Bearing Failure - 40kms from home after 2300km trip!

So I’ve learnt a lot from this forum and its time for me to tell one of my embarrassing stories… Especially after reading the bearing thread a few weeks back!

So after a mediocre and gusty boys week in Coral Bay (Big thanks to Crano for the advice for when we could actually get out) we set off at 5.30am ready to do the big drive home in one go, changing drivers religiously every two hours.

I had changed the bearings 9months ago and prior to the trip north, removed the bearing buddies, checked each one and gave them all a pump of grease. All of the grease was clean and blue and no adjustment needed.

Every time we stop to change drivers, I always do a lap of the boat and touch each hub checking for heat. After several stints, we pull into Jurien around 3pm and head to the IGA and fuel station. It was actually my wedding anniversary so was going to be in the good books to come home early, flowers and wine in hand with an Indian takeaway. All hubs cool to the touch, flowers bought and wine in the fridge, time to roll on…

About 1.5hrs later as we are approaching two rocks, we pull over for me to takeover the final drive into the city traffic, I do the lap of the trailer and find the rear wheel cocked over, only hanging on by a half chewed castle nut. 40kms left to go!

I carry tools and spare bearings with me so get to changing the bearing in the fading light. The bearing was completely destroyed. The inners had disappeared and the hub was basically running on the shaft/castle nut only held together by the chewed up split pin. The bottom of the castle nut was worn down to about 2mm of material. Unfortunatly taking a photo was the last thing on my mind at the time.

Whilst being pleased with myself for having tools/bearings/grease with me, I soon realise my tool kit should include a new castle nut and washer. I called my may mate who my now is nearly back in Wanneroo and they unhitched their boat, remove a castle nut and washer and drive it back out to us. I removed all of the chewed metal and old races from the hubs, prep the bearings and reassemble waiting for the nut and washer to arrive.

Unfortunately the threads on the shaft was so damaged it didn’t look like we were going to get it rolling again. We couldnt get the nut to bite on a thread. We ended up filling approx 10mm of damaged thread from the end of the shaft so we could get the nut to engage with some decent thread. The pressure from the bearing pulling up was just too much to let the nut get started so we needed to drive the bearing up using a socket and hammer and the we finally got enough threads engaged to get the nut started. Not great for the bearing i know.

Once the nut started engaging the rest of the bearing assembly went normally and I was pretty happy with the job. I drove at 60km/hr and stopped after 5, 10, 20kms to check it, but it was running perfectly.

Finally pulled into home at 10.15pm, wife in bed and no chance of a takeaway or any dinner, but at least the boat and I were at home…


I’m sharing this story for a few reasons:

1) I am genuinely surprised how quickly this failure happened… The temperature was not above ambient in Jurien, 140kms earlier. I was unaware this could happen!

2) Spare bearing are not enough. Nut and washers added to my kit at a minimum.

3) I was so glad I had a decent tool kit with me including a file, hammer, vice grips, large sockets and big adjustable etc.

4) Another 10km further and the wheel could have come off that could have been really serious for us or any other road users.

5) I’m surprised this happened to me. I am the one of all my friends who is anal about my bearings. I change them every year and always check them before long trips.

6) The driver didn't notice a thing leading upto it. Its lucky we stopped!


I’ve pulled the axle today and now need to get a new stub shaft welded on or replace the whole thing… Its an easytow trailer that uses a Trojan 84" 1750kg Overlay Axle.

Any recommendations?

Image Upload: 

Faulkner Family's picture

Posts: 16486

Date Joined: 11/03/08

 Very lucky to get it home.

Sat, 2020-08-15 18:29

 Very lucky to get it home. It's not a good feeling when you see one of your wheels overtaking you going down the highway. 

Certainly destroyed that axle.


RUSS and SANDY. A family that fishes together stays together

Scotte's picture

Posts: 1114

Date Joined: 07/12/06

What's the go with the hub,

Sat, 2020-08-15 18:49

What's the go with the hub, is it a spare hub or is the trailer only braked on the front axle.

Darren253's picture

Posts: 513

Date Joined: 23/07/16

Only braked on the front axle

Sat, 2020-08-15 19:12

Only braked on the front axle from the factory. 2000/2200kg rated

Tim's picture

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Date Joined: 26/09/06


Sat, 2020-08-15 19:16

Have you weighed your BMT combo Darren? 

Good chance it would go over the 2t single braked axle limit with gear or fuel in it.


Darren253's picture

Posts: 513

Date Joined: 23/07/16

I've not weight it, but I am

Sat, 2020-08-15 19:51

I've not weighed it, but I am very conscious that I don't have a lot of room to play with.

The tanks were empty or close to it and the only thing that goes in the boat are the swags and rods. Everything else travels in the car.

i alway think that I will put it over a weigh bridge when going on a trip but never have time in the lead-up!

Hull is 1020kg, Trailer 480kg, Motor 206kg so that only leaves 494kg from the ATM of 2200kg

Scotte's picture

Posts: 1114

Date Joined: 07/12/06

 By the time you add the

Sat, 2020-08-15 20:10

 By the time you add the weight of the fitout and all the components  it could be up there for sure.batteries,winch, chain,stainless work,lights, cable all adds weight.

