Bearing Buddies for trailer, any good?

-- Last Updated: Jun-08-08 6:37 AM EST --

I have seen them on ads, and have a new kayak trailer (2000 lb axle, 15 inch wheels). These BBuddies allow external greasing. Do they save the axle, truly? Do they work? Do they stay on (considerably heavier than the normal metal dustcaps)?

Finally, the FAQs on their website says:

"What type of lubricant should I use? Fill the hubs completely with a high quality, multipurpose No. 2 grade lubricant (e.g., the type used for automotive suspensions). Don't use heavy, fibrous greases; don't mix grease types. "

Isn;t the heavy grease what I likely have (I will take off current cap and see) on the trailer (thus, unless I repack, I'd have to mix), and I think #2 lube--although could get in a lube gun and squirt into the fitting on the BB--is not as good for the axle as the heavy, fibrous traditional axle grease. No? I mean, the heat of the axle and rotations certainly would burn out "suspension lube", right?

Thanks for your thoughts. CD1

Salt water or fresh?
I’m an ex- boater from many years and had bearing buddys. Some trailers come with them. If I was and inland paddler (fresh water) I wouldn’t bother. Salt - they are good and they always keep a positive pressure of grease so water can’t enter. Just buy grease cartridges from any auto store for the rightÊstuff. I’m assuming a boat where the wheels get underwater. If you’re talking about a trailer for kayaks, don’t bother.

You’re bringing back memories of constant maintenance. I was so happy when I sold my boat and took up kayaking.

Yes , Bearing Buddies are …
… a good idea . They allow you to keep the wheel hub with all it’s components packed up tight with grease . The grease nipple on the Buddys’ is what makes it so convenient .

Any NLGI #2 grease is satisfactory (axle bearing grease) , I would chose one that is a moly fortified synthetic blend CG-LB . The letters NLGI #2 CG-LB would be written on the tubes of grease .

More important than the Bearing Buddys’ is that you know without a doubt the condition of the spindle , races / bearings , wheel hub grease seal , and the nut - thrust washer - cotter pin combo .

If you have not yet disassembled the wheel hub assemblys , cleaned them out , inspected , repack / reassemble , on a used trailer , it is advisable to do so if any doubt exist as to condition . It’s no big deal unless you determine you need new races / bearings , and that’s no big deal , just takes time to get them and replace .

I’ve seen way to many trailers on the side of the road with the boat on them and the wheel cocked sideways because the owner neglected the required maintnance . You don’t want that to be you .

If you need any help / guidence with the hub assembly , just ask , OK .

Size confusion
Have a heavy duty harbor freight foldable and spoke with their customer service and any customer service employee didnt even know what bearing buddies (or similar counterparts, as I believe “bearing buddies” is a specific brand name. When I finally reached someone who had a clue - they weren’t quite sure which size - asking model # which I gave to them from the paperwork. They still weren’t quite sure. So, bought some on sale at West Marine and they dont fit. Now I will try back at harbor freight as husband thinks now if he goes to the store and looks at them, he may figure out the right size. I thought the fit would be a no brainer for a 12" tire!

The Bearing Buddy’s …

– Last Updated: Jun-08-08 8:25 AM EST –

........ come in different sizes . You should take the grease cap off the hub , measure the inside dia. (I.S. dia.) and make sure the Buddy's you get are the same size dia. . The fit is very snug and installation requires that you start them in squarely with a wood block and hammer tapping until they bottom out on the boss (ledge) .

will pass this info on!

I have something similar built into my
Dexter axels on my travel trailer.

You might want to go on RV. net and then go to the Tech. Questions forum and ask there. You can get a lot of good advice from people who have used them.

I have heard, that you can end up forcing too much grease into the rear seal and forcing it out.

I used them once on my travel trailer, and repacked them the second time.


Jack L

You don’t need them!

– Last Updated: Jun-08-08 1:58 PM EST –

The Bearing Buddy is great for boat trailers which are routinely backed deep into the water. You don't do that with a kayak trailer, so why do you need them? The Bearing Buddy company used to say their product was specifically designed for "normal" boat trailers, but if they now say it's a good idea for "terrestrial" trailers too, they are only stretching the truth to gain market share.

On regular boat trailers, the Bearing Buddy is nice because when the warm wheel bearing is suddenly submerged in cool water, the air inside contracts, creating a slight vacuum which can suck water through the seal into the bearing housing. Since the Bearing Buddy keeps the inside of the housing under pressure, any contraction of air inside simply allows the pressure spring to "take up the slack", so to speak. Yes, it is a nifty idea, but you don't need them on your kayak trailer any more than you need them on your car.

It's probably a good idea to re-pack your trailer's wheel bearings every couple of years if you use it a lot, but only because the wheels on such trailers are very small so the bearings spin really fast and there "might" be faster wear and tear. Keep in mind that the non-driving wheels of cars and trucks often use the same kind of bearing (it was the only kind used on modern non-powered automotive wheels until about 25 years ago), and heavier-duty trailers do too, and think how far a car, truck or a trailer with full-size wheels can go on a set of wheel bearings without any re-greasing: Hundreds of thousands of miles! Your tiny-wheeled kayak trailer probably can't do that, but it doesn't need the "daily greasing" provided by a Bearing Buddy either!


– Last Updated: Jun-08-08 2:46 PM EST –

Eric is right, their is no benefit to a trailer that does not enter the water. Rear wheel drive vehicles still use the same type bearing on the front wheels. We don't see bearing buddies on vans and trucks... because there is no need for them.

If you have 12 inch or smaller wheels the bearings should be cleaned and repacked and the seals replaced every 10-12,000 miles. Most small trailers don't go that far in a lifetime.

