Rebuilding NordicTrack ski machine drive rollers

Many people still buy and use a NordicTrack Ski Machine, although these machines are not as popular as they once were. I have talked to people who say they just plain wore out a ski machine. The part that wears is the one-way clutch inside the drive rollers.

NordicTrack makes the one-way clutch sound very mysterious. In reality it is a one-way needle bearing and is available from Amazon or locally from a good bearing shop. The internal diameter of the one-way needle bearing used in my machine (Challenger, similar to a 303) is 5/8 inch. The outer diameter is 7/8 inch. The width of the one-way needle bearing from end to end is 5/8 inch.

I originally had hopes of being able to install new one-way needle bearings, myself; but, they together with the bronze sleeve bearings on either side of the one-way needle bearing inside each drive roller are pressed into place. Pressing bearings is not a job for the average home tinkerer but requires a bearing press capable of exerting tons of pressure in a very precise manner. You can often have a local machine shop press the bearings in your machine's drive rollers. Or, you can send them away to Nordic Track Guy and have them rebuilt for about $33 with a one week turnaround. The core of the rollers really does not wear out, but new rollers are available on the Internet from $65 to $95, depending on the vendor. From what I can find, some models used an alternate size. Check to be certain you order the correct rollers, if you choose to replace.

One of my drive rollers suddenly began to hiccup. It seemed that the clutch did not always release immediately when I pulled my foot forward. Then I noticed a little mush in the response when I began to bring my foot back on the push stroke. Before you rebuild or replace your rollers, try this: Remove one side of your Ski Machine. See the second photo and check the exploded diagram in your manual. Four nuts and two screws, all plainly visible, need to be removed. Slide the washers and the roller off of the top side. The shaft and flywheel can be wiggled out of the other side without removing anything from that side. Remove the washers and the roller from that side, too. Flush the one-way needle bearing by squirting some penetrating oil, like Liquid Wrench, into the bearing. Work it both ways with your smallest finger. Push a facial tissue into the shaft hole in the roller and sop away the penetrating oil and any metallic dust it lifts. Do this several times. Let the rollers air dry. A little lubrication is good. People who comment on lubrication for one-way needle bearings use Tri-Flo (I am not familiar with it.) or they use a little ATF transmission fluid. You want enough to lubricate, but not so much that the bearings slip. (But, see the comments below where the oil impregnated bronze sleeve bearings are supposed to supply enough lubrication for the needle bearings.) Put the rollers back in place on the shaft. Check to be certain they grab on the rearward stroke and release on the forward stroke. Reassemble the machine. Do not forget the washers between the roller and the side board. My machine works again as it should. The day will likely come when this simple fix does not help, and I will need to rebuild or replace the rollers then. But, for now, my rollers have a new lease on life.

What follows is for your information. The first photo is of a portion of the back cover of the manual that came with my machine. It shows a cutaway image of the drive roller. The black printing is mine. Notice the three cylinders inside the drive roller. The outer two are bronze sleeve bearings. The center one looks like a roller bearing, but is a one-way needle bearing. A one-way needle bearing is essentially a roller bearing, but the rollers are able to move forward and backward a little in their cage. There is a wedge shape for the axle of each roller that causes the rollers to bind between the bearing cage and the shaft when the rotation is in one direction, but they are free in the other direction. Here is a description of how they work with graphics.

This link is for an Instructable about a number of modifications I made to our NordicTrack ski machine, including how it can be stored vertically in a closet. If you do not have a digital monitor for your skier, or need to replace one, here is an Instructable on how to make your own from a digital bicycle speedometer. 

Check NordicParts for any parts you need, also Nordic Fitness Ski Machines. Danny at Nordic Fitness Ski Machines has some very nice new rollers for sale.

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I have a nordic tract pro, and have not used it due to knee replacement for about 6 months. I tried to use it today and it is hurky jerky, the skis do not glide as they did before and on the backstroke they seem to "grab" or get stuck on the back rollers. I sprayed everything I could with WD-40 which probably isn't good to use, but I am a girl and that is all I know about oil. Do you think I need new rollers or should I have the roller removed and sprayed with oil and wiped with a facial tissue and let dry. Do you think this will work my machine is at least 30 years old. I have a friend that has an achiever and it is hurky jerky too.

I too have the adjustment know on the arm exerciser spinning loose when in use regardless of it being tightened. Thanks for the tip I will look at it.

Phil B (author)  Dogpaws in the Carolinas8 months ago

The hurky jerky phenomenon may go away with continued use. When things stop working after a period of non-use, usually something has gotten gummy. If it were mine, I would remove the rollers and flush them out as I described. WD-40 will work. Take a photo or two of the parts laid out as they were so you have less trouble remembering how they gö back in.

You might oil the doughnut shaped roller bearing under the drum knob. That is supposed to be done regularly, anyway. Those bearings are available if yours is worn or hopelessly stuck. You might also go to a hardware store to see about a small bottle of oil a little heavier than WD-40. Even a quart of 20 or 30 weight engine oil would be a good investment. A small pump oil can would be ideal for applying it in a controlled manner.

Phil this is an addendum to my note 13 min. ago on 8/20/2017 (pre eclipse haha) anyway I failed to mention that if I have no tension or very little such as a 1 or 2 the fly wheel does engage however it is difficult to have control at that low resistance. Just a little more information. I have inverted the skier and tried to see if I loosened anything however there is nothing to loosen. I see a gray cable running into the flywheel assemble underneath but it appears very firm and rigid in place so I don't imagine anything happened to that unless oil could have somehow leaked into it??

Phil B (author)  Dogpaws in the Carolinas3 months ago

Did you remove the drive rollers from the shaft when you worked on them? If so, did you put them back so they slip on the forward stroke, but grab on the backstroke? And, did you dry the bearings inside the rollers before putting the rollers back on the shaft? Either fluid still in the bearings or putting the rollers on backwards would cause slippage (little or no resistance).

Thanks ever so much Phil, I did what you said with the heavier oil and it did the trick now the skies are smooth as glass, thank you.
I now have another problem and I am at my wits end as to what I could have done to cause this.
The fly wheel no longer turns even with the tension strap at a high number setting. After oiling the rollers I simply placed the skiis back on the machine and expected to be ready to roll. The skiis are smooth but since the flywheel is not engaging there is no tension. I usually ski about a 3 and have taken the tension all the way up with no difference.
What is the problem? I am so anxious to return to my daily skiing since my new knee is healed and ready to go.
I hope you can help me with this again.
Thank you for your time and considerations.
I thought I might clarify the hurky jerky motion of my ski machine. The forward motion is smooth and then on the slide back it jolts to a stop on the rubber roller adjacent to the fly wheel, The only reason it doesn't stop there is that I force it backwards and on the way forward again it is smooth. Is this a situation that during the restarting of using the ski machine again will go away? I thank you for your time once again.
Phil B (author)  Dogpaws in the Carolinas8 months ago

if it were my machine, I would remove the sealed ball bearings mounted in the sideboards and spinning them slowly by hand to see if the are smooth or rough and maybe even siezed. A bearing shop can sell you replacement bearings, althouythey are not cheap. I had to replace one on a used machine and it cost me $30 for just one. You can try using the machine to see if the problem goes away. If a bearing is bad, it gets worse in time.

Thank you I will certainly look into that, of course I am going to keep using it and see if it gets worse, it actually has not gotten worse in this past week....thankfully. Thanks again for your time and answer!

Gosh Phil B, Thanks so much!
I will definitely do what you say because removing screws and stuff makes me nervous but taking a picture is exactly the answer Brilliant thanks so very much. I cannot wait to be on my ski machine. I am so thankful to have found your site and know that there is help. I will get some heavier weight oil as well. Awesome! Will keep ya posted hopefully with good results and not more questions :)
Phil B (author)  Dogpaws in the Carolinas8 months ago

Dropping a few pounds never seems to be as easy in practice as described in theory. Years ago I could ride 100 miles a week and lose 2 pounds a week. In more recent years that amount of riding might cause me to lose 2 pounds in a month, if I was careful about what I ate.

In the second last paragraph above I linked an Instructable about converting a bicycle speedometer to function as a monitor for a ski machine. Included in that Instructable is some information about exercise values for a ski machine. Some it is based on studies at the University of Cologne, although a ski machine was not mentioned in those studies. An article in a German fitness magazine talked about exercise for weight loss. People spent sixteen weeks building fitness so they could do cardiovascular exercise for 45 minutes three or so times a week at about 75% of their theoretical maximum heart rate. The first 30 minutes are needed to use sugar stored in the body so fat is burned in the last 15 minutes. A session of about 90 to 120 minutes was done on the weekend in one session. Proper eating was also emphasized. Adequate rest is also very important. Too many push too hard. The subjects in the article rode bicycles and showed some significant weight loss. A ski machine would also be effective.

Phil B (author)  Phil B8 months ago

To clarify, I lost 2 pounds a week riding 100 miles a week on a bicycle. And, the studies at the University of Cologne were the basis for the article in the German fitness magazine. The studies were commissioned by Selle Royale, a maker of bicycle saddles.

also I was going to ask what is the best type wax to wax the ski boards? I have not ever waxed the "ski's" before. thanks
Phil B (author)  Dogpaws in the Carolinas8 months ago

I can only guess. I expect anything you would use on furniture, if you are talking about the finish. The outside edge of the skis is supposed to be ru bed with a block of parafin to lubricate against the nylon rubbing pads on the inside of the sideboards.

bokononisti98 months ago

Do you know how to stop the adjustment knob on the arm exerciser from spinning loose? I'll tighten it to the desired resistance, but once I start using the arm exerciser, the adjustment knob will back itself out, which drops resistance on the arm exerciser to zero.

