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Dexter 3500-lb Axle Trailer Hub Installation

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How to Install the Dexter 3500-lb Axle Trailer Hub


Today, we're going to be taking a look at and installing Dexter's Replacement Hubs for 3,500-lb axles with a 5 on 4-1/2 bolt pattern. These ones are galvanized, so they're designed more for your marine and snowmobile applications. We're going to be putting them on a boat trailer here. That's a perfect application for it, since you often have to back that boat down into the dock and it's going to get wet.What's cool about this hub is it does come with races included, and the races that come included with it are pre-installed, which is nice because they're a press fit. So, it's nice they got that out of the way. That's a part where you definitely could cause a mistake when driving the race in and score up the surface, and you don't want to do any of that.

You don't want to cause any damage to your new hub, so it's nice that they've got almost the hardest part out of the way for you. It has both your outer as well as your inner races installed. These are designed to work with bearings L68149 for our inner bearing here, and for our outer bearing, L44649. In addition to your bearings, you'll also need a grease seal, which you can get here at etrailer. You would want to use number 58846, and that would install here on the backside.

The 5 on 4-1/2 bolt pattern we have comes included with 1/2 inch studs, and if you need to replace your lug nuts as well, you can get those here at etrailer.When you're looking to replace your hub, some of the things you want to look at to determine if you can reuse your old hub, or if you're going to have to replace it, mostly is with the inside. The race here on the inside is designed to take any damages, which your bearing is designed to ride on. But if your bearing does get damaged, if that cage comes apart and you do have contact, the inner race here will likely take the damage first. A lot of times, if it does just take the damage on the race you can drive that old race out, drive a new race in, and replace your bearings and you can be back on the road. But there are instances, depending on how fast you we're going, how long you rode on it with the damaged bearings, determining how much wear's actually there.

If the wear gets down actually into the hub past the inner races, you will have to replace the hub in order to get back up and running again.There's some other reasons you might want to replace the hub just due to ease of installation as well because the hubs, they're not terribly expensive. If you're going to be going through the work of taking it apart, sometimes it's just worth the effort of just putting this in than driving the old races out, because driving the races out and installing new ones is kind of a pain in the butt. This replacement model here does come with the races pre-installed, which is really nice because that's almost, to me, the hardest part about changing your bearings is driving out your old races and driving new ones in. So, this has got the hard work done really for you. You just got a little bit of the messy work left.We're going to be replacing the hub on this trailer here.

The main reason we're replacing on this one is because it does have a broken stud. Now, the studs are replaceable. You can drive those out, get new studs, and then drive those back in. But this trailer, it's been quite a while since the bearings have been serviced on here. We're going to be inspecting and repacking them, and we're going to go ahead and replace the entire hub assembly while we're at it.We'll begin the replacement of our hubs by jacking up our trailer. If you do have a jack at the front of your trailer that has a wheel, you might want to make sure you chock that. There are donut shaped devices that we have here at etrailer that you can put those down on. Or, if you've got some angled cut pieces of wood, you can slide those in on chocks on either side. We're going to lift up the entire trailer on both sides since we're going to be replacing the hubs on both sides. If you're only doing one side, you can just do that one. If you leave one side on the ground, I recommend chocking the wheel on the other side. But since we're lifting up both, where you don't need to chock the wheels because we're going to be taking them off and have it suspended. So, we're just going to jack up the frame of our trailer until our axle comes off the ground.We can see our wheel now, it's come off the ground. So, we can just head over and put our jack stand in place. Want to go ahead and get one more click out of it there, just to make sure that we're going to be high enough off the ground. We'll take our wheel off. There we go. Now that we've got our trailer up in the air, we can go ahead and remove our wheel. We're using a 13/16ths for our socket, but the lug nuts can vary from trailer to trailer, so yours might be a slightly different size. I would just slide our wheel off, and then we're going to go ahead and set it aside.We'll now take our dead blow here, or a rubber mallet, and we're going to use this to remove the cap on the end. That's going to reveal the nut that we'll need to remove to get the hub off of there. You just want to hit almost away from the hub but at an angle, about a 45, which you're looking to hit it at to knock it off of it. You just kind of strike it. You can see it moved a little bit. Spin it around, strike it again. Once you get it out a little bit like that, then