Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wheel Bearing Inspection

Fair warning - this post is loooong and and even more boring than usual unless you're one of a small handful trying to decide if they want to tackle inspecting and packing their own wheel bearings. Keep in mind that this is based on a 2010 Scamp 19.  Others will be similar but may differ in the details.

The first step is to securely support the trailer with the wheels off of the ground. Place the jackstands under the frame, not under the axle.

You could remove the wheels and tires first, but I elected to keep the wheels and tires mounted to the hub, so the next step for me was to remove the dust cap from the hub. The dust cap is an interference fit with the hub. I used a scraper between the hub and flange of the dust cap to start the removal.

Once the dust cap removal was started, I could fit my small rolling wedge bar behind the flange to complete the removal of the dust cap.

As near as I know, these bearings had never been inspected. The cotter pin on the street side wheel was bent in such a manner that the end of it was rubbing on the rubber plug on the end of the dust cap, shaving off slivers of rubber from the Zerk access plug. Remove the cotter pin and castellated nut and then slide the wheel off the shaft.

I always plan on not reusing the inner seal - the gold colored ring in the center of the picture. Now is the time to inspect the brake drum for undue wear.

I use the punch end of the rolling wedge bar to remove the seal. It usually takes three or four punch & pry cycles to get it out. Others will advocate driving it out by pressing out the rear bearing from the inside, but that runs the risk of damaging the bearing so I'm comfortable with automatically replacing the seal with a new one.

As you can see, the cotter pin doesn't come out nicely on the Al-Ko 3500 lb. Ultrulube spindle. The hole for the cotter pin is drilled off center to leave clearance for the Zerk fitting and grease galley in the center of the spindle, creating interference between the cotter pin and the nut castellations.

While cleaning the parts, carefully inspected the bearing for any chipping, pitting, flat spots, or discoloration of the bearing rollers or deformation of the bearing cage.

Keep the parts for each wheel together since the bearings theoretically develop a wear pattern matching with their outer race.

To hand pack the bearings, put a glob of appropriate grease (Al-Ko calls for a NLGI Grade 2 lithium based grease) in your least dominate hand.

Holding the bearing cone with the smaller diameter up, press the cone into the edge of the glob (there's that technical term again) of grease, continuing the process until grease extrudes from the top of the bearing. Turn the bearing assembly slightly and repeat. Continue until the entire bearing cone has clean grease coming out between the inner race and the bearing cage.

Clean all of the old grease out of the hub assembly.

Assuming the bearing cone and outer cup look good and you've carefully repacked the bearing, place the rear (larger) bearing into the hub and install a new grease seal. I use a soft block of wood and a hammer to press the grease seal in place without deforming it.

Clean all the old grease off of the wheel spindle. Use this opportunity to inspect the brake shoes, springs, and magnet for excess wear. Wipe a very slight amount of grease on the lip of the grease seal before carefully putting the hub (and wheel in my case) assembly back on the spindle. Install the front bearing, washer, and nut.

Tightening the castellated wheel retaining nut correctly is critical. Too tight and the bearings will overheat. Too loose and the bearings will wear out from too much side play. The Al-Ko manual (page 23) has specific instructions although most experienced mechanics do it by feel. In spite of the manual, install the cotter pin so that it does NOT go over the end of the spindle.

The last step is to reinstall the dust cap. Since the rubber plugs in the original dust caps were badly checked, I installed new caps and plugs. Once again, the block of soft wood came in handy.

I got all the parts from The #84 spindle is very common and parts are readily available.

Just as when the trailer was new, check the hubs for excessive heat at your first stop after servicing the bearings.

Update April 1, 2013: there has been discussion about the advantage of high quality American made bearings. It takes a bit of searching, but larger, easy to pack, cool running bearings are available but will require modification to fit to current production wheels.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Light It Up

I've never liked the 70's style light that Scamp installed in one corner of the dinette and in the loft. I spent a fair amount of time wandering the vendors in Quartzsite looking for a fixture that would tilt and swivel and not break the bank. Some exist, but $50 seems ludicrous for what should be a $15 dollar fixture.

BJ suggested we check at our local, hole-in-the-wall, RV Supply store where we found the Arcon 10649 swivel bullet light. Three of them came home with us. Unfortunately, they come with halogen bulbs with the G4 style base and in stock form draw 12.1 watts each.

A little Amazon research led me back to LEDwholesalers - we bought all our other LED lamps from them - who bailed us out with a 160 lumen MR11 style bulb that draws 1.9 watts and is significantly brighter than the stock halogen bulb.

Unfortunately, these lamps are a bit taller and require removing the plastic lens from the fixture, but since they put out so much light, most of the time they'll be pointed at the wall. These are the cool white lamps that I much prefer over the yellowish "warm" lamps.

I'm real happy with them! Even with the purchase of LED lamps in addition to the fixtures, they were notably more affordable than other fixtures.

Because I expected the 160 lumen bulb to be too bright for the loft, I also ordered a tower type bulb rated at 105 lumen from LEDwholesalers. It was only available in "warm" white which was less of a concern in the loft where it would be the only bulb and thus the color difference wouldn't be as noticeable. The pins did need to be trimmed shorter. It draws .9 watts.

