Rebuilding Unsealed Ball Bearings for Inline Skates and other purposes

Bearings are mechanical.  You need to keep them dry, and you need to keep them lubed.  No matter what they are in, wheels, skate wheels, or other purposes, they need maintenance.

I have a lot of leftover bearings from when I competed and skated 100 mile weeks like they were going out of style.  That means that in Peak Season, I would be tearing down inline skate bearings once every two weeks.

I have plastic Feta Cheese containers with lids that has my old inventory, and I am going through them.  Just before I left Philadelphia at the end of the 2005 season, I tore down every one of those couple-hundred bearings and refurbished/restored/reworked them.  Lubed and ready they sat in the Feta Cheese container until I needed them last week.

The problem is that an oil will oxidize if left alone long enough.  That was what happened to me.  I found that they slowed me down greatly, and trust me, all those 21,000 miles worth of skating meant I was tearing down a lot of bearings so I know how they should feel.

The good news was that when I did this process to my old bearings from years past, I used them today.  The process shaved a whole minute off a mile, so it’s worth it.

To do this, I use the following – your process may vary.

  • Electric Hair Dryer with a flat metal grid over the heating surface.
  • Citrus Degreaser.
  • Paper towels.
  • Plastic container for bearings and parts of bearings.
  • A “sturdy” push pin with a fine point.
  • A container of lubricating oil.  I use Triflow and have for decades.
  • A Skate Maintenance tool – has a pusher to remove a bearing from a wheel and a hex key.

 

Understand this is a long process.  Doing this from start to finish for me took 3 hours on a rainy sunday afternoon.  Once you start, you really do have to complete the process by getting the bearings lubed and sealed up once again.  

Take A Deep Breath, You Can Do This!

Keep in mind though, this process is for UNSEALED bearings.  These are bearings where the shields can be freely removed.   If you can’t remove the shields and get at the insides, you’re done, buy a new set of bearings.  Come on back when you have got them.

Standard Internet Warranty applies – this is at your own risk.  If you ruin your bearings, well that’s on you.  I have made every effort to present this in excruciating detail to be as complete as possible by a knowledgeable amateur.  Ramblingmoose.com takes no responsibilities towards anything that you do as a result.  Sorry, but weasel words are here to protect … me.

 

First step is to remove all wheel assemblies from the skate “truck”.  Since there are variances in how this is done, I’m being general.  Find the screw or bolt that holds it in, remove the bolt from the wheel, push the axle through the wheel to free it, and set it aside.

Second is to remove all bearings from each wheel.  This gets you to where you have naked metal parts – bearings, axles, and bolts/screws.  Use your skate tool to push the speed kit or anything else in the way out of it.  That should pop the bearing out from the other side.  If no speed kit is used, then you can use the skate tool to seat inside the center of the bearing, lean it toward one side and pull back to extract the bearing.

Third, with a clean towel wipe all old grease and grit from the outside of the bearing.  I do mean ALL.  There is a track on the top of each bearing that must be visible so that you can see the retaining clip.

Fourth, Completely Disassemble each and every bearing and place all parts in the cleaning container.  I will go into detail after I complete this long process.  See below.  No really, go to the bottom of the article where I describe everything in painful detail.

Fifth, Add Citrus Degreaser to the cleaning container and water if you feel you need it.  I use full strength.

Sixth, Cover the container and shake it vigorously for enough time to degrease the bearings.  I usually take more than a minute shaking this up inside the sink.

Seventh, Pour off the solution and cover the bearings with tap water.  Shake it vigorously.  Your water will discolor.  You will see grit get dissolved into the water.  You may wonder why you even started this longish process.

Eight, Repeat step Seven until the water runs clear.  It took me six repeats.

Nine, lay out paper towels.  Bang out the bearings on the paper towels until there is no more water inside the bearings, visibly.   Place each bearing on a dry paper towel.  Repeat with the shields, bolts, screws, C-Clips, and so forth until everything is as dry as possible.