Just something to think about as you know what insurance companies are like sometimes  when you make a claim.. Well worth the time to check weight.

My hull is 80kg lighter than yours but when I went on the bridge it was over 2100kg on empty tank and nothing in the boat. 

Tim's picture

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Date Joined: 26/09/06


Sat, 2020-08-15 20:36

I was under the impression that over 2t you need to have braking on all 4 trailer wheels?

Darren253's picture

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Date Joined: 23/07/16

2000KG GTM - 2200KG ATM

Sat, 2020-08-15 20:50

2000KG GTM - 2200KG ATM Capacity when hooked you the tow vehicle.

Tim's picture

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Date Joined: 26/09/06


Sat, 2020-08-15 21:03

OK thanks. Would guess you are still pretty close.

Seen so many boats sold on trailers that are too low a rating for the boat that its barely legal empty.

Sorry to derail your story.

Posts: 804

Date Joined: 09/10/06

 Take your ball weight off

Sat, 2020-08-15 21:35

 Take your ball weight off the 2200 mate, either way your close to or just over your limit. 


Posts: 95

Date Joined: 27/07/16

Not sure if you can do that.

Sat, 2020-08-15 22:32

Not sure if you can do that. When I'm checked by the heavy's they get me to unhook and put a pad under all wheels on the tri axle and a pad under the jockey wheel.

Posts: 804

Date Joined: 09/10/06

 It's a  grey area.  GTM is

Sun, 2020-08-16 00:31

 It's a  grey area.  GTM is measured when trailer is attached to car. Atm  trailer standing on jockey wheel. You can have a atm of 2350kg as long as there's 350kg on ball. 2200kg atm if there's 200kg on ball and so on. As long as gtm is 2000kg and under only mechanical brakes needed.

Posts: 95

Date Joined: 27/07/16

I thought similar but the

Wed, 2020-08-19 18:58

I thought similar but the heavys totaled the 5 weights. They also looked at the axle group weight on the compliance plate.

Posts: 804

Date Joined: 09/10/06

 The grey area is between the

Wed, 2020-08-19 19:22

 The grey area is between the inspectors that license the trailers and the heavies that police it..


Tim's picture

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Date Joined: 26/09/06


Sat, 2020-08-15 22:45

I wonder how many bearing failures are related to overloaded trailers?

I would think they have a significant under rating on them.

Posts: 804

Date Joined: 09/10/06

 Mate shit fails time to

Sat, 2020-08-15 18:59

 Mate shit fails time to time.  My trailer repair kit has everything, but like you found the stub axle can be damaged beyond repair unless you have a grinder and welder.  having worked in the industry we had some failures straight out of the packet. 




Tim's picture

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Date Joined: 26/09/06

Good Job

Sat, 2020-08-15 19:20

Good job to get it home. 

As Holth said sometimes it goes wrong no matter how well you prepare.

I know some carry spare axles with them for a trip like that but where does it stop? Springs etc


carnarvonite's picture

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Date Joined: 24/07/07


Sat, 2020-08-15 19:20

 Have sold 10-12 bearing sets in the last month to people who have broken down with bearing failures including a tradies trailer that the owner had NFI how to change the wheel let alone bearings.

Posts: 443

Date Joined: 28/10/08

Lucky, lucky

Sat, 2020-08-15 20:04

 Glad to you hear you got home OK.


I am similarly anal and carry spare hub with cones already pressed in, spare bearings, castle nut, washers, seals etc etc, and also carry a spare spring, u bolts, hangers, pins........and all the tools needed to change them including cordless rattle gun and grinder.  We do a lot of remote camping and boating trips and have seen plenty of people come to grief, and have helped several get back on the road with stuff I carry, so I tend to go over-prepared.  

The nearest thing I have had to disaster personally was after spending a day changing all the bearings and brake pads and doing lots of TLC on my dual axle trailer carrying my 24' old school glass boat (read heavy) at my parents place where it was stored.  My old man was helping.  We had almost finished when it got dark and the mozzies were out in force, so my old man said "You go home.  I'll drop it off the jacks and torque the wheel nuts up in the morning."   I didn't use the boat for another 3 months and that trip involved an hour on the freeway at 100kph.  After a days fishing, I got 500m from the boat ramp heading home and noticed one wheel wobbling badly.  It was too dangerous to stop where I was so I pulled into a side street 100m further on, but the wheel came off completely as I turned the corner.  Turned out my old man had forgotten to torque up the wheel nuts, and 3 months on I had completly forgetten to check them.  The 3 remaining wheels had all lost a couple of wheel nuts, and all the rest were loose.  Thank god they hadn't parted company on the freeway!! Lesson learnt was don't knock off until the job is completely finished!!

sea-kem's picture

Posts: 13169

Date Joined: 30/11/09

 Looking at that axle spindle

Sat, 2020-08-15 20:32

 Looking at that axle spindle I reckon you had problems with it before even leaving home and was lucky to get as far as you did. just reinforces the yearly bearing changeover. Glad you got home ok as it's not a nice feeling to have major grief like that at the end of a trip. 