Phil B (author)  bokononisti98 months ago

My experience is limited, but I have never seen what you describe. There are some things to check. The leather pad under the drum should be parallel to the front arm on the NordicTrack and the two holes in the pad should be on the raised locking circles, not any other alignment. On top of the drum should be a roller bearing in the shape of a doughnut and the rollers in it should move freely. A flat washer is on top of the roller bearing. Then comes the tension spring and the knob. I am thinking something is out of place or missing. Also, put a few drops of 3-in-1 oil on top of the leather pad and lubricants the roller bearing about once per month.

bokononisti99 months ago

I'm experiencing a problem with my NordicTrack Pro (mid-90's version, not the later Pro Classic) where the ski will 'slip' on the right drive roller on the drive (rearward) stroke maybe 12" or so before the ski "grabs" the roller and spins it. This doesn't happen every stroke, but every several strokes. Left drive roller does not exhibit this slipping. The underside of the skis have recently been cleaned with mineral spirits.

This doesn't sound like a problem with the one-way bearing, does it?

Maybe the roller's surface needs cleaning (it does look fairly dirty). Any tips on cleaning the drive roller so that it grips the underside of the ski better?

Phil B (author)  bokononisti99 months ago
If you body weight is pressing down on the ski it is difficult to imagine the ski would slip on the rubber surface of the roller. My first suspicion would be the one-way bearing. 12" of slippage seems like quit a lot. I would take the time to remove the drive roller and flush it out with something like Liquid Wrench or WD-40, dry it, and lubricate with a drop or two of ATF fluid. You could remove that ski and work the drive roller to see if it is generally free one direction, but locks in the reverse direction while keeping in mind the roller may behave a little differently under a load.

It's probably less than 12" - it's a little unnerving when the ski slips while you're applying pressure to drive the ski rearward, so I may be overestimating!

So is what I'm describing the classic slipping issue? Somehow I was thinking a worn bearing would result in slippage when the ski was moving forward.

Phil B (author)  bokononisti99 months ago

When the one-way bearings ar not working properly, the ski does not grab on the rearward push with the feet. It is enough to make your body lurch and you can easily lose your balance. I would take both rollers off of the shaft and clean the bearings. Only a little very fine metallic dust is needed to interfere with their intended action. You know you are accomplishing something helpful when sopping the Liqud Wrench or WD-40 with a tissue produces a gray stain on the tissue.

casenmolly9 months ago

Hi Phil

Thanks for taking the time sharing your knowledge and experience. I've learned much from your response to reader comments. I have an Achiever with some side-to-side "play" in the axle/flywheel/driveroller assembly. As a result the right driveroller will frequently drag or rub on the right wooden frame such that while it will "drive" on the power stroke, it will hang-up on the glide stroke.

I've replaced the drive rollers and bearings, and determined the space between the wooden frames, inboard and outboard to be the same, so the problem is the lateral play in the axle. Any advice? And thank you again for your time.

Terry Feenstra

Phil B (author)  casenmolly9 months ago

When you mentioned replacing rollers and bearings, are those the the bearings inside the drive rollers or the ball bearings on the flywheel shaft resting inside the recesses in the sideboards? (I had to replace one of those ball bearings because it had seized with rust internally and the shaft was turning on the inner race without the inner race turning with the shaft.) There are washers on the flywheel shaft that keep the shaft from moving laterally, unless someone had one of the sideboards off (as would be necessary to replace a drive roller) and forgot to reinstall the washers between the drive roller and the bearing in the sideboard. Otherwise tolerances are fairly close and it would be difficult for the axle to move lateerally. I believe the axle shaft is 5/8" in diameter. If I remember correctly, there is a thin plastic washer, two the steel washers, and another thin plastic washer. These are on the shaft between the drive roller and the bearing in the sideboard.
casenmolly Phil B9 months ago

Thanks very much for your reply. I replaced the bearings which nest inside the sideboards.

After I read your response, I thought through my previous maintenance over the last 25 years and remembered the collar clamp. Tipped the machine on its side (collar clamp up), loosened the clamp, used a credit card as a spacer between the roller and metal washer, tightened the clamp.

As they say, it was all "Bob's your uncle" after that. Smooth as snow with no hang ups.

I really appreciate your knowledge and experience. Best regards.

Terry Feenstra
Phil B (author)  casenmolly9 months ago


I am happy you found a fix and all is good now. I learned about "Bob's your uncle" reading a little paragraph on the menu of a restaurant by that name. I also never would have suspected the collar was loose or out of place. Thank you for the report.


ThomasG1461 year ago

Hi Phil

I have a Pro Plus that I bought in 1998. I immediately had problems with a ski slipping. NordicTrack sent me the whole assembly to install including flywheel and drag strap. So I just had to remove the old unit an connect the new one. I still have the old assembly which is essentially new, and am wondering if it could be a minor fix and does not require rebuilding.

Phil B (author)  ThomasG1461 year ago
I have familiarity with only a 1991 Challenger and the Pro from 1994. Thank you for the photo. Your unit has similar parts, but is an aggregate assembly. Is there a way to remove the shaft so the rollers can be separated from it and from the rest of the assembly? I and others here have had success using Liquid Wrench or even WD-40 to float metallic dust or old grease from the one way needle bearings inside the rollers and then drying the one way bearings before reassembly. You can apply a tiny amount of Tri-Flo or ATF transmission fluid afterward.

Thank you for the quick response. I'll try your suggestions and see if they work. It's too bad these machines aren't used by more people. I don't think there is any better exerciser out there.

Phil B (author)  ThomasG1461 year ago

They are very good exercise machines. I wish I could be more consistent in my use of it and could build more stamina. There are always so many things that interrupt my exercise program.

KarlaO81 year ago

I bought a brand new Skier from Nordic a month ago. It is defective. The fly wheel is stuck. I called several times. They've send me out the parts that they think would fix it. I was to get a technician to fix it. I never heard from anyone. I called the company stating that I just wanted to send it back. They told me that they would credit my credit card for the whole amount of the machine and I could keep the skier. I just took it apart still to find that my rollers will only move one way or another. They did not send me new rollers. To me this sounds like a roller problem. What do you think Phil? Frustrated.

Phil B (author)  KarlaO81 year ago
Your flywheel and shaft will not turn. Do your rollers spin freely by hand in one direction, but lock on the shaft in the other direction?

My daughter gave me a second skier for Father's Day to use at a home where we stay several weeks during each year. Everything seemed fine until I used it for more than a few minutes. It is a used machine and one sideboard ball bearing was seized. You could pull the end of the flywheel shaft out of each wooden sideboard and see if each bearing moves freely.

Let me know what you learn about your bearings. Correct me if I have not understood correctly.
Huntsho1 year ago

I have had many nordic tracks over the years. I sell mine when moving and buy another at my new destination. My newest one is is great condition. Super clean however, the right drive roller was 'catching and had a delay upon thrusting. Not life ending by definitely annoying. Then a few days later a new behavior popped up: the drive roller stopped turning the wheel and I'd flail-almost falling- from the lack of resistance. I bought it from a deceased man's estate sale. By the appearance of his siblings, I'd bet that he was a large man. Could his size have been the culprit? It's very clean and few signs of wear. I tried tightening the allen screw but that didn't do anything. The right driver wheel is not turning the wheel. Any help appreciated. What to do? Thank you.

Phil B (author)  Huntsho1 year ago

What you describe is typical of a one-way needle bearing that is stuck. I had success on my rollers by doing what I described in the post, namely, flushing the bearings with Liquid Wrench and working the bearing back and forth with my little finger. Then I blotted the bearing with tissue paper. I noticed a gray coloration, indicating the presence of fine metallic dust. Once fluid I blotted from the bearing was no longer gray, I let the bearings air dry and assembled the skier. It worked like new, and has continued to do so over the last six years.

If you do not feel comfortable flushing your bearings and blotting them, you could order new rollers, or you could contact someone who repairs skiers.

If you do take your rollers out to flush them, you might take a photo of the order in which the various washers go on the shaft so hungry can get them back the way they were.

I doubt a heavy user would cause the problem you are having,

Huntsho Phil B1 year ago
I just got to this project. All set! So far, so good. You were right on the money. Thank you so much! Annie
Phil B (author)  Huntsho1 year ago


Thank you for your response. One person flushed his bearings, but they were not quite dry when he installed them again. His rollers sometimes slipped for a day or two until the remainder of the Liquid Wrench still in the bearings had evaporated.

Your rollers should work well for quite a long time. If they cause problems later, you can always try flushing again. But, nothing lasts forever. One-way bearings in the rollers will eventually wear out and need replacement. I mentioned I flushed mine six years ago. I did not always use my skier for very many minutes, nor did I use it continuously. I am using it more consistently for longer durations now. It still works just like it should.

