Bearings are found in the wheels of skates, skateboards, and bicycles. These items should be cleaned and lubricated periodically to keep the wheels running smoothly and in shape. To clean the bearings of a skateboard, you can stack them in a cleaning kit specially designed for this purpose. To clean the cartridge bearings on a bicycle, you must remove the wheels and degrease the cartridges at the hub centers. To clean loose bearings on a bicycle, you must first completely disassemble them.
Method 1 of 4: Remove the bearings from a skateboard
Step 1. Remove the wheels from the skates or skateboard
To remove these items, you must loosen the nut with a socket wrench or a skateboard T wrench. You can also use an Allen key to remove the wheels from the hub of in-line skates.
Make sure to store all nuts and washers in a safe place (such as a plastic bag or small container)
Step 2. Remove the wheel bearings
In addition to a wrench for tightening and loosening the lug nuts, most T wrenches also have a fitting to remove the bearing from the center of the wheel. While using these types of wrenches is the preferred method, you can also use a screwdriver to remove the bearing cap.
If you have a skateboard, you can use the axle to remove the bearing cap. Hold the wheel against the axle so that the side that would normally be facing outward points inward and contacts the axle. You must press gently to remove the bushing
Step 3. Remove the rubber or metal seals
Once you have removed the bushings from the center of the wheels, you must remove the seal to reveal the bearings. If these have a rubber seal, you can use a paper clip to carefully lift the seal.
- As an alternative, you will likely find a metal seal secured with a C-shaped clip. You can use a knife to pry out this clip. Then you should tap it gently until the metal seal comes off.
- You will likely detect the outline of the C-shaped bra if the metal seal is removable. If the seal is pressed in and does not have a visible seam or outline, then it cannot be removed, so you will not be able to access the bearings.
Method 2 of 4: Cleaning a Skateboard's Bearings
Step 1. Use a skateboard bearing cleaning kit
The easiest method to clean these items is to use a kit specially designed for this purpose, but you can also make your own kit at home. You should get a sports drink bottle and poke a hole in the cap big enough for a ¼ inch wide and 6 inch long bolt to pass through. Run a gasket along the bolt until it is flush with the head and insert the bolt through the cap. Then use a washer and nut to secure it to the lid.
- You can cut a ballpoint pen sleeve into 1/4-inch (6mm) wide cylinders to create spacers and place them between the bearings.
- If you want to buy a skateboard bearing cleaning kit, you can find it at a skateboard store or online.
Step 2. Stack the bearings in the cleaning kit
If you are using a kit that you bought in a store, you should put a bearing cap on the base and a spacer on top of it. Then you should repeat the sequence until you have stacked all the bushings. If you are using a homemade cleaning kit, you should slide the bushings along the bolt and place a pen spacer between each bush.
Stacking the bushings instead of washing them freely in a container will help prevent them from scratching each other. It will also help you prevent the bearings from slipping out of the bushings
Step 3. Fill the cleaning container with alcohol, a solvent, or a citrus cleaner
After stacking the caps, you should fill the container or kit bottle with a cleaning agent. You can use a citrus-based cleaner, 90% pure isopropyl alcohol, or a solvent product (such as acetone).
- Each cleaner has advantages and disadvantages. A citrus-based cleaner is the safest option, but it can leave residue on the bushings. Isopropyl alcohol and acetone are stronger and leave no residue, but they irritate the skin and give off dangerous fumes.
- Make sure to wear gloves if you choose to use rubbing alcohol or a solvent product.
- Avoid using WD-40 lubricant or oil to clean the bearings or bushings. This will only cause dirt to build up without being able to remove it.
Step 4. Shake and soak the bearings
Insert the stacked bearings into the container filled with cleaner and secure the lid. Shake the container for a few seconds. Then let it sit for five to ten minutes to remove buildup. After allowing it to settle, you should shake the container again.
Step 5. Dry and lubricate the bearings
Remove the caps from the container and separate them. You can use compressed air to dry them completely. Once they are dry, apply a few drops of lubricant to them with a hypodermic needle or pin.
You should use a lubricant made for skateboard bearings, one for sewing machines, or one for electronic devices. These products usually come with a needle applicator
Step 6. Reinstall the bearings and wheels
Once you have lubricated the bearings, you can reassemble them together with the wheels. Replace the rubber or metal seals over the bearing bushings. You can use a T wrench to reinsert the bushings into the centers of the wheels. Next, assemble the wheels on the skateboard or skates.
