New Yoyo Bearing Questions


My new Triton should be in today, and I have a couple questions:

  1. When do I lube the bearing?

  2. I thought the Triton came with the One Drop 10 Ball, but YYE told me that it comes with a Crucial Grooved bearing. Any opinion on this?

  1. You do not need to lube your bearing straight out of the box. I very rarely lube my bearings. If your bearing becomes overly loud or your yoyo is significantly less smooth those are appropriate times to deshield and lube a bearing, but really, you should not need to do this very frequently.

  2. I believe G2 is packaging their throws with 2 B.O.S.S. bearings and giving you the choice of which you prefer. At least that is how my Quake came. The Rage and the Wrath are the bearings. The Rage looks like the Crucial Grooved bearing because it has the string centering groove. The Wrath is flat. They are both 10 ball bearings.

I wish it was a Crucial Grooved bearing. I love(d) those!


Lubeing a loud bearing will just make it more responsive. You need to clean it first.


I never lube mine. I like Crucial Grooved better than 10 ball but it’s a matter of opinion.

If you do lube them, you should clean, then lube with ONE drop of a thin viscosity lube. This will reduce performance slightly but the bearing should work longer between cleanings.

I use a pretty complex cleaning method so I won’t list it here. Just dunking a bearing in a solvent like lighter fluid, mineral spirits, or acetone will break up debris but it also leaves deposits on the bearing balls, which will eventually kill the bearing after being cleaned too many times. So don’t clean it unless it really needs to be cleaned and the bearing will last longer.


I don’t use lube either.


I dunno, Shai. The layer of deposits is likely to be cleaned away when next you clean, leaving only a new layer of deposits rather than a buildup. The degree to which this is true probably depends on the exact solvent being used (a quick dunk may not be enough to break down the previous cleaning’s residue) but overall it’ll probably be the case.

I’ll admit: I don’t know for sure. But I also haven’t seen conclusive evidence the other direction, that multiple cleanings in, say, acetone, will leave some sort of “acetone residue build-up” over time.

In the absence of conclusive evidence, I’m personally sticking to “new cleanings will also break down previous cleanings’ residue” as the more intuitive choice.


GregP, you may be assuming the residue buildup is all organic. When acetone evaporates I don’t know if the residue left is organic or not. That could be one explanation. Another is that the acetone we tend to use is not really pure to scientific standards and contains trace amounts of other chemicals that over time will corrode metal.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure acetone causes corrosion of bearings. I don’t know the exact mechanism. I majored in mathematics and don’t know much about chemistry except from AP Chem in high school.

I do know overcleaning a bearing with a solvent will kill it. I’ve killed many bearings by overcleaning them with acetone.

We need a real chemist to determine how exactly cleaning bearings will degrade them, or if it will. I’m not qualified though I know more science than most people. I just intuit from my experiences and what I’ve read from seemingly knowledgeable sources. Some of it could be wrong. Not a scientist… Unfortunately most scientists don’t yoyo, and those that do aren’t going to spend much time formally studying them and their chemical properties.


It still leaves a residue, which is why I rinse my bearings with water to remove dust. Then I use a hair dryer (salon grade) to dry it out.


Okay, I did a bit of research. Reagent grade acetone will not leave a residue when it evaporates from a clean inorganic surface. But there are a few problems.

  1. Common acetone like nail-polish remover is nowhere near reagent grade. Impurities will be left when it evaporates.

  2. A dirty ball bearing is not a clean surface. The acetone mixes with the organic solutes and forms a solution of acetone + nasty bearing solutes. Some of the nasty solutes will stick to the ball bearings even though they’ve broken down from stuff like dust or hair into some icky residue.

  3. Ball bearings are precision parts, so even tiny amounts of residue can cause drastic performance problems.

I suspect over time this effect is compounded. The sticky solute residue on the bearing balls doesn’t come off as easily the second time you clean it, and even less easily the third time, and so on.

