Ceramic balls do not deform as easily as steel balls and stay rounder for longer, ultimately increasing the life of the bearing.
Plus it's cool to say you have ceramic bearing, and even cooler to say you made them your self.
I ride in the rain and by the sea, a lot. Rust caused by the water and salt exposure can be quite annoying. I am usually to lazy or to busy to spend the time, cleaning and re-lubing bearings every time I skate in the wet ( pretty much every day in Wales).
This Instructable will show you how to make your own ceramic bearings, on a low budget.
This Instructable requires the use of a razor blade. Razor blades are sharp and care must be taken to avoid injury.
This Instructable will involve lots of small parts so should be done out of the reach of small children.
Lubricants may cause skin irritation.
I can not verify the quality of the parts you source and will not be responsible to any consequence in the event that they fail.
Step 1: Research and Ordering Supplies.
Bearing that I have successfully converted:
Vault Abec 7
Psycho Abec 7 Swiss
Green Slime Abec 11
titanium finish for extra weather resistance,
£4.59 for a set of 8!!)
The bearings I used in the Instructable have double shields, with Abec 7 and Swiss written on them. I think they are made by Psycho.
It dosent matter if you use single shield or double shield bearings. Though double shields offer more protection. The Abec rating isn't very important either.
I used digital callipers to measure the diameter of the ball bearings. They came up as 3.97mm, measured to a resolution of a hundredth of a millimetre. This is basically 5/32 of an inch.
Next we need to know how many balls to order. A skateboard or longboard uses 8 bearings, each bearing has 7 balls.
For a skateboard/ longboard (8 bearings)
8*7 = 56 balls
For a scooter (4 bearings)
4*7 = 28 balls
For roller skates (16 bearings)
16*7 = 112 balls
I then did some research on the type of ceramic used. Grade 5 silicon nitride (black/ dark grey) is the best option. It's tougher and harder than the cheaper zirconia oxide (white) ceramic.
Grade 5 silicon nitride is used in the higher end bearings on the market, for example Bones Ceramic Redz (retail £80 for a set of 8).
Zirconia oxide is still an option. It's used in various other ceramic bearings on the market.
I ended up ordering 60* 3.969mm (5/32") Grade 5 silicon nitride ball bearings. These were ordered from China so took about 2 weeks to arrive.
If you are in America you may be able to source some from America.
Some eBay listings for 3.969mm G5 silicon nitride balls.
25 balls for £3.20
60 balls for £9.35
So now we have our bearings and ceramic balls, let's get building.
Step 2: Tools
Tools you will need:
A razor blade
A hair pin (or unfolded paper clip)
A tray/dish (to catch loose pieces)
Tissue to clean any greasy mess (optional)
Oil, grease or speed cream to lube the bearings up after (optional)
Step 3: Remove the Bearing Shields
First choose one of your bearings.
Using your razor blade, gently pry the bearing shield from the inner race.
Once one edge has lifted, you can remove the shield.
Take care to not bend the shield, or cut the shield with the blade.
If using double shielded bearings, flip the bearing over and repeat to remove the 2nd shield.
Step 4: Disassembling the Bearing
I have found a hair pin works perfectly to do this. An unfolded paper clip will probably do the job well too.
Take the bearing in one hand, hair pin in the other, and gently push the retainer out. Make sure to work over the tray as there is a chance the ball bearings will drop out.
Now place the retainer to one side. Make sure to not loose any pieces.
To remove the inner ring and steel ball bearings, use the hair pin to slide all the balls together, forming a "U" shape as shown.
Making sure to catch the ball bearings in your tray, lift the inner ring up, allowing the balls to drop out.
Your bearing is now completely disassembled.
Step 5: Reassemble With Ceramic Balls
We no longer need the 7 steel balls for this project, but they are worth keeping.
This step can get quite fiddly and frustrating.
First take the outer ring and a shield. Gently press the shield in to the outer ring as shown in the photos.
Now flip the assembly over so the shield is on bottom.
You will want to gather 7 of the ceramic balls, and place them on your tray.
One by one drop the 7 ceramic balls in to your bearing assembly. It helps to keep the bearing laying flat on a surface.
Use the hair pin to poke the 7 balls together in to a 'U' shape.
Take the inner ring and place it slightly off centre in the outer ring.
You should be able to slide the inner ring in to the centre of the outer ring (toward the 'U'). There may be a slight click as it pops in to place. The balls should now be locked in between the races.
With the bearing assembly still laying flat, use the hair pin to spread the 7 balls evenly about the centre.
Once the balls are fairly equally spread around the inner ring, you take take the nylon retainer that you removed earlier.
Place the retainer on top of the balls and gently press. (smooth side up) It should click back in.
Run your finger arround the retainer to make sure it's properly located on each of the 7 balls.
Now is the optional stage for lubrication. If you want add a drop or 2 of a bearing oil, grease or speed cream. Give the bearing a few rotations to circulate and spread the lubricant.
If your bearings have a second shield, locate it and gently press it in. You have now completed your first ceramic bearing!
All you have to do is repeat for all the remaining bearings.
Step 6: Finished
Assuming you ordered a set of 8 green slime Abec 11 bearings, and a set of 60 silicon nitride 3.969mm balls.
Your total cost comes to:
£4.59 + £9.35 = £13.94
That's a saving of over £66 if you were to buy Bones Redz ceramics.
Have fun skating on your new bearings!and always wear a helmet!
Thank you for reading my Instructable!!