Huntsho Phil B1 year ago

Hi Phil,

Thank you for your response. I have read a few of your other responses and you seem like you know what you are talking about. I'm stuck on the word 'stuck. (see what I did there!) it's not stuck but moving too freely and not showing any resistance. I took the ski off and the driver (I got that from another posting so I hope that it's accurate) wheel just spins and doesn't turn the big wheel in the center. That being the case do you still recommend that I flush according to your instructions on the other posting? This NT has very few miles on it (the varnish is immaculate and the handles still have that brand new shine) for that I am certain. I'll do it, if you'll clarify, but I'm nervous about it. Thank you.

Ok, I get it. I'll try it...after I read your instructions in detail in the morning. You're a great help.

Thank you,

Annie (My name is already taken on the site.)

Phil B (author)  Huntsho1 year ago

Annie, I always keep some Liquid Wrench in my workshop for loosening a nut rusted on a bolt. (I have had the same small can for about 40 years.) Anything that is very thin in consistency and floats metallic dust out of the bearings without leaving an oily residue and dries in the air will work. I have not tried WD-40 and do not remember if anyone else here had. I recently went looking for Liquid Wrench in our local hardware store, but did not find it. An auto parts store may be a place to look. (Liquid Wrench now makes other products to do a different job, too, so, those are not the same.) WD-40 was originally made to disperse water from electronics. It is really not designed to be a lubricant, although people use it that way. Liquid Wrench worked well for me.

Phil B (author)  Huntsho1 year ago

The needles in the bearings in the skier rollers are each on a ramp. When the skis drive the rollers in one direction, the needles move down the ramp and grab the shaft that drives the flywheel. When the skis are dragged in the other direction, the rollers move up their ramps and the roller spins free on the shaft. I am sure the needles in your bearing are stuck in the no-grab position so that the roller moves freely in both directions. If you are interested, I included a link to a description of how one-way needle bearings work. They are used in various applications, including a starter shaft on RC race cars. An electric motor is pressed to the shaft on the car engine. The one-way bearing locks and the shaft turns to crank the engine. When the engine fires it begins to turn faster than the starter motor. The one-way bearing slips and the starter motor is disengaged. In the case of a skier, the bearings grab on the push stroke and are free on the pull forward stroke.

WalterWSK1 year ago

I read this thread with great interest. I have an old Achiever model that has been in the basement for years. I cleaned it up and with one exception it seems to work OK. The idler rollers roll free, and the drive rollers seem not to slip. However, the left drive roller makes a little squeak after the back stroke ends and the forward stroke begins. I had been told that putting a small bit of wheel bearing grease on the bronze bushings might help, but I'm not sure of where to put the grease and how much. It seems that if I put a bit of grease even on one spot inside the bronze sleeves that when I put the roller back on the axle it will smear the grease into the needle bearing in the center. Any thoughts?

Thank you, Phil, for the reply. Before doing any lubricating I decided to switch the right and left drive rollers with their 4 washers to the other sides. Although my secret hope to have the squeak disappear was disappointed, I did manage to have the squeak move to the right side, along with what had been the left roller. So I guess that the squeak is caused by that roller, and not the axle or axle bearings.

Tomorrow I'll try the lube. I was told by the guy at NordicParts to use a minimal amount of bearing grease inside the bushing in the drive roller, so I'll try what he recommended. If it doesn't work I'll then try flushing the needle bearing and using the ATF or Tri-flo.

Phil B (author)  WalterWSK1 year ago

Moving the rollers to opposite sides was a good way to identify the source of the squeak. I wish I had thought of it. It sounds like you are on your way to resolving the problem. Thank y for the report.

Today I put some ugly brown wheel bearing grease, very lightly, into the bronze bushings. So far, the squeak is gone and the grease seems not to have migrated to the needle bearings. Hope it stays that way!

Phil B (author)  WalterWSK1 year ago

Congratulations on your progress with the squeak. Engineers have brought us many technological marvels. All of the principles involved in making those possible were discovered by trial and error. If it works as hoped, all is good.

Phil B (author)  WalterWSK1 year ago

Dear Walter,

Welcome to Instructables.

If you have ever worked on your own car, you know it is not always easy to know for certain exactly where a sound originates. Your analysis my be entirely correct. The manual for my machine also recommends regularly rubbing paraffin on the inside of the wooden frame where the nylon rub pads wear against the skis. But, I do not think a lack of ubrication there would cause the noise you describe.

Although some commentators objected to my suggestion of flushing fine metallic dust from the one-way needle bearings inside the drive rollers, I did that quite some time back and have gotten quite a bit of use from the skier since. I have had no problems.

As concerns lubrication, many lubricants will cause the one-way roller bearings to slip. Some have mentioned a special lubricant made for NordicTrack. I know nothing about it. But, some posts elsewhere on the Internet recommend Tri-Flo lubricant for One-way needle bearings. Someone else recommended ATF transmission fluid for them. I put a little ATF transmission fluid on the end of my little finger and rubbed it on the roller bearings between the bronze bearings. My skier works exactly as it should. Someone else below mentioned the bronze bearings are alleged to be oil impregnated so that the bronze bearings are self-lubricating.

I would be hesitant to use white grease lest some of it would migrate to the one-way needle bearings and cause them to slip. If they did, you could always flush the needle bearings with Liquid Wrench and let them air dry thoroughly to get you back where you were.

I hope this helps. The situation is not like those old movies about the guy disarming the bomb and he is torn between cutting the red wire or the blue wire, knowing the wrong one will cause the bomb to explode. If your rollers slip after using Tri-Flo or ATF transmission fluid, you can flush them and try again.

B291 year ago


Thank you for the informative instructions on the rollers and bearings. Our model Achiever was purchased new in 1989. What I have found very helpful for lubrication (after flushing the bushings, bearings and cleaning the shafts) is a product used for garage doors rollers and hinges called: Blaster Garage Door Lubricant. It works quite well and can easily be found for purchase. On the rubber rollers I use an automotive detailing product called: Ultima Tire & Trim Guard+ (this product is a bit pricey as it is a polymer coating, but you can use it on your vehicles with excellent results).

Phil B (author)  B291 year ago
Thank you. We all benefit from each other's experiences.


I just want to thank you for your advice. I am the original owner of a 1970s-era wooden NordicTrack Pro whose right-hand drive roller just started slipping. These drive rollers are a replacement that I bought in November 2008 from nordicparts to replace the original NordicTrack drive rollers when they started slipping in 2008. Instead of buying new drive rollers or rebuilding mine, I did your clean-out technique. I soaked the internal bearing with WD-40, let it sit, then cleaned out with tissue or paper towel. I did this several times, using a toothbrush during one cleaning. I had no metal powder but I did have a red-brown color that came out on the paper towels. Reassembled the skier and it seems to be working fine again! Thanks.

Phil B (author)  Ron Levenberg1 year ago
Thank you for the report. I am glad your rollers are working again. What you describe sounds like a dried lubricant or maybe rust, if the rollers were "new old stock." A year is a short time before difficulties arise. Welcome to Instructables.

Well, I thought my NordicTrack Pro was a 1970s-era machine, but my wife corrects me: it was the 1980s. So my original drive rollers lasted until November 2008, and the nordicparts replacement, which was new parts, lasted a little over 7 years. I guess those original rollers were really high quality! I wonder what the expected life of these drive rollers is.

Well, 6 days ago the drive roller clean-out with WD-40 seemed to work on my NordicTrack Pro. I skiied for 35 minutes without any slipping. I then was away for a few days and when I returned, the drive roller was slipping again. <sigh> So I wound up ordering new drive rollers from nordicparts on eBay for $65. I was tempted to buy another machine on craigslist for $40 but figured I might be buying a problem (although for $40, it wasn't much risk). I just missed buying one from a nearby craigslist seller for $30.

Phil B (author)  Ron Levenberg1 year ago

I am sorry to hear you needed new rollers. There comes a time when everything wears out. It sounds like you use your skier a lot. If I were to buy a used skier from a private party, I would expect I might need to replace the rollers. Buying new rollers for your present machine is probably the best course.

Can you offer any suggestion for this problem? I have a NordicTrack Pro skier, bought used in 2008, and just started having a problem with one drive roller. It is not the roller itself slipping, but rather the rubber sleeve (which contacts the ski) which slips, not rotationally, but axially, moving to one side of the roller during use, causing the sleeve to rub against the wood frame. Thank you for any advice you might have!

Phil B (author)  Jared McCambridge1 year ago

if I understand you correctly, the rubber section is loose on the metal core and can move to one side or the other while the metal core stays where it belongs. What I have read over and over is that only the bearings wear out and the rest of the roller can be used in perpetuity. Obviously, you have an exception to that rule. If you can slide the rubber off of the metal core, you could try glueing it with epoxy. If it is not loose enough to slide the rubber off of the metal core, I would think you need a new roller. However, I believe they are sold only in pairs. NordicDanny has just begun selling rollers he is having made new for himself. You could ask him if he would sell you a single roller. See the link above for Nordic Fitness Ski Machines.

Thank you for your advice. The rollers on my 1994 skier are plastic rims around the metal hub, with a rubber sleeve outermost. The first photo shows the sleeve coming off the roller. The second photo shows the sleeve removed, and one spot where the sleeve and roller clearly had been aligned (a circular "patch" of rubber on each), so I made sure to replace it in that position. The third photo shows the sleeve epoxied back onto the roller. The epoxy worked well, and I'm off and skiing again; thank you!

