Introduction: Clean and Grease Your Skateboard Bearings

It's winter out there. The streets are covered with water, salt, and funky road grit. But you really want to skate. What can you do? Answer: go skate anyway, then clean your bearings so they'll live to skate another day.

This is a straightforward demo of how to disassemble, clean, grease, and re-assemble a skateboard bearing. Just in case you wanted to see it done. It's actually terribly easy if you've done it once.


Step 1: What You Need

Dirty skateboard bearings. (Can be obtained from within dirty skateboard wheels.)
Acetone or other solvent. (97% Isopropyl Alcohol is good too.)
A bowl or cup to put it in.
A small pin or straightened staple to remove the bearing shields.

Step 2: Pop the Seals

There are two kinds of seals that are common on skateboard bearings: rubber seals (pictured) and metal shields.

The seals can be popped out from the other side with a small pin or straightened-out staple. Stick your pin between the ball cage and the outside bearing race and press the seal out. Aim for the center of the seal, because it is made of metal and you won't puncture it.



If you've got metal shields, they're held in place by a circlip around the outside edge. Get your pin under one edge of the circlip and it'll come off easily. Then the metal shield just pops out. See this website for pictures of how to get the clips off.

Step 3: Soak and Clean

Fill up your bowl with 1/2" of acetone and put the bearings (balls down) in the solution and let them sit for a minute.

Alternately tap them on the bottom of the bowl and spin the bearings in your hand until they feel grit-free. Once you get a bearing cleaned, spin it dry and place it on a clean paper towel (balls down) to dry.

Repeat for the other 7 bearings.



While the bearings are finishing drying off, clean up the seals in the acetone. Be gentle -- you don't want to bend the inner metal ring.

Step 4: Optional: Filter and Save Your Acetone

If you're cheap (or thrifty) you can filter the big grit out of the acetone and save it to use again.

If your coffee filters are like mine, it won't be perfect. But it'll be good enough to re-use a few times, or you can experiment with multiple filters. Store your used acetone in a well-marked (skull and crossbones are good) airtight jar wherever you keep your deadly chemicals.

Step 5: Grease and Re-seal

Add grease to the little pockets in-between the balls. Most people use just enough to barely fill three pockets. More or less (by a little) is ok. You don't want them packed, but you want all the balls lubricated.

Bike grease is fine. Marine grease will work. Silicone or lithium grease? Sure. Molybdenum grease? Overkill, but if you've got some lying around the house, you can use it.

Spread the grease around with your finger and roll the bearing back and forth until you can see all the balls adequately covered.

Gently place the seal back on. It will "snap" into place. Then, since you completely un-lubed it, run your greasy finger around the outside of the rubber seal just enough to keep it moistened. Also get some grease on the metal surfaces to help keep the rust away.



Note at this stage you could be using an oil instead of a grease. Good oils are Bones Speed Cream, Tri-flow, and other similar lubricating oils. Motor oil will work too. Bad oils include WD-40 and 3-in-1 (too light). If you use oil, 2 drops are usually enough. Spread it around by spinning the bearing and re-assemble.

Step 6: You're Done!

Congratulations. You've just cleaned and re-greased your skateboard bearings.

Grease is nice because it needs maintenance less often than oil. On the other hand, it probably spins a little slower. Still, a clean and lubed bearing spins much much better than a dirty one, so it's good for you in the long run.

Note that you can switch back to oil when it finally stops raining and all the darn salt is off the freaking roads....

How often should you do this? It depends on how much you ride, and how often in crappy conditions. For greased bearings, try once every month at first or more often if you're in the wet a lot.

Oiled bearings need maintenance every couple weeks if you ride every day. I tend to clean them out right after a rain ride -- the oil just doesn't provide as much rust protection.

Comments

author
A+GamingG made it!(author)2017-05-16

use vinegar and keep ur bearings in for a bit then put them proxide for a bit then pop ur bearings back in and your done

author
VijayG31 made it!(author)2016-08-24

Soak the bearing in petrol for 5 to 10 min, that cleans the bearing. Then soak it in transmission fluid for 30+ min. Wipe excess fluid and install the bearing back. Repeat one in 3 months. That's what I do.

author
DanielA79 made it!(author)2017-03-20

That's using the old noodle!

author
AlanL44 made it!(author)2016-02-29

Wow, who has time for all that?!

Just spray some WD-40 in there there once a month and get on the road.

I'm know Abec 7 bearings are servicable, but they're 15 bucks a set on Amazon.