Ten, Using the hairdryer, place each bearing on the grid on the outflow or hot side of the hairdryer.  I tend to put down more than one because this is a long process.  Turn on the hairdryer to full hot and allow the air to dry the bearing completely.  All water must “bake out”, because any water left in the bearing will rust it.

I repeat – all the water must bake out because any water left in the bearings will rust them.

Go longer than shorter.   I find a minimum of 1 minute per bearing is needed with my hairdryer, your time will vary.

Eleven, partial reassembly.  Place one shield in a bearing.  Replace the C-Clamp by fitting it in the groove toward the outside of each bearing.  Repeat for each bearing, but only one side.

Twelve, Lubricate the bearings.  Tri-Flow has a drip applicator where you can get a single drop of oil if you squeeze gently.  Each bearing needs three drops of oil.  Spin it gently.  Replace the Shield and C-Clip for the opposite side.  Spin the bearing.  It must spin freely – Tri-flow is a speed lubrication oil (or so I was told once upon a time).  The bearings should spin like a fidget spinner.   Repeat for every other bearing you have.

Finally reassemble the wheels by pushing one bearing into place, inserting a speed kit where they came from, and place the second bearing on the opposite side.

Once that all is through, you can bolt each wheel into the skate truck and test for speed.   If a wheel is bolted too tightly, it will stop spinning quickly when spun.  They should be free, and the bolts should not come loose.  I use a small square of duct tape and a little “Permatex Blue” to put the retention bolt in place and keep it there under load.

Ok, now that the “general” (yeah right) process has been described, the complete teardown.  

All bearings are laid out in front of you.

Take a bearing, and look at it from the side.  It looks like a ring or a donut.

Under the outer ring, there is a notch where a piece of flat springy metal sits.  It’s in the shape of a Letter C.

The ends of the C are beveled where one side is beveled away from the rim.

That creates a notch where you insert the tip of your push pin and pull it away from the rim.

The C Clip should pull away “easily”, but you may find that some refuse to come out.  If all of your bearings are like that, you have sealed bearings and you can not or are not able to pursue the disassembly, and you will want to reassemble the wheels without washing them.

If the C Clip pulls away, set it in the cleaning container.

Under the C Clip there sits a circular metal shield.  It looks like a flat washer but is typically rather thin.  This has to be removed, and it should fall right out with a little coaxing.  I use the push-pin to get one side up then flip it upside down to get it to fall out.  It should not bend or be bent.

Wipe down the shield and C Clip and place them in the cleaning container.

You should now be able to see the ball bearings and the guide that holds the ball bearings in.  The better bearings have a metal guide.  The plastic or teflon guides are useable but will degrade with time and re-lubing.  Not a crisis since new bearings are fairly available.

Now that you have removed both Shields and C-Clamps, place all parts in the cleaning container and move onto the next bearing.

When all bearings are done, go back up to Step Five since you are ready to actually degrease your bearings.

 

Good luck!

A Sunday Triple Play

Going through things here, I found three stories, all too short to stand on their own. So here you go, a Triple Play.

It’s easier this way, and besides, the Golden Orb is in the sky and I don’t think it’s going to last this weekend.

Quick, go out and look at the warmth and brightness it brings, safely.

 

 

A Buddhist monk walks up to a hot dog vendor and says “Make me one with everything”.

The hot dog vendor hands over the sausage and bun with all the trimmings, and the Buddhist hands over a twenty. The vendor pockets it.

The Buddhist asks “Where’s my change?” and the vendor replies “change must come from within”.

A gun then extends from the Buddhist’s chest and he asks again.

The vendor says “Whoa, man, where did that come from?”

The Buddhist replies “This is my inner piece”.

 

A renowned philosopher was held in high regard by his driver, who listened in awe as his boss lectured and answered difficult questions about the nature of things and the meaning of life.

Then, one day, the driver approached the philosopher and asked if he was willing to switch roles for just one evening. The philosopher agreed, and, for a while, the driver handled himself remarkably well.

