I'd been thinking the last couple times i went rollerblading that the wheels were getting pretty worn, and perhaps it was time i should rotate them. So last week i finally brought them into the apartment, and then just left them there for awhile.
But this week is the warm week, and i really want to go out rollerblading while it's still warm, so i decided i was definitely going to take care of that tonight so i could go rollerblading late tomorrow morning.
I did a little research online and the first recommended lubricant i could find for bearings was something called "Tri Flow." A little more research revealed that there's a bike shop around the corner from me that has it, so i stopped by there on the way home and got two bottles, one "drip" bottle and one aerosol bottle.
I got home, grabbed my toolbox, laid out some paper towels on the kitchen floor, and started unscrewing wheels. Pretty quickly i was reminded that my rollerblades are very dirty, and i was at risk of getting gunk all over my clothes, so i stripped down to underwear. The first wheel came off pretty easy. Then for the second wheel the screw came out easy but the bolt refused to slide out. I looked in my toolbox for the hammer, and it wasn't there.
Funny aside before i continue. I've gotten french bread from the store a couple times in the last few months, and every time i'm perplexed because we _used_ to have a large bread knife that was very good at cutting the french bread. Except i couldn't find it. And it's a pretty big knife! Every time i'd look around for it again, fail to find it again, and give up and use a smaller, less serrated knife instead. Perhaps you can see where this story is going :)
So i started looking around for the hammer. I checked the closet i keep the toolbox in again, then checked the junk drawers. Then i remembered something about shelleycat saying she was kidnapping the hammer for kitchen use (though i can't remember now what it was she wanted to smash.) So i checked the kitchen counter, no luck, though i did start thinking "well wouldn't it be funny if i can't find the hammer but end up finding the bread knife instead?" Then i checked the side table next to the counter. I didn't see it out in the open, but the pile of coupons from the mail has gotten rather large and overflowed a fair bit, so i lifted up the edge of the pile and peered underneath. Hey look! It's a handle! I reach under and grab it and pull and out comes the hammer! But then, before i drop the pile and go back to the rollerblades, hey look! It's another handle! I reach under and grab it and out comes the bread knife! So quite a day for finding stuff clearly :)
So anyways, i go back to the rollerblades and with the hammer i'm able to bang the bolt out a little. Then i look for the pliers in my toolbox, can't find them. However they were on the shelf next to where the toolbox had been in the closet. I eventually work out a system of banging on the bolts to get them started, then prying them out with a succession of progressively larger pliers.
So after getting the wheels all out i realized that i wasn't doing this any too soon. The two rear wheels were so worn down along the inside the hard plastic rim was about to start poking through. In fact i was a little worried about how long they'd last even after being rotated.
So then i tried to pry the bearings out of the wheels... no such luck. I remembered that my rollerblade multi-tool had a tool for getting the bearings out, but that wasn't in the toolbox either! And it wasn't on the shelf in the closet. And it wasn't on any of the other shelves in the closet. And it wasn't in the junk drawer, or on the side table, or on any other shelves, or in the box of arts & crafts stuff, or anywhere else i thought to look. On the plus side while looking for the multi-tool i did find a bag filled with old rollerblade wheels that i'd retired. Some of them were pretty worn, but some were still decent, so i figured i could use them to replace the rear wheels that had gotten really worn. (Although they're a slightly different size and hardness rating, so it will be interesting to see how that works out.) But finally i gave up on the search for the multi-tool and went back to examine my options. I tried prying at them with various things and managed to get one set out using an allen wrench in a way that i wasn't able to reproduce with any of the other bearings.
Finally i figured out that some of the nails in the toolbox had just the right size head that if i ran them through the center the head would cover most of the axel/spacer's edge without covering the bearing at all. So i lined the nail up, grabbed the other end with a pair of pliers, pulled, and pop! Out came bearings, spacer and all.
Once i had the bearings out i rinsed the wheels off a bit, the considered the oiling process. The instructions i'd read suggested doing it over some towels and wearing some crappy clothes because the lubricant was going to fly everywhere. (Thinking ahead to that was the other reason i ditched my clothes earlier.) Even with towels though it sounded a bit messy for the kitchen, so i decided that doing it in the bathtub was a great idea.
So i went into the bathroom with the bearings and the can of aerosol lubricant, and decided i probably ought to ditch my underwear as well. So i got in the bathtub and started spraying the bearings. Oil _did_ spray about quite a bit, and of course it got all over my hands, and a puddle of the stuff started forming underneath. I was getting quite a bit of dirt out, so that was good, but even so some of them were a little grindy. By the time i got through all the bearings i'd pretty much used up the can of lubricant. I need to do some research on exactly how much new bearings cost so i can figure out if that's worth doing again in the future. So now i had some much smoother bearings... and my hands were covered in oil, and the puddle of oil in the bottom of the tub had gotten to my feet so they were covered in oil, and i'd sat down at some point so my ass was covered in oil. A large part of the tub was coated in oil, and every part of me that could reasonable be used to level myself out was covered in oil =P I probably would have manged just fine, however i didn't actually want to get out of the tub either while covered in oil, so i carefully stacked the bearings on the edge of the tub, then turned the water on (but not the shower!) Luckily i had an old bottle of shampoo whose smell i'd decided i didn't like which i used to rinse off my hands, and my feet, and the tub. After two risings it seemed reasonable clean. So i took a break to move the bearings back out to the kitchen now that i wouldn't be tracking oil everywhere, before returning to the bathroom and taking a quick shower to get the oil and dirt off of all the rest of my body.
After that it was mostly a simple matter of adding another couple drops of oil to each bearing, fitting them and the spanners into the wheels (i did manage to drop and lose one of the spanners for awhile, but eventually found it again) then putting the wheels into the rollerblades and rebolting them (which required a little bit of pounding for some of them.) So now i have a pair of rollerblades with rotated wheels and cleaned bearings. And it only took me from 7:30 or 8 to about 11 =P I believe when i'd originally contemplated the issue i imagined it taking 30-60 min.
And no, i have no idea why i felt compelled to spend so much time writing this up when there are so many more interesting posts i could have been working on.