Phil B (author)  Jared McCambridge1 year ago

Thank you for your photos. I had no idea rollers like that were made, but I am not familiar with various skiers. I am glad the epoxy worked.

Alas, my report of success was premature. I had only tested it for a few moments after repair, and was satisfied. But once I used it for exercise, after about five minutes, the problem recurred. Both the rubber sleeve and especially the roller are quite smooth (the second photo above shows their reflectivity of light), and I suspect that they don't give the epoxy much to hold on to. I think this means a call to NordicDanny for me. Thank you for your suggestions, nevertheless!

Phil B (author)  Jared McCambridge1 year ago

That is a disappointment. You will like your new rollers.

Phil B (author)  Jared McCambridge1 year ago

NordicDanny says those rollers can be replaced with the more normal type

Phil B (author)  Ron Levenberg1 year ago

I contacted NordicDanny. He wondered if one of the collars on the flywheel axle had come loose and moved to move your roller also.

Phil B (author)  Ron Levenberg1 year ago

Our Challenger was made in 1991. There is a small paper sticker under the front of the machine. I have seen the same label with a different date on another machine. That may help you confirm the date of manufacture.

So much depends on how often you use the skier and how long you go each time. I use our skier for bad weather days. Otherwise, I prefer a couple of different exercises outdoors. That means my skier has not had lots and lots of use since I cleaned our rollers with Liquid Wrench. (They are still working just fine.)

The same applies to new rollers. How long they last depends on how much you use them. My brother had a skier long before we got ours as a used machine. He claims his first set of rollers were better made than more recent rollers. I believe he said there were three one way bearings in each roller, instead of the one one way bearing and two bronze sleeves.

Found a Nordic Track Pro and the back rollers work well but one of the front rollers seems seized. Wondering what is my next step. Is there an easy way to loosen this roller? Looking forward to any help. Bye for now. Margaret in Nova Scotia.

Phil B (author)  MargaretB431 year ago
You could set the skier on its side and put some newspaper under it. Then squirt some penetrating oil on the top of the roller at the shaft. Wait and see if enough leaches into the bearing surface to loosen it. The axles on the those rollers drive out to the side with a nail or a thin punch. You will need to remove the side board first, though. A small can of Liquid Wrench will be easier to get the oil where you want it than a spray can of WD-40. I think you will get it free. Be patient and apply penetrating oil several times until it breaks loose. When you get the pin out, clean rust from the axle and add some grease before putting it back together.

Thank you very much I had the machine on it's side to see what was going on so now get some penetrating oil. Thank you for your help. The bolts holding the side boards seem a bit corroded so some penetrating oil there is probably in order. Thanks so much. The machine is a thing of beauty and hope to get it going.

Phil B (author)  MargaretB431 year ago

Thank you, for the response, Margaret. Our machine is a used Challenger from 1991. NordicDanny and I have become personally acquainted. He lives about 90 minutes away and we see each other a few times a year. He has told me a lot about different models. I am pleased with ours, but I believe yours is a much better model. I like mechanical things and I am impressed with ours. I think you will do well with yours. I have found manuals on-line. They have exploded diagrams that are sometimes very helpful. The manuals also have advice for regular lubrication and maintenance.

Off to the hardware store today. I found a manual online so it's probably thanks to Nordic Danny. I think we should give all four rollers a thorough cleaning and a greasing so that is the order of the day. We bought it on an auction site in our hometown and it belonged to a fellow who lived across the street. We didn't have far to carry it home. He had tried to sell it several times so lucky for us we got it. Thanks so much for your help I'll keep you posted on our progress.

Phil B (author)  MargaretB431 year ago

NordicTrack advises a few drops of 30 weight motor oil on each axle pin for the plastic rollers periodically. I have found the oil migrates to the floor under the skier, which makes it a problem on carpet. NordicDanny puts grease on the axle pins during assembly.

Congratulations on your machine find. NordicDanny has old machines he has acquired form all sorts of sources. He refurbishes them to like new and ships them just about everywhere, including overseas.

If you are interested, I put detachable wheels under our machine.

Thanks for your help Phil. Got the machine working and spent 5 minutes skiing today. It is working great. Hope to have many hours swoshing along.

Phil B (author)  MargaretB431 year ago

Congratulations. I hope you get much good use from it. It seems I build up to a respectable number of minutes, but something happens to take me away from the skier for a while. Then I seem to start over.

I have tried listening to a favorite radio program to pass the time while skiing. I just discovered favorite music not only passes the time, but can even energize me to forget time. Right now my preference is a Best of Mozart CD.

We have it set up so you can look out the window so that should be good. The timer doesn't work so I'll get a magnetic timer and set it on the machine. Radio or music sounds great to pass the time. Thanks.

Phil B (author)  MargaretB431 year ago

We bought our Challenger model at a 2nd hand sports equipment store. The original materials were with it, including a VHS tape. I believe the tape has some motion scenes designed to make you feel you are skiing through the countryside. Unlike the inventor of the NordicTrack skiers, we do not cross country ski, and we are merely looking for a good exercise experience, especially when the weather is unpleasant.

My wife wanted a heart rate monitor, so we found and bought a NordicTrack "computer" on eBay. It has a digital display with buttons to select what the display shows: elapsed time, simulated forward speed, heart rate, and alleged calories burned. We found and bought the ear lobe "clothespin" heart rate sensor on-line at Treadmill Doctor. The connector cable is a simple 1/8 inch male to male mono audio cable. The heart rate monitor is not completely accurate, but I appreciate the timer and check my speed in order to keep my effort more consistent.

Permit me a story about looking out of the window. Martin Buber told of a man visiting a friend in the city. The host took his guest to the window and asked what he saw. The guest said he saw many people coming and going on the street. Then the host took his guest to a large mirror and asked what the guest saw. The guest said he saw himself. Then the host asked the guest what the difference is between the window and the mirror. Both are glass. The guest said the mirror is coated with a little silver. The host said, "Is it not interesting that when a little silver is involved we suddenly can see only ourselves."

shymeeee1 year ago

I have a Nordic Sport which was purchased circa 1996.. and I loved it. Used it hard and the rollers went bad in roughly 5 yrs as stated by another poster. I contacted a supposed knowledgeable pro, paid a lot of money for 2 new rollers and other parts, but received (a supposedly new set of rollers) that were exactly like the ones I had. (they did not work). Since it took me over 6 month to complete the reburshing of the unit, when I called to complain the vendor didn't believe me was ...stern . Well they were bad! And I have every reason to believe that 1)Seller mistakenly sent me a pair of used ones 2)he really didn't/doesn't know all he claims to know about Nordic Track repair 3)Maybe he used a supplier and the supplier lacked expertise (or was cutting corners). This is just a story for others to learn from. I still have the unit and would like to get it up and running. A variety of leads would be helpful.

Phil B (author)  shymeeee1 year ago

I am sorry to hear about the problems you are having. I would suggest you send a private message to NordicDanny. He made a comment below. I know him personally. He recently made arrangements to have rollers for many models manufactured for him as brand new in whole. The price I saw is really good for new rollers. He will be good about helping you.

jecurtti3 years ago

Phil, I refurbish over a 100 NordicTrack Skiers per year and I would not recommend using Liquid Wrench, WD-40, 3 in 1 Oil, or any other type of lubricant on the center axle or center drive rollers. Those bearings use a specially formulated grease (Lube code 068) per USA Manufacture. I have replaced over 1000 bearings and the number one reason for roller slippage besides worn out from use is some sort of lubricant was put on the axle or center rollers. Your Liquid Wrench may be a temporary solution, but all that you have really done is flush away some of the grease that lubricates those bearings and those bearing will fail in short order. Even the manual specifically states " the drive rollers are internally lubricated and should NOT be oiled". One other note, NordicTrack skiers made before 1989 or so sometimes had 2 or 3 clutch rollers bearings in each roller and no bushings. All skiers that I have seen made after 1989 have had the single clutch roller bearing and 2 brass bushings on either side as you described.

To reaffirm the question on nylon and steel washers. Nylon washers ALWAYS go flush up next to either side of roller, then steel washer goes next to nylon washer.

To get the axle bearings out of sideboard. Take side board off NordicTrack, while sitting in chair place sideboard on your lap with bearing facing down and center of board between each leg. Quickly smack side board with palm of hand on center of board. Some bearings come out just by turning sideboard upside down, others require a smack as described above. Still others are rusted in place so bad they will require you to tear bearing seal, round balls and cage out piece by piece.

Hope this helps.


1 second agoReply

Do you know of someone who is available to refurbish a Nordiktrak in the Boston area? Thank you

can u help me please? just bought a used one. its my first one and the skis stick on the way back... 954-243-5966

Phil B (author)  joyce.e.stanley2 years ago
You should check to see what turns freely, and what does not. There is a woven nylon tension belt. Loosen it and see if the flywheel and shaft turn freely. There are two black plastic rollers under each ski. One is at the front and one at the back of the machine. Do they turn freely? Then put the nylon tension belt back on the flywheel so it is on the loose side. Add resistance until it is about what is comfortable for you at this point.
Do you have experience using a ski machine? After you are accustomed to one, a smooth motion is very easy. Until then, you can have quite a wild ride. Here is a video on what helped me as I learned.
If you cannot get things to turn freely, you will need some further help. A lot depends on the level of your ability with do-it-yourself projects. The machines are not complicated.
Phil B (author)  jecurtti3 years ago

Welcome to Instructables. Are you also known as NordicTrackGuy? If you replace one-way bearings inside the ski machine rollers, several people who commented below would like any contact information you care to give. Or, now that you are a member here, they can send you a private message.

