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Annual Brake Inspection and Axle Re - Lube (Pic's)

JBarca
Traveler II
Traveler II
Fellow Campers

(EDIT 4-24-06) I have added a few new things dealing with drum temperatures at the end of this post and updated some other tips from forum members. Edits will show in blue text.

Had severe spring camping fever today and started getting the TT ready for the season. Shown below is how I do my annual brake check and axle relube.

Be glad to hear from others on the methods they use. Always open to learning from others here. Also this may help someone who wants to do their own.

My axles are Dexter 3,500# axles, 10" diameter x 2 1/4" wide brakes on an underslung axle setup.

If you want to read up more on this, see the Dexter manual. They have good manuals.
Dexter Resource Library
(Edit 5-19-07) Note: If the link does not reach a working web site,go to under service manuals. They change the links from time to time.


Since pictures are worth a million words here is the process I use.

First I level the TT with the tongue jack, block the opposite side wheels and jack up one side of the TT. I install jack stands both front and rear. Never trust a jack. (The coffee mug next to the jack is optional:))


Then I take both tires off and you can see the axles real easy now. Looks like this.


Then I start to pull the brake drums. I use a thin blade screw driver and lightly tap under the dust cap and pop it off. Take off the axle nut keeper and unscrew the axle nut. Most times it comes off by hand, but sometimes it needs a little help. These are right hand threads on mine.


Next the drums pull off and the outboard bearing cone and washer comes out. If your brake drums are not grove worn they will come off fairly easy. If it seems hung on the brake shoes and won't come off, you may have to unadjust the brakes first to get the shoes out of the worn groove in the drum.
You will find lots of brake dust. Do not breath it.


Next area is to get the grease seals out of the brake drum. I use a slide hammer puller. See the following reply's by other forum members on alternate seal pulling methods.


Close up of puller.


Once all the parts are off, need to clean them all up. The bearings get soaked and cleaned in degreaser. When cleaning I always keep the bearing as a matched set with the race they came from. I also clean out all the old grease from the hubs and clean up the brake shoe area ready for inspection. This is the first cleaning on this new TT after a year of use. WOW I was amazed on how little grease Dexter put in at the factory. Yes the bearings where covered, but I'm sure glad I did not go more than a year. A good point to clarify brought up by fellow forum members, make absolutely sure you dry out the solvent from the bearings. Using compressed air works well for this. Left over solvent will breakdown the new grease.

The bearing cones need to be closely inspected for corrosion or any type of wear on the rollers. You are looking for uneven wear, wear that looks burnished in one area and bright and shinny in others. This is uneven. Also look for corrosion pits, (small little holes)


All bearing races also need to be inspected as well. Again you are looking for uneven wear and pitting, small little holes in the metal or signs of galled metal.


Then I inspect the brake shoes, linkage, springs, keepers etc. to make sure everything is OK.


Then comes the magnets, to make sure they are wearing correctly and do a close look at the brake adjuster to make sure it is not froze up. I very cautiously and with a rag in place, spray a little WD 40 on the brake adjuster. If you get any on the shoes, use brake cleaner to get it off. Taking the adjuster out and using Never Seize or grease on the threads also helps the adjuster from rusting. Just make sure you do not get any grease on the shoes.


I measure and record the brake shoe thickness. I use the area by the shoe keeper pins so I always measure the same spot. Since I track my towing mileage, each year I can compare to last year and get a rate of wear per how many miles. This is just a heads up on when to buy new shoes for the next season.


I then insect the brake drum for wear on the ID and the magnet surface. I'm also tracking the drum wear with measurements.


Now it's time to put things back together. Grease job at it's best. One of these days I'm going to buy bearing packer but for now I do it the hand way. Put a glob of good quality high temp wheel bearing grease in your hand and press and rock the grease into all the rollers.


Once all bearings are greased, I grease up the inner races and install the new seal.


I use a wood block and gently and evenly tap the seal in flush.


Then I put a light coat of grease on the axle and lube up the outer race and gently push the wheel drum on. I slightly rotate the drum and push so I can feel the seal going on the axle. Install the bearing washer and nut and I set the preload. At this step you are taking all the excess play out of the bearings and then creating some running clearance.

I tighten the axle nut and rotate the drum. Tighten to like 50 ft lb of pull.


I rotate the drum a few times to make sure the bearings are seated. Then I hold the drum and back off the nut. Then by finger tight I take out all excess thread to the bearing inner race and stop. Do not move the drum, if you do, retorque and start over.


