Wheel bearing replacement in the Outback.

Submitted: Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 07:42
ThreadID: 122953 Views:6169 Replies:6 FollowUps:3
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When us oldies choose to travel extensively by ourselves in our BT in remote areas, you need to be prepared for the unexpected. So when we lost a dust cap on the BT somewhere between Tjukayirta Roadhouse and Warburton on The Great Central Road, you realise you’ve got a problem. Warburton is around 550km from Laverton and about 1000km from Alice Springs, this is remote!

Fortunately, we were prepared for as many surprises as we could think of, and carried a lot of spares, & the necessaries to repair most things. I had two spare sets of bearings & seals, and before we left home I had Bushtracker send me two spare dust caps. No problems, Warburton has a mechanic who provides necessary repairs. Unfortunately he was on holidays, - - so I’m on my own!

I’ve never ever either re-greased or replaced wheel bearings in my life! my only experience is adjusting the bearing pre-load on the BT.
A quick call on the satellite phone to Bushtracker gave me the basics, so after an hour or so new bearings, packed with the correct quantity of high-temperature grease were installed. Only the outer bearing was stuffed, and replacing the cone without a brass drift & without damaging the cone was a challenge. For those who like me have never done this before, it takes a bit of ‘banging-in’. I found the tube used for putting on the chains on the weight distribution bars suitably soft, and OK for a ‘bearing banger’.

Feeling rather proud of the achievement, I just needed to bang-on the dust cap & we would be on our way. As recommended, a smear of silicone around the edge, then Oh bleep ! I can’t get it in! After about an hour, I contacted Grahame, across the road from Bushtracker for advice. Grahame advised that some dust caps were a bit tight & he had made up a special tool to insert them. He also suggested bending the edges in with pliers to match the taper on the hub. However after another hour & a lot of cursing I had a dust cap that was essentially stuffed!

At this stage, one of the yard men at Warburton Roadhouse came over and suggested that there was a dead caravan at the tip, & maybe there was another dust cap. As it turned out there was a dust cap, about half a millimeter smaller in diameter than the good dust cap I still had. This looked good, but it was still too big & wouldn’t go in either. I finished up by cutting five slots with a hacksaw, folding in with the pliers, packing the cuts with silicone, & successfully banging in! To make sure it wouldn’t come out, I used more silicone around the edge and then put several pieces of duct tape across it, which would be held in place by the wheel. While this is not a good idea of having tape under the wheel, I made sure the wheel nuts were as tight as I could get them, with a dirty big lever on the wheel brace which provides umpteen foot-pound-furlongs of torque.

Successfully back in civilisation at Alice Springs, I decided to check the preload of the other bearings.

Surprise!!! The original dust caps measure 59mm diameter, while the Bushtracker supplied dust caps measure 63mm diameter. No wonder I couldn’t get them in!
Must talk to Steve about this! Maybe inches have got confused with mm?

This is all experience, learning experience, and part of the adventure. So far I have been able to resolve every problem we’ve had on this 18,5000km desert track journey so far, and feel good about it.

Still Learning.

A Bushtracker (or BT) is a "Boys Toy"

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Reply By: Firefly - Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 08:16

Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 08:16
Great effort Neil. Thanks for the heads up on this potential problem.

AnswerID: 569422

Reply By: rojos - Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 18:18

Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 18:18
Just goes to show that trust should not be placed on what you are sent. It is always best to check everything because once the product has been bought you are generally on your own.

Will look forward to other reponses re the supply of wrong size dustcaps.
Wonder what else is now a different size
AnswerID: 569423

Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 21:54

Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 21:54
I don't know who you are, Rojos, never heard of you...

But we send things all over hell to breakfast to help people out.

We often don't even charge people for dustcaps and things, just trying to help out.

So you can keep your negative comments to yourself, or don't bother asking us for any help ever. And if you are a Stirrer just here to cause trouble, I have news for you.

Out of hundreds of bloody dustcaps sent all over creation, this is the first we have heard of such a thing.... The other 99.9% of the time, People have said Thanks! Many Thanks! Maybe someone was sent a dust cap from the wrong company, that is a possibility. But out of maybe 200 sent out to people for over ten years, I have never heard of such a negative smart *** response...

lone Ranger here, doing it right almost all the time....

"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 21:04

Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 21:04
I was little luckier than you Neil. On this trip we had a truck call us up near Lightning Ridge and suggest we check the wheels. A check found the out bearing damaged and travelling with Conrad proved to be very useful as he had worked on machinery all his lift and knew exactly what to do. I just watched and learnt.

