How To Clean Skateboard Wheels
You have a skateboard and notice that the wheels are looking a little dirty. They turn, but they do not turn fluently. It is time to clean them. And I am not talking about wiping the dirt away from the outer edges, but rather getting the deep down dirt and grime which is hindering your ability to do tricks, ride, and enjoy your board. Besides, as the most artwork is on the base of your skateboard, the last thing you want is to have the wheels acting as an eyesore when showing off your cool designs. So, here is how you clean your wheels properly.
Get a shop rag and wipe down the entire board. Warm water is ideal for most boards to remove the surface grime. Dry the board completely before you start taking things apart. Also, it is best that you have a flat surface free of debris in which to place your board upon (turned on the back). For best results use the skateboard tools recommended for your specific board and replace parts according to the manufacturer’s suggestions.
Remove the wheels with a Skate Tool
Although your wheels may have the ability to use a screwdriver (typically a Phillips), it is recommended that you use a Skate Tool to remove the bolts holding the wheels. This is for a number or reasons. First, the skate tool is designed for this purpose, a screwdriver really is no. Second, using a screwdriver over and over on the head of a bolt or screw will wear the head down. Apart from being aesthetically bad, a stripped head is almost impossible to remove. To use the skate tool simply place the device over the bolt and turn in the appropriate direction (left) to loosen. Remove the wheels and place aside for cleaning. Note: You will want to put your bolts and washers aside where you will not lose them.
Remove the bearings
On the top of the skate tool, there should be a specialized Alan wrench which can remove the bearing. You will need to pull as you turn the wrench to get the bearing. Repeat the process on both sides to remove the bearings. Again, keep track of the bearings, bolts, washers, and nuts.
Cleaning the pieces
There are many theories as to what is best to clean the bearings and the washers. Some advocate the use of a basic paper towel or a wet wipe. On a longboard, you will have the bearings. However, on a standard sized skateboard, you may not have bearings. There are a few things to note about cleaning the metal components:
- Be gentle with the bearings. They are expensive and you do not want to dent them up
- If using a polish such as Brasso, then only apply thin layers
- After you clean the metal pieces, you need to ensure that there are no “fuzzies” from your rag on the bearings
- Always clean your trusses. Don’t forget to add lubricant back to the wheel mount so that you have proper traction
Cleaning the wheels is perhaps the simplest part of the wheel cleaning process. This can be done with water and a rag. If you have decals on the wheel, be careful of any cleaners which you may use. Dry the wheel to avoid damage to your decals.
Putting it all together
Once you have cleaned the wheel, place the bearings back into the wheel component, add the first washer to the truss, place the wheel on the board, add your second washer and the bolt. Using your skate tool tighten the bolt. Check the wheel to ensure that it spins well. Each tire should spin for roughly 15 to 35 seconds. If there is a bit more time per tire, this is ok. The point is to have a consistency between all of the wheels. Tighten (being careful not to over tighten) or loosen the wheels as needed. There should be a bit of jiggle between the bolt and the wheel for proper movement of the wheel. Never jam the wheel onto the board when putting everything back together as this could cause damage to the board.
Cleaning only goes so far
If when taking apart your wheel you note that the bearings or the wheels are damaged, then you need to replace the wheels or the bearings. Cleaning may put a Band-Aid on the problem for a short time, but it is never good to prolong replacement.