Little Things That Lead To Big Problems

Replacing a broken zerk fitting.

It may seem insignificant at the moment, but some of the littlest things can lead to big and expensive problems if not discovered and dealt with immediately.

A while back, our coach was due for its annual servicing…oil and filter changes. During the process the servicing shop discovered that while lubricating the dozen or so lube points under the coach, we had a broken Zerk fitting on the drive shaft – totally broken off and missing.

Different sizes and types of Zerk fittings.

What is a Zerk fitting? It is a metal fitting used in mechanical systems to facilitate the addition of lubricants such as grease into a bearing using as a grease gun. The grease gun is attached to the nipple end of the fitting and the grease is injected into the bearing or device containing a bearing.

A DIY Repair

I made the choice to do the repair myself as a means to save some money…since I have the mechanical skills and ability. Not to mention a simple repair can still be a pricey one when you are paying shop labor rates that often exceed $100/hr.

The first task was to crawl under the coach and remove the threaded end of the Zerk fitting that was still in the universal joint on the driveshaft. This presented a couple of challenges…one getting the driveshaft orientated so that the broken Zerk fitting was visible and accessible. The second was getting under the coach and situated so one could reach the driveshaft to do the task at hand.

The base of the broken off Zerk fitting on the end of the extractor after removing it from the universal joint.

The Right Tools for the Job

Three tools were necessary, a small hammer, a screw extractor and a wrench to turn the extractor. Using a square extractor I simply tapped it into the hole in the center of the base of the broken Zerk fitting. Using the wrench to turn the extractor while gently tapping on the extractor to keep it firmly inside the Zerk, I turned and tapped until the Zerk’s threaded base unscrewed from the hole.

The new Zerk fitting installed on the driveshaft universal joint.

Then it was a matter of putting a new Zerk in and tightening it in place. Once it was snug, I filled the universal joint with grease using my grease gun. The project took all of about twenty minutes start to finish. It took longer to gather up the tools and get things ready than to do the task.

Protect the Driveshaft

Why is such a little device that costs less than a dollar so important? Well, the driveshaft spins and changes angles as the suspension travels up and down. A lot of friction occurs in this joint if not properly lubricated. Once the lubrication dries up the joint will seize and cause the driveshaft to fail. A flailing driveshaft can cause serious destruction…destruction that can be costly and deadly.

 

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Gerald Voigt

Gerald's interests are wide and varied. His work career started in the United States Air Force and since then has worked in logistics management, retail & service management as well as manufacturing. He's an author, photographer, pilot, radio show host and marketing consultant who enjoys RVing which allows him greater freedom to explore, meet new acquaintances and serve his clients.