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Rebuilding your trailer part four: Replacing the wheel hubs and bearings

In this fourth article on rebuilding your trailer, we look at assembling the wheel hubs and bearings, attaching them to the new axle and getting the wheels in place.

Your trailer hubs play a crucial role since they secure the wheels to the axle. If they’re corroded or worn, you could end up spending hours on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck.

Get your bearings

The wheel hubs and bearings you put on your reconditioned trailer must be rated correctly for the weight you’ll be hauling. Some are suited to loads of a few hundred kilograms, while others will support up to 3 tonnes.

Some manufacturers offer complete wheel hub kits, which is handy if you know the parts will suit your trailer. One way to ensure this is by buying genuine replacement parts that are the same as the originals.

Replace the wheel hubs

  1. Jack up the trailer and remove the wheel.
  2. If it’s not already apart, remove the trailer hub assembly and pull off the hub. The inner bearing and seal with usually come out with it. These can then be dislodged using a hammer and punch.
  3. Lift out the outer bearing and clean both hub assembly and spindle with kerosene or solvent.
  4. If you plan to use the existing spindle and hub, check they aren’t scored or damaged.
  5. Pack the bearings by getting a wad of grease in the palm of one hand and pushing them into it with your other hand, using a rolling motion to squeeze the grease all the way through. Do this to both inner and outer bearings.
  6. Partially fill the hub with grease and place the inner bearing and seal into the hub. Then fit the outer bearing.
  7. Coat the axle shaft with grease, slide the hub in place and tighten the nut.
  8. Test by holding the top of the tyre and rocking it gently. If it wobbles, loosen and tighten the nut again until it settles then lock it in place with the cotter pin.
  9. Finally, fit a grease or ‘dust’ cap in place to keep the grease in and impurities out.

Spin the right wheels

Choose your tyres carefully as they will impact both the trailer’s stability and performance. Make sure they have plenty of tread and can handle the weight of your vehicle. To get maximum life out of your new tyres, have them balanced so the wheel and tyre weight is evenly distributed before you take to the road.

If you plan to take the trailer off road, wide tyres with deep tread will give you more traction. If possible, match them to the towing vehicle’s tyres to reduce the need for spares.

Once you’ve attached the wheels, your remodelled trailer is very nearly ready to stand on its own again. In the next few articles we’ll look at how you can replace the brakes, coupling and the ever-important jockey wheel to finally get it on the road again.

Before you decide which tyres to put on your trailer, take a look at our guide to traction, tread and temperature ratings.

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