I usually just grab onto it and just tap it until it comes out.This is something that we want to look at right here, because you want to inspect your bearings to make sure that everything's going to be okay. If we look at the grease that's in here with this real muddy color, when it's real muddy and milky looking like this, this has likely had some moisture intrusion in here. It's got this brownish, nasty color like this due to a rust that has built up inside because of moisture contamination. With this trailer being a boat trailer, we know that this trailer does back in and out of the water quite a bit to load the boat, dock it out and pull it back in, put it up under the dock, take it back out. So, we can see here that some moisture has gotten inside of this one here.That's another reason why you would want to replace the hub, because if you do have a lot of corrosion on the inside there, that could cause some issues with your races driving in properly. It could also potentially damage the races because that rust, as it builds up it can put pressure on that race, which could cause cracks and deformations and stress that you don't want. We're going to go ahead and get everything cleaned up here, get this stuff right here. You can just grab yourself a towel and then we'll get this taken off. Set our cap aside, because right here underneath this cap is the nut that's going to let us take the whole hub off of there.Now that we've got some of that grease out of the way, we can see a little bit here what we're working with. This is the Cotter pin that holds the nut in place to prevent it from coming off. We do need to take that off, so we're just going to use our needle nose pliers here to straighten out the leg on that Cotter pin. It's not uncommon for Cotter pins to break, especially if they've been on there for a while. You can get replacement Cotter pins here at etrailer if you do need one.Now we've got the legs straight, we can slide our Cotter pin out. Sometimes you can get lucky and grab it by the legs you just straightened and just push it straight through, but more often than not, it does get stuck. But on the other side of our Cotter pin, there's a little eyelet where you can often stick the end of your needle nose pliers in just like that, and we can use our needle nose then to pry the Cotter pin the rest of the way out of there. If you do have one of your legs that break off like on our pin here, you do want to make sure you replace it. We want to have full length legs coming through on each side to make sure we can bend both of those over to ensure that this pin holds our nut in place, because that's really the only thing holding this whole hub assembly and our wheel on here, is this giant large nut here.We'll set this aside, and now I like to use channel locks instead of needle nose to remove the nut. It's a little bit easier. This is a pretty large set. You don't need to have a set quite this big. But you can see, we can easily grab our nut and then work it off. It's not going to be on there tight, and just keep working it off till you get it all the way off of there. Reason why I like the tools that we're using is because these tools work really well and help you minimize mess. You can see, I don't really have a lot of grease on me yet, and this is a pretty nasty, messy job. You can take a couple of steps to avoid that. I did have my towels already preset out, down here on the ground to help further minimize that mess.Now we've got it fully loose, we're just going to set that aside. Next, we're going to grab a screwdriver. You can use flat bladed, Phillips head, it really doesn't matter. We're going to be using this to catch our bearing that's located right behind it. So, I like to stick this right here in the end. Usually there's a little divot. If you have E-Z Lube axles you'll have a grease fitting there, but you can just put this right above the grease fitting or something because we're going to have it right there like that. We'll grab our hub assembly and we're going to slide it off. I like to get my bearing out of there first, that's why we're using the screwdriver here. We're going to set that down on the backside of your bearing. There is a washer on there. We're going to get the whole hub off of here. We're going to set this down as well, and then I'll show you that washer that's on your bearing.Here's the outer bearing that we just slid off on our screwdriver. This is the washer that's on it. It is pretty common for this washer to stick to it due to all the grease that's on there. We'll see if we can pop it off here without making too much mess. Sometimes you do just got to get your fingers dirty on this one here, because they get so stuck to the back of it. But, you want to make sure you save this washer. We are going to reuse this washer even if you're replacing your bearings, so go ahead and get that guy off of there and get it cleaned up. Once we get our washer cleaned up, we can go ahead and clean up the other parts we're going to be reusing. So for sure, you're going to reuse this washer and you're also going to reuse the nut that we had taken off. We can go ahead and get that cleaned up as well.Now, the rest of your parts you may reuse depending on the condition of those parts. Your hub here is just going to come with the hub and the races inserted in them. Now, whenever you're putting a new part on with races, I highly recommend that you replace the bearings because your old bearings there, even if they don't have any damage to them or pitting, they have worn into the races that