Swift Challenger caravan brakes

Submitted: Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 13:40
ThreadID: 139357 Views:1277 Replies:12 FollowUps:18
Hello all,
I recently purchased a 2005 Swift Challenger 550 van and I would like to inspect the brake shoes. The Al-Ko information I have tells you to undo the bearing nut to remove the hubs. I am unable to find out whether they are left hand and right hand threads for each wheel., there's not enough thread showing to guess. Before I get the assistance of my 115kg power lifting son and break something can any expert point me in the right direction so to speak.
thank you
David
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Reply By: Dave B18 - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 13:48

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 13:48
If you have to ask it is a worry you are touching the wheels and brakes.
The axle thread is right hand.
The nut shouldn't be much more than hand tight.
AnswerID: 628805

Reply By: mechpete - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 14:16

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 14:16
you should not be touching brakes with your skill level
cheers mechpete
AnswerID: 628807

Follow Up By: mountainman - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 21:59

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 21:59
You could have worded that differently.
I tend to agree.
If your seeking advice from a forum on a valuable and critical component on a caravan.
Best be get a mechanic onto it than have a go yourself.
Or find a shop that will let you watch..
And give you some pointers in future for reference
Build up your confidence level.
Definitely get some pointers..

Id even go to the trouble of finding a mobile mechanic around your suburb.
Tell them on the phone your looking to do it yourself in future and want some pointers.
Get them to do a full going over
That way your getting one on one attention
And they earn their living as well.
And some of the mobile machanics dont really charge a huge rate
As they have not as high overheads as a commercial premises.
Im sure youll find someone to help you out
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Follow Up By: tim_c - Monday, Dec 02, 2019 at 13:59

Monday, Dec 02, 2019 at 13:59
I'd suggest you (and others) not be too harsh just yet... have you ever seen the set up used by Swift?

The bearing nut is supposed to be tight - Alko state 290 Nm (±10 Nm). I can't speak for everyone, but I know that's more than "hand-tight" for me (unless you mean how tight you can do it by hand using a socket on the end of a long bar?)!

It has to be tight to hold the bearing onto the axle without a split-pin (not just pre-load the bearing), and it's a single use item so every time you remove it, you have to replace it with a new one (you don't want it coming undone on the road).

As far as I'm aware, the nuts are a regular thread (anti-clockwise to remove), but why would you? The bearings are maintenance-free sealed, and you can inspect brake lining without removing the drum anyway, thanks to an inspection opening on the backing plate - it all makes the typical setup we see in Aus look very agricultural, requiring significantly more maintenance.
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Reply By: Member - shane r1 - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 17:15

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 17:15
Have a go , gotta learn somewhere!
Maybe as the others indicated leave your tow vehicle to an expert.
Cheers
AnswerID: 628809

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 17:42

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 17:42
I would say have your first go with guidance from someone with the knowledge and skills - don't just jump in the deep end and hope for the best.

Trial and error with wheels, bearings, seals and brakes can get expensive and sad when the error part happens.
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FollowupID: 903358

Reply By: Member - cruza25 - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 18:30

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 18:30
If you have just bought it I would recommend you get it serviced

If you know a mobile mechanic get him to come and do a service and you watch and ask if he will show you the basics or go to a reputable caravan service place

Maybe new bearings and seals or a re grease if they are ok
Get the brakes checked for wear and operation

Re check the bearings and brakes after 500 kms and also feel the hubs for excessive heat immediately after a drive

If you do this then you will have peace of mind that all should be good for a while.
Happy travels
AnswerID: 628811

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 19:13

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 19:13
If you are still going ahead I suggest you read through the AL-KO Electric Brake Handbook
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AnswerID: 628812