You can use a skateboard axle to put the bearing shell in place, but you run the risk of damaging the bearing. The preferred method is to use a T wrench
Method 3 of 4: Clean Cartridge Bearings on Bicycle Wheels
Step 1. Remove the wheels from the bike
Many bikes have a quick-release lever that you simply pull and turn to the left. In addition to this lever, most mountain bikes also feature an axle that slides after the quick release is activated. Some bikes have heavy nuts (to secure the wheels in place) that you can remove with a wrench.
Step 2. Remove the end caps from the axle and rear hub frame
Once you have removed the wheels from the bike frame, you should uncover the cartridge that holds the bearings. For the front wheel, you just need to rotate or loosen the axle caps on the hub or in the center of the wheel.
For the rear wheel, you also need to remove the hub cage. You just have to pull it from the center of the wheel
Step 3. Pry the seal onto the cartridge bearing
Use a utility knife to carefully pry the seal off the cartridge. You must be careful not to deform or damage the seal or cartridge races, which hold the bearings in place.
Make sure to keep the stamps and other parts you removed in a safe place to prevent them from getting lost
Step 4. Degrease and clean the cartridge bearing
Use a rag to clean as much of the debris from the cartridge as possible. Take a degreaser spray that has a small straw and spray the cartridge. Next, wipe off the degreaser and spray the cartridge with WD-40 lubricant to remove any moisture (since degreaser contains a little water). Then you need to remove the excess lubricant.
Step 5. Use a grease gun on the cartridge
Fill the cartridge bearing with plenty of bicycle grease. The tight spaces in the cartridge are best accessed by using a grease gun (available online or at a bike store). If you live in a humid area, you should apply more grease to the cartridge to protect the bearings.
Once you have cleaned and applied grease to one wheel, you should repeat this procedure with the other
Step 6. Put the cartridge seal back in place and reinstall the wheels
Put the seals back on the cartridge bearings. Reinsert the rear hub cage and place the end caps on the wheel hubs. Readjust the wheels on the bike frame and secure them by tightening the lug nuts or the quick release lever.
Method 4 of 4: Clean loose wheel bearings on a bicycle
Step 1. Use socket wrenches to remove the cone from the hub and axle
You will need a pair of thin cone wrenches to remove a cup and cone bushing. Place a wrench around the cone and another around the nut. Then turn the nut counterclockwise to remove it.
- For the rear wheel, you will need to remove the sprockets to access the cup and cone hub. You will need a sprocket removal tool (available online or at a bike store) to fit the sprockets and loosen the lock nut.
- The nuts and any washers or spacers should be set aside in the correct order to facilitate their assembly.
Step 2. Raise the bearings on each side of the hub
Once you have removed the cone, you will be able to access the bearings on either side of the hub. Use a scalpel blade or a narrow cutter to carefully remove the bearings from the seat on each side. There are also magnetic tools that look like rods and make bearing removal easy.
- If you use a blade, you should spray a little grease on it so that the bearings adhere to it. This procedure will make it easier to remove from the seat.
- You should keep the bearings separate so that you can differentiate each side.
Step 3. Degrease and clean the bearings and seat
You should spray the bearings with a spray degreaser and wipe them clean. Put a small straw in the nozzle of the spray degreaser and spray inside the bearing seat. You can wrap a cloth around one of your fingers to clean the inside of the seat.
Wear gloves when handling the degreaser
Step 4. Fill the bearing seat with grease before installing the bushing
Use the grease gun to apply a thick layer of grease to the bearing seat. The excess oil will just come off, so you don't have to worry if you apply a large amount.
If necessary, you can use a finger to grease around the bearing seat
Step 5. Insert the bearings into each seat and add more grease
When reinstalling the bearings, you will likely miss the seat, causing the bearings to pass through the bushing and out the other side. To avoid this, you can pass the axle through the hub, but from the opposite side. In this way, the shaft tip will prevent the bearings from falling out, making it easier to install them in the seat.
- You should apply even more grease to the seat after putting the bearings back in place.
- Once you have inserted the bearings on one side of the hub, you must repeat the procedure on the other side.
Step 6. Reinstall the cone, spacers, and nut
Slide the axle through the hub and place the cone over it. Attach the washers or spacers you removed. You must turn the nut on the threaded shaft by hand. Then use the cone wrenches to tighten it together with the cone spacers.