are in your old hub here. When you go to put them in this one, they have to rewear to that race and it could potentially cause premature wear of your bearing assembly. If you just go with all new components, they're going to break in and be worn in with one another, and that way you get the most life out of your components.We're going to go ahead and get this cleaned up. If you wanted to check your bearings, I'll grab one of those and we'll show you how to do a quick inspection on that. Your bearings you want to inspect if you're planning on reusing them. Our outer bearing we can easily check because that one we took out there. The inner bearing here is located behind the grease seal. The grease seal's here on the back of the hub and in order to get that bearing out so you can inspect it, you do have to remove the grease seal. Now, we're going to cover just cleaning of the bearing and inspection and also how to determine which bearings you would want to get for replacement if you are going to be replacing the bearings. We can easily see the outer and inspect that one, but we need to be able to also check our inner one here to be able to see it's condition, and also get the numbers off of it if we need to replace it.To get this grease seal out, you can sometimes take a long screwdriver or a pry bar and stick it in here and pop it up like that. That's a pretty hard way to do it because oftentimes it just wants to kind of pivot like this. That is one of the ways you can get the seal out, though, and potentially reuse it. But the majority of the time, this seal is going to get damaged once it's removed. You do want to keep that in mind that if you got to take this seal out, you're probably going to damage it, and you're going to have to have parts on hand to get your trailer back together so you can get back on the road.To remove the seal what I like to do is use a flat bladed screwdriver, get on the edge of the seal there and I'll angle it down and inward, and then just tap on the seal. Then once you get that knocked down in there, oftentimes you can get the seal deformed right there where you can get your screwdriver just underneath the lip a little bit and just slowly work it out of there. It's just in the trash now, but now we can easily get our bearing out of there, clean it up and inspect it for any damage.One of the main things we want to look at is pitting on the roller. This one here has got quite a bit of pitting on it. This is a pretty good example right here. You can see it and you can also feel it. If I take my fingernail across it, I can really feel it drag into that groove right there. That's a big pit and that's what's going to cause wear on your races and on other bearings. You have these openings in here. This is material that eventually, it's going to start to wear, break apart and you get little particulates in here, and that just escalates. It just starts to cause it in other spots. You can see here's another one that's got some pretty bad pitting on this one. We can see that there's some rust and corrosion a little bit going on here on the race on the inside. You can see right here on the edge, there was a pretty good amount of rust that was building up there.Again, if we have any kind of rust inside of there, that's just going to bubble up. Those rust particles are going to break off, they're going to get inside of our bearing here, and all the weight of our trailer and everything that's on it is pushing down. The races on those hubs are pushing down on this as it goes across the road, and we're just grinding that into those bearings and that's what's going to cause it to eventually. One of these bearings could seize, which could cause it to then break the cage. You could have a giant mess and that's when you get a lot of play that could potentially cause damage to the bearing. It could cause damage to your spindle here. It's really important you have good bearings because you want it to be riding on the rollers like this. Once this seizes and our cage comes apart and we don't have rollers on there anymore, our hub is just metal on metal against our races and other components that we've got there.This one here, I would definitely say this is a good example of a bad bearing that needed to be replaced. We're going to go ahead and get this replaced. Another thing I did want to point out is if you're unsure which bearings you need to get, when replacing your bearings you will find that information written on the backside of the bearing. There's the number for our bearing right there. It's an L68149. This is important because the bearing sizes can potentially change slightly depending on the weight of your axle. This is the 3,500-lb axle. This is the most common bearing that you're going to have here, the one that we've got. But, it is important that you do just double check to make sure, because there could potentially be multiple bearings for that particular weight on that axle.You also want to make sure that you clean up and inspect your outer bearing as well. We only checked the inner here. We know it needs to be replaced, so we're going to replace our outer with it as well. But, you do want to check those. You can find the numbers on the backside of your outer bearings as well, just like with our inner one.The other thing that you want to check is your grease seal. You also want to check that for the diameter of where it rides on the surface. We can head back over here to our spindle and check it out to make sure we don't have any damage here as well before we go to put a new hub, and bearings