Yes, if you didn't hear, we had QUITE the night last thurs on our way to our first show (SCA March Crown in Woodland, CA)

100 miles into the trip, a wheel bearing seized up on the rear end of the motorhome.

Well, if you stop one tire of a drive line and the other keeps going you get pretty much ONE result:
The drive rod snapped inside the rear end housing. The end cap proceeded to spin loose and the two duelly rear left tires still bolted together on the brake drum decided to go their own way with the axle rod still attached.

As the rear of the RV then slammed to the ground in a brilliant midnight display of sparks bringing a July 4th show a little too early for northern Californians, we carved our mark down the I-5 for about 200+ feet across both lanes and onto the shoulder using what was left of the axle hub.

As I begin to try to gain control and pull off to the side, the tires and axle rod - looking like an old fashioned tether pole thrown from a class 7 tornado - proceeds to pass us. But not before slamming into the FRONT tire, whipping it around and driving the rod right through the side of the RV about a foot from my leg. (ya, that's gonna take a bit of Bondo......)

Luckily, the tires then found their way off the road into a ditch as to not be a hazard to others.

After attempting to sleep the night on a highway downgrade with a weigh station at the bottom and every trucker riding his jake as they went past, the next morning we and the local towing company had to find a way to move the combined length of a 55' Frying Dutchman and trailer to a repair shop.

One tow truck took the trailer - easy.

but, how do you move an RV whose ass is on the pavement? oh, it was fun.....

Luckily, I have a custom hitch that is so well built (reinforced with 5" I-beams all the way up the rig to the main frame), they were able to lift the entire back of the RV by the hitch bar. But, we're facing down the road and the tow truck is facing up hill against the highway traffic!

No room to turn around. So, the tow truck had to back all the way down the hill whilst I steered the RV to the weigh station where there was enough room to turn around and tow it forward.

....this is called fun.

Now we're on the grand search for a new rear end which will likely cost a very large hunk of cash - so much for making a little extra at our first show....

Hoping we can make it to Tulare next month.... if there's any money left for gas and booth fees......

Thank you all for your thoughts. Leah and I are fine, the Frying Dutchman will live to fight another day.......

(and his faithful sidekick Leah who has more loyalty than brains)


GOT THE AXLE REDONE........ IT LASTED.......... 500 MILES......................


(letter now sent to the CA Bureau of Automotive)

I'll try to keep this a brief as possible - though some details are important.....

Have a 30' RV broke down outside Weed/Mt Shasta CA on 3/20/09.

Rear axle lost an oil seal and the wheel bearing burned up and disintegrated on the freeway.

Axle housing had to be replaced and new bearings installed.

Skinner Truck Repair of Mt Shasta said the cheapest they could find a used one was $950 (just for a core axle).

Found a used one in my home town of Medford, OR for $250.

Took it to a local axle specialist - Buddy's Axle and Driveline, White City OR - who rebuilt the differential and spindle and bearings - $500.

Took it to a second shop - Sam Jennings, Medford OR - to have the new wheel bearings installed, brakes, seals - everything redone like new - almost $900.

Once the axle was finished, took it back down to Skinner's Truck to have installed and told them to be sure they put gear oil in it as the brake shop did not. They assured me they always fill them after they are installed.

3 days later, they call me and tell me the RV is done.

When I picked it up 4/23/09, I asked them repeatedly if they put new gear oil in it and they assured me (more than once) they had - paid them by check $684.

Drove the RV directly from Weed to Tulare for a trade show that weekend - about 450 miles. That Monday, I get about 30 miles up the highway and the axle disintegrates again. It didn't even make it 500 miles. There was NO sign of oil in the axle and the bearing ends were completely dry. Took pictures on the side of the highway showing clearly the axle bearings and ends were bare dry metal. BOTH tow truck drivers agreed there was no oil to be found (usually when an axle breaks, it pukes gear oil all over the highway!).

I call all 3 shops. Skinner's says they "put oil in it". Buddy's Axle says it wasn't really anything they worked on as they only did the differential gears, but would be happy to help repair it again. Sam Jennings tells me not to repair it in Fresno but they'll have it towed back to Medford to find out EXACTLY what happened and see who's at fault.

Upon getting the RV back to Medford to the mechanics of Sam Jennings: Mark, the owner of Skinner's drove up to see the axle. Buddy came into Medford to see the axle. They ALL agreed there was SOME oil in it - but not NEARLY enough as it should have had.

Buddy volunteered to rebuild the axle for free. Sam Jennings Brake agreed to make all the other needed repairs and transfer all the brake and bearing parts needed to restore it as it was.

BUT Skinner's Truck did nothing! After a week, I placed a stop-payment on the $684 check to Skinner's when it was obvious they were not going to take responsibility.

Now both the other shops have put in labor, parts, and time to repair an axle that broke down as no fault of their own at NO CHARGE. Sam Jennings had to front the tow bill of almost $2000.

Sam Jennings now refuses to release the RV until they are reimbursed the $2000 tow bill but Skinner's Truck refuses to pay. In fact, the last time one of Sam Jennings mechanics tried to call them, they told him to F***-off and hung up.

I have accrued more costs (hotel, food, etc), loss of wages, loss of work/time/business because of Skinner's error easily exceeding the $684 for their original work.

Had I had the repairs redone in FRESNO where it broke down, the bill might have EASILY exceeded $4000-5000+ which Skinner's would be liable for. Not to mention, when a rear wheel bearing separates, often the tires/axle break off onto the freeway causing a SERIOUS hazard to other motorists (this happened the FIRST time it broke - my real dually wheels PASSED me on the freeway!!)

To only require that Skinner's pay for the TOWING ONLY seems to be a perfectly reasonable demand - in fact they're getting off REAL CHEAP!!

All we are asking is they cover the towing expense, but they are stonewalling.

I do NOT want this to go to the extent of legal action. I just want my RV - being a traveling tradeshow vendor, my livelihood depends on it.

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Just a note.  Contact the BAR and file a complaint.  If you don't, BAR won't have any idea that this disreputable shop is screwing unsuspecting customers.  My husband has been in the automotive business here in Auburn, CA for more than 30 years.  I would tell anyone who came to me with that story the same thing.  Go to the BAR!!!  They are the last line of defence for the customer.  If you have internet access you can go to, there is a spot to start a formal complaint there.

Good luck and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me at Vallero's Auto Repair & Machine Shop.

Marty Vallero

(530) 823-6193

M-F 8:30-5:00

Ok, follow up....


sorry, did a copy/paste post late-night...


ending of the story:


Skinner Truck finally agreed to pay HALF the tow bill and Sam Jennings paid the other half.


This STILL really  PISSED ME OFF as Sam Jennings Brake company went above and beyond and should not have had to eat $1000 for something that was NOT their fault.  I stressed this over and over to them but they just shrugged and said it was a good enough agreement and wanted the matter resolved.


SINCE THEN - before I made my next trip - went to Harbor Freight bought two indoor/outdoor digital thermometers.  About $8 each.  These are the little thermometers that you can put inside your house with a little wire and sensor to put outside to tell you the outside temp.

I put the displays on the dash and spliced in about 15' of 22ga wire to each sensor.  Ran the wires through the dash, down the frame, and zip-tied one to each end of the axle as close to the hub/bearings as possible. 


NOW I know how hot my axle bearings are getting at ALL TIMES.....




You explaintion reminded me of what happened last year when I was in the midwest with a brand new horse trailer.  I had picked up a new trailer in Indiana at the factory and was pulling it back to the west coast to add to my transportation business.  Somewhere in Kansas I noticed a huge amount of blue smoke billowing out the back of the trailer, and felt the weight distribution change on the pull truck.  This was followed by a loud scraping noise that could be heard inside the cab of the truck, and lots of sparks from the back of the trailer.  Once I stopped and walked back to the trailer, I realized what should have been a tandem axle trailer only had one axle.  Upon further investigation it was fould that the bearings had seized on the rear axle and locked it up.  This alone should not have caused the failure, but through poor installation at the factory and the absence of proper torquing the securing bolts failed and the axle 'fell' out of the trailer.  It took two tow trucks and a flat bed to get the trailer off the highway, actually had to be picked up because any time you lifted the front to move the rear was on the ground.  Ultimately the trailer went back to the factory and was replaced with another custom built trailer.  Granted it took almost six months and another trip from southern Oregon to get my trailer.  The only thing that saved me the head aches that you have experienced with Skinner was that at the time I worked for the parent company of the horse trailer manufacturer as a production manager.  I was able to diagnois the problem before the trailer even returned to the plant.  Imagine the towing bill from Kansas to Indiana on a flat bed trailer. 

The digital thermometers were a good idea, I use them inside our horse quarters, but never though to put them on the axle, I may have to try that.  Good luck and glad to hear that you are back on the road with your motorhome and trailer.

