Stopped on the shoulder, with acrid smoke pouring from a trailer wheel — it’s not a fun place to be. With a bit of preventive maintenance, there’s a good chance you’ll never have to deal with a highway meltdown. Keep your trailer bearings well-greased and they will last all season — or perhaps several if you don’t tow far and often. Sooner or later, however, it’s time for a replacement. Some will choose to farm this task out, because it can get a bit messy dealing with wheel grease. But it’s a task well within the grasp of the average DIY boater; just keep plenty of shop towels and some degreaser handy, and put a dropcloth or old cardboard box under the work area.
After jacking up the trailer, chocking the tires and removing the wheel, use a hammer or rubber mallet to gently tap the bearing protector loose while rotating the hub. If you have older-style dust covers, use a screwdriver to loosen the cover’s lip while rotating the wheel. Remember to keep body parts away from the wheel, never under the trailer frame.
Wipe away any excess grease and remove the cotter pin, castle nut and washer, then slip the hub free of the axle spindle. Have some rags or paper towels handy; wipe off the spindle and inspect it to be sure it’s free of burrs or scratches.
Place the hub’s inner side down on a clean surface. The outer bearing should lift out easily with a finger. The bearing races may require some prying or tapping with hammer and dowel or wooden peg.
Use the dowel or peg inserted through the hub to gently tap out the rear bearing and grease seal. Then tap out the other race. Clean the inside of the hub to remove all old grease. Dishwashing soap works, but a commercial degreaser spray is better.