Freewheeling Axle
September 12, 2018 11:30 AM   Subscribe

I've come into possession of a trailer made from half a pickup, wondering what sort of maintenance I need to keep it in working shape.

My grandpa's 1949 Studebaker pickup was driven until it literally fell apart, and the back half was made into a trailer, which I have now acquired. The cab was taken off, the drive shaft disconnected, the frame bent and welded and a regular ball coupler added. Oh, there's an ugly 1960s Ford bumper that was added for some reason. But the rest is all Studebaker. Rear view here.

The wheels -- still the original 1949 wheels -- are mounted to the original rear axle. I can tell the differential is still in place and working, because as the trailer rolls, the half of the rear driveshaft u-joint still turns. It rolls smoothly and isn't leaking any oil/grease, so I'm not concerned about fixing anything.

I'm also not planning on taking it on any cross-country trips (especially not until I find new rims and tires), but for around town, with some freeway driving, to move furniture, hardware, etc.

What I want to know is: do I need to do anything to maintain the axle and differential? Having the original truck axle in place seems a bit more complicated than a regular trailer, where each wheel is simple hub-on-a-bearing construction and maybe needs grease once in a while. Or, if I try to change the differential oil or grease something, am I just potentially causing problems?
posted by AzraelBrown to Travel & Transportation (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should make sure that there's oil in the differential, if there is I'm sure it could use a change. If it's not leaking, it could be fine, or all the lube could have leaked out 40 years ago due to a bad seal. use whatever 80W-90 "gear" oil is cheap.

And If the bearings haven't ever been looked at since conversion I'm sure they could be greased (or even changed), but they might be difficult to get to with decades of rust holding the hub on.

The wheels themselves are probably ok, if not badly rusted.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 1:42 PM on September 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

+1 on making sure there's oil in there. The diff oil also lubricates the rear wheel bearings, so there won't be separate grease points for them. I would be worried about the axle seals given the age, so I'd check them regularly for leakage.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:09 PM on September 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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