Or should I say, “solve one problem and another pops up”? Last month I wrote about installing a new turbocharger on our boat Keeper (Got Boost? LIBW June 2021).
After taking care of some other items that needed attention, like a loose propeller, we launched Keeper and I was able to see how the boat ran. I was astounded at how much better she performed. Last fall I noted a decrease in performance of the port engine during acceleration. I witnessed an increase in black smoke, longer time to plane and increased fuel consumption. The new turbocharger fixed all that. No smoke, faster acceleration and better fuel economy. I guess as you lose performance gradually you may not notice it until it rises up and hits you between the eyes!
Once Keeper was done I turned my attention to our Boston Whaler 21, Little Sister. She was in our garage sitting on her trailer patiently awaiting a complete hull waxing and check-up before heading to….someplace. We had purchased her to use upstate on Lake Ontario last year but the pandemic put a stop to that. So we took her out east to be rack stored where we dock Keeper. We managed to put about 11 hours on her last year and are looking forward to using her this year with family for tubing and other water sports. Still not sure where but I have to get her ready.
So after pulling Little Sister out of the garage so my son could wax his truck, back she went in for her beauty treatment! I did notice the left rear wheel of the dual axle trailer looked a little cocked. I figured maybe I turned at the last minute and caused it to tilt like that. I decided to jack up that side of the trailer to relieve any pressure and let it return to a straight position.
Imagine my surprise when after it was raised off the ground, the wheel and hub assembly moved as though it was barely attached to the axle. This trailer is brand new, has less than 150 miles on it and has never been dunked in the water, salt or fresh! I towed it from the marina where I purchased the boat/ trailer combo to my house, to our marina and back to my house. I was stunned, angry and in shock! At least I discovered this while it was in the garage.
I jacked up the trailer so I could support the left side in two spots. I got out my impact wrench and removed the offending wheel. Then I had to remove the disc brake caliper and then I started removing the one-piece hub/disc brake. What I found inside the hub and on the axle was disheartening, to say the least. The rollers from the inner wheel bearing were, gone. As in there were none to be found. The grease seal, all gone except for pieces of the outer ring of metal and the retainer spring. The worst part though was the inner race of that bearing. I had to get it off the spindle, and tried knocking it off with a punch and chisel. When that failed to budge it, I went and bought a bearing removal tool. The proper tool for the job I thought. I got the tool set up and started tightening it up to remove the remaining piece of the bearing. No movement at all, in fact, I was bending the puller pretty good. Get some heat I thought. So I heated it with my torch and cranked that puller tight, bending it some more! I had one more option, and that was to cut it off. So I got out my Dremel tool and put in a metal cutting wheel. I made two cuts about an inch apart trying my best to not cut into the axle. Once done with the cutting I used the hammer and chisel again and was able to break that piece out. Then I was able to knock the remaining piece off and get a good look at the spindle.
It did not look good. Where the inner bearing sat on the spindle you can see how the metal “galled”, and where the grease seal was the spindle has some grooves in it. I had some concerns about the integrity of the entire assembly and contacted the marina service department where I purchased the boat from. They in turn contacted Boston Whaler since they supplied the trailer with the boat. They said to contact the boat trailer manufacturer. They then contacted the axle supplier. The axle supplier said, “bearings and seals have a warranty for 180 days”. Now I have to say I am not naming names yet, but the marina service department and the trailer manufacturer are working to get me a new axle. Both of them said they never heard of a failure like this happening so soon with so few miles. Keep your fingers crossed. I am not looking forward to being under a four thousand pound boat jacked-up resting on stands in my garage but it’s something that has to be done. I am lucky it’s inside the garage and did not fail while I was driving down the road.
In the meantime, we are using Keeper and enjoying the water. I kept having a small leak on one of the windows. I had even put new gaskets in but that did not stop the leak completely. I had seen a lightly smoked Lexan cover made for just such a problem. They are designed so you can even leave the hatch open during rain for cabin ventilation so I decided to give them a try. Lucky for me we did have a little rain over the Memorial Day weekend so they got a good trial run. I give them two thumbs up, no leaks in the cabin!