Monday, June 6, 2011

How to Clean Skate Bearings

"A lot of people were doing some really odd things, or thought they were cleaning the bearings, but weren't. So I was hoping by showing a step-by-step, and also testing out various methods and oils we could compile what works for us. At least this way it gives people a foundation of what to do!"
—Refkhan4, DGD Ref


Note: This post is all thanks to Refkhan4. I learned myself how to do this from his post!


Here is a little write up on cleaning your bearings. I took pics and did this before last game, and it made a huge difference in my skates. It's rather easy with the right stuff, so should be able to do this easily yourself. Do remember not all bearings are the same, so what you do might be a little different. I am using Bones Redz bearings. 

A note on the process: Mineral Spirits is a solvent. So stay away open flames, and it will melt a lot of plastic cups. It's probably best to work with it outside if you can. The mineral spirits gets rid of the previous oils and dirt, while the rubbing alcohol cleans up the mineral spirits and gets rid of any dirt left. 

What you will need for this is:

Various skate wrenches
A bearing puller
A needle, knife or other small object with a point
Mineral spirits
Rubbing alcohol
An air source of some sort for drying (compressor, can of air or hairdryer can work)
Maybe even a little alcohol for yourself

The wheel bearings sit in a metal and plastic cage, which is held in the wheel by pressure and the wheel nut. In this picture the bearing is the red and metal circle behind the nut.





So remove your wheel nut however you want. I just use a simple skate tool for this.





The tool is the metal device in the top of the picture. If you don't have one, get one. It's a nice easy way to work on your skates anywhere.



The bearing puller is on the right hand side. The one in the picture is nice and easy, and under $10. It works well.

Insert the bearing puller into the center of the bearing.





Then just pull it straight out.




Aluminum rim skates make this harder, but it still works the same. Just more effort. 

This is one side of the skate. You need to remove the bearing from the other side too. So two per wheel, 8 per skate, 16 total...





Remember which way they were in the skates originally, also. Usually the shield you are going to remove faces the outside, and the cage that retains the bearings is the other side. Absolutely do not try and remove this if you don't want to chase tiny bearings around the room, and/or have to work a lot harder at getting things back together.





The white plastic side in this pic is the cage. The red side is the shield we will need to remove. 

The red side is a soft rubbery shield that we will need to pop out. A small needle or knife works well for this. Try and pry around these edges to get it to pop out. You may need to get under it a little to get it out.




Once you have them all removed, set them to the side. You can put alcohol on a cloth and give them a clean, but unless you see a bunch of gunk on them I wouldn't worry much.

Get a metal can or something else that won't melt to put the bearings in. Place the bearings in it arranged as flat as you can, and in as few layers as you can. Pour mineral spirits over them until they are just barely covered. (I am just doing several here.)




Swish this around from time to time, being careful not to swish too much as you don't want to slosh it out! Let it set for about 10 minutes, then use either a strainer (that you will never use for food again!), or paper towels over another can. Pour the bearings out onto the strainer or paper. Now fill another container with rubbing alcohol. Place all the bearings now in this solution. Again, let them sit about 10 minutes, and swish them around every so often to break stuff loose.




You can now fish them out individually, then wipe them down with a clean paper towel. You'll now want to dry these, and the best way is either with a compressor or can of air. This helps also blow anything that might be left in there out. Some people use a hair dryer, but this makes them hot and hard to handle. Make sure you don't melt anything either!

Once dry, you will want to place a drop or two of your lubricant in each bearing assembly. You are trying to get it in the track that the bearings sit in, so I like to hold them straight up and down and place it near the bottom, then spin the bearing to get it all around.



I found some stuff that works rather well, has a thin applicator for single drops, and is cheap. I picked it up at Ace hardware and it's called Turbine Oil and is marked The Original ZOOM-SPOUT Oiler. It's about $1.99 for 4 oz, which should last forever. It's for high speed bearing applications, so it's a light non-gumming oil. But, lthere are a lot of products, and I will leave that up to you. I used this oil last game and it has worked very well so far. 

Once you have oiled all the bearings, pop the rubber cover back into the bearing assembly. It just presses in, so line it up and push it back in until it snaps into place.




Once you have all the bearings done, push them back the correct way into the rims of the wheels. They should easily slide back in. If not, make sure there isn't some dirt or something else in the wheel.



Once pressed back onto place, slide them back onto the axle. Place on the wheel nut and tighten it so that there is little to no side to side play in the wheel, but that it also spins freely. What I usually do is tighten it to a point where there is no play, and then start backing the nut off until the wheel spins freely.


Thanks again to Refkhan4!

1 comment:

Kelly Von Lunen said...

I did this myself on Saturday, skated on Sunday, and was ever grateful. Clean bearings rock!

I will say that I used odorless mineral spirits, which left a little bit of grime that wouldn't go away. So next time I'll buy the old-fashioned stuff.