Then I put the axle nut keeper on. Personally I like the older style castle nut and cotter pin, but this keeper is the new thing Dexter does.


Then I use a block of wood and gently tap the grease cap back on.


Since I have under slung axles, a treat to crawl under and get to the adjusters, this time I will adjust them with the wheels off. I had to make a tool to get in there with. All my regular brake tools do not work as you have to go in at an angle. This is what the tool looks like.


Now before you start adjusting, get a real good mental image of what the brake adjuster looks like. You are fishing in the dark. When I did the first 200 mile adjustment, I had to pull a drum to figure this thing out. They do not have the self adjuster lock tab like on automotive brakes to deal with in manual adjustment. Thank goodness.... The spring keeps the adjuster from moving, it drops in the sloted tabs on the adjuster stud. However I would reallllllly like self adjusting brakes. Having to adjust brakes manually is taking a step backswords like 50 years.... here is what mine looks like. The curved end of the tool especially helps.


Here is how the brake tool sneaks in from the back.


Once I get the drag set right and even, the wheels go on. I torque each lug set in a torque pattern. On my first camping trip out after putting the wheels on, the torque wrench comes with me and I recheck them at the camp site. And then I check the torque about 2 - 3 more times at the start of camping trips until I know they stop moving.

(EDIT 4-24-06) This is a new section is about hub/drum temperatures and checking that your brakes are adjusted equal. Here is some data from my setup. Yours may vary pending brand and setup.

Once you have gone through the procedure above on setting the brake shoe tension, I do a drag test to make sure all brakes are working even with each other. Meaning all 4 brakes are applying at the same time.

One way I do this is what I call a drag test. There are other methods, this is only one of them. It helps to have pulled a few miles to seat everything, but the test can be done directly after rebuilding and then later after 50 to 100 miles or when ever needed.

I use my gravel drive way and my son as a spotter. I have him watch one side and both wheels. I start driving about 15 - 20 feet, about 5MPH, let off the gas and then lock the brakes up. A slight drag will occur. The spotter looks to see if both wheels came on at once. The little dirt pile in front of the tire helps show this in case he missed it. The dirt pile should be similar.

Do this on both sides. Tweak the brake adjusters as needed to get all 4 to lock at once and come on at the same time. Again the little pile of dirt just ahead of the tires help tell you if they are all locking at about the same point.


The next topic is hub and drum temperatures. These can help tell you if you have one brake working a lot harder than the rest or a bad bearing or to tight a bearing. When checking temperature, use the same spot when you move to all wheels. This will give you better comparison if one wheel is too hot. The drums are hotter the further to the edge you go.

Here is the hub temp. I have plastic hub caps so next to it is as close as I can get to the bearings. I use the same spot on all wheels. Ideally right on the bearing housing is best.



Next area is the drum temp. I sneak through the spoke holes.


I put the probe right on the OD of the drum. I do this so I can measure the same spot on all 4 wheels.


Here are some of my TT temps. These work on my rig. Yours may be different and how many times you brake affect these. Again key is are they all in the same range? Range meaning within 5 - 15 degrees not 30 to 40 plus degrees apart.

My 6400# loaded TT doing 60 MPH highway driving for 30 miles. Little braking, pulled into rest stop and took these.

Front Left Hub: 104F Drum: 156F
Rear Left Hub: 107F Drum: 156F

Front Right Hub: 112F Drum: 144F
Rear Right Hub: 106F Drum: 147F

I then traveled the rest of the way home, another 80 miles. Pulled in my drive way and took these. Here I had more stop and go traffic in town.

Front Left Hub: 132F Drum: 168F
Rear Left Hub: 129F Drum: 169F

Front Right Hub: 130F Drum: 165F
Rear Right Hub: 122F Drum: 155F

In the past I have had one wheel show a drum temp at ~ 200 - 205F. I found that a drum temp. this hot while the others where in the 150 to 170 range showed that that wheel was adjusted to tight in relation to the others. It was doing more stopping then the rest. The drag test showed it locked first. After adjusting, it was even with the rest.



Well this is what I do. Any tips on what you do?