Thank you for your comments. When my 1991 Challenger ski machine began to hiccup on one of the rollers I took a chance and tried flushing it with Liquid Wrench. Quite a bit of metallic dust came out on the tissue I used to blot the liquid. Somewhere I did read, perhaps in something for NordicTrack, that a small a ount of very thin oil can be used in the one-way rollers.

After my rollers were dry, I assembled the ski machine. I admit my exercise regimen has many interruptions lasting too long. But, I have gotten a fair amount of use from my machine in the two years since I cleaned my rollers and they perform flawlessly. I am certain some of those who have also flushed their one-way bearings do exercise more consistently than I do and for longer durations at each session. Perhaps they will see your comments and can report how much use their machines get each week and how well their rollers have worked or not worked since flushing them at home.

I know flushing the one-way bearings is a temporary measure. The presence of a fine metallic dust in the rollers indicates wear is taking place and one day a threshold will be crossed so that replacement is the only option for continued use of the ski machine. What I do not see is any harm that can be done from flushing the one-way bearings. What I do see is a simple way for the home user to extend the life of his machine before roller replacement becomes necessary.

Thank you for your comments.

Phil B (author)  Phil B3 years ago

Jerry, I appreciate your mention of the type 068 lubricant. I looked on the Internet to see what I could learn about it, but found nothing. So, I looked around to learn what i could about what people use to lubricate one-way needle bearings. I doubt any of the applications involved a NordicTrack ski machine. TriFlo lubricant was highly recommended. So was ATF fluid and a number of other things. I dipped my pinkie finger in a little DEX/MERC fluid I have and applied it to my rollers' bearings. They work perfectly and do not slip. Even if the DEX/MERC were to become gummy, I can always flush again with Liquid Wrench.

I thank you for the discussion about lubrication. I knew oil and one-way roller bearings do not mix well. I wondered how the bearings could function without lubrication. You prompted me to find a way to lubricate my one-way bearing clutches.

ShirahH2 years ago

Does anyone here know of someone who is available to refurbish a Nordiktrak in the Boston area? Thank you!

Anyone in North Miami that can come and fix my Pro and my Achiever? Help! George 305 933 2026

jecurtti3 years ago

nordicparts, yes I agree that there are small springs that lock against the roller inside the plastic casing. I did not know how technical anyone really wanted to get. I do disagree on replacing the center drive rollers vs. having new bearings put in them. I have used a micrometer on rollers that are brand new and rollers that have been used for several years with worn bearings and the diameter difference is just a few 100th of an inch difference. This small difference is on the solid rubber rollers vs. the "honeycomb" type of rollers which do wear down more rapidly. My experience has been that drive rollers seem to last anywhere from 5-15 years depending hours of use per week, weight of user, and aggressiveness of user.

nordicparts3 years ago

Jecurtti the older skiers from the 70's and 80's that you refer to as having three one-way roller clutch bearings is actually incorrect. There has always only been one one-way roller clutch bearing pressed in the driverollers. The other two bearings that appear to be clutch bearings were actually just roller bearings....meaning they spin freely in both directions. The reason why NordicTrack changed to the oil impregnated bronze bushings is because the little needle bearings in the roller bearing would break or seize up and cause more problems than a simple oil impregnated bushing and they do not provide as good of lubrication as the bushing.

Also the clutch is a series of little metal springs that lock against the needle bearings in the one-way roller clutch bearings and stops the roller from spinning in one direction and allows it to spin freely in the opposite direction. The piece of plastic that you refer to is simply a holder for the needle bearings and the little metal springs.

Yes you are correct to NEVER lubricate the driverollers with any type of oil as it will only cause them to slip even more. The reason why the bronze bushings are oil impregnated is to provide a source of lubrication and when the one-way roller clutch bearings are new they are lubricated with grease from the manufacturer. The driverollers typically last 3-5 years depending upon length of use. the weight of user and tension settings. The rubber on the driveroller does wear down and gets hard with age so replacing them is always the best choice. Think about it this way..... how smooth your car rides when you get new tires on it.

jecurtti3 years ago


No I am not NordicTrack Guy or NordicTrack Danny, just an individual that has refurbished a few thousand NordicTrack skiers over the past 12 years. If someone wants to contact me through a private message that is fine. I have found putting contact info out on the open net can sometimes create a ton of problems that never relate to what the info was intended for.

Every NordicTrack manual that I have on file specifically states to NOT put oil on the center drive rollers, or flywheel. When I am in the process of replacing the center drive roller bearings I generally see grease/oil, dirt rust, and only on rare occasions metallic dust. Metallic dust would be a very bad sign. It would indicate that either the axle is wearing away or the needle bearings are wearing. On the older NordicTrack's prior to 1998 I have only seen a few (less than 5) axles that were worn enough to create metallic dust. I have seen axles from the newer NordicTrack's that are made in China with EXTREME wearing of the axle with less than a years use. I have a couple of sample axles from these machines that have the ends wore where the axles sits inside the bearings on each sideboard. The ends of the axles are worn down to the size of a sharpened pencil. This is because the Made in China machines were using a softer lower grade steel in there axles. This is why a lot of times the center roller bearings will either seize up on the axle or slip within very short order of using the "New" machine.

The biggest harm that I see to flushing the bearings is that the bearings will begin to groove the axle and when it is time to fix your center flywheel and rollers, you will not only need new roller bearings installed, you will need a replacement axle. When the bearings do not have the proper grease they heat up more easily. The "clutch" part of the bearings is actually a piece of plastic that allows the needles to shift in one direction to grip the axle and to shift in the opposite direction to release the axle. When there is a lack of proper grease the bearing becomes hot and it takes a toll on the plastic inside the bearings. I can always tell a burnt bearing when I remove it because the outer casing will have a burn line on the outside.

gmarchak3 years ago

Hi Phil. One more question. When I reassembled the machine, I put the metal washers against either side of the drive rollers and the nylon washers outside the metal washers so they are against the flywheel bearing on one side of the drive roller and the axle clamp/plastic sleeve on the other side. This is they way were arranged when I disassembled the machine. However, when I reviewed the diagram you included in one of your earlier posts, the nylon washers were on either side of the drive rollers and the metal washers outside of the nylon washers. Which arrangement is correct and can you explain why the arrangement you suggest is used. Thanks.

Phil B (author)  gmarchak3 years ago
Thank you for letting me know flushing the one-way bearings inside your rollers restored their function. New rollers are $95 at Amazon, but $65 elsewhere for a set of two, or about $35 to have rebuilt plus shipping, you ought to be entitled to go out now and spend that much on something you want.

I do not understand what the engineers had in mind for the arrangement of the washers on the flywheel shaft. It may be someone had that apart earlier and did not put them in correctly. I would try to copy the factory diagram, just in case they know something I do not.

I think a little light steel wool would be ideal for removing surface rust on the flywheel where the nylon resistance belt rides.

The nylon washers go next to the driverollers on each side of it and the steel washers are placed next to the nylon washers. There are four nylon and 4 steel washers per skier.

If there is a lot of rust you can use course steel wool and make sure you wipe the flywheel down afterwards with a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol to remove all the black dust.

nordicparts3 years ago

I removed my previous post to adjust the formatting but was unable to do it.

gmarchak3 years ago

Hi Phil. I pulled the machine apart and flushed the one-way roller bearings as you instructed. Looks like it worked well. Thanks so much for the help.

One other question, the flywheel has some minor rust in the groove where the tension strap sits. Is it advisable to sand this down or leave it alone. If sanding is advisable, what grid sandpaper or type of steel wool would you use.

Thanks again.

gmarchak3 years ago

Hi Phil. I had not used my Achiever machine in years. When I began using the machine, the the skis have been slipping on the back stroke to the point where it is dangerous to use. Before using the machine, I (unfortunately) lubricated the drive rollers with 3 in 1 oil. Could this be the source of the problem? If so, can the rollers be cleaned of the oil or is this a terminal problem? Would continual usage of the drive rollers eliminate the problem over time? If I cannot fix the problem, would a rebuild be advisable or will I need new drive rollers. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Phil B (author)  gmarchak3 years ago
I doubt the problems are permanent. I would flush the one-way roller bearings inside the rubber rollers a few times with Liquid Wrench or WD-40 to remove the 3-in-1 oil. Ether starting fluid would work, too, but it could ignite very easily, so be careful with ignition sources. Let the roller bearings dry out with air. You can try blotting the inside of the roller bearings with tissue. I expect it will be OK after that. Flushing will remove the oil and also any fine metallic dust that keeps the one-way needle bearings from grabbing on the reverse cycle. Please let me know how it worked for you.
gmarchak Phil B3 years ago
Thanks very much Phil. I'll let you know the outcome.
dexterdom5 years ago
Hello Phil, excellent information in your post, thanks for sharing.
I have a "roller" question about my 1995 Pro model (which I just picked up used for $50). I have noticed that the center (drive) rollers are slightly lower than the end (idler) rollers. I haven't actually measured it but maybe by about 1/8". Same on both sides, left and right. Is this normal? If not, any way to adjust this?
Thank you
Phil B (author)  dexterdom4 years ago
It appears I may not have responded to your question. I apologize. I suspect the designer intentionally set the drive rollers a little lower than the idler rollers. When your weight is on a ski, the ski would bend a little and grab the drive roller. When your foot is on the forward stroke, your weight is off of that ski and the ski can move forward with less drag on the drive roller. I know of no way to adjust or change this.
dtreida4 years ago
Hi Phil,
Do you have any tips on replacement of Achiever axle bearings? I do not see getting them in as a problem but I am stumped about the best way to remove them. (The outboard bearings set in the wood frame,. not the drive rollers!) Also any recommended source for new bearings would be appreciated.
Phil B (author)  dtreida4 years ago
I went to the NordicTrack page to download a manual for a specific model and discovered there was one manual to cover most of the models. The bearing in the wood side rail pulls or slides out on my Challenger as shown in that one manual. I expect they come out the same way on the Achiever.

