Last spring, coming down from the lake I heard this terrible squealing every time I hit a bump in the road. I pulled over and inspected my trailer tires. The one side was considerably lower than the other and although I was very nervous about doing so I still had enough clearance to limp the trailer home.
First thing that I did was to call Alumaweld, only to find that they would not deal with me directly. I then called the dealer who sold me the boat who said he would look into it. I then posted on Ifish trying to find out if anyone else had dealt with this problem. As soon as I posted on Ifish, I was contacted by the Alumaweld dealer in Eugene and they told me that I would need to replace the entire axle and not just one side as I had hoped. I called them and asked if they had one and what it would cost to get it replaced. The fellow that I spoke with told me that he thought that they had one in stock and it would be at least seven or eight hundred bucks and more likely $1,200.00 to get it replaced and that I would also have to replace the spindles as well which were about $250.00 bucks apiece. By then, I am dying a thousand deaths by Bula Bula (You would have had to have heard the joke to understand!) and seeing my fishing season go down the drain along with my bank account. After calling the dealer for several days, and getting no closer to fixing my problem, I started calling every Alumaweld dealer in the Oregon I-5 corridor. Nobody it seemed was interested in helping me solve my problem! Finally I got ahold of Steven’s Marine in Tigard Oregon and the guy on the other end of the phone seemed to know what he was talking about. Little did I know, but the guy that I was talking with was probably a salesman and really had no interest in solving my problem. By now, three weeks have gone by and I am no closer to solving my problem.
Once again I posted on Ifish about my dilemma and the run around that I had been getting from the dealerships while trying to get my boat trailer fixed. The next day I received a call from the service manager at Steven’s Marine in Tigard. He apologized for any inconvenience and told me that he would expedite my order. He told me that if they installed the axle, it would be the cost of the axle plus whatever labor was accrued while installing the axle or I could just pick up the axle and do it myself. He informed me that if I ordered it at that time it would be in their possession ready for me to pick up by Saturday which was three days later. True to his word, the axle was in their shop on Saturday morning and I was able to take it home and install it myself saving several hundred dollars.
The axle cost me around $275.00; in addition I purchased two jack stands at Harbor Freight $20.00 at $20.00 a pair, a bearing packer for about $3.00, two bearing seals approximately $5.00 apiece and three tubes of Marine lithium grease at about $2.20 each for a total of $6.60. The whole package cost me a total of approximately $314.60 give or take a few bones. When I first started talking to people about having it replaced it was going to cost upwards of $1,200.00!
It took me two hours and saved me well over four hundred bucks in labor not counting the cost of the spindles, had I been talked into replacing those as well and that was with me not knowing anything about the process prior to becoming frustrated with the help I was not getting.
I had two options when I ordered my axle, I ordered the heavier one, it was/is the same price and has a higher weight rating yet will bolt right on with no frame mods required.
They may also try and sell you new spindles. If your spindles are in good shape, and have never had a bearing failure call a bullsh*t on that one and reinstall the originals.
One thing I also learned is that you can mount the spindles so you have at least three or four inches of clearance to your fenders.
Finally, if you do not get the results speaking with one of the sales people cut through the crap and speak directly with the sales manager. Tell him about the run around you are getting and he will make it happen. Good luck!
The process is as follows:
1. The axel is held on by four bolts, two on either end of the axle. Note that you get four new bolts, lock nuts and washers with your new axle. At first it looks like you are going to have to cut it off, but that is not the case. Jack the trailer up using a screw jack or hydraulic jack and place it on jack stands, one on either side under the frame.
2. Remove the tires and wheels from the spindles setting them aside. Then remove the outer spindle assembly and bearings from the spindle. Do this by taking a block of wood and a small sledge hammer, beating the bearing buddy back and forth to walk it out of the bearing housing. By doing this you expose the retaining nut. Straighten out the cotter pin and remove it from the spindle with a pair of dikes. Undo the adjustment nut with one hand while holding your other hand against the top of the tire. This will keep the tire from falling forward. Once the bearing and washers are removed, slide the tire and axle assembly forward. This will expose the outer bearing. Remove the outer bearing and place it on a clean rag or news paper. Now you can slide the entire assembly off the axle.
3. The next step is to drop the axle. Remove the four bolts which are holding the axle to the frame of the trailer. I personally did this by myself so I just arranged some blocks of wood under one end of the axle to hold it in position while I removed the retaining bolts. That prevented the axle from falling on me or getting in a bind as I removed the bolts on the other end.
4. Make a chalk mark on both spindles for a reference when you remove the spindles from the axle. Lay the old axle on the shop floor, remove the retaining bolts and then remove the spindles from the axle using a block of wood and a sledge hammer.
5. Bolt the new axle into place. Once again I used some blocks to hold the new axle in place while I bolted it in place using the new bolts and lock nuts provided with the axle assembly.
6. I then applied some grease to the splines on the axle and then using the chalk marks previously mentioned as reference points I installed the original spindles on the new axle. My trailer has seen some salt water so there was a bit of rust. The grease made it easier to reinstall the spindles as well as protect the ungalvanized arm from the elements. Start the spindle arm onto the new axle and make sure that you have provided enough clearance for the tire and wheel from the fender, I like 3-4 inches.
7. You might also want to look at the bearings for pitting while you have it apart and if you do find pitting then replace the bearings. Before you remove the rear seal, get the part numbers off the face or at least measure the seal using a caliper. Always replace the seals when you repack the bearings! Take the bearings out and wash them in solvent to get all of the grease out. Once they are clean use a rag and an air hose to blow them clean and dry. Spin the bearings and look for pitting on the individual bearings. If they are free of pitting, then place the bearing in the bearing packer and pump them full of grease.
8. Next, place the rear bearing (the larger one) then place the seal where it goes and place a block of wood on top and carefully tap it into place with a ballpeen hammer. Pump the cavity full of top quality marine grade lithium grease and you are good to go.
9. Install the outer spindle assembly back on the axle being careful not to damage the seal while sliding it into position. Once it is in place and fairly snug; reinstall the tire and wheel. Give the wheel a spin and while it is spinning, tighten the retaining nut slowly until the tire comes to an abrupt stop. Back the nut off slightly and reinstall the retaining washer and cotter pin.
10. Next reinstall the bearing buddy using a block of wood and a hammer.
I am in no way a professional mechanic. I am fairly handy at working on things but once again I must stress that I am not a mechanic and as such I will assume no liability should this project be over your head. However, it is a fairly simple project and if you have some mechanical abilities you should easily be able to complete this operation.