Reply By: RMD - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 19:22

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 19:22
Mac3
If has just been purchased they SHOULD be ok if correct when new. The doubt is, if the original person properly greased the bearings. Often, not enough grease is supplied. The brakes themselves won't have worn much and probably don't meet the hub removed just to check. All back plates have slots to view the lining thickness.
Most properly engineered LH thread mechanicals have a nut which has an identifier on it, ie, a special mark to alert people to the possibility of it being LH thread. If you look closely at the nut and thread you should be able to detect it has an angle of thread travelling to the right. If unaware of normal servicing procedures you
first need to learn from a competent mechanic or service person. That nut will be RH threaded, is, loosens with anticlockwise movement. The tightness or rather lack of tightness is a fine adjustment which you must be taught to get correct. It is usually just at the no bearing slack position. 115kg powerlifting son would be an unwise person to complete the task unless he has a fine, understanding and informed degree of touch with mechanical anything.
AnswerID: 628813

Reply By: eaglefree - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 22:04

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 22:04
I’ve built two caravans that others say is good build standards. If I listened to a lot of people I should never have attempted.

Your not going to learn by leaving everything to the professionals nor save money.

As been suggested, read your manual,ring Al-Ko, get a helping hand if you can but do try and do it.
Tony
AnswerID: 628815

Reply By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 at 04:08

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 at 04:08
David, if you check the web you will probably find a lot of you tube videos showing step by step information on also brakes.

Once you remove the split pin the nut will only be hand tight, when doing it replace the seals ( make sure you also see a video on that so you don't damage the seals.
AnswerID: 628818

Reply By: mac3 - Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 at 08:58

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 at 08:58
Thank you everyone. One or two replies have reminded me why I rarely post on forums. Not quite sure how almost 40 years of boat trailer and caravan servicing came out the other end of the optic fibre as I'm a newbie but there you go. There is no pin on the nuts, they are fixed with a form of loctite. I have contacted Al-Ko but yet to receive a reply, maybe I will just ring them up.
Eaglefree I am totally with you mate.
cheers
David
AnswerID: 628820

Follow Up By: RMD - Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 at 09:30

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 at 09:30
Mac3
Because engineering techniques change over time, the axle nut may be secured with Loctite or similar. however the washer between it and the bearing inner cone would have a internal peg on it and a groove in the outer most part of the axle to ensure rotation doesn't happen. If a plain washer only, then relying on a Loctite to secure and hold the bearing adjustment and also the hub and wheel on the axle, is not what I would want. If mechanically informed then it all should be obvious, otherwise a trained person should be doing the work.
I don't agree the You Tube method of mechanical learning and appreciation is valid, in no way can the correct adjustment be gained by a video. By chance only with that method. It cannot provide education of feel and bearing preload or slight slackness to allow for hot brakes and expansion etc etc etc, many don't even pack the hub with enough grease. I would imagine Alko are in the business of selling and not educating people who haven't grown with mechanical understanding. Can be learnt of course but if you get it wrong the results are graphic and far reaching.
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 at 22:46

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 at 22:46
many don't even pack the hub with enough grease.

I don't pack the hub with ANY grease. I repack the bearing with grease and that's all.
Whatever grease is in the hub can't jump into the bearing, so it serves no purpose.
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FollowupID: 903371

Follow Up By: eaglefree - Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 00:04

Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 00:04
I was advised by an old mechanic to put grease on the spindle and a little grease enough to cover the outer ball race. That extra grease also helps cooling.

But certainly those that pack the hub with grease are asking for trouble. Too much grease can cause slippage of the balls rather than rotation.
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FollowupID: 903372

Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 07:14

Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 07:14
eaglefree,

Don’t want slipping balls LOL

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Follow Up By: RMD - Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 08:22

Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 08:22
The myth of minimal grease being ok is just that. Unless there is sufficient grease the fill the hub to above cup level, when it melts with heat of use, unless there is sufficient, it cannot circulate fresh grease through the cups, cones and rollers. The idea of just greasing the running surfaces ensure short bearing life. Therefore, the grease in the hub CAN get to the bearings. What is too much grease, it will not and cannot cause slippage at all, it is in there to lubricate. What nonsense! Not totally full of course. I used to service semi trailer bearings on bitumen tankers and my packing of grease ensured the expensive bearings lasted many seasons of running. Another bloke ONLY greased the cup and cone and that resulted in the EXPENSIVE bearings being stuffed and replaced on a yearly basis. For a bit of grease the bearings costs were 1/4 of the other way, the stupid minimal way. Personally I have never had to replace bearings in my own vehicles. Because they get lubricated well.
Edit. Many larger vehicles run heavy oil, ie, thin grease in their hubs, so the notion of minimal grease as being enough is rubbish. The transport sector want reliability, NOT FAILURES!
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Follow Up By: Dave B18 - Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 22:13

Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 22:13
I think you are telling furpheys - *BIG* furpheys. Axle nuts would never be secured using thread retaining compound.
If you understood basic engineering, you would know why it was essential to have wheel bearing castle nuts secured with a split pin or an 'R' type pin as they do in Eastern Europe.
A blind person would be able to feel by the end of the thread if the nut was left or right hand. A sighted person would see in two seconds.
Alko would be wise to suggest professional help of more than one type!!!
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FollowupID: 903410

Follow Up By: eaglefree - Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 00:27

Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 00:27
RMD “what nonsense”? Well all you have to do to confirm my old mechanic might have a case with balls in bearing “slipping” rather than rolling is google it

Bearings over grease slippage

Here is one such site a few paragraph down

http://www.mototribology.com/there-is-such-a-thing-as-too-much-grease/

“Another possibility depending on just how much grease is in there is that the rollers in a bearing may not be able to roll properly and they end up sliding rather than rolling. This sliding friction causes more wear than rolling does and the ball or roller ends up wearing very unevenly and causes flattened surfaces to form and exacerbate the condition. The end result of all this is a bearing that has its life severely shortened due to excessive or abnormal wear.”

No wonder forums have so many more readers than contributors. Over reaction seems common.... but you feel better for it I suppose
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Follow Up By: ModSquad - Monday, Dec 02, 2019 at 16:01

Monday, Dec 02, 2019 at 16:01
Don't let a few keyboard jockeys turn you off posting mac. There's many a learned soul on here and many who would go out of their way to help. If you have any concerns just drop us a line.

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Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 09:32

Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 09:32
Gday
What part of the world are you in Mac?
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AnswerID: 628826

Reply By: RMD - Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 15:55

Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 15:55
Mac 3
I hope you carefully weigh up the info presented to you here.

I am worried, more alarmed really, that people give wrong advice and state things which can't or doesn't happen. Maybe they are going on their experience, beliefs or statement for an old mechanic eg. unfortunatelybut that can be flawed, but with your safety in mind some info is dangerous if implemented.

Grease on the spindle, ie, axle, only served to microscopically lube the inner race as it gradually turns on the axle and prevent rust.

In all caravan bearings systems there is no ball race, ALL are tapered roller bearings unless it is a Morris Minor hub. The bearing has inner com-ne and integral tapered rollers held in a cage. The out is a tapered cup.
Many people measure their bearing hubs after travelling and they run reasonably hot, ie grease melting hot. Therefore, if unsufficient grease is in the hub, rotation and the now liquid grease means only the smell of grease remains for actual load bearing lubrication of rotating surfaces. RESULT, not much bearing life or failure during the trip.
Insufficient grease means a large volume of hot air which, as it cools draws in moisture, especially if the hub goes swimming. ie, water in bearings. A hub mostly full of grease, some airspace of course, means the liquid grease flows through the bearings while running warm/hot, washes and cleans the bearing and cools it as well as providing essential lubrication. No such slippage of balls which aren't there, or rollers can occur. The design on a tapered roller bearing ensures rotation of roller, it relies on it happening.
If some people actually looked at a section diagram of a hub and understood temperature and it's effect on grease, ie softening and melting it during running and read some technical info relation to bearing usage, they may not state such erroneous untruths which can only serve to confuse and misguide those such as you starting out and wanting to check brakes and bearings.

AnswerID: 628831

Follow Up By: eaglefree - Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 00:37

Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 00:37
RMD that’s twice you mentioned my replies. By all means disagree with me, don’t hesitate to educate me, but don’t ridicule me for attempting to inform the OP of my knowledge however based, that isn’t a friendly way to go about things and you come across quite arrogant.