As for what size fits, measure the existing grease cap. A bearing buddy fits in the place of the existing greasecap.

Lube Types
I have always seen those warnings about not mixing different types of greases, but I’m not sure it really matters. Though I’ve usually used “wheel-bearing grease” to re-pack bearings, I’ve used regular chassis grease too, and never had anything bad happen as a result. As food for thought on this matter, consider that wheel bearings on many truck axles are supposed to be greased upon assembly, but after that, occasional tilting of the axle during normal driving which allows gear oil to dribble out to the wheel bearings is considered part of the normal lubrication (mixing grease and oil in that case). Also consider that the wheel bearings on large trailers and the front wheels of large trucks are sometimes greased, and sometimes bathed in oil.

I think as long as you don’t let the bearings run dry, all will be fine.

All very good advice.
This is a great thread full of nice info. Thanks to all.

Used them…
On all my small boat trailers and never had wheel problems. I’ve always been in or around saltwater and can’t tell if they have helped or not…

They did make it very easy to keep grease in the bearings…

I have seen a lot of trailers left on the side of the road and never wanted to be there.

I third that

– Last Updated: Jun-09-08 11:41 PM EST –

We have a snowmobile trailer with small wheels. The trailer guys advised me to get the bearings repacked once a year. When I said how many miles, they estimated 10,000 miles. We don't put anywhere near that many miles on it in a year.

We get ours repacked every 2 years. Works fine.

Don't get carried away with thinking you can use a grease gun or whatever yourself. We didn't get ours repacked professionally for the first 6 years, and then I put my foot down about doing it right. My husband had been using a grease gun instead of disassembling and repacking, and every time he did it the dirty grease went all over the insides of the wheels. It made me wonder if he had broken the seals (I did this once on a Jeep by shooting in too much grease). Soooo, although we got away with that cheesy method, 2 years ago I started carting the trailer to a trailer place for a biennial repack and safety check.

What you SHOULD be checking rigorously is your trailer's tire pressures. Do not grossly underinflate them thinking that it will soften the ride. It will cause weird tire wear even with a very light load such as kayaks.

Very hard to blow out a seal
with bearing buddies. They have a pressure release built in to prevent that from happening. Also you need to use a hand grease gun not a pneumatic gun. I like them just for the idea that if you are traveling somewhere and you notice your hubs getting warm you can add grease and not have to tear down and repack.

question on grease cap
should i fill the entire grease cap (the part that’s easily removed, which covers the hub) full of grease? if not, how much excess grease should it hold? thanks.

I pack a hub from the …

– Last Updated: Jun-10-08 5:58 PM EST –

......... inner seal all the way out to the flat end on the outside , with grease , no voids anywhere in the hub assembly . From there put the plastic or metal cap on , or install the Bearing Buddy and fill it full . The bearings and races usually are replaced the first time around on a used trailer (Timkens) and they are hand or press packed before setting .

If you don't know how to properly tighten the nut-thrust washer-cotter pin combo , learn how or ask before doing so ........ too tight and you smoke a well greased bearing , too loose and you chew a spindle up .

i like pilotwingz advice
that spells it out for me too. if you’re on the road and a hub gets warm you’ll wish you had them.

Thanks. Grease query.

– Last Updated: Jun-10-08 9:21 PM EST –

But I still am unclear--one person pentions the grease to use; thanks. Does that mean I have to repack totally with that grease? BB site says use #2 grease but do not mix with traditional fiberous axle grease/

By the way, here's a video in case anyone wants to comment:

Cleaning and repacking your
trailers wheel bearings is a lousy, messy and greasy job. I think it matters not what kind of grease you use, if you clean out the old stuff first. Just a tube of “grease” from the auto parts store is good as long as it is for wheel bearings. The auto parts guys will/ should know what to use. And many, not all trailers used for canoes and kayaks have smaller diameter wheels. They turn faster and also are more affected by rough roads than the big meats on your SUV or most cars. Trailers? Just another machine to maintain. My fishing boat trailer has bearing buddies. A good thing on it. Only cause it’s axles get submerged when loading/ offloading. It’s for sale!

That guy in the video …
… hasn’t a clue how to pack a bearing .

All he did was wipe a film on the rollers , not good enough !! The rollers are semi loose in the “roller cage” that carries them (the inner part of the cage is actually a built in race) . Pack the cage/roller assembly until you can’t get any more grease in it . You can do this by hand , by wading grease in your palms and squeezing hands together , then pressing more grease in with glob on your fingers . You can also get what that guy called a toy , it’s a mould that closes on the bearing with a grease nipple to force in under pressure that way , or the other kind of toy that doesn’t have a grease nipple .

Always replace the “race” when replacing a bearing . A race and bearing are a team that “seat” to each other and develope a unique one time pattern .

If all you are going to do is install some Bearing Buddys and pump up the hub till you can’t get any more in , on an existing in place assembly that has good grease in it already , then just install the Bearing Buddy and get a grease gun tool and 2 tubes of axle bearing grease (NLGI #2) , and do it .

So what if it’s not the exact same brand as what’s in there already , no problem , it all works the same (high temp. grease is basically all it is) .

New grease is clean , you can even use it to clean your hands after auto work in a pinch .

Old hardened and dirty and worn out grease is the reason for purging (removing) as much as possible when doing a rebuild . The rebuild is a simple job in most all cases and I never think twice about doing it on a used trailer , that way I know what I got and have no concern after that .

“Timken” bearings are USA made , high quality and last forever .

Many other brands that you get from an auto parts store may be junk and usually are .

But that’s why “Timkens” cost 2-3 times more .

All bearings are not created equal .