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Sunday, November 6, 2005

Opening sealed rollerblade bearings

Hammer, nail and bearings

Sealed rollerblade bearings are a pain, if they get rusty, clogged with dirt or soaked with water the usual course of action is to throw them away and buy new bearings.

There is, however, another option. This article describes the procedure of opening sealed rollerblade bearings thus transforming them into fully serviceable bearings.


The procedure described below includes taking a hammer and nail to a ball bearing. Ball bearings are precision instruments and incorrect (or even correct!) use of these tools could render your bearings unusable. This procedure is reccomended ONLY for bearings that would be otherwise be discarded. I will not be held responsible for any damage to bearing, hammer, nail, assorted body parts and anything else you might hurt/break/etc. while servicing or using your bearings. Proceed at your own risk.

Now that the legal stuff is out of the way... lets get down to business!

First of all, you want to be sure your holding a SEALED bearing, and not a SERVICEABLE bearing.

SERVICEABLE bearings have a small depression at the edge of the bearing shield and a small C shaped ring in that depression.
SEALED bearings have small "fangs" all along the edge of the bearing shield.

These pictures should help you tell the difference:


If you have a SERVICEABLE bearing, this article is not for you, simply pop out the c ring with a small pin and the bearing shield will fall out - no need for hammering on anything.

if, on the other hand, you're holding a SEALED bearing, the procedure is as follows:

You'll need a small hammer, and a small and THIN nail - the nail must be as thin as possible or you will damage the bearings balls and/or ball-cage.

Bearing bullseye

Position the nail just before the "fangs" on the bearing shield - as shown in the picture. DO NOT positing the nail between the "Fangs" and the bearings outer rim - this will damage the bearing outer rim. Hammer on the nail G-E-N-T-L-Y so not to damage the bearings balls or ball-cage. Stop immediately after the nail has penetrated the bearing shield. DO NOT hammer the nail through the whole bearing - you only want a small hole so that you can pry off the bearing shield.

Prying open the bearing shield

Using the small hole, and the tip of the nail, lever the bearing shield off the bearing, the shield should come off relatively easily. DO NOT repeat this on the bearings other side. Every bearing should be left with one bearing shield intact.

Give the bearing a few experimental spins to make sure that the balls or ball cage have not been damaged by the nail and the hammering.

Holding a bearing shield

Proceed to service the bearing as you would a regular serviceable bearing I.E. - degrease the bearing with a proper degreasing solution, let dry and re-grease or re-oil.

When inserting the bearing back into the wheel, be sure to insert it with the intact shield facing outward. The bearing shield is there to prevent dust and foreign objects from entering the bearing while rollerbalding, rollerbalding with the open side of the bearing facing out could result in an unpleasant accident.

Recycling and servicing your old sealed bearings could save you up to 40$. I have successfully preformed this procedure several times, but it does take some practice to get it right. You should expect one or two bearing "casualties" out of your first attempted batch.