Thanks

John
2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10 RA, 21,000 GCWR, 11,000 GVWR, upgraded 2 1/2" Towbeast Receiver. Hitched with a 1,700# Reese HP WD, HP Dual Cam to a 2004 Sunline Solaris T310R travel trailer.
45 REPLIES 45

magnum300
Explorer
Explorer
good information thanks, but make sure you never spin a dry baering with air

IHnutz
Explorer
Explorer
Excellent article on brake and wheel bearings! Good job explaining the process so even "your Grandma" can do it. :B

My only caution is when drying the bearings after washing them. NEVER under any circumstances "spin" the bearing with high pressure! The cage used to hold the bearing rollers is only ment to hold the rollers in alignment when installed in the outer race. The rollers can fly out of the cage by centrifugal force when spun at high speeds. If that happens one can ruin a bearing or worse lose an eye or teeth! If you must use air pressure, use "canned air" like is used to clean computer keyboards (Radio Shack), turn down the air pressure to less than 20psi AND hold the bearing cage so it doesn't spin.

IHnutz
2016 Sprinter 269FWRLS 33' 5th-wheel
2008 Ford F350 Lariat Crew-Cab
1954 IH R-112
1955 IH R132
1965 IH D1100
1954 IH Farmall Super M
Amateur "General Class" WD9GLK

JBarca
Traveler II
Traveler II
Fred Engle wrote:
autoxracer wrote:
Won't do anything for the brakes but switching to DEXTER "NEVER LUBE" bearing sets will eliminate a lot of the dirty work in what you are doing-just a thought.
I meant in how do I use a slide hammer to remove an ignition?


Fred

The slide hammer puller shown in the post


can be used for pulling gears, hubs, seals, bushings or a variety of other hub type components.

The actual slide hammer part is the large piece of steel with the circular groves on the long rod. This "hunk" of metal makes a hammer and slides along the rod until it hits the end of the T shaped handle. The bottoming out at the end produces an impact force into the long rod and creates a pulling effect to break loose and remove hubs.

The are many attachments that screw onto the end of a slide hammer arrangement.

Your terms, locks and ignition, need a little more description on what you are up to. Are you trying to pull a key cylinder lock out of a steering column?

Hope this helps.
2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10 RA, 21,000 GCWR, 11,000 GVWR, upgraded 2 1/2" Towbeast Receiver. Hitched with a 1,700# Reese HP WD, HP Dual Cam to a 2004 Sunline Solaris T310R travel trailer.

Fred_Engle
Explorer
Explorer
autoxracer wrote:
Won't do anything for the brakes but switching to DEXTER "NEVER LUBE" bearing sets will eliminate a lot of the dirty work in what you are doing-just a thought.
I meant in how do i use a slide hammer to remove an ignition?

autoxracer
Explorer
Explorer
Won't do anything for the brakes but switching to DEXTER "NEVER LUBE" bearing sets will eliminate a lot of the dirty work in what you are doing-just a thought.
dbLD250

Fred_Engle
Explorer
Explorer
I thought i read a slide hammer could be used to remove locks can you please tell me how to do this. thank you.

toto
Explorer
Explorer
Nice post and great pics.
If you want to repack the bearings and save your manicure, put the grease and bearing in a plastic ziploc bag and then work the grease in.:B

JBarca
Traveler II
Traveler II
larry30000 wrote:
Another sort trip, stayed off the brakes and temps were around 100 degrees. All is well


Larry, Great! Glad things worked out.
2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10 RA, 21,000 GCWR, 11,000 GVWR, upgraded 2 1/2" Towbeast Receiver. Hitched with a 1,700# Reese HP WD, HP Dual Cam to a 2004 Sunline Solaris T310R travel trailer.

larry30000
Explorer
Explorer
Another sort trip, stayed off the brakes and temps were around 100 degrees. All is well
2004 Ram 3500 Quad Cab /Auto/LB/SRW/CTD/4x4/4.10
2003 Four Winds 31BH4-DSL
Hensley Arrow
Prodigy
Great wife & 3 lovely girls

larry30000
Explorer
Explorer
Taking temp readings on the rim in between the lug nuts, using a IR thermometer from Radio Shack.

Bearings are packed with Mobile 1 synthetic. After packing the bearings I also adjusted the breaks,adjusted until I could not turn wheel then backed off enough wheel would spin 1 rotation. Maybe to tight on the break adjustment?

I will take her out again and stay off the breaks and check temps again. Trailer weighs 10k, have a prodigy using boost setting of 2 with the gain of 10 needs a lot of break to slow her down.

Thanks for all the information, this simple job has turned into a great learning experience.
2004 Ram 3500 Quad Cab /Auto/LB/SRW/CTD/4x4/4.10
2003 Four Winds 31BH4-DSL
Hensley Arrow
Prodigy
Great wife & 3 lovely girls

JBarca
Traveler II
Traveler II
larry30000 wrote:
Took her out for a 40 mile spin today lots of breaking in city traffic, temps were between 150f-170f degrees on all of the wheels & hubs. What would be an acceptable temp. range?


