Saturday, March 1, 2014

Changing Wheels

Those of you out there who have been patiently waiting for the next G Spot article, I wholeheartedly apologize.  I fully intended to publish an article a month this season, but the past couple months have been a a good way!  Not only has fiveonfive, the official Roller Derby magazine of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), published a few of my articles, but I also resigned from my day job to pursue a full-time Derby career.  In addition to writing articles and blog posts (Shocker Khan's G Spot and Roller Derby Nation's new venture: Rollin' News),  I continue to provide quality products and services through 2N1 Skate Shoppe, travel all over the world to train future Roller Derby super-athletes, and I have also started selling interesting items I make by hand in an Etsy store called The ShockerKnot.  These handmade items consist of jewelry and other interesting items (like this cool bottle stopper).

Enough about me, let's get to the good stuff!

Have you ever needed to quickly change out your wheels with a set that doesn't have bearings, only to have it take so long you end up missing part of practice?  Well, using the method described here, you'll be able to change out your wheels and be back on the track in no time!

First, gather your skates, new wheels, axle nut wrench, and bearing tool (optional). ***If you skate on wheels with metal hubs, having a bottle of lube on hand is a good idea.  See edit at the end of the article for more info.***

Next, position your skates so they are facing the same direction.  This is especially important if you are installing pushers; however, I like to do this even when I'm switching out 8 of the same wheels.  It helps my OCD.

You should see 4 axle nuts, unscrew and remove them, then set them aside.  If you use bearing washers (aka speed rings), remove them as well and place them with the nuts.

Use your tool to unscrew the axle nut,
remove the axle nut.


Now it's time to take out the bearings (and spacer, if applicable).  The best way to remove bearings is either with a bearing press like the ones made by PowerDyne or Sure Grip, or with the more transportable Bones Bearing tool.

Use the Bones Bearing Tool to remove the outer bearing,
pry off the inner bearing with the axle.


If you don't have a tool, you can pry out your inner bearing with your wheel axle, as pictured.  I don't recommend this as a frequently used bearing removal method, but every once in a while shouldn't do too much damage...hopefully. 

Alternate method of removing the outer bearing.
If you have issues getting the outer bearing to budge, you can try to push it out from the inside using the Bones Bearing tool.  For particularly stubborn bearings, I'll place the wheel face-down on a hard surface, then insert the tool and put my weight into pushing the bearing out.

Open side of a bearing faces UP on the axle.
After removing the bearings, place them back on the axle with the dust cover side toward the plate.  Both bearings will be facing the same way.  If the bearings have dust covers on both sides, it doesn't matter which way they go on the axle.  If you use bearing spacers, place one between the 2 bearings on the axle.  If you don't use spacers, see the "If you don't use spacers" paragraph below for further instructions.
Bearings With Spacer
First Bearing Seated

Now comes the fun part!  Take your new wheel, and place the OUTSIDE on the axle, centered on the first bearing, and press straight down.  You will feel the bearing seat into the wheel.  Take the wheel off the axle, and turn it around to make sure the bearing's dust cover is facing out and the open side is inside the wheel (see the pic to the right).  If the opposite happened, you didn't have the bearing facing open side up on the axle and you will need to remove the bearing from the wheel before repeating this step. 

Bearing Spacer/Speed Ring

Next, flip the wheel around and push it onto the axle until the inner bearing is completely seated in the wheel.  All you need to do now is replace the speed ring/bearing washer (if used) and tighten the axle nut until you feel resistance.   Repeat for the next 3 wheels then flip both skates over to complete swapping the last 4 wheels.

If you don't use bearing spacers...

First, I'd like to ask you, why not?  Spacers allow bearings to work properly by preventing pressure/friction.  Pair spacers with speed rings/bearing washers, and you have an awesome setup that is not only going to keep your bearings rolling longer, but you'll notice an increase in speed.  Using spacers also actually helps change out wheels when using the method I described above, so for those of you who don't use them because you say it takes too long to change out wheels...I'd like to challenge you to a wheel swapping duel!

4 Bearings Stacked, Dust Cover Side Toward Plate

But I digress...  If you don't use bearing spacers, you will need to place 4 bearings on one axle and press them into the outside of 2 wheels before pressing other bearings in the plate-side of those wheels.  See the pic to the left on how the 4 bearings will look when stacked.  The outer lip of most wheels is too concave for bearings to be properly seated if only 2 bearings are on the axle and are likely not going to be pushed far enough into the wheels to be seated so if you don't have a spacer between 2 bearings, you will need at least 3 bearings on an axle to perform this maneuver.

See how easy that is!  After you practice it a few times, it becomes second nature.  Soon you'll be able to change a whole set of wheels and get back on the track before your opponent is half-way done!


I hope you found this article interesting and will try out this method for changing your wheels.  Let me know if you try it out by posting a comment and I'll pick a few of you to send a free goodie to from "Shocker's Box O'Goodies."  So go try it out and post away!

Until we skate again!

***Edited to add that a drop of lube on the inside of metal hubs works wonders to get bearings to seat properly and later be removed much easier.  This can also save your tools from being broken...I've now heard of a couple Bones Bearing tools coming apart due to trying to force bearings in/out and we had a large Bearing Press handle break due to an employee trying to force bearings in place...resistance is futile, use lube!  Thanks to Tracy for reminding me about this tip.***