Table maintenance time. This week: when should bearings be cleaned, when should they be sanded, and when should they be mocked on the internet and discarded? The worst-of-the-worst photos are at the end of this post.
I’ve experimented a bit, and I’ve come to three conclusions.
1) Clean your bearings whenever they seem at all sticky. If a drop of lube doesn’t help, pull them out and wipe them clean. Clean bearings make a huge difference in play.
2) Check the feel of the interior when you remove the bearings. If the inside collar of the bearings feels smooth after cleaning, reinstall. If the inside isn’t smooth, but is evenly worn, polish them. If there are scratches or pits, they are hopeless and should be thrown away.
3) Do not over-tighten when you reinstall. Over-tightening will destroy the bearings. Use just fingers to tighten at first, and then a slight turn with a bearing wrench to get them snug against the wall so they don’t rattle. This is not the time to prove how strong you are. You can see from the photos below that the worst-of-the-worst bearings were all over-tightened.
Cleaning bearings is easy: pull them out of the table, get some cleaning solvent on a rag, and wipe out all the dust and dirt. Then drop them back in the table and add a drop of lube.
For sanding, the thing to remember is that the collar of the bearing should feel smooth to the touch. If you feel friction, it’s time to sand. Ryan Knapton’s video on NextLevelFoosball has some suggestions on how to refurbish bearings with fine-grit sandpaper:
I had over 100 old bearings, so I decided to record the process of polishing them. Most of them look great. I documented the very worst, though: