Our Frankia motorhome is based on an AL-KO rear chassis which is bolted on to the the front of a Fiat Ducato commercial van chassis. This a very common setup for motorhomes.
Ours was built in 2006 and the ALKO rear axles need to be lubricated every 20,000km (approx 12500 miles) or annually which ever comes first. Not all ALKO axles need to be lubricated as some have sealed axles.
Ours is the type that needs regular lubrication and as its the time of year for its annual service I thought its a good idea to have it done.
So how to lubricate and grease the rear ALKO axle?
- Buy the correct type of grease. AL-KO recommend 3 types of grease:
i. Shell Retinax LX – This is no longer available and replaced by the Shell GADUS S3 V220
ii. Co. Kluber GL 1501
iii. Co. CONDA 3746 SP
The latter 2 I could not easily find but the Shell Gadus grease was easy to locate and purchase. A tube of it cost around £7.
- Obtain a grease gun. The chap that does my servicing did not have one. They are old technology he said and we just don’t use them any more on modern vehicles. So I had to buy one. They are cheap and cost around £8 on ebay.
So now I have the grease gun, fill it up with about a third of the grease and attached the correct nozzle and pump it through until it oozes from the nozzle. Some grease guns are designed to take the whole grease cartridge but I didn’t buy the right one!
- Next you need to jack up both sides of the rear axle so both wheels are off the ground. This ensures the new grease is pumped all around the inside of the axle.
- Find the grease nipples. There will be one pointing downwards at either end of the axle tube and it may be covered by a small plastic cover. Remove the covers and attach the nozzle.
- The official AL-KO guide says “5-7 pumps for each side should be sufficient, until resistance is felt. Excess greasing could break the seals and fill the torsion tube”. This was spot on with 5 pumps and the pump handle suddenly felt some resistance. You can read the official advice on the AL-KO web site here: http://www.al-ko.co.uk/pages_faqs/axles-2.html
- Repeat for the other side and it’s all done.
Whilst the van was jacked up, I had easy access to the spare wheel so took the opportunity to remove it, check and grease the parts and bolts on the wheel cage/holder.
IMPORTANT: Not regularly greasing the axle can result in the axle tube drying out and either ceasing up or the torsion bars breaking, resulting in an expensive replacement.