How to Replace Bicycle Trailer Bearings

While top-end bicycle trailers like those made by Bob and Burley have replacement parts available, the commodity trailers from the local discount store, on the other hand, are almost impossible to find information on, let alone buy replacement axles or wheels for. Here's how to demystify and overhaul a common design of bicycle trailer wheel.

Steps

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    1
    Remove the hitch pin from the 1/2 inch (12.7mm) axle bolt.
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    2
    Remove the wheel from the trailer.
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    3
    Setting the retaining ring pliers to "external", remove the snap ring.
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    4
    Using a mallet or other heavy tool, tap out the axle bolt. If wheel is asymmetrical, note carefully which side the bolt head goes into. On this trailer, the bolt head goes on the flatter side of the wheel.
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    5
    Remove washers and set them aside where they won't get lost.
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    6
    Pry or push out the old bearing. See "Tips" for ideas on how to go about doing this.
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    7
    Clean any goop out of the wheel using a small screwdriver, solvents, rags, or whatever you have.
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    8
    Repeat the previous two steps on the other side, assuming there are bearing assemblies on each side of the wheel.
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    9
    Buy new bearings. This model uses US standard 1/2" (12.7mm) ID, 1-1/8" (28.5mm) OD radial bearing assemblies.
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    10
    Insert the new bearings into each side of the wheel. If you have a socket the same size as the outer diameter of the bearing, and a mallet, then position the socket onto the bearing and tap firmly with the mallet until it's seated. Otherwise use whatever you have.
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    11
    Reinsert the axle bolt into the wheel assembly.
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    12
    Replace the washers in the same order they were removed.
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    13
    Seat the snap ring. You may need to push it firmly onto the shaft using a screwdriver or other tool until it snaps into the groove.
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    Lubricate it. Adding some lubricant will save you from having to do this again soon.
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    Put the wheel assembly back into the trailer.
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    16
    Secure the axle with its hitch pin.

Tips

  • Two ways of forcing out the old bearing:
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      Drive it out from the opposite side using an old screwdriver and a mallet, hammer, or other heavy tool. The bearing ID should be slightly less than that of the wheel itself, giving you a small ledge you can catch with the edge of your tool.
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      Pry it out, tapping a small screwdriver or old wood chisel you don't care about ruining, under the edge all the way around, prying up or down until it comes out.
  • If the wheel binds, it is most likely because one or both bearings did not get seated properly. Take it apart again, if necessary, and tap around the edges of each bearing assembly to make sure it is evenly seated.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand tools; particularly, external snap (retaining) ring pliers

Sources and Citations

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