How much is your time worth?! o_0

author
PaulS493 made it!(author)2016-10-06

I know we all want the quick fix, but wd-40 isn't going to work. Or, it will to start with.

The 'wd' in wd-40 means 'water desiccant/displacement' - and it will lube to start, but by drying out the area, and being a light oil, it sucks in dirt, then keeps it there.

Wd-40 SILICONE is acceptable.

author
RobH131 made it!(author)2016-08-28

If you buy those same bearing on www.daddiesboardshop.com they are 5 bucks cheaper

author
smellymeadowh made it!(author)2016-08-14

Yes but doing it right will make em last longer than a week they will be good for a month or two my as well be done right or not done at all

author
smellymeadowh made it!(author)2016-08-14

wd40 ruins ur bearings I was told it gets more dirt and stuff I. The bearin

author
AlanL44 made it!(author)2016-08-14

You're right, WD-40 does have a tendency to gunk up over time. But that can be negated by just spritzing it once a week to wash off buildup. Way more time efficient than ripping your bearings apart and servicing them like this article says. WD-40 is also way cheaper, and jeez, every minute ur servicing ur gear is another minute you're not riding.

author
BeauxH made it!(author)2016-06-07

that just puts more gunk in your bearnings

author
JamieH126 made it!(author)2016-09-21

Does window cleaner work

author
N1020 made it!(author)2015-12-07

Would mineral spirits be another option as a solvent/cleaner?

author
BeauxH made it!(author)2016-06-07

citrus works best

author
PikZaz made it!(author)2016-07-15

Does it work with pure lemon/lime juice? Might ba a dumb question but just want to know :p

author
The+Real+Elliot made it!(author)2016-06-08

Really, any degreaser is fine. You can even use dishsoap and water, but then you have to wait for quite a while for it to dry back out.

Acetone is great for this b/c it's a super degreaser and it evaporates very quickly. You should be able to get it at any hardware store.

author
JonathanS157 made it!(author)2016-04-07

although I use carburetor cleaner not wd49

author
BeauxH made it!(author)2016-06-07

USE CITRUS! but seriously it works, use any citrus based cleaner

author
Jamin+PaulS made it!(author)2016-05-01

is Organic all purpose cleaner ok instead of acetone?
organic all purpose cleaner has
plant nased surfactant,citrus extract,water

and i use to lubricate my bearings is sewing machine oil

author
BeauxH made it!(author)2016-06-07

yes any citrus based cleaner works

author
ZackR16 made it!(author)2016-05-24

I have a board I've had for awhile and kinda forgot it outside under my porch during the winter. It just started seizing up and I don't have any oil or acetone to use on it any other stuff I could use that work like stuff that's around the common household?

author
BeauxH made it!(author)2016-06-07

any citrus based cleaner works

author
JonathanS157 made it!(author)2016-04-07

although I use carburetor cleaner not wd49

author
JonathanS157 made it!(author)2016-04-07

I'm with AlanL44 that's what I do and my bearings are fast/long lasting

author
WeinanQ made it!(author)2016-01-19

Passenger transport today moves significantly faster than ever before, often operating on separate tracks especially designed for high-speed trains. Accordingly, high-speed rolling bearings are very important components in the bogies of trains today. Maximum train speeds currently reach 380 km/h (236 mph) in the latest high-speed applications—80% higher than in the earlier days of high-speed traffic. This paper presents two application examples of modern, high-speed traffic, together with some typical bearing arrangements and housings. It provides insight regarding measures taken in the bearing industry to meet the requirements of contemporary, high-speed traffic, and it cites important standards and regulations applicable for—but not restricted to—European applications. To be precise, the focus here is on journal bearings;information on traction motor bearings, transmission bearings and housings is included, but described in less detail.

more:http://www.jw-bearing.com/home-articleinfo-fid-24-...

http://www.jw-bearing.com/home-articleinfo-fid-24-...

http://www.jw-bearing.com/home-articleinfo-fid-24-...

author
Ora made it!(author)2008-06-03

Does this remove large amounts of rust? If not, is there any way to do so?

author
LucasS3 made it!(author)2015-11-28

I did it once with a electrolysis machine but still needs lube so I will tell you how good it works after.

author
The+Real+Elliot made it!(author)2008-06-03

Not really. If you've got rust, it's time for new bearings -- the balls aren't ever going to be smooth again.

author
Ora made it!(author)2008-06-03

My bones swiss...