and races and everything in. We're going to clean up the grease here just so we can get a good inspection on it. We're looking to see if it looks like our bearing had spun on the spindle, because ideally the bearing for the most part should just sit here in. The cage is what rotates around and that race that the bearings ride on shouldn't move.The surfaces here all look pretty good. There is some minor surface rust that's been on there, but for the most part, everything looks pretty good here. We don't really have any deep pits or anything that we need to worry about. Now that we got it cleaned up, we can inspect our spindle here for any damage. It looks like everything here is okay. We're looking at the surfaces where the races for the bearings would ride, and everything here looks okay. We also want to check the surface here at the back. This is where our grease seal rides, make sure everything's smooth there. Otherwise, if you have some scoring or scratches or corrosion on here, it could cause the grease to come out through the back here because the lip's going to get damaged as it rides on this surface.Everything looks good here. The other thing you would want to check would be the diameter of this, just to hit a micrometer on here real fast just to verify its size to make sure that you do order the correct sized reseal. But when you're working with these 3,500-lb axles using these hubs, the grease seal that you would want to use would be part number 58846.Now we can start putting our new assembly together. We've got everything cleaned up there. We've got our new hubs here. We're going to start by taking our bearings and we're going to pack those and then install them into the hub. We're going to start with the larger bearing, which is our inner bearing. Remember we matched up that number, so make sure you do have the correct one. We're going to drop it down into our bearing packer here. If you need a bearing packer, you can get one here at etrailer. You could also do it by hand by just taking grease on your palm and just smashing it in. But, you need to make sure you get grease packed all the way up in between each of these rollers. It's important that it's between those rollers so that way when they ride on this inner race here, they have plenty of lubrication to prevent metal on metal, which causes premature wear. Again, once wear occurs in bearings, it starts to just spiral a lot of control because those particles and debris cause wear in other locations.To use the bearing packer, just drop your bearing down in there. You'll want to put the V with the smaller point facing down, the larger side facing up, and then just put the top on the packer on there and then just push down. Then, when you're pushing down, I like to just kind of work it around with my palm like this a little bit, just kind of helps seem to get the grease to move in between the bearings a little bit easier. You just want to work it like this until you get grease all the way through those rollers to where it's coming out the back side. Let's just take a look here. This is what you want to see down here. You can see that we've got grease coming up in between each of those rollers all the way around. I'm going to go just a little bit more just to make sure that it's completely coated all the way around, then we can take our bearing out of there. It's all greased.I like to take my flat bladed screwdriver to help minimize mess, get my bearing out of there. You can drop it down in there. We can then take our grease seal here. We can set it on the back side. You do want to make sure you get the lip facing away from the back side, the inside here that goes towards the bearings going to have almost like a cup. If you look at the backside of your seal here, there's a spring that's actually wrapped around that. I want that to be in like that. Then we're just going to drive it in. You can use a seal driver for it.We have seal driver kits available here at etrailer, but a pretty tried and true trick with these is to just use a block of wood and drive it in until it's flush. So we're just going to set it across our seal. We want to try to make sure we drive it in evenly. We're just going back and forth, trying to drive it in as even as possible. Now that we've got that drove in, I usually take my thumb around the back here just to make sure it's flush all the way around. Which it is, so we're good to go there. We can now pre-pack our outer bearing, that's the smaller one here. The number on our outer race we're using today is L44649. This is just like the other one. We're just going to work it around in there until we get it fully packed. Sometimes these little ones do take a little bit longer, because it seems like they're just a little bit tighter to get that grease to come through.We're getting ready to lift our hub on there. I do like to take some of the extra grease and I like to just put it down inside the hub here just to help fill up some of the cavities. If you have E-Z Lube axles, you can easily squirt grease into a grease fitting here to help fill up those cavities. But if you don't have E-Z Lubes I do recommend you put some, just fill up any openings here inside your hub because between the races that are in there, there's just a small little cavity in there. It's good to have grease filled up in there, because as your hubs spin around and some of that grease wants to spit out from the bearing, if it's got some place to go, it could potentially create dry spots in certain places. So, if we fill up these cavities with grease, if it wants to