When I needed to replace the sealed ball bearings on my radial arm saw I found a store that specializes in bearings through the Yellow Pages. They were able to match my old bearings for less than the factory part at Sears.

I hope this helps.
tamasic1 Phil B4 years ago
Hi Phil, Great page. Thanks for all the wisdom. It seems the model numbers tend to fade and disappear from the tag on the older models. NTXC80180 is the model number I found, after doing several Google searches, that still has a manual available from the NordicTrack support site. I was lucky enough to find a Sequoia someone put out to be hauled off. After cleaning and oiling all works fine.
Phil B (author)  tamasic14 years ago
Congratulations on your NordicTrack find. We paid $65 for our Challenger at Play It Again Sports in Boise, Idaho. Afterward I heard stories of people who gave ski machines away. It sounds like a person just needs to be in the right place at the right time.

I downloaded a manual from NordicTrack's site and it appears they use the same basic manual for several models. Still, the exploded diagram is a big help whenever you want to peek inside or tweak something.

Now, if I could just find something that makes me exercise consistently, or keeps things from disrupting my good efforts when I do exercise with regularity.
NordicDanny4 years ago
Normally when you have "resistance" on the forward stroke, the drive roller is 'cinched' up too tight. Next to one or both drives is usually a 'O' ring clamp (Phil: you can tell me the technical term for that part) which can be adjusted with an Allen wrench.

Sometimes, just loosening and tightening the clamp in place will remove the 'lock' it has on the roller. And sometimes you just need to back it off a hair. The rule of thumb is that the roller should not be too tight or too lose which would either not move at all or allow play from side to side. If you flick the roller with your fingertips on the forward stroke, it should turn only a couple of revolutions at most. ie. it should not be loose or so tight it will not move at all. If you have a plastic tube holding one of the rollers against the other side, (this is the housing for the magnetic interface), those can be a little more difficult to adjust and there is least one version that when it comes loose from the shaft or axle, will stop turning with the axle and is not cinched up tight enough to the drive. This also means the monitor might no longer be reading the flywheel speed accurately.

Caution: When adjusting the drive clamp, be sure you have the correct CR-V4 Allen bit. They are normally very tight and it's very easy to strip. You need to make sure the bit is all the way in and you have good leverage when making this adjustment. -- NordicDanny @ "It's all I do:"
Phil B (author)  NordicDanny4 years ago
According to the owner's manual I have, the clamp you describe is called and "axle clamp with set screw." Thank you for the information.
Hi Phil.

I have a question about the drive rollers on my Achiever (bought used about 5 years ago). Recently one roller has started applying resistance on the forward stroke. This only happens after 25+ minutes of skiing. When I go back to it the next day, it seems to operate normally (i.e., no forward resistance) for about 25 minutes. My guess is that the drive roller is going, although it's not slipping backward at this time.

Will a roller rebuild fix this? Also, I have a spare roller from an older Pro model that I scavenged for parts. Could I just put that roller in there? (I'm not sure whether it was from the right or left side of the machine, and don't know whether that makes a difference when replacing rollers). Thanks for any help you can provide.
Phil B (author)  williamr10284 years ago
I would encourage you to take the rollers out of your machine and flush the bearings with Liquid Wrench or WD-40 like I described to see if that helps. The roller on the right is identical to the roller on the left. Interchanging them is no problem. Somewhere I read there are two sizes of rollers. Just make sure the rollers from the donor machine have the same dimensions as those on your good machine. When you install a roller just make sure it grabs on the backstroke and is free on the forward stroke.
Hi Phil--I wanted to follow up and let you know that flushing the roller bearings as you described has fixed the problem. Interestingly, the problem roller was slipping on the back stroke after I reinstalled them (the forward stroke was perfect). There was less slipping on the second day, and it was completely gone by the third day. Maybe there was a little Liquid Wrench left in the bearing that had to work its way out with use? Anyway, the machine is now like brand new. Thanks so much for your advice--you've saved me a lot of expense and hassle. Happy exercising!
Phil B (author)  williamr10284 years ago
Thank you for your follow-up. I did not know for certain flushing the bearings with a light petroleum solvent would fix your problem, but I thought it would be a very inexpensive first strategy. I am glad it worked for you. You are probably correct about some leftover solvent causing a little slippage for a day or two. I suppose the day will come in the future when the current bearings will need actual replacement, but you should get some good use from your rollers for a while yet.
Phil B (author)  Phil B4 years ago
Something in the roller that binds on the forward stroke and gets hot has internal clearances that are just too close. The question becomes why. It may be the one way bearing (clutch) was not made properly. It may wear in and work well with more use. Or, it may have a problem that will not improve with use. It also may have been made properly, but there is foreign matter that makes the fit too close now and causes heat to build up and resistance to appear. That could be due to some rust if high humidity was present over time. Or, a fine metallic powder does appear with use as the needle bearing rollers wear. The rollers on my machine have not shown the problem you describe, but did begin to work less well because that fine powder was building up. Flushing the bearings inside the rollers with Liquid Wrench and sopping up the residue did restore function to my rollers. As a last resort, replacement or rebuilding the roller(s) should totally eliminate the problem, but you may not need to do anything that expensive or extreme if a simple flushing might eliminate the problem. It may be tempting to oil the one way needle bearings, but that is not advisable because lubrication makes it difficult for them to grab during the back stroke. By the way, I have the greatest respect for anyone who can regularly manage 25 minutes or more on a NordicTrack ski machine.
Actually, I do have a question after re-reading your instructions and looking at the roller. It's about the spraying procedure. I'm not sure exactly where to spray the Liquid Wrench. Looking at the inside of the roller, all I can see is a metal tube with a sort of ribbed area in the middle of it (I'm guessing this ribbed area is the bearing?). So, given your description, should I spray the Liquid Wrench in the ribbed area in the middle, rub it into the area, and then dry up the liquid with a tissue. Thanks for any help you can provide with this.
Phil B (author)  williamr10284 years ago
Yes, the ribbed area is the one-way needle bearing. Spray a liberal amount into it to flush the bearing. Sopping with a tissue removes any iron powder so it does not go back into the bearing.
Thank you very much for your guidance, Phil. I will try flushing the rollers as you describe to see if that fixes the problem. Have a great day!
urban224 years ago
Hi Phil - would you know where I can purchase a pulse cord for the Nordic Track PRO classic? Can't seem to find this anywhere. Thanks!
Phil B (author)  urban224 years ago
Yes. Treadmill Doctor has them. Here is a link. I hope this is what you want.
Phil B (author) 4 years ago
This is in response to a private message from someone who made an inquiry by private message. I tried to upload an image of the drum assembly from the exploded diagram in NordicTrack manual, but the uploader is not working for me today. The exploded parts diagram shows a 3/8 inch flat washer on top of the drum, then a needle bearing thrust washer, another 3/8 inch flat washer, the tension spring, and the adjustment knob. A new needle bearing thrust washer can be ordered from Grainger. You would want one with an ID of 10mm. The link will take you to the catalog listing for one that should work for you. The price is about $5 plus shipping. You could probably find it at any good bearing store near you. It is possible the needle bearing thrust washer on your machine is too worn to be functional.

A related question: I have a frozen idler roller at the back of a Nordic Track Sequoia. Can't even figure out how to remove/replace these roller--the frame they are in is welded together. Is the 'factory solution' to replace the whole rear end as a unit? Is there a way around that?
Phil B (author)  donquixote995 years ago
I do not know if this will help. The graphic is taken from a NordicTrack ski machine manual with a similar appearance to the Sequoia. It shows a removable axle for the rear idler roller on the model in this manual (#70). It appears to slide out after removing the side board. You may notice one end of the axle has two flats and those flats slide into a hole shaped to fit them. The side board keeps the axle in place. I understand your machine may be different in some way that renders all of what I have written useless, but please give it a hard look, anyway. You can get a manual for your model at this web page, but you will need the correct number for your machine. Instructions are given on where to find the sticker with the number.
THANKS, that was the hint I needed, but it still took all day (off and on) to get that idler off. Your info told me the idea was to pound the stuck axle out with a drift, but that proved easier said than done. Had to pound from the middle of the frame, didn't have enough room to have a good shot at it, and the part was way too stuck for little taps to do any good. The solution, ultimately, was to take the whole frame off the back, set-it up in a vise, remove the good roller (it came right off), and use a long steel rod as a drift, going straight down through the other roller's holes.  Then I was able to swing the hammer proper. 

