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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I have an unusual wheel bearing maintenance question.
Quick version - I want to do wheel bearing maintenance on a utility trailer but I’ve never seen a part like the hub in the photo to secure the bearings. Can someone tell me what the part in the photo is and how to remove it?

Long Version - I have a two wheel home made utility trailer that I picked up years ago…like maybe 25 years ago. If I remember correctly the guy I bought it from said the axle was the rear axle from an old Mustang. I don’t remember ever doing the wheel bearings on this thing. I never worried about this until I owned a boat trailer that I do regular bearing maintenance on (it has has castle nuts on all four wheels and is the extent of my wheel bearing knowledge). Since I don’t want to be going down the highway with my trailer and have a wheel fall off, after 25 years I figure I should probably check out the bearings. I’ve never worked on a rear axle and don’t know what to expect. There are no brakes, and as far as I know, there are no transmission components. Jacked up the tires spin freely. So I guess this is a rear axle in name only. What I am wondering is how I get this apart and what I might find for bearings when I do. Not condition but parts-wise. Also, if the wheels spin freely, and don’t rock, bind or grind, should I just leave it alone?



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If it's the rear axle from a mustang, then you have a complete rear differential under the trailer. Mustang has always been a rear wheel drive car. You would need to post a few pics of the entire axle assembly from under the trailer to say for sure. Couple ways the axles could be held into the housing.

Some rear axles are secured by C clips inside the diff, wheel bearings on these are lubed by the differential oil. This type will have a bolt on rear diff cover that you remove to access the diff parts.

Other models have sealed bearings pressed onto the axles, the axles are held into the diff by a retaining plate bolted on the outer end behind the brake drum. These use a drop out differential unit so they have no rear cover. These sealed bearings are not serviceable, only replaceable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Now this makes a bit more sense. The release point is inside the rear end hub and the entire axle slides out. You don't want to do that!

And the answer is you top off the grease in the hub. Look it up but is is probably 90w gear oil.

As an aside: as a boy we were riding home from a ballgame when whatever holds the axle to the gear gave way and the wheel drifted out against the fender.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I took some photos of the axle to show what it looked like. I’ve decided that I’m not going to do anything with the bearings. The only thing I am going to do is jack it up and make sure the wheels do not have any wobble or looseness and the tires spin with no grinding or other issues.
Then, more importantly, I’m taking it to my mechanic so he can check out the undercarriage and verify that, despite all the rust, it is structurally safe. I use it a lot for loads with a decent amount of weight.





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That type of rust isn't usually a problem, it's just on the surface. Look for flaky rust, that can be a lot more serious issue. Homemade trailers have other issues such as if it's designed properly so it can correctly distribute the load, and of course how well the welding was done. Any decent mechanic should be able to assess those things. Look closely at the U-bolts that secure the leaf springs to the axle, those can rust and fail over time. Some vehicles are very prone to that in rust belt parts of the country.

That is definitely a rear axle from a rear wheel drive vehicle. Those axles are held in with C-clips and the wheel bearings are lubricated by the differential oil, so you should check to make sure it has a level. There is probably a square recessed plug on the side of the front portion of the differential, usually a 3/8" or 1/2" ratchet will fit it. The oil should be up to the level that it drips out of the plug hole with the vehicle sitting level. As the parts turn inside the oil is carried out to the bearings.

Looks like the vehicle originally had drum brakes but the shoes and brake drums have already been removed so no issue with them rusting up and freezing on.
 
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