As said a few posts ago, many internet sites state not to fill hubs with grease eg

http://www.mototribology.com/there-is-such-a-thing-as-too-much-grease/

“Another possibility depending on just how much grease is in there is that the rollers in a bearing may not be able to roll properly and they end up sliding rather than rolling. This sliding friction causes more wear than rolling does and the ball or roller ends up wearing very unevenly and causes flattened surfaces to form and exacerbate the condition. The end result of all this is a bearing that has its life severely shortened due to excessive or abnormal wear.”

So according to you, all those sites suggestions are baseless not only my old mechanic friend.
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Follow Up By: RMD - Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 08:44

Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 08:44
Having had a job where we inspected, by strong magnifier, EVERY part of every bearing cup and cone and roller surfaces, I have never seen flats occur in any bearing. If poorly adjusted, That could only happen if there is end float and rollers are not being rolled and only then when the load is off those rollers, ie, at bottom of the bearing, at that time, if it really happened, means no load on the roller to cause flats. If the shaft is turning the roller, IF stopped, would be rotated again. Most shafts/hubs are constantly turning while running.
Because of centrifugal force the melted grease, as the hub gets hot and they do, results in any grease being centifugally thrown away from the surfaces of the bearing it is supposed to be there to lubricate. ONLY if there is sufficient grease, ie, to fill hub void, and be at a level between the seal lip and above ALL bearing cone edges do the bearings get proper lubrication.
I would like someone who only puts a bit of grease on the race and cup and then no more, explain how the then thrown away grease can ever return to provide a constant lube of the rolled surfaces. It doesn't and cannot happen. Result is hot running bearings and galling and blueing of the surfaces as they run hot to destruction. Some even then grab the axle and stuff that too. Want to use practically no grease, go ahead. I used to have direct examples of results both methods and in my job had the foreman grill me for using, in his opinion, too much grease. When I pointed out the cost saving in bearing replacements saved, actually 7 times longer than other method, he realized and went away. Do it once, do it properly, then there is no problems.
Many new vehicles have low grease in hubs, many have had replacements of bearings at low KM, some not reaching 25,000km, same vehicles greased sufficiently still ok at 200,000km. Lack of Grease and sufficient Grease being the only variable.
I know of mechanics who will not deliver sufficient grease to wheel hubs and I can never work out why not, if they understand the issue. When I gained my qualifications, only 9% of mechanics could pass the two day examination. Worrying it is! Many mechanics cause failures. Some are very good, minority, and some are not. I have seen people do their own bearings and not being a mechanic but have developed the necessary skills and component awareness required.
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FollowupID: 903418

Follow Up By: axle - Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 17:23

Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 17:23
RMD,

I'm not sure what your on about either with this!, When you push the hub over the stub with the rear bearing and seal in place, if you have excess grease in there it only gets pushed to the front, s o the grease can really only be at stub level top and bottom, not much is going to work its way to the bearing, UNLESS the hub is totally full, ...then poor old seal

At the front you can load it up , but it always works away from the bearing ,not into it.

I think you forget that the quality of grease used plays a more important roll than the quantity providing the bearing is packed properly to start with.

If you where here ten years ago, you might remember that this exact topic was discussed for days with quite a few mechanics and it was agreed that to much grease was not a good thing and the bearing rollers can lock up FACT! I'm not a mechanic but in fifty years have sure learnt when some one is having a short circuit....lol.

Anyway its good everyone can have a opinion

Cheers Axle.

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Follow Up By: RMD - Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 18:01