Then In Geraldton when we had the Caravan repair centre there replace all bearings and brakes, they some how lost a dust cover and none of the new ones they had would fit, so I had to replace it with one of the spare ones that I had from when the bearing had last been changed.

When travelling remote areas you get to learn a few things about how everything in and on your caravan works.

This same Geralton repair centre also didn't adjust one brake up, so we travelled with 3 van brakes for 8000 km before going down a big hill and finding only 3 wheels got hot. While adjusting that bearing I then found that they also hadn't tightened up the hand brake cable clamps properly and was just about to come apart. Some professionals are not as professional as they should be.

A good lesson was learnt though, even though most of us are amatures at this, we should check the work done by the so called professionals.
Enjoying the friendship of BOG members

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AnswerID: 569424

Reply By: Bushtracker - Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 21:59

Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 at 21:59
Hello Boystoy,

You got the lucky dip it sounds like. There is an alternate suspension, and you may have been accidently sent the wrong dust cap. This would be the first time in hundreds of them sent out. You should have called us, as it sounds like the batch was mixed up with another brand. There is a different hub for air suspensions vrs the Load Sharing suspension we have built, and it sounds like they got mixed up...

Let me know where you are, call Peter, and I will have him send out a couple of the right ones FREE OF CHARGE to you... This is a first....

We are not perfect, but we won't go to blazes, for lack of trying to do the right thing...

Best Regards from the lone Ranger...

"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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AnswerID: 569425

Reply By: Bocky - Friday, Sep 29, 2006 at 18:50

Friday, Sep 29, 2006 at 18:50
I would like to ask if there is a reason why dust caps come off. (Maybe too much grease) ! Our van is 6mths old and have just recently lost a dust cap. I contacted Peter at BT to organise a new one and was told sometimes they can just come off. In the end I organised three caps one replacment two spares. I paid for the three. But hey thats O.K. we're easy to get on with.
Brian & Linda

"Such is Life"

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AnswerID: 569426

Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Friday, Sep 29, 2006 at 19:15

Friday, Sep 29, 2006 at 19:15
Hello Bocky,
Look, too much grease will do it to, but that is not the primary reason.... The top reason is they come off because they fit too well... Now that may not make sense, but the rear seal is very good, and as the bearing and hub heats up there is a gas expansion of the air inside the center of the hub between inner and outer bearings..
This gas builds up fast, and a tight fit on the dust cap and POP ! There it goes..

They also take an odd rap with a rock or something now and then.. But the gas expansion seems to be the primary reason. I prefer to seal them with something like sikaflex (BUT NOT ALL THE WAY AROUND) only in finger dabs with a few gaps. The Sika or Silicone can act like a bit of adhesive to help hold them in, however I think I have had the best results in a bit of gap application of it...

Cheers from the Ranger, doing it longer years than most...
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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FollowupID: 846378

Follow Up By: The paca people - Monday, Oct 02, 2006 at 02:37

Monday, Oct 02, 2006 at 02:37
Hello Bocky & Steve,
We had a brake service job and wheel bearing check done at an RAC/NRMA approved repairer in Lithgow NSW on the way home from 2005 Copeton Rally. We found one hub shed its duct cap after about 800km; replaced it with an on-board spare; that one insisted on working loose and was tapped (?) back into place almost everytime we stopped. Purchased 2 more spares from a very helpful caravan place in Melbourne. Eventually lost that one and another before a very close inspection revealed that the so-called approved repairer in NSW had
a) left the tag end of the split pins too long so it dragged on the inside of the dust cap; and
b) far worse - they had left one wheel nut incorrectly tightened. I borrowed a large shifting spanner at Frazer Range Station and took the nut up 7 flats I.3 over one complete turn of the wheel nut !!!! (Then back the nut off one flat of the nut)

Surprisingly the problem was not visually obvious until I got down on hands and knees with my eye at axle level then I could see the gap between outer beating inner race anf the outer race was considerably different between top and bottom.

Subsequent checks have indicated that that the wheel bearing in question is not running hot and seems OK. HOWEVER it will be replaced before the next major jaunt of 12 months around Oz.

Moral : don't always trust repairers - do your own checks as well.
FollowupID: 846379

Reply By: 12tony - Sunday, Oct 08, 2006 at 18:54

Sunday, Oct 08, 2006 at 18:54
The way to fix the dust cap prob is to not to pack the hubs to much so you have an air space for expansion.Also on Army trailers the hubs are drilled and tapped with screws to grip the cap.Also some grease has a higher expansion rate than some.
AnswerID: 569427

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