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Speed Skating Forum Most of the discussions in this forum will be about inline speed skating but discussions about ice speed skating and quad roller speed skating are also welcome.

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Old May 26th, 2010, 10:48 PM   #1
2old2sk8t
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Default Yet another bearing maintenance question

I was wondering what "rule" most of you go by when it comes to cleaning oil-lubed (not greased) bearings. I have Bont racing bearings with my Semi-race skates. I've never gotten them wet, strictly an outdoor skater, and generally skate in reasonably clean roads conditions. Got them last August and skated several days a week from August through October, and again since late last month, with the winter road conditions forcing the hiatus in between. I know the mileage and conditions are what really counts. Can't really say how many I've logged, but didn't do a lot of really long distance skates.

So even though they are now in their second season, the first season was a relatively short one, and they are still quiet, and spin freely. So should I just go the whole season without maintaining them, and/or wait til they start showing signs of actual problems, or just give them a good "spring cleaning" now as a preventative measure? I've been thinking about just waiting until it's time to replace the wheels, and clean them then. TIA
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Old May 27th, 2010, 02:42 AM   #2
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If they start to get loud and dry sounding, you should at least oil them. I typically go by sound. If they sound loud, dry, or crunchy I will oil and/or clean them. I skate mostly indoors so my bearings typically don't need cleaning, but they do require oiling about once a month.

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Old May 27th, 2010, 04:36 AM   #3
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Every once in a while, while rotating wheels I will put a few drops of 3in1 oil in them. I only clean if I go through significant amount of water.
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Old May 27th, 2010, 06:56 AM   #4
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I guess I'm strange then ...or I love to clean bearings, but If i were you I would give em a quick clean now. or in a couple weeks or month when ever you change your wheels or rotate. Then I would give em a nice cleaning in the winter...maybe I clean mine too much but I like them to be nice and smooth! just me maybe.
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Old May 27th, 2010, 07:36 AM   #5
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I do maintenence on mine every month or so, twice when they're new so I guess I'm the freak on this block.

Prolong FTW.

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Old May 27th, 2010, 09:49 PM   #6
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Thanks guys. I guess I'll inspect a bearing or two, and if they look pretty clean, I'll just add a drop or two of oil for now. Otherwise, I guess I'll just do the full cleaning and lube. What I'm worried about is waiting until they do actually "tell" me they need cleaning. By then, I would suspect some damage has already been done. That is what I'm wanting to avoid, but didn't want be obsessive about cleaning them either.

On a side note, any of you use the Bont "Kluber oil" they sell for their bearings? I have the BSB High Speed lubricant, and plan to use that.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 05:07 AM   #7
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if you just buy bearings that are easy to clean (removable shield), you can service them in no time flat - some claim to be able to do a set in about a half hour, but i figure 45 minutes is more like it for me.

If you wait until they sound crunchy, you are obviously willing to live with the fact that you subjected them to stuff that effected their ability to roll freely. How that affects performance on an ongoing basis is anyone's guess, but my guess is that it's not ideal.

I shoot to service mine about once per month, and figure that in reality, it's more like every 10 to 12 weeks. They seem to do just great on this schedule, and nowadays, i replace only about two or three bearings a year.

Really, i service my bearings about once every time someone starts one of these discussions. Works like a charm. I don't consider that schedule "obsessive."
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Old May 28th, 2010, 12:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by online inline View Post
...Really, i service my bearings about once every time someone starts one of these discussions. Works like a charm. ..."
I guess all this talk has likewise given me the incentive to do so this weekend.

BTW, My bearings are single shielded, so I agree that the cleaning effort is not that big of a deal.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 01:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by online inline View Post
...some claim to be able to do a set in about a half hour, but i figure 45 minutes is more like it for me.
I think I've claimed 20 minutes before. Maybe it's time I put my money where my mouth is and time myself, start to finish. uh huh, sure, I think I said this three discussions ago... ...maybe next time?
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Old May 28th, 2010, 03:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I think I've claimed 20 minutes before. Maybe it's time I put my money where my mouth is and time myself, start to finish. uh huh, sure, I think I said this three discussions ago... ...maybe next time?
Yeah, with carb cleaner and 3-in-1 oil, it would be about a 20 minute job. If you use some kind of other cleaner, and if you try to use the exact right amount of grease, it's slower.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 03:37 PM   #11
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I guess time spent depends on how OCD you are about cleaning them.


I'm probably about a 6.5 on a scale of 10. Usually spend about an hour to get them all spiffed up.

More time needed if I completely disassemble them (removing all the balls from races). Usually though, I just pull the retainers, leaving the balls in the raceways.


I find stuff like this to be very theraputic.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 03:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarmTruk View Post
I guess time spent depends on how OCD you are about cleaning them.

I'm probably about a 6.5 on a scale of 10. Usually spend about an hour to get them all spiffed up.

