Anyone that has ever owned a pair of inline skates or simply just rollerblades has noticed that overtime their bearings start to slow down and in some cases eventually seize up. The main and obvious reason for this is that overtime dust, dirt, and sometimes water build up in the bearings, causing more and more friction. As the friction continues to grow your wheels will gradually spin less and less. However there is a simple way to make those bearings spin almost like new again, that involves spending only a few dollars.
Some people insist on purchasing all new bearings once they start to have trouble with their current ones. This method is alright, if you feel you have the money to dish out. Like I said before though, there is a simple way to fix your bearings for very cheap. The first thing you are going to need to do is pop your bearings out. I personally like to use a pen to do this. It seems to be one of the easiest and safest ways to get the bearings out of the wheels. You want to try and avoid using anything metal to take them out, with the main reason that metal won’t give, and could potentially leave dents in your bearings.
Once the bearings are all out, you’re going to want to simply clean them to the best of your ability with just a paper towel. Do not use any liquids, especially water. The main goal at this point is just to get as much of the dust and grime out of the bearings as possible. If you have things stuck in crevices in the bearings you may want to use a toothpick to try and get some of the stuff out. Again you don’t want to use anything metal because you could ruin the bearings.
After you have them all cleaned up to the best of your ability you’re going to want to put them all in a single plastic disposable cup that you are willing to eventually throw away. Now that you have all the bearings together you need to apply some sort of lubricant to the cup and bearings. Any type of product designed to loosen up metal products will work. I personally use WD-40 because it is cheap, and is designed to repel water.
Make sure to fill the cup with this lubricant so that all the bearings are completely soaking. Now leave the bearings to set overnight, or if you feel it’s necessary for a few days. You’re going to notice the lubricant get darker over time, as all the grime in the bearings will start to work its way out. This is the main reason you wanted to get as much off the surface of the bearing as possible, because you want as little dirt and dust floating with your bearings as possible.
Once you feel the bearings are done you can start to take them out of the lubricant. Make sure you have some paper towels around because the bearings will certainly be wet when they first come out. Try to dry them off a little bit, while also making sure to spin each individual bearing. When you spin it the lubricant inside the bearing has a chance to work its way around a little and will help the bearings spin even better. You could conceivably put the bearings back in to a new cup with lubricant after spinning them, but that would only provide a little extra spin.
After everything is cleaned up, it is relatively easy to pop the bearings back in the wheels. Make sure to test that every wheel spins properly and that the bearings fit properly. The easiest way to make sure the bearings are in properly is first before you even put a screw in the wheel should slide into place with ease. If you have to force the wheel into place so you can put the screw in than the bearings aren’t in properly. The second way to tell is when you have the wheels attached with the screws in place the wheel should never be restricted in how well it spins because you tighten the screw. If you spin the wheel, and then tighten the screw, and this forces the wheel to slow down or stop, then the bearings aren’t in properly. If either of these happen when installing your wheels then you need to pop the bearings back out, and then put them back in.
If you follow these simple guidelines I have here, then you should have your bearings spinning like new again. This method is relatively cheap, and can help delay the time in-between when you have to buy new bearings. I am an avid roller hockey player, and have been for the past few years. I have been using this method for a while now and have been running on the same bearings for almost 3 years now. With a little respect and care for your bearings you can greatly extend their useful life.