Rusty bearing race
As I suspected, the nearside outer wheel bearing was rusty. Getting the hub off the axel was not at all difficult. After removing the retaining nut, I gave the hub a sharp blow with a wooden mallet and it flew off.
My third phone call brought the good news that replacement bearings were available at Basildon. An hour-and-a-half later, with a shiny, new set of bearings in my hand, I was home in time for lunch. Having eaten to increase my energy levels, I set about inserting new outer bearings, but not before squelching grease into all of their nooks and crannies. I didn’t think I would enjoy having dollops of grease on my hands, but I found it fun.
Rusty tapered sheave
A neighbour remarked that what I had done must be quite satisfying, and I had to agree. I think another neighbour was amazed that I had succeeded in doing the job, and I must admit that I surprised myself.
Hub back on the axel
As far as I can see, the trailer should be good for many more miles, providing I do not let water enter the wheel bearings. I observed that water did not enter the inner bearings because they were sealed with rubber rings. Therefore, if I can prevent water seeping in between the edges of the hubcaps and their tiny breather holes, all should be well. To bring that about I have greased the joints between the hub caps and the hubs, and before I launch the boat I shall cover the breather holes with small pieces of insulation tape. I shall make sure the bearings have cooled by not launching too soon after arriving at a slipway.
Before tapping in the hubcap
Time taken to replace the bearings prevented me from launching the boat today; therefore I am hoping I shall be able to do it tomorrow shortly before high water – most likely at Burnham Yacht Harbour.
I am pleased that I became aware of the defective bearings, because had I taken the trailer for an appreciable distance, the nearside wheel could have seized because of overheating. By replacing the bearings I have saved a bit of money and I shall feel confident about taking the boat further afield.