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Cleaning and lubricating ball bearings
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In order for your ball bearings to always deliver optimal performance, it is important that you clean and relubricate them regularly. This also extends the durability and service life of the bearings and ensures maximum speed.
Caution: Avoid contact with water and sand!
Using and storing them in a damp and dusty environment will greatly reduce the service life of your ball bearings.
This is how you clean and lubricate the ball bearings of skates, skateboards or stunt scooters
Required care products & tools: Grease-dissolving cleaning agent (e.g. benzine), a solvent-resistant container, a needle or a carpet knife, as well as a small brush and fresh grease or oil.
The first step is to remove the ball bearings from the rollers. The YouTube video at the beginning of the article shows you how to pry the bearings out of the rollers. In the video, the cleaning process is shown using inline rollers as an example, but the same procedure naturally also applies to the rollers of your roller skates, your skateboard or stunt scooter.
Photo 1: Dismantle the rollers and lever the ball bearings out of the hubs
With a small brush you now carefully clean all outer surfaces of the ball bearings until they are completely free of dirt and other deposits.
There are two types of ball bearings: open and closed. Open ball bearings have no side covers and are therefore very easy to clean. In the case of closed (sealed) ball bearings, you must first carefully remove the side covers (sealing washers).
Photo 2: Carefully clean all outer surfaces of the ball bearings
If your bearings are sealed, you can carefully remove the sealing washers from the races with a needle or the point of a box knife.
On some closed ball bearings, a small C-ring (retaining ring) holds the metal covers in place. Here you have to remove the C-ring first before you can carefully remove the covers.
In this case, don't forget to clean the metal covers and C-clips with detergent as well.
Image 3: Carefully remove the sealing washers (here without the C-ring) with a needle or a carpet knife.
Now put the opened ball bearings in a small, sealable container with fresh cleaning agent and shake it for a few minutes. This loosens dirt and stuck deposits in every nook and cranny of the ball bearings and washes them out.
Photo 4: First you remove the dirt from your ball bearings with a brush. Then soak them in fresh detergent and shake the container.
Now take the ball bearings out of the container and turn them as fast as possible to completely eject the detergent from inside the bearings.
Another quick and efficient method is to use compressed air to blow the liquid out of the ball bearings.
Place the cleaned ball bearings on a clean cloth or a fresh sheet of kitchen roll to dry them.
Photo 5: After you have taken your ball bearings out of the container and removed the cleaning agent, place them on a clean cloth to dry.
This is how you can check whether the cleaning process was successful: Hold the ball bearing with your thumb and forefinger on the inner race and turn the outer race slightly.
If the ball bearing does not rotate freely and / or you hear scratching noises, this means that the dirt has not yet been completely removed. In this case, repeat the cleaning process described above with fresh cleaning liquid. If the ball bearings are very dirty, it may well be necessary to carry out this process 2 to 3 times.
Photo 6: Has your ball bearing actually become completely clean after cleaning? A simple test brings clarity: the outer race must rotate freely and evenly.
Now that you have made sure that all of the ball bearings rotate smoothly again, place them back on the cloth or kitchen roll - they are now ready for fresh oil or grease.
To do this, apply 1–2 drops of fresh oil or 3 mm grease around the ball bearing (no more, as this only attracts dirt unnecessarily).
Now turn the ball bearing several times until the oil or grease is evenly distributed inside the ball bearing. Tip: You can optimize this process by clamping the ball bearing in a drill.
Image 7: 1–2 drops of fresh lubricating oil are sufficient to give the ball bearing new momentum.
Finally, put the sealing washers or covers (including C-rings) back into the ball bearings.
Now you push the clean and freshly lubricated ball bearings (including spacers) back into the rollers of your inline skates, your skateboard or your stunt scooter - and off you go with the action!
Photo 8: After you have reinserted the sealing washers into the cleaned and lubricated ball bearings, you press them into the hubs of the rollers.
And what comes after cleaning and lubrication?
After the cleaning process and fresh lubrication, your ball bearings need a few kilometers for the oil or grease to be evenly distributed inside. After this short "break-in period", your roles will revert to their usual agility and performance.
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