Friday, July 26, 2013

Greasing the wheel [bearings]

As you may already know, we live on a hauled-water property.  What does this mean?  It means we have to bring our own water in.  No, it is not an area where we have to go down to the stream and bring pans of water up to the house just so we can heat it over the fireplace and use that for everyone’s bath that night.  What I am talking about is that we have a 2500 gallon water tank on our property that is pumped into our house just like city water would be.  The only difference is that we must keep that tank full ourselves.

There are two options for doing this.  1) We can pay $25 for every 1000 gallons to have it hauled in for us, or 2) we can haul it ourselves with our own water trailer.  I am not confident enough in having someone else provide this service of such a life preserving resource, nor am I confident that they won't piss in the tank if they get ticked at me.  So I handle this task myself.  It isn't difficult, I purchased an old water trailer, strapped a couple of IDC containers (totaling ~500 gallons) and a cheap water pump on the front.  From there I simply drive it about 1/4 mile down the road to the downspout provided by the water company, have my daughter, middle smurf, press the go/stop button for me while I hold the hose in the tank.  Then we bring it home and connect the discharge hose to the water pump, fire it up and wait 2 minutes for the transfer into the big tank.  Then repeat the process 3 more times. This takes between one and two hours depending on the amount of traffic at the downspout and how cool the weather is that day.

I have made many tweaks to the overall process since the beginning.  Small things like attaching the main hose to the tank and putting the quick connect end on the pump so I could simply leave the hose on the ground instead of rolling it up between every trip, putting a wooden pallet under the tanks to raise them about 6 inches to reach the hose easier, etc.

Unfortunately with all of my efficiency improvements it wasn't quite enough as I cannot get around the fact that I only have 500 gallons that I can carry and the fact that I can only fill one tank at a time (remember there are two on the trailer implying I have to pull the hose from one to insert it into the other on every fill-up trip).  What I really need is a 1000+ gallon trailer with a single water tank.  I don’t want much more than 1000 gallons because that alone would be 8000 to 9000 lbs.  That’s a heavy load for any truck, especially my lowly ’91 Ford F250.

After searching for about 2 to 3 months through Craigslist and on corner lots I never found one that was reasonably priced.  Then it an angel playing the violin after a rain cloud just passed...and it was on MY corner lot right as I was driving home.  1100 gallons for a VERY reasonable price!  I did a precursory inspection, called the number, made a run to the bank and met the guy at the trailer.  I looked over everything and found one of the four wheels was VERY wobbly.  I mean about to fall off wobbly.  It could only be bad (or non-existent) bearings.  After listening to the guy's "Yea, it was that way when we bought has been doing that for over a's a little wobbly going down the road, but it works just fine" BS speech, I talked him down some on the price and told him he had to deliver it to my driveway (which was just a few feet away).  He accepted and we were done.

After taking apart that wheel about a week later I found that while there were pieces of the bearing in there, it was reduced to a small handful of the rollers, hair thin strips of metal, and a pile of shavings that used to be something that resembled a wheel bearing.  There wasn't anything big enough for a part number in there!  The entire wheel was being held on by the inner bearing's oil seal and the nut and washer held against the outer bearing's race!  Luckily the axle itself wasn't abused too badly.  At least the situation overall was salvageable.

I was able to pull the races and inner bearings and seal out and take them to the auto parts store.  I won't mention which store I went to but it is very Irish.  Would you believe they actually had ALL of the parts I needed in stock!  Granted, I cleaned them out by buying a set for each side (heck, if I'm doing one I might as well do them both since the other can't be far behind if the first was that bad) but they did have them!

I took them home, got the one wheel put together and started the next.  When I dug into this second wheel, the bearings didn’t' look perfect, but might have been usable still (saving $50).  Unfortunately some numb-nut decided to mix greases when they did this wheel the last time!  It was pretty obvious because of the two different colors of grease present and the "boogers" that had formed into various harnesses of little rock hard granules as the two compounds reacted (apparently).  This would explain why the bearings looked pretty decent (compared to the other side) but not perfect.  This wheel WAS recently redone, but the boners that did the job goobered it up so bad there was no telling how much longer it would last.  Needless to say I made the decision to go ahead and do it anyway.

So...all you future rednecks: out the next guy.  I understand not wanting to do both wheels at the same time if you don't have the money.  Heck, I even understand using the wheel as-is when you clearly know it is thrashed.  But if you are going to take the time to do the job, AT LEAST do the job correctly enough so you don't have to do it again in the near future! Simply spending that extra half a penny on the extra grease it would have taken to make it single-type would have saved the next guy (me in this case) that extra $50 in bearings! 

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