However, when the time came for questions, someone at the back of the room asked him, “Is the epistemological meta-narrative that you seem to espouse compatible with a teleological account of the universe?”

“That’s an extremely simple question,” he replied. “So simple, in fact, that even my driver could answer it.”

 

A guy is showing his friend around his apartment

The last stop is the bedroom, where a big brass gong sits next to the bed
“What’s that gong for?” the friend asks him.

“It’s not a gong,” the drunk replies. “It’s a talking clock.”
“How does it work?”

The guys picks up a hammer, gives the gong an ear-shattering pound, and steps back.

Suddenly, someone on the other side of the wall screams, “For God’s sake … it’s 3:30 in the god damn morning!”

I have the memory of a wooly mammoth. It’s like an elephant’s, but a little fuzzy

I keep a list of jokes on a text file on my Linux server’s desktop. I’m sitting here reading this and think… Hmmm, it’s raining, so perfect time for me to post this story.
Or not. You decide, I won’t judge.

 
A man comes to a priest for confession.
Priest: What’s on your mind?

Man: I have a confession.

Priest: Go on.

Man: A few days ago a girl friend of mine asked me to come help her with a plumbing issue. I agreed and came over to help her out. Once I was about to leave she looked outside and saw that it was raining. She convinced me to spend the night, and so we ended sleeping together.

The next day another girl friend of mine asked me to come over and help her with some yard work. Once we were done she noticed that it was raining and convinced me to spend the night. We also ended up sleeping together.

The day after that a guy fiend of mine asked me to come over and help him with some car issues he was having. It started raining and he convinced me to stay the night, so naturally we also slept together.

What should I do?

Priest: Get the hell out of here before it starts raining.

My Clock Has Four Legs and Fur or how Rack gets me to inspect the sprinklers

Most people have a very stable schedule.

Oh sure, you leave the house five minutes this way or that, go a different direction once in a while.  What I mean is that if you pull back and look at things at a “One Thousand Foot Level” instead of being specific, you do roughly the same things every day at about the same time daily.

This effect can be seen while looking at pollution levels at a city for example.  Saturday and Sunday has cleaner air.  Monday traffic is a little less than Tuesday because you and a couple hundred people in your city had a case of The Mondays that week.

That sort of thing.

I think that I’m in that sort of a relationship with my dog.  A bit of a feedback loop.

In my pre-dawn haze, almost every single day, I look over at him when I open my eyes.

Rack is almost always looking right back at me.

Ok, so it’s 5am, so let me sleep in.  Dawn comes two hours from now in winter, ok?

Didn’t think so.

If humans have a semi-rigid schedule, so do dogs.

We get out of bed and get prepared for a lap around town.  Fifteen minutes later, like furry clockwork, we’re on our way.

When we’re back, he fiddles around doing those Dog Things that he does, but he knows that when the microwave door opens, 40 seconds later, he gets food.  “Come on over” is something I rarely have to say.

Food, coffee, Spanish, online stuff, and all the sudden he’s at my elbow again.  I check the clock, it’s just turned 7 and someone else is getting up.

“Go see ’em!” I say.  It rarely works but I try anyway.  Time for a little attention, and he’s back in his corner.

I go back to my own routine and after a bit he’s back at my elbow.

It’s 7:31am.  My sprinkler systems have kicked on for a quick watering of the pots.  He’s looking at me, he knows, it’s time.  I have to do the yard inspection.   That’s a pretty rigid time there even if the clock there needs to be adjusted.

We’re in the yard, I dump my first mug’s coffee grounds in the plants because “It’s Gardener’s Gold!” in this sandbox that we call soil here, plus it can reduce the number of mosquitoes and feral cats that wander through the property.

Dumping the pool scoop in the can, I’m being herded inside.

I think Rack manages my time as effectively as any cellphone, Palm Pilot, or Secretary ever could.

He does know not to ask for an ice cube on the second mug of coffee, he gets one and that is fine by him.

Similar things happen around lunch where he knows to check what I am making.  I learned that if I tell him that it is chicken or “there’s onions” he won’t bother me.

