an alternative for thin lube?

After i clean my ball bearings, they get really gritty and i was wondering if thin lube would fix that, but i don’t have any. what could i use instead? I’m cleaning them in mineral spirits if anyone cares.

If they are still gritty, they aren’t clean.

Clean it, blow it out, use small slips of paper to pull out other contaminants and then repeat until it’s smooth. I do find using some thick lube, playing it for a bit(5-10 minutes if even that) helps the lube work its way through and lift some of the bad stuff up. Then when I go clean it, it helps remove some of that stuff. Thin lube works too, I just prefer using thick lube for this task.

I am finding better results with acetone these days. I used to use mineral spirits. That’s not the issue.

Also, are you removing the shields when you clean the bearing?

so i should use acetone to clean instead? yes i am removing the bearings.

removing the shields is important. It will let any debris out of the bearing. Also when I clean mine I do it in three steps. I clean them, clean them again in clean solvent, then clean them again in more clean solvent. Sometimes when you clean them the bearing and the debris will fall to the bottom causing the bearing to catch some debris back into the bearing. I also use compressed air to blow out any solvent and debris after every wash. Best way I’ve found so far.

i meant sheilds

You can use mineral spirits, lighter fluid or acetone. Any of these three are commonly accepted AND recommended solvents to use to clean your bearing. It comes down to preferences. I find that per quart, acetone costs a bit less than mineral spirits, but we’re talking about a “same size to same size container” purchase. Lighter fluid comes in a smaller container, so I think the cost/volume is higher.

If you have mineral spirits, use it. No sense in throwing it out, it works fine, and will work just as good as acetone or lighter fluid. It does take longer to dry though, but that’s trivial. Regardless, you should be spinning the bearing and blowing it clean no matter what you use.

So I’m going to clean each bearing 3 times, how often do i replace the mineral spirits?

I usually replace it when I start to see stuff floating around in it.

Depends. I maybe only do 10 bearings before I replace it. I just clean them one at a time, but I also use only the smallest amount of fluid I need. I often find 2 cleanings are sufficient, but I don’t see how a third cleaning would cause any harm. I still recommend using the slips of paper because by also using that method, it helps pull out additional impurities, gunk, crud, grease(yes, grease) and undesired stuff. I find I’ll do my first cleaning with mineral spirits since when I remove the bearing, the mineral spirits don’t evaporate as fast. I use the paper method to remove the rest of the mineral spirits and other crud, then ensure it’s completely dry and then clean a final time, often these days with acetone so I can Terrapin X treat the bearings.

(The Terrapin X treatment is a dry material used to lubricate the bearings. It’s easy and affordable and a package should be able to handle HUNDREDS of bearings).

The paper method has helped me recovered a couple of bearings from being really performing very poorly, to now spinning around 22-25 seconds on a good flick. A couple of others, well, it didn’t go so well. Those I’ll probably junk.

what does the dry play treatment do? do you ever have to clean your bearing again? and what is the paper method?

Theoretically, if you use the Terrapin X dry play treatment, you should never need to lube your bearing again. I say theoretically because I don’t think there’s been enough time to really test the “forever” portion. The Terrapin X dry play treatment is a powder lubricant you can get from Terrapin X

Elephark talks about the paper method of cleaning bearings. The key here is he’s taking extra effort to remove contaminants. Of course, that’s the whole purpose of cleaning bearings. HIs method does involve extra labor. In some cases, it’s worth the effort. Typically, if between the solvent methods of cleaning AND this method of cleaning, if your bearing won’t work properly after that, it’s probably beyond salvage. I find it best to let him explain:,23234.0.html