I had a very busy day today. Woke up on the first alarm* and got ready for the documentary interview. I got selected to go first so I could drive the trailer over to San Leandro to get the wheel bearings pulled and regreased. The interview went ok, just started getting over feeling self-conscious and dorky as we were finishing up.
When I arrived at Allied Trailer Supply I discovered that we didn’t have a part that we needed to do the job. The trailer base is a discontinued Harbor Freight Haul Master model 40597, though they sell the bearings for it. But there’s a bearing grease seal that they don’t sell. Since the trailer was made in Czecheslavakia, the units are metric and Allied Trailer doesn’t have metric parts in stock. The owner of Allied Trailer was hesitant to just pull the thing open without having all the pieces we need, didn’t necessarily want a trailer stuck on his lot. We talked about the economy a bit, he owns the property so he’s safe right now, but he confessed that if business wasn’t really off he probably wouldn’t even have time for a goofy little project like ours–not worth the time.
I called Courtney and she checked the Harbor Freight website one more time for anything like what we needed and couldn’t find it. I called the 2 closest Harbor Freights, and the nice young people on the phone also typed my request into the company website and also couldn’t find anything. There was something with bearings in the name that couldn’t possibly be right so I drove down to the Newark, CA store. Nope.
I convinced myself that I’m going to have to pull the thing apart myself and at least get an idea of what the heck is in there. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds, because Courtney had already found this article about trailer bearing maintenance and shared it with me. I bought jack stands, (trailer hitch) ball lube, and some other miscellaneous parts at Harbor Freight and headed home.
With the help of my lovely assistant, I got the sucker off, in the house, and with enough time to run down the street to Center Hardware before it closed. Had I been reading my instructions beforehand I’d already have a new cotter pin ready. And while I’m at it, isn’t it time to buy a grease gun? The answer was yes. Red grease everywhere. (Almost shot myself in the eye with the first bit to come out.)
Discovery: This particular trailer has 2 sets of bearings per wheel. And the back one won’t come out without destroying the seal. (So I didn’t. The T&TTT board recommended leaving them well enough alone, too.)
Discovery: There’s still quite a bit of clean, clear grease in there. So though we lost the dust cover cap on the end and covered it with packing tape for a couple years, we didn’t actually get a lot of water in there.
Discovery: The bearing grease seal has a toroidal spring that is wrapped up inside it and if you are just screwing around and pop it out, you will cry for a while. But after 30 minutes of madcap, grease covered hilarity, it is easy to get back in place if you just push the bearing in against it.
I repacked the outer bearing and hope that the red grease I’m using doesn’t interact with all the grease that I’ve left in there. Then put it all back together and onto the trailer. As the wheel has a zerk (aka grease nipple) at about 9:30 in the photo, I put some more in after I got it reattached, then went around to the other side and greased the other site, too.
I learned a lot about trailer bearings today. I vaguely remember my father showing me how to do this with the various trailers, hay and grain wagons, and probably the pony cart. Now I remember.
So add “figure out where the heck to get someone to translate ’6 90 1.2-30×52-1|OCT 8752-79‘ into a product I can buy” to the list of things to do.
*If you don’t know of my “sleeping prowess” let’s just say that waking up is always a minor victory.