Love the West!

Posts: 782

Date Joined: 19/06/14

Lucky ain’t the word!

Sat, 2020-08-15 22:03

I've found the best way to avoid bearing problems is to keep my boat in a pen at all times..... :D  


 My wife understands why I clean my rods n reels in the shower....


Posts: 581

Date Joined: 28/11/16

Yeah for my own piece of mind

Sun, 2020-08-16 04:07

Yeah for my own piece of mind after I buy a new or secondhand boat I’ve always taken  a quick trip over the weigh bridge with full tank of fuel and safety gear to know where I’m at. Or if any major modifications are made. Weight adds up quick a friend of mine leaves 50kg of sinkers in his trailer boat 

piston broke's picture

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Date Joined: 05/11/08

Silly question

Sun, 2020-08-16 07:08

but could you have driven home SLOWLY on 3 wheels?

DanB81's picture

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Date Joined: 18/02/12

I have

Sun, 2020-08-16 08:47

I have had to chain up an axle before and drive home about 50km, not ideal but it was better than leaving trailer on the side of the road. Just jack it up and then use chain preferably to secure it up, or a decent heavy duty ratchet strap then take it nice and slow home 

Posts: 534

Date Joined: 24/04/11


Sun, 2020-08-16 07:36

good write up. I’ll add castle nuts to the spares. 

Posts: 335

Date Joined: 06/02/14

New One

Sun, 2020-08-16 08:34

 Trojan axles are really easy to come by, I would buy an entire one for the peace of mind, new u bolts etc as well.

hezzy's picture

Posts: 1399

Date Joined: 27/11/09

bearings can let go at any

Sun, 2020-08-16 08:45

bearings can let go at any time ............ good thing you had atandem under it , probably half the reason the driver did not feel it going sooner

as i regularly tow my boat from bunbury to margs to launch at least once a week i carry a 2 ton trolley jack , bearings , spare castle nuts, washers, pins, u bolts and hangers as well as wheel studs on a spare hub assembly ....

i also carry new spare hacksaw blade and hacksaw in the toolbox,,, if as happeend to you when the thread is damaged i have carefully used the thin hacksaw blade to slowly re cut back into the damaged thread on an axle stub ... it takes asmall amount of time working your way around the stub slowly ,but is handy to cut enough into the damaged thread to get a castle nut to bite and re thread if your away from home until you can get it fixed properly ,

cold chisel is also handy in the toolkit ,, and samll 500mm length of 50mm steel pipe ..fits over the wheel brace ends for extra leverage when nuts are super tight .



OFW 11

evil flourishes when good men do nothing


sea-kem's picture

Posts: 13169

Date Joined: 30/11/09

 I've actually got a thread

Sun, 2020-08-16 17:31

 I've actually got a thread file I chuck in the box Hezzy for anything like that that might need cleaning up. Both imperial and metric threads. 


Love the West!

silly's picture

Posts: 370

Date Joined: 02/01/09

Glad you got home ok and

Sun, 2020-08-16 09:25

Glad you got home ok and managed to fix it up on the side of the road.

any idea what brand bearings they are?

I've always gone for Timken, which can be harder to find in stock but so far so good..

Posts: 5981

Date Joined: 17/06/10

Very good write up thanks

Sun, 2020-08-16 17:22

That's the stuff that nightmares are made off good to see you made it home ok.

Posts: 61

Date Joined: 06/02/11


Sun, 2020-08-16 20:27

 Definatly use good quality bearings like timken,koyo,nsk.

there are a lot of cheap and nasty bearings on the market.

Posts: 42

Date Joined: 11/12/11

Good write up

Tue, 2020-08-18 14:42

Also find myself carrying more and more. Split pins, castle nuts, washers, grease, u-bolts, jacks and stands. I also carry 2 spares with complete hubs ready to go (brake hub and standard hub). 


I reckon you might have hit something. I have seen it before, leave the petrol station and the hub touches a pole. 

ranmar850's picture

Posts: 2702

Date Joined: 12/08/12

Ford slimlines for bearings?

Thu, 2020-09-17 21:50

 very common fitment, and they really push the limit with them. My Reefrunner is on a heavier trailer than Darrens, as I wanted plenty of reserve strength for some of the tracks I tow it on. I'm running 14" wheels ( so turning slower than a 13" ) on a 2900 ATM/2700 GTM dual load sharing setup, and they STILL fit Ford slimlines to them. Really pushing the limits of these size bearings--they definitely run warmer with 2700 kg on them than they did under a 1700KG BMT. But they have been OK, I've changed them out once for peace of mind in the 2 1/2 years I have owned it, and they have done Ningaloo 3 times, Exmouth twice, and a couple of trips to Shark bay . Re-pack once a year, grease frequently to keep water from entering the rear seal, and check with a heat gun. A mate gave it to me, surplus to is requirements, and it's a useful tool. You can even see them running hotter on the west side of the trailer on a hot afternoon, due to direct sun. They do vary with ambient, run anywhere from 35 deg up to 50 deg. They'll need checking again before I head to Exmouth start of November, and I always carry a complete hub ( disc) assembly, and  plenty of tools.