author
The+Real+Elliot made it!(author)2008-06-04

Ouch. If you just want to ride them, you can probably brush some of the rust off with a green scrubby pad and a light oil. (Don't use one that you're ever going to do dishes with again.) To clean the balls, you're going to need to completely disassemble the bearing -- pull out the ball cage, push all the balls over to one side, and twist the inner race. Watch out for the balls going everywhere when you twist. Reverse the procedure to re-build. They'll never be new again, but they'll probably roll. OTOH, clean cheap bearings (VXB, Pleasure Tools) are much faster than dirty, abused Bones. Might be better to bite the bullet and get a new set or two of cheapos.

author
adam.ozcelik made it!(author)2015-04-27

are the ripstik bearing supposed to be oily/greasy? i opened up my ripstik for the first time dont know if i should clean it or not

author
odie.m.keller made it!(author)2015-03-30

Is the speed stuff I get at the skate shop (the "2 drop application" stuff) adequate for lubing the bearings, or do I need a legitimate grease for the bearings?

author
Alex_004 made it!(author)2015-01-28

Don't every use acetone it is very bad for your bearing try to stay away from anything with achohol try to use a cirtris cleaner like pin-sol or something.Even though acetone my get it oily and clean looking it will start to rust down a little bit at a time and it is bad for you to inhale.

author
odie.m.keller made it!(author)2015-03-30

Citrus based solutions leave behind a residue, whereas alcohol will evaporate. It is a bit safer to use isophrill alcohol much rather than citrus cleaner.

author
GorillazMiko made it!(author)2008-02-03

Thanks! I might try this out, my bearings are getting all weird. My friend used to put WD-40 on his. It works, but you will have to do it over and over again. This is way easier, awesome Instructable. +1 rating.

author
sploge made it!(author)2008-03-09

never put wd 40 on bearings its a degreser and a rust remover and it disolves all that gunk which then get stuck and seizes

author
speedyspy2 made it!(author)2009-05-19

He's right

author
DG6 made it!(author)2015-02-08

Well...never lube/grease a dirty bearing
period. Always clean first so there's no grit, grime, dirt or
burnt/thick grease. Then lube away(including WD) that way the
part(whether it's a bearing, hinge, window track, chain, etc.) gets
evenly coated with the lube or grease.

And of course the more
viscosity or better properties it has(i.e, titanium, silicone or other
new technologies they have nowadays) the longer it will last and/or more
slippery it will be which in turn makes it move faster/easier while
keeping friction/heat low as possible.

I clean and silicone lube(WD40)
the bearings every few months on my wheelchair wheels and they spin
smooth and long. Same bearings that came with the chair 5 years now.

author
sharlston made it!(author)2009-12-06

what you mean by all weird?

author
Castiau made it!(author)2014-07-06

Could I use surface cleaner instead of acetone?

author
The+Real+Elliot made it!(author)2014-07-09

You can really use anything that dissolves grease. Dishwashing detergent? Brake cleaner? Go nuts.

author
ivenediktov made it!(author)2013-12-09

Unlike acetone it is oily so it is good for bearings

author
ivenediktov made it!(author)2013-12-09

Use kerosene works better and not so harmful for your hands, you can get a liter in Home Depot for 10$

author
zreed1 made it!(author)2011-04-15

Yea, I agree...... i tried wearing some gloves that i had just lying around, and it tore right through them. it kinda made my finger numb. so i MOST DEFINITELY SUGGEST WEARING GOOD GLOVES!!!!!!

author
rhall-1 made it!(author)2011-03-14

It's probably a good idea to be wearing natural rubber or neoprene gloves (or something else that acetone won't eat through -- vinyl, latex and nitrile are no match). It's not particularly awesome to be using bare hands in that stuff, just sayin'.

author
sharlston made it!(author)2011-01-03

Skateboardigs awesome,nice ible,have you seen element search and win? sign up now and ya can get decks clothing and bearings sign up now http://element.searchpluswin.com/refer/mattyts

author
paperclip32 made it!(author)2010-08-07

You can add that silicone lubricant works well too.Spray a light layer,and you'll have lubed bearings.

author
sharlston made it!(author)2010-10-21

i like silicone but i struggle removing the stuff

author
paperclip32 made it!(author)2010-10-23

What type are you using?You need some spray silicone lubricant.

author
sharlston made it!(author)2010-10-23

its rocol spray aersol type

author
paperclip32 made it!(author)2010-10-24

http://www.rocol.com/corp/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66&Itemid=84&lang=en
That one?You're using food grade,no wonder.That's for baking.What you need is some Silicone spray used for gears and hinges.
I use this:http://www.3inone.com/products/silicone-spray/

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