have oil bath hubs. Think about how many miles they run.

I had a trailer with oil bath hubs for 8 years and never had an issue.
 
B

bennysbuddy

Grease bearing packs actually run hotter, there is more friction needed to move all that grease thru the bearing at highway speeds, it’s a lot easier to change the oil than repack the grease in bearings. These are the reasons you see oil bath wheel bearing systems on semi trucks. But yeah if you lose the oil your bearings are done
 

Bowbonehead

Active Member
I have lost covers on bearing buddies with out any issue other than a bit of dirt and grit on the outer layer of grease I have spare covers for that reason.
 

longputt

Active Member
But yeah if you lose the oil your bearings are done

I wonder how many miles you can go without the oil bath cap?

I called a few shops to get a new hub and 2 shops told me that people had reported that caps had been stolen. So I guess a trip around the boat before heading home and keeping a spare cap is a good idea.
 
B

bennysbuddy

I wonder how many miles you can go without the oil bath cap?

I called a few shops to get a new hub and 2 shops told me that people had reported that caps had been stolen. So I guess a trip around the boat before heading home and keeping a spare cap is a good idea.
People stealing the caps just means they are to cheap to buy the new technology. How to prevent that ,I don’t know. I pretty much quit fishing after losing two catylic converters off my truck in a weeks time . Took the fun out of steelhead fishing.
 

longputt

Active Member
Took the fun out of steelhead fishing.

I hate that I have that in the back of my mind when I'm outdoors...there are some really rotten people out there. I keep thinking about a camera for my truck interior but I doubt sheriffs have time to track these people down.
 
B

bennysbuddy

I hate that I have that in the back of my mind when I'm outdoors...there are some really rotten people out there. I keep thinking about a camera for my truck interior but I doubt sheriffs have time to track these people down.
I got back into hunting,for some unexplained reasons there is no break in problems during hunting seasons
 

Bob Newman

Active Member
J
People stealing the caps just means they are to cheap to buy the new technology. How to prevent that ,I don’t know. I pretty much quit fishing after losing two catylic converters off my truck in a weeks time . Took the fun out of steelhead fishing.
Just ordered a new oil filled cap, noticed tire was wobbling on turns, discovered cap was missing, still did a 102 mile round trip with it missing. Had to go fishing. Cost me $37 with shipping to replace cap so not really that cheap.
 

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