Update - Feb. 28: I ordered another tower type bulb at the same time from Eversale via Amazon that would be brighter but may draw as much as 3.5 watts. In spite of paying Eversale shipping, the bulb took 9 days from time of order (almost exclusively shipping time), while the LEDwholesaler bulbs arrived in two days with free Amazon shipping.  The Eversale bulb is somewhat brighter than the LEDwholesalers similar shaped tower bulb but sticks out of the fixture about 1/4 inch.  While it's somewhat brighter, it draws 2.2 watts as compared to .9 watts in this installation and the combination of power draw and physical size puts it out of the running for our installation.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hang Ups

Yes, I have some hang ups but that's not what this is about.  Nor is it about crank calls.

BJ and I were on a hunt for some material, or better yet, an existing adaptable "hammock" she was dreaming about to store a sleeping bag in when not in use in the trailer. In the process we ended up at Ikea since they have all sorts of creative ideas about leveraging space.

We didn't find what we were looking for, but we did find the very affordable BYGEL series of hanging baskets, mounting rods, hooks, etc. These look like they could be mounted above the table and capture some of the (my) clutter - chargers, phone, camera, other essential "stuff" that current steals counter space.

The rods are available in two lengths. The meter long rod nearly spans the width of the back window and mounts easily to the bottom of the back cabinets with machine screws, fender washers, and nyloc nuts.

We have two baskets hanging on the rod, with the white plastic S hooks used to keep (hopefully) the baskets from sliding back and forth. (Too bad Scamp didn't center the light fixture.)

Speaking of light fixtures - that's the next mod.
Update April 2, 2013:  We had hoped that the design of the hangar would be adequate to keep the baskets in place during transit but the baskets did bounce off. Addition of a small ty-wraps at each end of the hangar resolves the issue.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I got the neatest compliment today in the form of a public Dear John letter. It's been many years since I got a Dear John letter although I've sometimes probably deserved one.

We have a shirttail relative that is working with her Loving Spouse on a massive house restoration project and maintaining her sense of humor while successfully adapting from Southern California city slicker dweller to Eastern Washington farmer. When we met her at the wedding last summer, I said I'd love to help with the project - it brings back memories of my childhood.

While I was musing about the Alaska trip scheduling and routing, she was writing a new blog post for her really interesting blog.

Seems like they're saving a special project for me - double hung window restoration. Should be fun if we can get them unstuck. We'll stop by for a week or so at Glory Farm on our way north.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mud Flaps

The three week test trip showed that nearly all of the mods worked as expected or even better. Since we were fortunate enough to experience a couple days of rain in the desert, we also experienced muddy roads and decided that more effective mud (and gravel) flaps on the truck would be a worthwhile investment. After looking at several types, I decided to go with the "UltraGuard."

The UltraGuard is designed to bolt to the 2" shaft on a removable ball mount. The angle is an optional item and comes in a couple different sizes. All the other parts are included in the package with the mud flap.

Unfortunately, because my hitch is mounted very close to the bumper, the standard angle and clamp weren't an option. Instead, I welded a length of salvaged 1.75" sq. steel tube to a spare ball mount.

I found some plugs at a fencing and awning business for the ends of the tube.

Instead of using the supplied nuts and bolts that would have worked with the angle, I used some 1/4" self-tapping screws with stainless 1" fender washers to attach the flap to the steel tube.

Looks like this will do the trick but I don't expect we'll have a chance to test it until we leave on the Alaska trip in two months.

I still need to design and build a mud flap or protective device for the grey water drain, but that will be a different project.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Different View of the Southwest

Last year I went to the Quartzsite Gathering specifically to meet a fellow with whom I'd corresponded. He's been a wise consultant for some of the Scamp mods over the past year and has expressed an appreciation for the Southwest.

This year I suggested he join me for a canoe trip to see a different side of the Southwest.

We launched from Willow Beach and paddled upstream to Arizona Hotsprings where we set up camp. Unlike the last trip here, there were only two other people camped here. It helps when you can avoid weekends for the trip!

The second day we continued upstream to get a view of the bridge just downstream of Hoover Dam

before ferrying across the river to check out the warm falls at Palm Tree Canyon.

We spotted some of the anchor points installed during the dam construction (not to be confused with the Ring Bolts near Ring Bolt Rapid),

and discovered a hot spring in a canyon that wasn't on the map.

Flora and Fauna was interesting. We spotted several Peregrine Falcon but didn't get a picture. We did get a picture of a Bald Eagle,

an immature Bald Eagle,

and a coyote.

Perhaps the rarest thing sighted was the very rare boot tree near camp.

All in all, a nice trip with wonderful weather and great conversation.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Quartzsite Again

We continue to gain a diverse group of trailers in addition to the Casita majority. Some people believe in the belt AND suspenders approach!

We have one U-Haul;

one Boler;

one Burro;

one EggCamper, and;

one Escape - a brand new 5.0 towed by a brand new Toyota Tacoma.  They had a line-up for tours before they even got it set.

As of this evening, there are 74 units here, as well as cool (mid 50's) and breezy (gusts to 32 mph) weather including occasional sprinkles. Hoping for more sun tomorrow.