More time needed if I completely disassemble them (removing all the balls from races). Usually though, I just pull the retainers, leaving the balls in the raceways.
Sorry, removing the retainers gets you to at least an 8 on the OCD scale, and having completely disassembled more than one bearing at any point in your life gets you solidly in the upper 9's.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 12:51 PM   #13
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Popped off one of my bearings, and saw something I didn't expect. Here is a close-up of the unshielded side of the bearing. Notice the shiny, translucent, amber-colored ring between the inner and outer races. It looks like either an inner shield or the back side of the cage. It's held in place pretty well by a lip on the inner race. Do I need to pop that out or do I need to take off the outward facing shield? It seems to be held in there pretty tight and I'm leery about forcing it out, in case that's not meant to be done. OTOH, the outer metal shield doesn't appear to be designed to be removed. So I am assuming I need to pop out that ring or whatever it is. (These are Bont Jesa Swiss bearings.)

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Old May 29th, 2010, 11:48 PM   #14
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That is the bearing retainer. I, personally, wouldn't mess with it.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 12:40 AM   #15
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That is the bearing retainer. I, personally, wouldn't mess with it.
Thanks Bill. I suspected it may be something like that. I would agree it doesn't appear to be designed to be removed. So I guess I just clean them intact as shown, and lube by leaching some oil in between the retainer and race.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 12:43 AM   #16
Bill in Houston
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A lot of people DO remove them for cleaning, though. I'm sure that they will weigh in with pros and cons.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 02:50 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
Yeah, with carb cleaner and 3-in-1 oil, it would be about a 20 minute job. If you use some kind of other cleaner, and if you try to use the exact right amount of grease, it's slower.
oooh-kay, and what exactly is the exact right amount of grease?
We're talking skate bearings here, people, not a swiss watch.
I'll put my 20 min/carb cleaner/3n1 lubed bearings up to a
roll-out challenge any day of the week.
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A lot of people DO remove them for cleaning, though.
only on the rare occasion that I get a piece of grit that just won't come out otherwise.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 03:42 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2old2sk8t View Post
Do I need to pop that out or do I need to take off the outward facing shield? It seems to be held in there pretty tight and I'm leery about forcing it out, in case that's not meant to be done. OTOH, the outer metal shield doesn't appear to be designed to be removed. So I am assuming I need to pop out that ring or whatever it is. (These are Bont Jesa Swiss bearings.)
Yes, pop them out with a small toothpick or other fine instrument by catching it between the balls.

Reinserting after cleaning can be tricky so here is how to do it.
First oil the bearings with 2-3 drops of 3in1 oil. Place bearing flat on a table. Use a toothpick to separate the balls equally spaced. Now you can place the nylon retaining clip over the balls and slightly wiggle it to be sure that the balls all line up with the spaces on the nylon clip. Your will be able to feel this with your finger on the nylon clip. Only then press it down on the balls.

If you force them in with out lube, you risk bending the little edges of the nylon clip which will naturally slow the bearing.

Another reason why Bones Swiss 6 ball is easier to clean.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 02:59 AM   #19
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Yes, pop them out with a small toothpick or other fine instrument by catching it between the balls.... Another reason why Bones Swiss 6 ball is easier to clean.
I don't know. I gave the retainer a pretty healthy pry using the tip of a small precision screwdriver, and that thing didn't budge. It was clear I was going to have to apply a lot more force. Just didn't seem right. Makes me think these bearings were not designed to have their retainers removed. Maybe I was just being too wimpy about it, but I was afraid I'd damage them if I applied any more force. Solidly in Bill's camp on this point.

So I cleaned and lubed with the retainers on. Oiling was tricky as I had to let each drop of oil seep in the space between the retainer and races. That was wasteful and inefficient, as about half of each drop just ended up on the retainer. So I ended up using about four drops per bearing versus the usual two that is recommended. That seemed to be the right amount to get them spinning smooth.

I might try a needle applicator next time to make the oiling easier and more precise. Besides the waste, and difficulty judging just how much oil was being applied, I also had to take good care to clean up all the excess oil that ended up on the retainers. Eh, maybe I'll just get different bearings. Those Bones Super 6 Swiss have been on my short list for some time.

Was it worth cleaning them? Based on the fact that they weren't showing overt signs of needing maintenance, and the very, very little dirt that came out (which was probably mostly from crevices on the outside of the shield), maybe not. I'm convinced I could have skated the whole season without a problem. But they did seem a tiny bit quieter on the subsequent skate today. So if nothing else, if they were running a bit dry, now they are not. On that basis, I guess oiling is worth doing a couple times a season, even if cleaning is not warranted -- the BWI Sheldon approach noted earlier.

Thanks for your input guys.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 03:36 AM   #20
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I've never "pryed" (pried?) out the retainer. I've always removed the outer shield, and PUSHED the retainer out.

Prying on the thin parts of the retainer has never seemed like a good idea to me.
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