Anyone else who has to do this, for your drift you need a 3/16" or less diameter rod, ideally about a foot long.  Mine was a little short, so had to grind the end of a nail flat and use it for more length to finish up.  See pic.

Second pic shows the bad axle and the good axle together.  I'll try cleaning it up but I have a feeling I'm going to be shopping for a replacement, and a new roller while I'm at it.

As for manual, I have no number, and the Sequoia manual I have been able to find is very basic, no exploded view.  Would you mind posting pic of flywheel assembly, so I can be sure to get all the washers and shims on in the right order?  I had to disassemble the thing enough that all that came off....
drift setup.jpgrear idler axles.jpg
Yep, don't think that one idler has rolled in a long time. Probably has something to do with how I got the machine for just about nothing....

It will be working again for the winter. Thanks for the second pic. Will send email address.
Phil B (author)  donquixote995 years ago
Your verbal description of what you did is very clear. I read it through a notice in my e-mail before I saw your photos. There is an amazing amount of corrosion on you axle in the lower part of the photo. You cannot believe how glad I am that what I told you worked for you. If you would care to send me your e-mail address through a private message, I will send the manual to you by e-mail for your future use. And, here is the section with the washers with the verbal description of each in the parts key.
Phil B (author) 5 years ago
I can tell my rollers may need new one-way needle bearings sometime in the future. I was searching our home area on the Internet for machine shops, but finding only operations related to automotive needs like turning wheel drums. I just searched for bearing pressing and turned up a full-service machine shop about a mile from my house. I may drop in and have a conversation with him about pressing bearings in NordicTrack ski machine rollers.
simplified5 years ago
Hello Phil, and thanks so much for this great info! I just bought a 1992 Pro, and it seems to be in great shape but I'm already anticipating the time when those drive rollers will need work. Thanks for the info on Nordic Track Guy.

One of the things I noticed right away on this used Pro, is that the drive rollers were quite stiff on the forward stroke. One of them in particular was reluctant enough that the ski would squeak against it instead of being able to roll the drive wheel smoothly forward. (This reminded me of how you described your drive rollers starting to act up by not releasing predictably.) Since there are ring clamps on the drive shaft that exert sideways pressure on the rollers (to keep them in place), I loosened one ever-so-slightly to see if it would relieve that binding feeling as the roller spun forward. The problem immediately disappeared! I made sure that both rollers are still held in place, they cannot move side-to-side on the shaft at all, but the lateral pressure and slight binding caused by the ring clamp is gone. Both rollers now roll forward almost effortlessly but grab reliably on the backward stroke.

I do wonder, though, if that lateral pressure was intentional. These are not cup and cone bearings, as far as I can see from the illustration, so I can't think why they would need a certain degree of sideways pressure on them. Those flat washers on the sides seem to be designed to keep crud out, not to put specific pressure on the bearings. Since you've had a closer look at the innards of the drive wheels, what are your thoughts? I even wondered if maybe part of your problem's resolution was due to reassembling the drive shaft with less lateral pressure on the rollers.

Thanks again!
Phil B (author)  simplified5 years ago
Thank you for looking and for commenting. I hope you enjoy your "new" NordicTrack Pro.

I assume by a ring clamp you mean a collar with a set screw. I do not think I had the problem you describe. It is always possible the collar was not set right at the factory. I have seen that problem with other things before. The NordicTrack is a combination of steel and wood parts. Wood can change its tolerances with changes in humidity. If that happened, you could pick up drag on your rollers. Or, it may be possible that a previous owner tinkered with the position of the collars and did not get it right when he tightened the set screws. I am glad you solved your problem.

I thought it odd and pretentious for NordicTrack to talk about the patented one-way clutch used by the mechanical engineer who developed the NordicTrack when it is only a common one-way needle bearing. The NordicTrack ski machine is a clever solution to a need, but it is not more than it is.
Yes, that's it, the collar and set screw. Good point about the changeability of wood. And it sure could have been messed with in its 20 years of previous history, other parts were in disarray when I bought it for one dollar at a thrift store (the cord drum was upside down and the washers were missing, easily fixed). I noticed that the drive rollers have a "99" stamped into the side of the rubber, and wondered if that was a date? If so, these are replacements. But maybe the 99 doesn't mean anything. In any case, they seem smooth as silk now.

Thanks again for a very useful post and for all the help you've given to so many!
Phil B (author)  simplified5 years ago
I did not see numbers stamped on my rollers, so I am no help on the "99" stamped on your rollers.

I bought my NordicTrack in a store for second-hand sports equipment. I paid considerably more than you paid for yours, but it did come with some dated original literature. I even found a date of manufacture on a sticker. If I remember correctly, mine was made early in 1992.

I believe a lot of ski machines got very little use because the owners found them more difficult to use than they expected, or they found using the machines boring.
dmains5 years ago
Speaking of Nordic Track guy, does anyone know where/how to locate him? There are zero items listed on his EBay store and I cannot find a way to contact him. He has been a reliable source of parts and repairs for my Nordic Track over the years.
Phil B (author)  dmains5 years ago
He is at the link I gave above. I just tried it, and it works.
dmains Phil B5 years ago
The link takes me to his Ebay page, but when I go to his store, it tells me that there are zero items for sale. I see comments about from customers as recent as July 2012, but no items for sale. Maybe it is just me, but I am not finding anything on his store site.
He's got an active listing right now for the drive roller rebuild. Maybe he spaces out the listings so that he doesn't get too many orders at once?
Phil B (author)  dmains5 years ago
I scrolled down the page and there is contact information for him by means of a mailing address through the US Post Office with instructions for sending ski machine rollers to him for rebuilding. I would think you can get whatever you need through contacting him by mail.
k24tea5 years ago
Hi Phil, It seems that I probably won't need to rebuild my drive rollers after all. Upon closer inspection of my NordicTrack, I'm pretty sure that my problem is not with the drive rollers (at least not yet). I use my NT with the leg tension set rather high, and it appears that the tension strap is slipping on the flywheel, and the skis are slipping on the rollers. The strap is an easy fix: just remove it, turn it over to the unglazed side, and put it back on (or buy a replacement if needed). As for the skis slipping on the drive rollers, I might try waxing them with some good cross-country ski wax to give them a little "bite" on the rollers. If it doesn't help, the wax can be removed easily, and no harm done.

I'm still "on the fence" about rebuilding the drive rollers vs. sending them to Nordic Track Guy for rebuild. On the one hand, it would be rewarding to do it myself, but on the other hand, he can probably do the job and ship them back to me faster than I could get the parts. And I have a long history of wanting to take things apart just to see how they work, sometimes to their detriment. Either way, if you decide to do a full Instructable on this I'll be interested, whether or not I rebuild mine. You've taught me about one-way needle bearings, and I thank you for sharing your good information, instructions, and comments! kt
kelseymh5 years ago
Phil, this is awesome -- and your wonderfully DaVinci-esque drawing makes it complete :-) Please, oh please, find a way to make an I'ble out of this! Even if you have to borrow someone else's pictures of the machine :-)
Phil B (author)  kelseymh5 years ago

The DaVinci drawing is actually a photo I made of the factory manual's back cover. I cannot claim credit for the artwork, but it does have a DaVinci quality. I am torn between the time-honored principle, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." and a desire to open it up to see what is inside. There is the possibility that k24tea may repair his worn rollers and do an Instructable simultaneously. My machine is still working fine, and I am reticent to disturb it. Thank you for looking and for commenting.
kelseymh Phil B5 years ago
Really? ....I should have read all the details; you actually said that. Still, it's a much nicer picture than I would normally expect from an owner's manual :-)

I completely understand not wanting to open up something that is working properly. I've broken more than one item (including the first of my daughter's crib aquaria!) by doing that.
Phil B (author)  kelseymh5 years ago
Here are the full front and back of the manual for your enjoyment. I tried to eliminate glare, but got some anyway.
kelseymh Phil B5 years ago
:-D Thanks! Perhaps they're trying too hard?
k24tea5 years ago
THANK YOU for posting this information! I hope you'll make an Instructable for this. Meanwhile, I'd really like to try it now. The drive roller clutches have failed on my Nordic Track ski machine, and I would love to know how to rebuild them myself.

I can remove the drive rollers, but I don't know anything about one-way needle bearings. I'm handy with small tools and parts, so if you can please give me any further info on what to get and how to rebuild the clutches, I'm pretty sure I can do it. I agree, it may cost about the same to ship them off to Nordic Track Guy for rebuild, but the lost time on my beloved Nordic Track is priceless! Thank you for any assistance you can offer. kt
Phil B (author)  k24tea5 years ago
Thank you for looking at this and for your comment. We bought a used ski machine of about 1991 vintage. I looked closely at the drawing on the back of the manual. I did some searching on the 'Net about one-way clutches and found one-way needle bearings. That is the technical name for them. There are videos at YouTube in which adolescents involved with gasoline powered remote control race cars like a person buys at a hobby shop were replacing a one-way needle bearing on the starter. It takes the place of a Bendix in an automobile starter. It allows the starter to grab when it is revved up, but allows the shaft to turn freely when the starter shuts down. Any ball bearing shop should be able to get one-way needle bearings for you. From what I have seen on the Internet, prices run between $6 and $13 each, depending on the size. Some places have better prices than others. Grainger seemed to have very good prices. I do not know what shipping charges add to those prices. You can find their on-line catalog very easily.

