Intro: Clean and Lube Skateboard Bearings (long Method)
This instructable is a step by step guide to refurbishing your skate bearings. With bearings that have plastic or nylon parts, paint thinner is used so as to not damage them. Not all shields are nylon some are teflon and ceramic bearings require only one drop of lube. Warning this is not a green instructable, wear gloves and use the chemicals in a well ventilated area.
One set of eight bearings with removable nylon shields
Bearing lube (skate brand)
Materials and tools
A Latex glove
Roll of paper towels
Bearing pick or push pin
Axle nut wrench
Long tweezers or pliers
Optional professional tools
Air compressor with gun
Hazardous chemicals disposal unit
Step 1: Bearing Removal
Remove axle nut with a wrench, be careful not to scratch or damage the shield. Put the washers and the nut aside for now so nothing gets lost. To pull the bearing out of the wheel use the trucks axle to pry it out, keep rotating the wheel and applying pressure till it pops out. Put your bearings and spacers onto the rag; wipe off as much dirt and debris as possible. Rotate each bearing and take note of any that are glitchy, or need to be replaced.
Put on a latex glove, Take the bearing pick or push pin and insert it at the inner metal ring between the rubber shield and metal. Push in and turn to pry the shield off, if these are skate bearings the nylon shield should pop out with out too much pressure. This instructable has a video of another way to de-shield a bearing. Collect all the shields and stick a wire through them. Bend the wire to fit the container they'll soak in. On this wire you can include the spacers and washers if they need cleaning too.
Step 2: Soak the Parts
Fill the glass with paint thinner, but only enough to completely submerge the parts. Use as little paint thinner as possible (this stuff is volatile), and stir them while they soak. About once or twice during the long soaking period, agitate the contents so that all the debris falls out of the bearing cage. The reason for this miniscule amount of thinner and the massive amount of waiting is to save paint thinner, save the environment, and allow the thinner to do its job. Patience is the key when it comes to cutting the grease on those expensive bearings, soak them for 4-6 hours
Step 3: Fish Out the Shields
The shields dont need to soak as long, besides after they are re-wiped more grit gets removed. So tap off the excess thinner and place them on a clean towel to absorb the rest. Now this is where the environmentally conscientious people will scorn me, take the damp bearings to the sink and rinse them with cold water. To own an air compressor with a gun would be very handy, then the residue of the thinner would be removed with air instead of water. Place the shields on a towel to dry, fold the towel over them and apply pressure
Step 4: Fish Out the Bearings
Now that bearings have had a thorough soak, put on that glove again, pick up some tweezers or pliers and fish them out. Gently tap any excess thinner back into the jar, place the bearings on a towel to absorb the rest. Then take them to a sink and rinse them. The impact this has on the environment is bad, unless of course an air compressor is used to spin clean them. If you dont completely remove all the thinner the lubrication will counter act with it. Put them on a clean towel and began rotating each bearing on both sides. Now put the bearings on another clean towel tap out the water, get rid of the all the moisture and recommence bearing rotation.
Step 5: Clean the Wheel (quick Way)
The wheels are the filthiest things on the skateboard. A thorough cleaning would consist of using soap and water, but that isn't of concern hear. Just make sure the inside of the wheel is clean so that no dirt gets trapped within it. Take a towel and fold it up, insert it through the wheel, hold each end of the towel while applying firm pressure roll the wheel on the ground. Repeat this with all the wheels till your towel looks filthy.
Step 6: Lubricate
After the bearings are completely dry, place them all with the bearing cage face up on a towel. Dont over lube these parts otherwise it will draw dirt into the bearing. Start lubing the backs of the bearing cage with two drops of speed lube and re-shield them. Next flip the bearings over so the ball bearings are face up, this is the position that they will be set into either sides of the wheel. Remember which side has ball bearings and which side has the cage, the cage can never be on the outside of the wheel where it cracks from stress. Lubricate the ball bearings with two drops of lube and re-shield them. Now take the dry edge of the paper towel fold it over and apply pressure to remove excess lube. Insert them into both sides of the wheel from this position. A bearing press can make this step easier. Finish one side of the wheels and then turn them over, insert the bearing spacers and continue pressing the bearings in.
Step 7: Reassemble
Clean the truck axle with a towel before assembling the truck. Heres where the setup is different than most. The hardware used here is "Grindking ATS Rims" this nut covers the bearing shield on the outside, and a plastic washer covers the shield on the inner side to protect it from debris. The rest of the set up is easy; the wheel is sandwiched between to metal washers. By slightly over tightening the axle nut this will align the bearings and press them further into the wheel. After that loosen the axle nut so that the wheel has a very small amount of slip on the axle. Give the wheel a good spin, see the difference in how much longer it lasts.