Its the rainy season again and that means one thing. You must clean your bearings more than usual. Hopefully you won’t take that brand new setup and go get it wet. But if you have a rain board, or your board goes in a puddle or perhaps the big bowl, you need to clean them. Or you can buy new ones. I prefer spending an hour to thoroughly clean my bearings than spending the 15 bucks for new ones. During the winter your bearings accumulate more than normal amounts of debris. This is a mixture of oil, dirt, leaves, etc. If your bearings do not spin properly they are probably full of this kind of gunk.
The first thing to do is check to see if your wheels are just on too tight. Loosen the axle nut and double check. If it is obvious that the bearings are not spinning, take the wheels off and check the bearings by hand. Now you might be able to solve the problem by applying some lubricant to the inside of the bearings. Never use more than a drop or two. Don’t leave massive amounts of any oil or lube inside the bearings. It will drip out and your bearings will end up being twice as dirty. Try to free up the bearings and get them spinning again. Don’t use WD-40 unless you have no other choice. Skate brand lube is usually teflon-based (like Tri-Flow).
If your bearings are truly filthy, you will have to take them out of the wheels. Pry each bearing out using the axle of the truck or similar object. An important thing about maintaining bearings is that you need to know the parts of the bearing so that you don’t damage them. Its relatively easy to damage the bearings if you improperly install or disassemble them.
The outer ring is the part of the bearing that is on the outside, is always metal, and has a track on its inner rim where the bearings roll. You can press against this without damaging the shields.
The shield is either metal or plastic-coated metal, and acts as a protective layer between your bearings and the elements. You cannot press against the shield with, say, a socket because it will damage it. If you are tightening your axle nut or pressing a bearing in you will ruin your bearing if you press only against the shield. It can’t take the pressure and will just bend inwards. You must use a tool with the same diameter as the outer ring of the bearing (like a Fix Stix) if you want to press on it. Some shields are removable, others are not. Plastic-coated shields snap on and off, and metal shields have a clip attaching them. To remove a plastic shield, just pry it out with a pin. To remove a clip-on shield, first find the tiny ring that runs along the outer edge of the shield. Then find the gap where the ring’s edges come together and pry the edge with a pin. Put your thumb over it so it doesn’t pop out and go flying. Now the shield should just pop out. When you’re done, replace the shield and put the clip right back where it came from.
Once you remove the shields, then you will be able to see the inside of the bearing. It will either be metal and non-removable, or plastic and removable. If it is metal, then carefully clean out all the dirt that is inside there. An old toothbrush works really good. If it is plastic, it can be pried out with a pin. Pry on the flat side and it should just pop out, and it will look like a little crown. clean this off, and clean out the inside of the bearing. Then, spread the ball bearings apart evenly and snap the crown back in. NOTE: if you remove the shield from one side, and remove the crown, the ball bearings can fall out. Don’t do this if you don’t know what you are doing because it is really hard to put back together. If a bearing has one shielded side, then always leave the crown in if you remove the shield and vise-versa.
So now you basically know the parts of the bearing. All of these accumulate dirt and must be cleaned. Taking the bearing apart is a sure way to clean them, but if you don’t want to, or the bearings don’t come apart, you can do several things. First try a couple drops of lube. To get a really stuck bearing rolling try flushing it out with a rag and some oil. Wipe the oil out and try to get the dirt to come out. The bearings can be soaked completely, but be sure to wipe all of the oil away.
Here’s a basic rundown of bearing types:
Halo abec 1 – Double removable clip-on metal shields, non-removable metal core
Bones Reds – Single removable snap-on plastic/metal shield, removable plastic core
Bones Swiss – Single removable snap-on plastic/metal shield, removable plastic core
Bones Ceramics – Single removable snap-on plastic/metal shield, removable plastic core
Lucky abec 3,5,7 – Single removable clip-on metal shield, removable plastic core
Speed Metal abec 3,5 – Double metal non-removable shields, non-removable metal core
Speed Metal abec 7, Single non-removable metal shield, non-removable metal core
Speed Demons (oiled) – Double non-removeable metal shields, non-removable plastic core
(clear shields) – Double removeable clip-on plastic shields, removable plastic core
Black Panthers – Double shields, one non-removable metal, one removeable snap-on plastic/metal, non-removable plastic core
Independent – Double shields, one removable clip-on metal, one removable snap-on plastic/metal, removable plastic core
Pig 3 – Double removable clip-on metal shields, non-removable metal core
Pig 5 – Single removable clip-on metal shield, removable plastic core
Pig Speedstars – Single non-removable metal shield, removable plastic core
Hawk – Double shields, one non-removable metal, one removable snap-on plastic/metal shield, non-removable metal core
Sector 9 Greaseballs – Double removable clip-on metal shields, non-removable metal core
Zero Black Widows – Single non-removable metal shield, removable plastic core