The picture on the back of my NordicTrack owner's manual appears to show a bronze sleeve bearing on each side of the one-way needle bearing inside each roller. I would think the bronze sleeve bearings would slide out without too much difficulty. Then you would want a wrench socket that fits inside the roller housing without a lot of looseness, but slides smoothly. Place the roller on a couple of blocks and tap on the wrench socket to drive out the old one-way needle bearing. Drive in the new one-way needle bearing and slide the bronze rollers back into place. Do on lubricate the one-way needle bearings at all, or they will slip all of the time. Check to see which way the rubber roller should go back onto the shaft so it grabs when your foot pushes back and is free when you bring your foot forward with the ski. There is an arrow on the side of the one-way needle bearings to indicate which way they grab. Correcting a mistake should be a simple matter of sliding the rubber roller off of the flywheel shaft and rotating the roller a half turn end for end before putting it back onto the shaft.

If I were you, I would get out the Yellow Pages and find a bearing shop near where you live. Then I would call them and ask some questions. If you talked real nicely to them, they might even press the old bearing out and the new one in for you. Certainly a local machine shop would do that for a small fee.

If it goes well, you may do an Instructable on this before I do.
k24tea Phil B5 years ago
Hi Phil,
Wow! Thanks so much for this very helpful information and advice! I'll try to dig up my Nordic Track manual (haven't seen it for 20 years) and look for the drawings you describe., or I think I saw the manual available for download. There are a couple of places around here that might be able to help me get the bearings I need and maybe press them out/in for me or else show me how to do it. If I can find the right size bearings and can replace the old ones successfully, I'll send you an update with part numbers. Otherwise, you're right, the Nordic Track Guy can rebuild the drive rollers for me, but so much more rewarding to learn how to do it myself. Armed with the excellent instructions and advice you've provided, I think I can do it! If I do an Instructable on this, I'll be sure to credit you and link to your posting as the original contributor. Thanks again! kt
Phil B (author)  k24tea5 years ago
You have me wanting to dismantle my perfectly functional NordicTrack just to make sure I am not making an unwarranted assumption and giving you false information. If I do that I could take photos and make an Instructable fairly quickly, unless I ran into something that proved to be much more difficult than expected.

The manual that came with our used machine is nearly identical to those you download on-line, except that they do not have the cover with some artistically done cutaway drawings. One of those drawings showed a drive roller with about a quarter of the cylindrical shape removed to reveal three parts inside the core of the roller. The center one looks very much like a roller bearing, but would be a one-way needle bearing. The other two flanking it on each side are smooth and are likely oil impregnated bronze sleeve bearings.

I enjoy our NordicTrack, but must confess it has been very easy for me to get stopped from regular use after building up to a respectable number of minutes on it each week. I am looking forward to retirement soon when the demands of work will not leave me a fatigued during busy seasons and I can be regular with my exercise plans.
k24tea Phil B5 years ago
Thanks, Phil, the drawing helps a lot. I'm tempted to take a drive roller apart now, just to see how it works, and then if I can't find the parts or mess it up somehow I can still send them out to NordicTrackGuy to rebuild. But your description and instructions are so good that I'm confident I can do it (famous last words). And I'll learn something new, so it's all good.

Maybe after you retire from your current job, you can make more Instructables and/or teach your skills to folks like me who just "need to know" how things work. You clearly have a knack for describing and explaining.

I hope you'll find time soon to use your Nordic Track again. I know what you mean about fatigue during busy times, and sometimes it's hard to find time and energy for anything besides work. I've used mine pretty regularly for about 20 years, and I find that a NT workout with my favorite oldies music actually increases my energy and elevates my mood for the rest of the day. My plan is to stay strong so I can have the energy to do what I want to do! Thanks again, Phil, for helping me stay "on track".
Phil B (author)  k24tea5 years ago
Thanks. I am sure the one-way needle bearing clutch will have a pressed fit that requires pressure to drive it out. I cannot say for certain about the bronze sleeve bearings on both sides of it. I would think they only slip in and out without a pressed fit, but I could easily be wrong. They may require being pressed in and out, too.

My wife was the one who wanted a NordicTrack. Now she does not use it, but I do. A few weeks ago I was using it regularly and was up to about 20 minutes a day most days a week. About that time I had to change the oil in my car. That means a lot of getting up and down on the garage floor. I was surprised at how my time on the NordicTrack made getting up and down so much easier that my increased strength made me feel like I was a good 20 years younger. A little NordicTrack time makes me want more.

NordicTrack ski machines vary a little. Ours was the most basic model at the time it was made. I have made little modifications. I did an Instructable on adding removable wheels so I can easily move it from one part of the house to another, even up and down steps. I also welded on some guides for the arm cord so the cord cannot so easily wrap over itself and make a snapping noise when the drum is turning back and forth. I have not documented that, yet. I also made a tray to go on the arm with the abdomen cushion so I can rest a CD disc player on it, but I have not documented that, either. Some of the higher grade NordicTrack units already come with solutions to those problems.
k24tea Phil B5 years ago
Thanks, Phil. I think I need to take my drive rollers out now, just to see inside them! An interesting rainy-day project, and if I can't repair them after all, then they will be sent on their way to the Nordic Track Guy. I've learned about one-way needle bearings, I'll get a little hands-on experience with something I've never seen before, and my machine will get fixed either way.

I saw your Instructable the other day for adding the wheels, and I thought it was a really good modification. The little wheels they come with are only good for shifting them a short distance. I can't imagine moving my Nordic Track up and down stairs more than once a year, or preferably less!

I'd like to see how you did your arm cord guides. The arm cord on mine snaps and flays about, and it sometimes flips over the top and needs to be re-wrapped around the drum, so I need to make something to keep it in place. I don't have your welding skills or equipment, so I'll probably make some guides with sturdy wire instead. Or my arm cord may just need replacing after 20 years of use. I read somewhere that a new cord is stiff, and mine is quite flexible, almost like a jump-rope. I've only done minimal maintenance on my Nordic Track until now, so it's probably time to replace a few parts to keep it going strong.

Over the years I've added just a few little conveniences. First thing, I mounted a small fan on top of the post. A long time ago I bought a combination book/music player/water bottle holder that mounted on top of the upright post, but it was brittle plastic and broke apart, so now I'm working on a little metal rack for mp3 player and water bottle to hang on the back of the hip pad. Sometimes making things for my "toys" is as much fun as the toys themselves!

I know what you mean about how good it feels to be in shape just to do ordinary activities more easily. I keep going on my Nordic Track in the hope that I'll keep my strength and mobility as I age. It's easy on creaky joints but still gives a great workout even when I'm not good for doing much else that day. I've tried several different ellipticals and treadmills, but I find my Nordic Track works just as well and is much kinder to my knees and hips.

Something I've found out about the various models is that most of the differences aren't terribly important to the practical functioning of the machine. There are different woods, and some are composites instead, and some have adjustable front legs for incline skiing. Some come with electronic pulse monitors and timer/calorie/distance meters. Some have a cable and turn-knob for adjusting leg tension instead of a simpler sliding lever connected directly to the spring and strap. Thus, some require different replacement parts than others. But all the original (pre-1999, US made) ones seem to be essentially the same as far as practical function and durability. I have the Achiever model; my sister has the Excel, and a friend has the Sequoia. They look a little different and the leg tension adjustment methods vary, but I can't feel any difference when I use one or the other of them. I think the most basic model is just as good and durable as the fancier high-end ones, and probably is easier to maintain and repair. No matter which model you have, you've got a great exercise machine!

So here's to you, Phil, for your excellent advice and instructions. I'll be reading your other Instructables, too.  Stay motivated, and keep on Tracking!  kt
Phil B (author)  k24tea5 years ago
Our NordicTrack does not have even the rollers on the rear end of some models. Going up and down stairs using the wheels I put onto ours is fairly easy.

Attached is a photo of how I did the arm cord guides. The black guard was already in place. Some models have different ways of routing the cord near the drum, including rollers. I bent some 1/4 inch steel rod and welded two pieces in place. I noticed the left cord tends to wrap around the bottom half of the drum while the right side wraps around the upper half. I expect the rubbing of the cord on even smooth steel may accelerate wear, but I have not noticed any yet. I still need to cut the pieces of rod and grind their ends round to make them better looking.

I was at Lowe's (I assume you live in the USA.) and saw some similar cord in green or purple that was only slightly smaller in diameter. I will use it when I need to replace my cord.

I have long thought the working parts of the different models are too similar for further comment. As for elevating the front end I have always thought I could just slip a 2 x 4 or two under the front feet when I am ready.

I would be interested in seeing photos of your modifications.

I am now 66. Regular exercise helps keep a person from waking at weird hours during the night. The human body produces less essential hormones with age, too. Exercise helps with that, too.

Thanks for your comments.