This is why it’s important to use compressed air to try to blow out the solute residue before it dries. But acetone evaporates super fast so you don’t have much time. Plus they add stuff to compressed air as bitterants to discourage inhalant fun times so that crap could be being deposited onto the bearings as well.

I don’t know the answer for sure. But I’ve been following cleaning guidelines from supposed experts and my bearings still degrade relatively quickly. There’s something wrong with the assumptions most yoyo players make about cleaning bearings. Like that the solvent will just magically whisk away all the grime and leave a sparkling new bearing. Or that the bearing won’t corrode over time due to oxidation.

I think this is an interesting topic that warrants further study. I’ll attempt to learn some more chemistry and metallurgy when/if I get the chance…

(⛷ Noisy Lurker) #10

Interestingly enough I never get to worked up over bearings. I clean, probably less than most, and lube bearings the way I like and when and if, it no longer works I just get a new bearing. In all the years I’ve been yoyoing I haven’t had to replace many bearings.


I personally never lube my bearings. unless the bearings you have are really loud and noisy, then I would first clean then well and then use a pin needle drop worth of lube to get rid of the noise. but with onedrop 10ball bearings, after I clean them, they remain silent, and I mean dead silent, without any use of lube. just some advice :slight_smile:

also, get some pics up when you get the new throw in and also let us know how you like it! :wink:


Remember of course that we’re both talking out of our butts and not based on anything other than personal experiences and our general intelligences:

Nobody recommends or uses nail polish remover. It contains conditioners and other gunk. Even if the layer of gunk just gets “replaced” each time, that’s still too much gunk. :wink: I have used reagent-grade acetone in the past and then just switched to the “pure acetone” you get at a hardware store, which is actually only 99% pure. Still, it’s better than nail polish remover. I and anyone else who knows from acetone will never use or recommend nail polish remover. So that’s the rest of the argument pretty much done already. But I’ll continue 'cause I’m pedantic that way.

Surely upon re-reading this you can see that it’s just bandying about some qualitative terms (“icky”, “nasty”). A so-called “dirty” bearing is usually pretty clean. I don’t know about any of you guys, but whenever I’ve decided I was sick of the rattle in a bearing, I haven’t seen anything icky to visual inspection! But assuming there is, the solutes are distributed throughout the full acetone solution. The trace amounts of impurities spread throughout the entire container of acetone would render the parts per millilitre of impurities to be negligibly low. Even lower if you did a second rinse… these things haven’t instantly “stuck” to the bearing.

More likely, agitating in water to move out a piece or two of dust is the important thing. I don’t think the “dissolving with acetone” is even close in importance to simply moving liquid through the bearing.

Ehhh… Yes and no. Luminaries like JonRob and others just put a drop of lube in every now and then. Adding to whatever residue was left by the previous drop of lube. Any dust or gunk is still in there, too. :wink: Yet the lube allows the bearing to keep working.

I’m too fastidious and fiddly with my bearings to do that. But I recognize that bearings aren’t nanometre-precision parts the way we think they are. They’ll continue playing with a rattle fairly often (though certainly they also get responsive often, too).

The amount of alleged (alleged!) residue being left would be so infinitesimal that I really don’t see it being detrimental.

I don’t suspect there’s sticky residue in the first place. But if there is, I suspect it DOES come off as easily the second time you clean it. If acetone can handily dissolve many types of plastic, I’m sure it’s going to do just fine dissolving something that originally had ITSELF as the base of the solution. :wink:

Agreed… and the bitterants in canned air are a concern to me, too. A real air compressor that has a condensation lock (or whatever it’s called) would be best. Me, I just use a high-RPM hobby motor and the spinning action flings away a tonne of liquid.

Aside from the smell, I usually prefer Mineral Spirits anyhow. I think they’re more likely to have residue or oils (but lube is oil, so meh) but it evaporates less quickly and allows you to blow out more of it before evaporation hits.

Mine don’t. I haven’t been playing forever, but in roughly 2 years of play I’ve only noticed that some bearings were never great and no amount of fussing makes them good. I’ve learned to spend less time on those and just chuck them.

