I’m pretty confident in saying, nobody enjoys changing bearings on their trailer but it’s time for the public service announcement that could save you some pain at the start of next summer. It’s time to start thinking about your boat trailer bearings! Do it now, to avoid the madness at the start of next summer.
Whether it’s bashing the bearing race out or packing the bearings with grease, it’s time consuming and incredibly messy. For years I did my own, I would have these “systems” in place where I’d have latex gloves and grease guns at the ready, with all of the relevant tools and parts spaced out nicely, only to get half way through and something would go wrong and I’d still end up covered in grease.
The other thing that would get me was I’d end up doing them the night before a big trip, meaning it would inevitably get done in the dark, leaving me less than confident in my workmanship when driving down the freeway at 100kph.
I discovered a solution and some people will consider me soft but now I take it to a trailer specialist to get them done. You might think its extra money for someone else’s labour but what may take them one hour, takes me two or three and the total man hours of experience I’ve clocked up in my life of doing bearings, they clock up in a day or week. So I do my math and think, if my dodgy workmanship is on my mind when heading down a freeway, the extra cash is like insurance and is certainly justified knowing a professional has sorted it out.
Another factor for me is the parts required. I have one of those aluminium I beam trailers with a fancy US braking system underneath meaning acquiring parts is often more challenging than changing the bearings themselves. My local trailer guys have the parts in stock and that saves me the time and frustration of the scenario of stripping the wheels, callipers and rotors off to find that the obscure set of brake pads or wrong bearings means waiting another couple of days for parts to arrive.
I actually had the scenario that my trailer was a mish-mash of different components and if I had of tried to do it myself, I’d have wasted a bit of cash in buying the wrong parts and trying to put them together (let alone knowing what the problem was to begin with). The experience of someone else meant they could identify and replace parts that would ultimately save heartache down the track.
I’m not saying don’t learn the skills because, having a spare set of bearings and the knowledge to replace them may save you time waiting for a tow truck on the side of the freeway but truthfully, I’d rather spend my time fishing and less time scrubbing grease from under my fingernails after spending my Saturday morning changing a set of bearings.
Finding a reputable trailer specialist might be a concern but ask around and you’ll find that other anglers will have experienced the same troubles and will have already found a solution. The other plus side is I no longer get yelled at for bringing greasy hands or shoes into the house, so really I reckon its money well spent.