A new skateboard runs nice and smooth. You skate your board along streets and skateparks, enjoying yourself and having fun. Eventually, though, you get to notice the board is not so swift anymore and makes weird sounds. What has happened?
The problem resides in the bearings, the small and discreet heroes of the skateboard world. They are what makes the wheels roll around the truck’s axles. But these little guys are not everlasting because there’s dust in the street, and sooner or later, dirt gets into the bearing’s lubricant. When the dirt builds up, it will cause excessive friction, which will affect the speed and flexibility of the ride. They also are likely to produce unpleasant noise.
This post will tell you what needs to be done to inspire a new life in these small metal pieces. We’ll tell you what is required for cleaning the bearings and how to maintain them properly.
Things You’ll Need:
- An hour of your time;
- White spirit, petroleum spirit, or benzene to get rid of dirt and the remains of old lubricant;
- A cloth to wipe the outside and inside of the bearing from lubricant;
- Paper towels to dry out the bearings after they have been washed;
- A couple of containers — one for the spare parts, another for cleansing;
- A skate tool or a nut key/wrench to dismantle the wheels;
- A feather-edge knife or a needle to remove bearing shields;
There are two types of lubricants: liquid and plastic/paste. With the liquid lubricant, the wheels will start turning quickly and softly right away, but it won’t last long: getting under rain just once may wash it away completely.
Alternatively, the plastic lubricant (liton-24 and the like) will get the wheels roll tighyly and slowly at first, but a week after the lubricant will work through and wheels’ rotation will be just fine. Plastic lubricant may be sufficient for the entire season. Our recommendation is to use plastic lubricant.
Step 1. Preparing the workplace. Ideally, this should be a table spacious enough for you to lay out all your devices, so they don’t get on your way as you do the job.
Step 2. Dismantle the wheels by unscrewing the nuts with a skate tool or with a wrench.
Step 3. Remove the bearings. You can use an axle or a long screwdriver to do this.
Step 4. With a cloth, remove the dirt from the bearings outside.
Step 5. Remove the bearing shields. First, you need to figure out whether your bearings are dismountable or not. If you see no rings between the bearing shield and the outer ring or a C-shape ring installed, the bearings can be disassembled. Use a needle to remove the C-shape ring — just be careful and make sure that the ring doesn’t spring back and fly away. If there is nothing to constrain the bearing shield, use a needle or a narrow knife to get through the bearing shield and the inner ring to push the shied out on the other side.
However, if there is a solid ring on the bearing shield, it is not dismountable. But you can still do the servicing even so: carefully pick away the bearing shield with a knife from one side. You won’t be able to install it back. But that’s okay: it will be safe if you mount the bearings back with an open part placed inside the wheel.
Step 6. Washing the bearings in a solvent. Place them into a plastic container and fill it with a solvent so that a solvent or benzene completely covers the bearings. Stir the bearings properly to wash all the engrained mud away.
Step 7. Drying out. Take the bearing parts from the container and place them on a clean cloth or paper towels. Wait until the solvent fumes away and the bearings are dry.
Step 8. Lubrication. If using liquid lubricant, fill the bearing for about 50 percent and roll it to spread the lubricant.
A lesser amount is needed if you use plastic lubricant — about 10-20 percent of the bearing volume. Rotation may go tough at first. But after you install them back to the skateboard and start skating, the lubricant will heat and be getting softer;
Step 9. Assembling the skateboard. Mount the bearing shields back onto the bearings, insert them back to the wheels (make sure they are aligned), slip the wheels on the axles, and tighten them with a nut. Make sure you do not overtighten the nut: find the position when the wheel rotation goes tough, and then loosen the nut about a quarter or half the circle back for the wheel to rotate freely.
Step 10. Go skating!
The fastest bearings are those regularly maintained. So just avoid the situations when your bearings begin rumbling or, moreover — stop rolling softly and begin tormenting. To prevent this from happening, make regular checkups to see how your wheels rotate. Say, make it once a month. If a problem is detected, relubricate them.
And, certainly, avoid skateboarding in the rain and over puddles. If this happened and your board and wheel get wet, make sure you attend to your bearings and get rid of the water inside as soon as you get home.
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