I’ll give him some homemade yogurt instead.

At 440, he gets up to wander into the kitchen for his dinner and our second yard inspection.  Oh sure, I may be deeply involved in something, but if I am, he’ll nudge me along.

Not at 4:35 nor 4:45, but promptly at 4:40.

“Dog?  Can you read a clock?”

Brown eyes lasering a hole through my head.

When we get back inside, I try to reclaim my own schedule.

5PM on the dot he gets up and walks to the front door.   The house is about to fill up again, I am having more holes sintered in to my head.  Twin brown laser beams are telling me that someone is on the way.

I see the white SUV pull past, then back into the drive.  Time once again to go for a walk.

Yep, dog walk time.

It’s almost cause and effect.  He knows what is going on, and has a good understanding of what he is being included in.

Rack, being a McNab Dog, is so intelligent that I have learned just to accept that he will understand what is going on.   If I get up and move for the keys in a certain way that indicates that a car is being used, he tries to invite himself.  If it is a Skate Day instead, when he sees me put my skates or pads by the door, he backs off.

Intense little black and white dogs can’t run as far or as fast for as long as I can skate, although the ride would have him beyond excited.

But a herding dog, especially a McNab, is a special thing.  They will manage you if they can, and will understand what you are saying even if you can’t see the clock!

Someone’s been adding soil to my garden… The plot thickens.

A Mafia godfather finds out his bookkeeper has screwed him for 10 million bucks.

This bookkeeper is deaf. It was considered an occupational benefit and why he got the job in the first place as it was assumed a deaf bookkeeper wouldn’t be able to hear anything he’d ever have to testify about in court.

When the godfather goes to shake down the bookkeeper for his missing $10 million, he brings along his attorney, who knows sign language.

The godfather asks the bookkeeper, “Where is the 10 million bucks you embezzled from me?”

The attorney, using sign language, asks the bookkeeper where the $10 million is hidden.

The bookkeeper signs back, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

The attorney tells the godfather, “He says he doesn’t know what you’re talking about.”

That’s when the godfather pulls out a 9mm pistol, puts it to the bookkeeper’s temple, cocks it and says, “Ask him again!”

The attorney signs to the underling, “He’ll kill you for sure if you don’t tell him!”

The bookkeeper signs back, “OK! You win! The money is in a brown briefcase buried behind the shed in my cousin Enzio’s backyard in Queens!”

The godfather asks the attorney, “Well, what’d he say?”

The attorney replies, “He says you don’t have the guts to pull the trigger.”

I have the memory of a wooly mammoth. It’s like an elephant’s, but a little fuzzy

You would hope that they are better than this but I’ll leave it up to you to form an opinion, in general.  All I know is I laughed when I got to the end of this story.
A policeman was interrogating 3 guys who were training to become detectives.

To test their skills in recognizing a suspect, he shows the first guys a picture for 5 seconds and then hides it.  “This is your suspect, how would you recognize him?”

The first guy answers, “That’s easy, we’ll catch him fast because he only has one eye!” The policeman says, “Well…uh…that’s because the picture I showed is his side profile.”

Slightly flustered by this ridiculous response, he flashes the picture for 5 seconds at the second guy and asks him, “This is your suspect, how would you recognize him?”

The second guy smiles, flips his hair, and says, “Ha! He’d be too easy to catch because he only has one ear!”

The policeman angrily responds, “What’s the matter with you two?? Of course only one eye and one ear are showing because it’s a picture of his side profile! Is that the best answer you can come up with?”

Extremely frustrated at this point, he shows the picture to the third guy and in a very testy voice asks, “This is your suspect, how would you recognize him? He quickly adds, “Think hard before giving me a stupid answer.”

The third guy looks at the picture intently for a moment and says, “the suspect wears contact lenses.”

The policeman is surprised and speechless because he really doesn’t know himself if the suspect wears contacts or not.

