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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

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March 23, 2011

What's the Best Way to Clean Skate Bearings?

QHi, Bill: As a new skater, I am wondering about how to maintain my bearings? I have heard about several different methods. Which do you think is best? Thanks. - Keith in New York.

Hi, Keith: My favorite way of maintaining bearings is with an ultrasonic cleaner, like the ones used to clean jewelry.

Ultrasonic cleaners are inexpensive and work well with skate bearings.

I use lead-free petrol (gasoline) as the cleaning fluid. Some skaters prefer other fluids, like citrus cleaners. But I still haven’t found anything that works as well as petrol.

If you do use petrol, be careful. Keep it away from any source of flame or spark and avoid breathing the fumes. They’re toxic.

When we’re in New Zealand, we use lead-free petrol. In Europe, we use white petrol or white spirit.

Here are the basic instructions:

  1. Fill the ultrasonic cleaner with petrol.
  2. Place the bearings on the removable basket with the open (unshielded) side facing down.
  3. Lower the basket into the cleaner.
  4. Run the cleaner for 360 seconds (six minutes).
  5. Remove the bearings and set them on a clean cloth to dry.
  6. Spin each bearing by hand to remove any remaining petrol.
  7. Lubricate each bearing with one drop of high quality oil.

We always use bearings that are open on one side. That way we don’t have to remove one of the shields when we clean them.

If your bearings are particularly dirty — let’s say you have been skating in sandy or dusty conditions — rinse them with petrol or other cleaner before putting them in the ultrasonic cleaner.

Cheers, Bill

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