Larry, getting back to you. I had the TT out this weekend. I do not know exactly where you took your temps. Meaning location on the wheel. Are they drum or bearing temps? Part of this is are they all the same in the same spot on all 4 wheels within reason. A lot of heavy braking will heat the whole thing up with drum OD being hotter but the magnet dragging can heat the side too.

To get a truer bearing temp you need more rolling with less braking. Also what did you use to measure with? What type of probe?

I find my bearing areas to be in the ~ 110 area when just cruising down the highway and not a lot of braking. But this will go up to ~ 130 after a lot of stops.

These temps are as I have measured them with my casting thickness etc. If you probe in a different area or have different castings by a great extent you will have different numbers and hotter ones if closer to the OD of the drum.

As a guide from somewhat normal machine temps. here are some temps as a general guide. These are more from machines I use at work, not your wheel drums. I do not have exact numbers from a host of wheel bearings but these may give you a guide. Others may jump in here and help give a wider range on wheel temps and where they took them at.

120F is cool. 150 is getting warm. Bearings at 170 are very warm. Bearings at 220 are getting hot and bearings at 300 had better have the right grease and expansion clearance or they are in serious trouble. You should be using high temp wheel bearing grease but it too will melt at real high temps. of 350 to 400F

They do make real high temp bearings/grease for special applications to run at 300 degrees all day long, but I'm sure you do not have them...

To help, I took my temps this weekend. I also found I had one brake shoe to tight in relation to the others and it was braking first. I adjusted it at the campground and retook temps on the way home. So helping you, helped me. I also edited the first page of this post in BLUE with my measurements and where I took them

Hope this helps

John
2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10 RA, 21,000 GCWR, 11,000 GVWR, upgraded 2 1/2" Towbeast Receiver. Hitched with a 1,700# Reese HP WD, HP Dual Cam to a 2004 Sunline Solaris T310R travel trailer.

larry30000
Explorer
Explorer
Took her out for a 40 mile spin today lots of breaking in city traffic, temps were between 150f-170f degrees on all of the wheels & hubs. What would be an acceptable temp. range?
2004 Ram 3500 Quad Cab /Auto/LB/SRW/CTD/4x4/4.10
2003 Four Winds 31BH4-DSL
Hensley Arrow
Prodigy
Great wife & 3 lovely girls

larry30000
Explorer
Explorer
Used brake cleaner, going on a short trip soon will keep a eye on temps!!!!!
2004 Ram 3500 Quad Cab /Auto/LB/SRW/CTD/4x4/4.10
2003 Four Winds 31BH4-DSL
Hensley Arrow
Prodigy
Great wife & 3 lovely girls

JBarca
Traveler II
Traveler II
larry30000 wrote:
Just repacked today, one question did not soak bearings in cleaner, sprayed off with cleaner then dried with towels. Used a bearing packer seen some old grease oozing out and hopefully cleaner too. Have not pulled trailer yet just wondering if I should redo to make sure no cleaner was left in and has contaminated new grease.


H'mm. Well did you use traditional brake cleaner that evaporates off real quick and completely goes away? Or did you use turpentine or some other cleaner that dissolves grease and does not evaporate off like brake cleaner?

I normally always remove all the old grease down to bare steel. The air gun trick helps to to dry them out too. Then you know you have no issues.

I your case the question is is the solvent still 1/2 left in the old grease? If it is, this may not be a good thing. If you are sure you purged out all the old grease and any solvent, then maybe not an issue.

Maybe some one else who has tried something similar and had a bad experience can chime in here. This one is a judgment call for sure. Not being there to see first hand, it is hard to call from here. If you do not change the grease, do a temp check after your first short trip and then after a few more longer ones.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.
2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10 RA, 21,000 GCWR, 11,000 GVWR, upgraded 2 1/2" Towbeast Receiver. Hitched with a 1,700# Reese HP WD, HP Dual Cam to a 2004 Sunline Solaris T310R travel trailer.

larry30000
Explorer
Explorer
Just repacked today, one question did not soak bearings in cleaner, sprayed off with cleaner then dried with towels. Used a bearing packer seen some old grease oozing out and hopefully cleaner too. Have not pulled trailer yet just wondering if I should redo to make sure no cleaner was left in and has contaminated new grease.
2004 Ram 3500 Quad Cab /Auto/LB/SRW/CTD/4x4/4.10
2003 Four Winds 31BH4-DSL
Hensley Arrow
Prodigy
Great wife & 3 lovely girls