get out of the bearing, it's going to run into more grease, which is just going to keep all those bearings fully greased.Now we've got that full up inside there, we're just going to take our hub, carefully slide it over our spindle because we don't want to nick that grease seal. The hub does just have a little pop right there at the end as the grease seal goes over its mating surface. We can then take our outer bearing. We're going to slide that in after, and then that washer that we had pulled off before, I want to make sure we follow it up with that. Then finally, with our nut. Now we're going to go ahead and take our channel locks once again and tighten our nut back down on there.Now, if you remember when you took it off, it was pretty loose. That's how we want it to be when we're done. But, what I like to do to ensure that we've got everything fully seated in there is I like to take the nut, and while spinning the hub just a little bit, I'll tighten it down until it gets nice and snug. That's pretty snug there. You can feel as you tighten it like this, your hub gets kind of tight. You can't leave it like that. We're just ensuring that we've got it all the way on there and it's fully seated.Now we want to take our nut, back it back off until it's loose again. There we go, that's nice and loose there. Super easy to move. You're essentially then just going to turn it until it just about touches right there. That should be a pretty good spot to ensure that your bearing has the right amount of play in it because you really don't want to have any play, but a very small amount is okay. But, having your bearings too tight can cause them to prematurely wear and then burn up. Want to find that right balance to where we're at the point of no play and ever so slightly, just a little bit of play.We're going to just take our Cotter pin now and reinsert it. It's pretty common that you either have to slightly loosen or tighten your nut here just ever so slightly to get the Cotter pin to fix. This is kind of where you make that decision of, Do I need to go slightly looser or slightly tighter If you check for your play and you've got a lot of play, maybe you want to go slightly tighter. If you feel like you're really having to tighten it to get to that next spot, then you likely want to go to the looser side. I did go slightly tighter because it was only just a little tiny bit, and the nut's really not that tight right now. That's kind of where you want to be. Our pin did slide through, and then once we've got it slid through, we're going to bend over the edges on the other side just like our previous Cotter pin was.Now we've got it fully installed here, all that's left is to put the cap back on. We are replacing it with a new cap. You can use your old one. It's just a cap, so you don't have to replace it. But, we went ahead just to make it all nice and pretty since the customer recently purchased new wheels, want all the nice chrome to match. With these caps, they can be a little bit of a pain to get on because they are going to be tight. If you're reusing your original caps, those ones typically go on a lot easier than a new cap. New ones just tend to be fairly tight like this. You'll just want to get one side started just a little bit, and then you can hold it with your hand on the other side while you get it started. Once you get it started just like that, then you'll just kind of slowly work your way around just in a circle, tapping it around until it's fully seated all the way in the hub.Now we can just re-install our wheels. Line them back up, and then we can reuse our old lug nuts if we wanted to. Again, we're going to replace them. You can get new lug nuts here at etrailer if you need a set. This way he's going to have a nice, pretty new hub, nuts, as well as his wheel here. Then we'll just tighten them back down. This is a good point to check to make sure everything seems okay, check for play. It looks like we've got just a tiny amount of play, not enough that you can see any play in it, but I can just barely feel that there's a little tiny bit of play. That's exactly where you want to be, because if you have it too tight, you'll have no play and it'll feel sometimes a little bit tight. But when you get the wheel on here, it's hard to tell how tight it feels. Just feels very smooth. That's what you're looking for.Again, it's got that just a very slight amount of play, which is exactly what you're looking for to ensure you got that nut right. If you've got a lot of play here, you'll likely need to turn it another notch and then reinsert your Cotter pin, if you've got a lot. If you have no play and it feels a little tight, you likely have it too tight. You'll need to back it off and then just try again. What's cool about this is you can pop this cap off here and make this adjustment right here with the wheel on it if you need to, if you're just adjusting that play out.Now, we'll get this side down. We'll repeat the same procedures over on the other side to get that side on. Then, we'll just torque our wheels to the trailer specifications. One of the things you can do to help assist you when torquing your wheels is putting a block of wood behind the tire. As you can see here, as I go to torque it, it's wanting to make the trailer roll. Just sticking a block of wood back there ensures it can't roll away as we're doing this. Now we've got our hubs back on and our wheels fully torqued, we're ready to load up our boat again and hit the dock.That completes our look at Dexter's Replacement Galvanized Hub for 3,500-lb Axles..