Over time, sitting on a shelf I’m sure a bearing will eventually corrode due to oxidation. With regular play and light lube, I don’t think oxidation is the enemy of your bearing.

Just be sure you’re not lured into only believing and searching for the evidence that supports your pre-existing bias. That’s not good scientific method. :slight_smile: Be willing to accept not only that your own assumptions need proving but also that other contributors to the body of knowledge may also be wrong. A guy who forges or fabricates metal parts and has been doing it for 20 years may still have incorrect information. Usually when we arrive at what we think of as the truth, we stick pretty hard to those convictions and begin to see them as facts to be passed along.


I’m not “talking out of my butt”. I do make educated speculations sometimes, but I did actual research before making my last post. And I don’t mean looking through yoyo forums, I mean articles written by scientists and manufacturers of precision ball bearings. Granted I’m not a scientist but I am educated and intelligent enough to make fairly accurate generalizations given limited evidence. If you knew me you’d know this to be true. But you don’t, so perhaps you see me as just some random idiot on the internet, for which I wouldn’t really blame you.

Many nail-polish removers do market themselves as 100% acetone. There are nail polish removers with little or no acetone. I didn’t mean these and didn’t think I needed to specify. Do a search on amazon for acetone. The first result is a nail polish remover that claims to be pure acetone. The second is something you’d get at a hardware store. There’s no difference. It’s all just acetone, marketed for different purposes, but not lab grade so it has impurities.

You’re talking about observations from the naked eye, which are borderline useless at this scale. The presence of particles as small as 5 micrometers can cause problems in bearings. You wouldn’t be able to see them. Even if you remove the particles after cleaning, damage is already done. The particles can cause raceway scratches and scratches to the balls themselves. This is one of the articles I read, posted by a manufacturer of precision bearings. Here is another. They both support these statements, as well as others I made. You should read them.

Oils cause bearings to perform better in spite of residue but they do not remove it and in fact add to it. Their function is to prevent particle infiltration from damaging the bearings in some of the ways I already mentioned. Lubed dirty bearings may perform “adequately” in your eyes but they are not clean in any sense. Bearings will continue playing while rattling, yes, but you are damaging them by doing so, which decreases their performance.

One thing I learned that may explain why I seem to have more issues than many people is I am an intermediate level 5A player. Ball bearings are very sensitive to shock forces. According to one article I cited, a shock force from a 100 gram weight at 4mm away could cause brinelling. So repeated shock forces by having the yoyo struck at high speed by a 12 gram counterweight could probably cause brinelling. And occasionally the yoyo gets away from me entirely and flies several feet before hitting a wall or the floor. In that case it’s a significantly larger shock trauma due to the mass of the yoyo.

There may not be observable sticky residue, but small particles do accumulate and harden. Whether it dissolves readily, I don’t know. I was speculating. But you can’t assume it will dissolve. Acetone is an organic solvent. If inorganic particulates build up then it won’t dissolve them. I find your last sentence confusing. I’m guessing you mean if acetone can dissolve hair and dirt etc., then it can dissolve dissolved hair and dirt etc.? I would say yes, but these remnants will still get stuck in the bearing even if they are dissolved, unless they are forced out of bearing by some kind of force, be it compressed air, an ultrasonic cleaner, a motor, or whatever. What a lot of yoyoers do is just dunk the bearing in a solvent, twirl it around a bit, and they’re done. That will help a really dirty bearing, but will leave a lot of residue because it wasn’t sufficiently washed/blown out of the bearing after it was broken down.

Perhaps I should try the motor spinning method. It may work better than canned air. I wish they would just sell compressed air without bitterants. It’s not like the bitterants would stop anyone from huffing.

I’ve tried mineral spirits but I get much worse results. Mineral spirits are a poorer solvent so you have to allow more time for the dissolution step. It’s also a mixture of so many different chemicals it’s harder for me to understand why they work or don’t work. Perhaps I didn’t adjust my cleaning method sufficiently when I was using mineral spirits, but my results were much worse, despite the lower volatility of mineral spirits compared to acetone.

