Skate Maintenance

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Skate Maintenance

Post by ZILLAH » Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:13 pm

Skate Maintenance

Information cobbled together by Switchblade Scarlet for ARRG, but full credit for information, pictures and details all courtesy of Sin City Skates and
Skate bearings generally last a long time and require little maintenance. If you ride them in the rain or through some puddles then it might be a good idea afterwards to give them a strip and regrease just to stop them rusting too fast.

At Sin City Skates they “clean our bearings and wheels monthly, but how often YOU need clean yours depends on how dirty you get them. We skate outside on one of our tracks 4-6 times every week and its pretty dirty. We also replace bearings about every 4-6 months or so (I sometimes go even longer because I have a separate set just for bouts, so I don't fret too much about my practice bearings). But when we skated in a rink every practice, I only cleaned my bearings about every 6 months or so at best - and I don't think I replaced them at all for over a year.”
(The girls at ARRG have only really had to replace ours once in a year, although most of us have a different set of bearings in our outdoor wheels compared to our indoor ones.)

The Sin City Girls say that “a good indications that yours need cleaning include:
* they make noise or whine when you're skating
* you can feel resistance when you turn your wheels by hand
* a bearing is hot to the touch after you've been skating
* its been 6 months or so since the last time you cleaned 'em
If you haven't done this before (and if you have, why the hell are you reading this?), first, take a damp rag and wipe off your wheels and really look at them. Your wheels are probably showing wear at different rates. If you are like most of us, you're wheels will have balded out more on what rollergirls call your "pusher" wheels. For most of us, that is your left skate, front left wheel; and your right skate, front left wheel - with various degrees of wear on the other wheels - and usually your least worn ones in the back right of both skates - not counting wear perpendicular to the treads from dragging your skates for T-stops. Save your wheels and learn turn around toe stops! Anyway, remember the wear pattern you see. We're going to come back to it in a minute.”

“So, next take your wheels off your truck axles by removing the axle nuts with a skate tool or socket wrench. Inspect the axle nuts - they have nylon seals inside and those do wear out. If the fit is loose or you've had any indication the nuts are loosening themselves - or if you've taken them off and put them back on more than a dozen times, it might be time to replace the axle nuts.”

Taking the bearings out:

Take the nut off the axle and slide the wheel along the axle so that the innermost bearing is just on the edge of the axle. Using the same kind of motion as you would to open a bottle of beer, prise the bearing out of the wheel. Flip the wheel over and repeat. If you dent the dust covers, which is the soft little cover that is flat and has engraving on it (where it says your abec rating) - that bearing is no good. And they're very easy to dent if you're not careful. Handle them with the stainless part and don't ever press on the covers.
Once bearings are out, throw all your wheels in a bucket of soapy water and leave them while you clean your bearings.

Taking the bearings apart:

You don’t have to do this part – if you are short on time, just leave the bearings whole, but if you want a deep clean then go ahead and do this! If you skip taking them apart, just move straight on to the ‘cleaning’ section. Once you’ve got your bearings out of your wheels, you need to get inside the cartridges. If you’re lucky your bearings will only have a single shield, but most likely you’ll have to take one of the shields off so you can get to the balls and cage. With a rubber shielded bearing this is easy – just prize one shield off with a small screwdriver. Unless you are VERY careful you’re probably going to damage the shield taking it off – but that’s ok, you only really need one on each bearing. Metal-shielded bearings have a “C” clip round the outside of the race that you’ll need to take off. On some bearings it is possible to remove the balls and cage from the race entirely for individual cleaning - but unless you really have nothing better to do it's not really worth it.


Next you need to get all the old crap and grease out of your bearing races. Avoid using WD40 - the best bet is to use methylated spirit/mineral spirit or just soak the bearings in some solvent, alcohol, or citrus cleaner from a bike shop, or B&Q type places. Sin City Skates sells BSB Citrus Bearing Cleaner too. Place your bearings in a baking tin or jar and then put enough cleaner in there to cover every bearing. Let them soak awhile, agitating every couple minutes. Then, depending on how much crud is in the tin, dump the liquid carefully and do the whole process again.
Once you can spin the bearings without hearing / feeling any major resistance, take them out. Since there is no oil in them, they're not likely to spin easily, but you should be able to feel it if there is still crud in there. Lay them out to air dry on a clean, not-fuzzy cloth or paper towel. If you live somewhere humid or your bearings are really dirty in the first place, you can speed that up by blowing them out with the canned air computer nerds use to clean out electronics.


Dry them off (hair dryers are handy here) relube them with a touch of oil or grease. You don’t need much lube in there so don’t go too crazy! The thinner your lube, the faster your bearings will spin, but the more prone to destruction they will be. Oil makes your bearings mega fast, but if any crap at all gets in there your bearings will be toast. Plus oil has a nasty tendency to spin out of the bearing at speed leaving your bearings without any lubricant, which leads to overheating bearings and melting wheels.
You can buy bearings grease stuff in most skate shops or online for about 4 quid. I use bones speed cream, or any other one similar. When you're oiling them, separate the fastest-spinning bearings from the rest. You want your best bearings in your pusher wheels.

Now take your wheels out of the bucket, and scrub them with the toothbrush to get crap and stuff off them. Dry them thoroughly, and press the bearings back into them. Put the fastest bearings in the wheels that show the least amount of wear.
This is where most people dent their bearings, so be careful! Press on the middle part that spins, not on the covers. Make sure the two bearings for each wheel are pressed in all the way back, then put your best wheels on your pusher positions, rotating your baldest ones back to the spots you don't need as much. Basically, you want to put them back on opposite of how you took them off - the ones you use the most for pushing will be baldest - you want to remount your best wheels in those positions.
Screw your axle nuts back on snugly. Some people like a little play in their nuts (heh) - but not too much. Your nut should not be so snug that your wheel doesn't spin freely - nor so loose that you can rock the wheel on the axle.

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