I know what you are talking about!


Had just carried my youngest daughter to her first motorcycle race as a participant, and had the wife along as well. We had just stopped for a milkshake and got back on the interstate, about 11:30pm

The '63 Grumman likes to cruise at about 60mph unless going downhill, and that is about how fast we were going when we drove up onto an overpass. Just as the shoulders disappeared and it was 2 lanes and about 2 feet to work with, ALL 8WHEEL LUGS SNAPPED ON THE RIGHT REAR!!!

The right rear went from riding on 33in diameter tires to a 13 brake drum! We swept side to side 4 times, seeing nothing but guard rail before getting it lined up and coasting down the other side of the overpass.

A motorist stopped and said "That's the best driving I have EVER seen!" I told him I wasnt driving, just reacting to the sight of the guardrails!

Picked up tire up, ended up going back the next day to find the other that had passed us on out wild ride.

Got Ye Olde Breade Trucke home after a rather affordable tow {$350 for 65 miles}...

Damage: Other than the obvious, some bent skirt metal and 2 broken rivets.


I have since replaced all the studs, drums and brakes {while I was in there}


Verdict: either the lug nuts were too tight or too loose...


Lesson: check your lug nuts regularly

yup, them are the good times...........  LOL.....


Just a side note from someone in the automotive industry.  Never let anyone use an impact wrench on your lug nuts.  This stretches the lugs and causes so many failures that I will not even let a tire shop touch my car, motorhome or any other vehicle.  Their so called torque sticks are a joke.  Hand torque all wheels and lugs to the manufactures specs.  That is the only way to stop these kinds of failures.  Please listen out there, I don't want to see any more of these horror stories.


I know this is an old, old thread, but here's the funny thing:  I was reading this thread two nights ago, looking for any info on... jeez, I don't remember what.  But NOT looking for bearings exploding, wheels falling off, etc.  So I couldn't stop reading, thinking all the while, jesus, hope that stuff doesn't happen to me.

Flash forward to today.  Pick up my Winne from Camping World Syracuse, hit the New York State Thruway, and start trucking south.  Two hours in to the drive my dog starts whining, moves from her perch on the dog house.  Then I smell burning.  Then I heard a god-awful noise, and just swing it to the shoulder and jam on the brakes.

Turns out whoever serviced the differential forgot to tighten something, or the gasket imploded.  Smoke coming from the drive-shaft and the back cover.  Definitely not driving anywhere.  Tow-truck guy had to pull both axles out.

The bad news?  Somehow, the New York State Thruway is the only place on earth Good Sam cannot do jack-$#!+ to help you out.

The good news?  Somehow, the differential blew up 9 minutes from Camping World Kingston.  A very short tow.

Anyway, thought I'd share.  At least I had no wheels rolling past me.

LOL.... glad you guys are okay........

Thanks Robert.  Yeah, I'm glad it wasn't anything dangerous.  About 1/2 hour before this happened ellie was driving, and she was about 3 car-lengths behind a military Humvee pulling a trailer.  We didn't really see what caused it, but the guy lost control and the trailer came around.  Watching a vehicle like that do a 180 at 65 mph is pretty gnarly.  His trailer flipped, but the Humvee stayed upright and he ended up sliding backwards into the median, digging a trench with his up-side down trailer.  ellie went to the right shoulder and slowed down, but the rest of the convoy was stopping to help, so we kept on going.

Now THAT is gonna be a much more expensive repair than our differential.  Feel bad for the guy.  He'll probably be demoted to KP-duty.


It happened again. After my last incident, I replaced everything in the rear on both sides; drums, brake shoe, brake cylinders seals and or course wheel studs.

Fast forward to January of this year, I'm on my way out of town, thankfully by myself this time. A loud bang, a familiar sudden drop and swerve as I lost a pair of duallies AGAIN. This time the driver side dropped. It swerved left, where the passenger side hooked up well and pitched the Grumman on the passenger side.

Threw me forcibly onto the passenger door where I got to watch the pavement go by through the window. When it hit the grass median, it stopped suddenly, throwing me through the windshield.

Soreness all over, messed up my knee again, back took a shot. All these months later, the shoulder is still sore.

Three studs were broken off the drum, and the other studs appeared to have had the nuts pulled off of them. The Grumman may visit me in its next life as a beer can. Y'all be careful out there!

Replaced the Grumman with a camper trailer, had some sway issues and a major scare, but thinking I have that covered now!

Did I say y'all be careful out there?




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