Friday, Nov 29, 2019 at 18:01
Axle
Thanks for your input. Interesting. The grease is placed so it is above the edge of the inner bearing and is in a circular manner. When the hub is placed on the axle, no grease is forced along to the outer, it remains in the well and near to the axle dia but has an airgap. I always place grease between the seal lip and the inner cone so the seal never runs dry/ hot and with burnt lip. Learnt that many years ago, no seal lube = failure of seal lip straight after installation.
Not sure what you mean top and bottom, the whole unit is tubular. I agree the grease quality is important but if it is just a smear, when it gets hot it isn't near the bearings due to centrifugal action. I do not consider the roller will lock up, the only resistance is lubricant anyway. I know it is widely thought to happen. never seen any evidence of such a thing. All people I have helped on the road ALMOST everyone with bearing failure had hardly any grease in the hub and what was there was flung away from the bearings long ago and the lack of lube at the running surfaces cause the overheat, blue and friction welding of inner race to axle. That is bad. Never seen one fail because of the presence of a decent amount of grease. I am a mechanic and have trouble what some mechanics believe, eg, certain concepts and spread those beliefs to the public.. As said, the grease gets hot and melts, many trucks run melted grease, ie, oil in their hubs, why? because oil is better than grease. They have seal and the seal is there to seal, same as a grease filled hub. No poor seal involved, it has a job to do and it performs that task. If grease caused roler failure, then why don't the greasable pressure filled hubs on boat trailers suddenly flat their rollers and fail. The roads would be littered with boat trailers if it were true. Aren't forums good?
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FollowupID: 903427

Follow Up By: eaglefree - Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 00:38

Saturday, Nov 30, 2019 at 00:38
Hi RMD

I said

“Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 at 00:04
I was advised by an old mechanic to put grease on the spindle and a little grease enough to cover the outer ball race. That extra grease also helps cooling.

But certainly those that pack the hub with grease are asking for trouble. Too much grease can cause slippage of the balls rather than rotation.”

So the first paragraph is imo good advice, not use little grease and not pressurise the hub with grease either.
The second paragraph I later supplied one web site confirming the balls can slip rather than roll, and there are many websites that state that possibility. So it isn’t nonsense as you described.
However you have supplied much information I’m grateful for.
Tony
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FollowupID: 903431

Reply By: tim_c - Monday, Dec 02, 2019 at 13:37

Monday, Dec 02, 2019 at 13:37
Being a Swift caravan, it's likely to have sealed bearings, so much of the [very critical] advice above would not be relevant to your case (some have said the nut should not be very tight, but this applies to UNSEALED bearings where the nut adjusts the bearing pre-load and then has a pin to prevent it coming off - as most Aus-built caravans have).

I had an older SWIFT caravan (early 1990s I believe) that had sealed bearings - the bearing nut was a single use thing that had to be replaced with a new one once it was removed, and it was done up quite tight - there was no locking pin, the tightness of the nut held the bearing (and hub assembly including the road wheel etc.) onto the axle, so it needs to be tight.

I got one of the bearing nuts off but then couldn't get the drum off because it was pressed onto the bearing. After that, I found an inspection hole in the backing plate which enabled me to see how much lining is left on the shoes (though there is possibly a removable plastic/rubber plug in the hole). You won't need to touch the bearing nut, but you'll probably need to remove the wheel, and almost certainly will need a mirror and a light to be able to see anything in the inspection hole.

Presumably if you need to replace brake linings you can get the hub off, but I don't have the equipment to do it.

One thing I miss about the SWIFT was the axle and brakes which were a lot less agricultural than the stuff fitted to many Aussie-built caravans... sealed for life wheel bearings, and mechanical override brakes that didn't bump or jerk like electric brakes, and they automatically disengaged when reversing - and you could check brake linings without even disturbing the bearings.
AnswerID: 628923

Follow Up By: mac3 - Tuesday, Dec 03, 2019 at 08:28

Tuesday, Dec 03, 2019 at 08:28
Tim thank you for directly addressing my question. Most helpful. I was aware of the sealed bearings and when I saw the adhesive and no pin axle and how tight they were got me wondering about the left/right thread. There is a youtube from Al-Ko describing the dismantling process but it is a bit blurry about actually removing the nut and as much as I have enjoyed the gay repartee with regards to grease/bearings I was in fact wanting to inspect the brake linings.
David
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Follow Up By: tim_c - Tuesday, Dec 03, 2019 at 10:26

Tuesday, Dec 03, 2019 at 10:26
Sorry, was a bit long-winded - just look for the inspection opening in the backing plate and you should be able to see how much lining is left on the brakes - you won't have to remove the nut or drum just to check.
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FollowupID: 903546

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