Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

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Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Andy42g » Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:23 pm

Ok so I have some new wheels and they are on.
If I tighten up the nuts so there's no slack (as in only just no "wobble" - I'm not talking jamming them on here) then I would think the wheel should run nicely round on the bearings alone and be all smooth and everything. This does not seem to be the case - as I tighten as soon as there's no movement in the wheel there's something stopping it rotating - doesn't seem to be on the outside of the wheel (the nut side) and there is a spacer washer on the inside.
A bit of slack means the wheel runs round on the inside of the bearing and the spacer, and is not rotating the bearing as such - or does it do a combination of both?
Do I really need to leave a bit of space for the wheels as I tighten the nuts?
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Mark SE4 » Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:32 pm

I leave a tiny, tiny bit of space so they run as free as poss
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Ben-G » Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:24 pm

I tighten the nuts up until they bite, then back then off between a quarter to half turn, so they spin freely, and have a little wiggling room but nothing too alarming. I don't bother with spacers.

What you end up doing will depend what school of thought you are from - skateboard parts (even expensive stuff) is engineered to woeful quality standards and consistency, and seemingly not to any agreed standards across different companies. If that really does your head in you will probably end up buying a lathe and machining your own spacers to exactly fit your wheels & bearings! If you did that and everything fitted properly you should be able to tighten the wheels properly and have your wheels spin beautifully!
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby GoR64 » Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:38 pm

I've got some with inner sleeves that are manufactured slightly oversize to compensate for the discrepancies of wheel manufacturers, they can be tightened right down and it makes no difference. Then I realised the reason my board was rattling was actually loose bolts :shock:
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Booyah » Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:59 pm

When a skate wheel has been properly installed, the axle nut is fully tightend to proper torque and a very slight amount of play is felt in the wheel. This play will be play within the bearing itself rather than over the axle. Free spin may not be great, but free spin is not a valid test of proper installation of a skate wheel. Riding is the test.
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Jimbo » Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:14 pm

Booyah wrote:When a skate wheel has been properly installed, the axle nut is fully tightend to proper torque and a very slight amount of play is felt in the wheel. This play will be play within the bearing itself rather than over the axle. Free spin may not be great, but free spin is not a valid test of proper installation of a skate wheel. Riding is the test.


I used to think this way then realised it's bollocks. Any reduction in free spin when fully tightening the nut means that friction has increased. This friction will have been introduced by side loading the bearings by tightening the nut because it's impossible to get the clearances correct on mass produced skateboard wheel / truck / bearing / spacer combination. This permanent extra friction can't do the bearings any good.

I also find that I get better grip without spacers and a bit of play in the wheel as it allows a bit of float in the wheel on uneven surfaces and during kick turns etc......
And makes an ace noise when the wheels slide :D
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Krammer » Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:20 pm

Very tight (spacer matched to wheel bearing seat + tolerance), the only play is the manufacturers engineering tolerance of the bearing... Free spin for days... :D

I wasn't satisfied with what was available in the market place, so I did buy a lathe and applied good old engineering principles etc.
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Mr J » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:32 am

Ben-G wrote:I tighten the nuts up until they bite, then back then off between a quarter to half turn, so they spin freely, and have a little wiggling room but nothing too alarming. I don't bother with spacers.

What you end up doing will depend what school of thought you are from - skateboard parts (even expensive stuff) is engineered to woeful quality standards and consistency, and seemingly not to any agreed standards across different companies. If that really does your head in you will probably end up buying a lathe and machining your own spacers to exactly fit your wheels & bearings! If you did that and everything fitted properly you should be able to tighten the wheels properly and have your wheels spin beautifully!


You can either digest what Ben wrote above, or wade through all 18 pages (and growing) of the monster bearing thread. I recommend the former.

The only thing that I can add to the above is that pursuing the second option by outsourcing may be an alternative to buying a lathe. Both schools of thought work!
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Ben-G » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:41 am

And respect due of course to perfectionist engineer types who refuse to accept shoddy quality and solve such problems themselves! :)
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Andy42g » Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:38 pm

Ah. You've covered this topic already then. :D That bearing thread I will scan through and .... probably just leave a little bit of space - tighten until they bite and then slacken them off a bit. Seems sensible. And no I am not buying a lathe.
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby bazza5070 » Tue Oct 14, 2014 1:03 pm

FOR SALE - one lathe. Light use, spacers only. £2000 ono or swap for perfectly round Green Kryptonics (spacers optional) :-)


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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby tom.hoffman » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:07 pm

The whole system is:

* hanger facing perpendicular to axle and flat;
* axle straight;
* wheel's bearing seat perpendicular to axle;
* wheel bearing spacing and spacer match;
* cleaned, lubed, bearing with no flaws.

If any of those are off, you'll get some binding. If they are all perfect, you'll get a free spin on a tight nut.
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby tom.hoffman » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:12 pm

Trucks and wheels are as important to free spin as bearings and spacers. My machined Surf-Rodz and cast Carver trucks are both dead on. I only use wheels with a hard plastic core at this point if I want perfect spin. There's a big difference between cored and core-less wheels, not much I can discern between the various cores. You might get a perfect set of wheels without cores, but it would be a crap shoot.
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Re: Wheels/bearings - how tight to do your nuts.

Postby Mr J » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:13 am

Andy42g wrote:Ah. You've covered this topic already then. :D That bearing thread I will scan through and .... probably just leave a little bit of space - tighten until they bite and then slacken them off a bit. Seems sensible. And no I am not buying a lathe.


I'm not sure if I recommend reading the bearing thread, I would be concerned that it will cause you to lose the will to skate ;) We are nice and relaxed on this forum about ABDs and don't mind repeat questions. After all our ideas shift and things like shoes are a continuously changing situation.

The reason why I mentioned that thread was because I thought Ben-G's response was a particularly good and concise summary of the bearing choice situation :)

Myself I have two boards, one with the tighten then slacken situation you just described and the other with custom machined spacers - machining outsourced to a fellow member in Cornwall, no room for a lathe in my flat :) Both boards work equally well with no discernible speed difference, however the one with spacers vibrates less when I push it over rough tarmac.
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