“Well, that’s an interesting answer. Wait here for a few minutes while I check his file and I’ll get back to you on that.”  He leaves the room and goes to his office, checks the suspect’s file on his computer, and comes back with a beaming smile on his face.

“Wow! I can’t believe it. It’s TRUE! The suspect does, in fact, wear contact lenses. Good work!  How were you able to make such an astute observation?”

“That’s easy,” the third guy replied.”  He can’t wear regular glasses because he only has one eye and one ear.”

I’m not moving but I wonder if it isn’t time to change my area code to somewhere really random

I have been through this before.

My phone number has 8 of 9 numbers either repeating or in sequence. It is a popular one to use.

That’s the problem. More people than I are using it.

I end up going through “fusillades” of wrong numbers.

If you are presented with a form that wants you to fill in name, address, and phone number, and it is a legitimate use, you enter your own correct information.

But you want to sign up for a discount card and you don’t want the company of the day calling you and emailing you and harassing you for a measly dollar off coupon what do you do?

Many people use my phone number.

Mind you, sometimes I never hear it.

The last really big problem ended up with my blocking every single car dealer in South Florida. Some clown, and I have stronger names for those people, used my number on an intake form at a car dealership.

I don’t know, maybe they were giving away a set of CDs or some such nonsense that this person really wanted.

Good luck getting that number removed.

Over the span of about 2 weeks I had to have had about 100 phone calls from multiple people at specific dealers talking to a potential customer about what great deals they have.

Except.

That wasn’t me, it was my phone, and I am quite happy with my Classic-Car-Almost-Antique 2002 Jeep Wrangler.

I’d be a fool to give that car up.

It has the 4 Liter inline six cylinder motor for crying out loud.

Designed by AMC for crying out loud!

For crying out loud!
Why would I want some junky Volkswagen? (aren’t they all? Dieselgate anyone?)

Every time I got a call, I’d block the number.

I installed Mr Number to do the heavy lifting for me.

I block any “Unknown” or “Spam Suspected” calls.

Area Code 732 is blocked completely.
Ok, that last one is because it’s chock full of Indian Recruiters from Edison NJ. I have zero connections in that area code. If you are a recruiter, be from where I am at, or be from where the company is at, and have a signed contract to represent that company.

Anyway…

I get a wrong number about twice a day since the US is so abysmal in protecting the rights of customers. I guess a Congressman has to allow us to be abused because they are being paid by the lobbyists to allow them to spam people.

The other day, coming back from the park and a workout, they struck.

I was stuck in traffic waiting for the light and construction at Federal Highway and Commercial Blvd in Fort Lauderdale. My phone rang.

Random person identified with a name I didn’t know.

I did what I do with “Rand-o’s” I picked up and said nothing.

Neither did they.

They tried back three times.

In FIVE minutes.

After that it was someone else. BangBangBangBang.

Today it was someone asking about real estate in Sarasota. Then they texted me with the same question.

“When can I talk to you about property in the Sarasota Florida Area?”

I texted back “Never. Someone gave you my wrong number so they could sign up for a give away”.

People, don’t ever do that. Almost all numbers in the US in most urbanized areas are used. You are only shifting your problem onto someone else.

So I’m debating where I want my phone to live.

Not me, just the phone number.

Somewhere I have never been, and never intend to be.

Idaho? Rural Montana? Some terrible place like Mississippi?

Mississippi is the place in the US that almost everyone can look down at due to the obvious things like low scores on education, civil rights, and economy. And more!

Think of Norfolk UK and all those jokes about the people there.

So I am debating.

I have had this number here in Fort Lauderdale since 2003. I got it when we decided we were going to move here, and we did three years later. Family and friends have this number.

So having some weirdly random area code like an area in a rural area means I have to give it out, explain it isn’t local because “Reasons”, and then block any calls from that area code. If I do that, the robocallers won’t get through and it will be quiet again.

I hear that Mobile Alabama can be nice in the winter, but Alabama? It’s only one state better than Mississippi!
At least I would be able to drive home from the park and not be asked to buy a condo in Sarasota, no matter how nice it would be there.