The Planet Review of ...

Pleasure Tool's Bearing Cleaner Kit

This inexpensive kit takes some of the drudgery (Hallelujah!) out of cleaning bearings

Planet rating:

By Robert "Not a Slave to Drudgery" Burnson

Cleaning bearings is one of the most enjoyable aspects of inline skating. ... WHAT!? WHO SAID THAT?! ... I THINK I'M BEING HACKED BY MR. INSIPID! ... OK. I think he's gone. Where was I? ... Oh, yeah ... bearings.

So here's the thing: Cleaning bearings basically sucks!

It's a dirty job. It's a time hog. And sometimes, it's downright aggravating ... for instance, when the C-clips put up a fight and you end up with multiple stab wounds to your fingers trying to extricate the little suckers! ... Or when the C-clips (Yes, it's always the C-clips!) spring from the shields with such vigor that they fly 50 feet and settle deep in the dining room carpet.

So it's not surprising that some skaters never clean their bearings. Some simply disavow their existence and let them slowly fill up with grit. Of course, if you do this your skates get slower and slower, and eventually one of your bearings will seize up --- and if you happen to be skating when this happens, Mr. Bumpy may be getting a taste of you.

Other skaters simply replace their bearings with new ones every time they develop the Crunchies (the grinding sound that bearings make when they're dirty). This can be expensive, but if you buy super high-quality bearings, like Twincam ILQ-9 bearings [if you can find them!], you may be able to go for more than a year without a cleaning.

But if you've spent good money on bearings and you want to hold down your skating bill, the best thing to do is to bite the bullet and clean your bearings once in a while.

I've always practiced the "shake 'em in a can" method of bearing cleaning. I take them off the wheels, remove the C-clips and shields (or seals if they are sealed bearings), drop them in a can of solvent and swirl them around on the bottom of the can.

This method seems to work all right, although the bearings don't get sparkling clean and I always worried about the damage that might be caused by banging the bearings together in the bottom of the can.

So I was eager to try the Pleasure Tool Bearing Cleaner Kit.

The inexpensive kit ($10 U.S.) includes a plastic cleaning jar, a bottle of biodegradable citrus degreaser (enough for at least four cleanings) and instructions.

The instructions are clear and give a good description of how to remove the C-clips, shields and seals. (Of course, not all C-clips are cooperative.)

Once, you've removed the shields (or seals) from the bearings, you load them onto Pleasure Tools patent-pending "bearing suspension system."

The system is made of two plastic belts that are screwed to the bottom of the lid. You thread the bearings through the belts in a specified order. And then you cinch the belts through the buckle so the bearings are held snugly in place. (The directions did not say to do this but I found that I had to insert one end of the plastic belts through the bottom bearing. If I did not do this, the belt loosened a bit during cleaning.)

Next, you fill the jar with solvent and water, put the lid on and shake side to side. You shake for a few minutes and then check to see if the bearings are clean. If not, you shake some more.

I found that a few minutes of shaking was all it took to get the bearings sparkling clean.

Then you rinse them under the faucet to remove all the degreaser and dry them. The instructions recommend using a blow drier, which works great, but you can also pop them in the oven.

Finally, you lubricate them (Don't forget to lubricate them!), reassemble and put them back on your wheels.

The great thing about this kit is the bearing suspension system. It lets you shake the bearings vigorously in the solvent with no fear of damaging them. And that gets them remarkably clean. (By the way the kit, works for both standard 608 and micro 688 bearings.)

When I was done with mine, they were sparkling clean, looked brand new and spun like Whirling Dervishes!

This kit doesn't make dealing with C-clips any easier. But it sure helps with the cleaning.

And at $10, it's definitely worth it!

Links:

Pleasure Tool

• Bearings

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Copyright 2006 by Robert Burnson

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