Friday, July 27, 2012

Fridays with Bri - cleaning roller skate bearings

My hot wife and derby veteran!


Jordan and I have been planning for a long time to clean the bearings in our roller skates; we used to love skating together, but this season has just been too busy. It may seem like a big job and it can be intimidating, but it turned out to take only a half-hour. Now we both feel silly for waiting. If you use roller skates, roller blades, or a skateboard, this maintenance is important, so be sure to keep reading! Here is the step by step on how we did ours. There are many different opinions on what works best, but we were really happy with our results.

Firstly, we did check for videos on the internet and we found this one by SkateboardTech to be the best so we followed his video; however we mentally changed the skateboard wheels to roller skate wheels (which are almost the same). The bearings we have are Bones Reds, which can be opened and actually taken apart into its smallest components. We chose to only take off the red rubber seals, though. You can go further if you have the time.

First you will need:

A skate tool
Cleaner--an alcohol-based solvent is best, though the video recommends orange cleaner. But if you use an alcohol-based cleaner, you can skip the rinsing step.
Cleaner bottle--buy one from a skate shop, or make one like the video shows.
Lubrication oil--sewing machine oil will do the trick!
Paper towel
A paper clip
Bearings (we used bones reds)
Roller Skates, a skateboard, or roller blades

Step 1

Remove the  bearings from the wheels, and wipe off the dirt. Place the bearings on a paper towel

Step 2

Remove the cover/seal; the bones reds have a rubber cover. Stick the paper clip beside the inner circle and pop out the seal. Other beings may have a metal covering where you have to pop a metal retaining clip.

Step 3

Attach the bearings to the cleaning bottle peg and pour the cleaner into the bottle; about 1/3 of the way full.

Step 4

Shake away! Shake shake shake! Shake shake shake!

Step 5

Remove the bearings and dry them. We used an alcohol based cleaner, which evaporates quickly. If you use a citrus biased cleaner be sure to dry them thoroughly and you may need to rinse away a residue. You can use a lot of things as solvents, including methyl hydrate (we used this and it was great), isopropyl alcohol with a HIGH volume (ie. 70% or more), even rubbing alcohol. We've even heard of people just using the lemon juice you buy in a lemon-shaped bottle in the grocery store. Remember to read precautions, and wear protection if you're handling anything poisonous.

Bearings and their seals removed.
Step 6

Add the lubricant: we used Bones Speed Cream, however you can also use sewing machine oil or any lubricant intended for small machinery. Do not use motor oil, grease or WD40 as they become thick and sticky and are meant for large moving parts.


Replace the shield. With ours, we just pushed them back on. 
Step 8

Reinstall the bearings into your wheels and put back on the skates.

Step 9

Roll around on your freshly cleaned bearings.

Disclaimer: I am not a mechanic or am I trained to clean bearings. This is just a list of steps I took to clean my own bearings. Be sure to research your particular type of bearings, and experiment until you find what works for you!

There's nothing worse than feeling held back from a beloved activity because your equipment is in disrepair. A quiet half-hour spent together, cleaning our bearings, just gave us another great cheap date activity! What have you been putting off? Time to get out there and make it happen!

Yours truly, back in my roller derby reffing days!

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