Thursday night my wife and I decided El Paso on Friday to go camping somewhere in Colorado. We had some errands to run so we didn't get out of town until about 3:00.
A little background on the trailer: I purchased an M416A1 earlier this year and had it loaded up for the trip. I picked the trailer up in Houston from a collector that didn't have room for the project but it was in good shape. He told me that he had inspected and packet the bearings recently. I've now owned the trailer for 7 months and it has made the trip across Texas and have run various errands around town without any issue.
About 200 miles into our trip last night I started thinking I had a little drivetrain vibration, I couldn't hear anything but every once in a while I would hear something. Of course after hearing it I turned off the radio, listened for issues and didn't hear anything. Stopped at a rest area and checked everything out and still no obvious issues. (The drivetrain was a major concern for me as I have new front and rear axles and driveshafts within the last 1000 miles). This phantom noise continued on and off until we got to Albuquerque, now about 300 miles from home. We stopped for food and as I was driving through the parking lot heard an awful squealing noise. I got out and had my wife drive the jeep...no noise. Backed up, drove forward and still nothing. Drove a quarter mile down the road and stopped at a light and as we slowed down there was the noise again. We pulled over and tried again and finally I was able to pinpoint it to the drivers side wheel on the trailer. At this point it is about 7:30 in the evening and starting to rain.
Based on the sound I immediately suspected a bearing had failed at which point I started kicking myself. One of the few things on my list that I didn't do because we were in a hurry to leave was pull the drums and check the bearings. I looked up a part number really quick and headed to the closest Autozone hoping they would have a bearing. They had two of the inner bearings in stock and no outer bearings.
Bearing in hand and now working in the dark with my headlight on I sat in the parking lot and jumped in...bad news. The part of the brakedrum that houses the bearing race came out in pieces, some so small they were missing. Looked like I had running on just the outer bearing for a while. At this point I am scrapping the rest of the trip to Colorado and just trying to figure out how I'll get it home. I ran into Autozone and picked up some quick setting JB Weld and started to put the pieces back together. It was enough for me to set the new race in anyway.
The inner bearing was another issue on its own. The race was split and the bearing itself....it wasn't there. There was literally nothing left except the inner part of the bearing and it was half melted to the axle. Fortunately Autozone had a knockoff dremel for sale, I wasn't impressed with it but it did the job. It took an hour of cutting but I got the rest of the bearing, another 30 minutes of cleaning up the axle so that I could get the new bearing set and it was ready to re-assemble. We decided to head home last night so we could go slow and avoid the daytime traffic. 40-45 mph the whole way, we got home right around 6:00 this morning. By the time we made it home the trailer was squealing again, I just took it apart and found the JB Weld didn't hold (didn't really expect it to) but I made it home and that's all I was hoping for. Here are the pictures I just took of it, unfortunately with it raining my wife didn't want to take pictures while I was working on it so I can't show the disintegrated bearing but it was truly impressive. I work in maintenance in an industrial setting and have seen a lot but very few disappearing bearings.