Scientists in laboratories clean things using solvents like acetone, pure isopropyl alcohol, and pure ethanol. Ethanol is actually ideal but the kind commercially available contains additives to discourage drinking it, another policy I don’t really get. It’s okay to sell 190 proof ethanol but not 200 proof? Whatever… anyway I’ve never heard of them using mineral spirits. I figure chemists know a thing or two about cleaning their equipment.

I’ve recently realized my bearing degredation is almost certainly caused by using them in 5A vs 1A. I use a Draupnir and an Ares Star for 1A. I haven’t cleaned the bearings in them in months and they are fine. But the ones I put in my 5A yoyos (Laser, Agonist) die rather quickly, probably due to this shock trauma I’ve read about. I’m speculating, but it would explain a lot of things. It’s a legitimate hypothesis but I have neither the time nor the money to test it scientifically.

Every yoyo bearing I know of uses metals. Even the “ceramic” ones only have ceramic balls. Full ceramic bearings costs about $70. My point is, bearings contain metal or nothing but metal, and metal oxidizes. That’s just a fact. Lubricants protect them from oxidation to some degree but cause a drop in performance. It’s a tradeoff. Unless you’re yoyoing in a vacuum the bearing will oxidize over time. It should take a reasonably long time, though, something like several months to a year, although there are things that will expedite the process, like living near saltwater or in a humid environment.

I’m very aware of all this and it’s good you are too. Many people aren’t. There was a time when I would argue only my position and ignore contradicting evidence (when I was a Christian, and 13). It’s many years later now, but my mind is always open to reasoned discourse, and I believe very little of what I hear unless I’ve verified it myself. Most people find me excessively logical, to the point of being annoying. Just comes with the territory of having Aspergers Syndrome and an abberantly high IQ :wink:


Nah, I just meant the same thing you just said. It was my friendly way of admitting that we’re in the process of educating ourselves on the subject and are intelligent folks but that neither of us are necessarily 100% correct. That’s all. Definitely wasn’t meant to denigrade your efforts or intelligence. :slight_smile: (or my own!)

Agreed, but they’re minute.

Sort of. I actually agree with you and was only talking about it because I was worried that with the descriptors “icky” and “nasty” that YOU were referring to things observable to the naked eye. :wink:

OK, I will. :slight_smile: I’m going to do a bad thing and make a statement before reading them, though: we can’t conflate the types of bearings and the tolerances required for certain types of equipment and processes with the types of bearings and tolerances required to operate a yoyo. As you well know, there are an endless variety of bearings used for an endless variety of purposes. Just as a yoyo can operate with a ding and some equipment cannot operate with physical damage, I suspect that a yoyo bearing can operate with these kinds of light scratches and within playing parameters (ie. we could observe such scratches with a microscope, but we wouldn’t be affected by them in play).

I agree, and I am too particular to either “just add lube”, to consider them clean, or to play with rattle. As I said, I was only observing that other people seem to go fine for years on a bearing with that level of clean and that level of performance. It’s strong anecdotal evidence that bearings used for yoyos are kinda forgiving.

Interesting! I don’t play any 5A. I can Lindy Loop on and then fling the counterweight around so that I end in a trapeze. That’s it. That’s my entire 5A game front to back. :smiley: However, I seem to have a higher than average amount of maintenance with bearings as well and I wonder if it’s because I like to do things like throw the yoyo in a breakaway and tug it with such timing that it “bounces” directly up in the air for a laceration. There’s definitely a significant shock happening.

Of course I can make assumptions in the lack of evidence. It’s what we both have to do. However…

I’m more suggesting that inorganic particulates aren’t fused to the bearing in a significant way and that whatever agent is attaching them (if there is any at all) will be dissolved, allowing the inorganic particulates to be rinsed away. In fact, I think that the agitation phase does more than any sort of dissolution phase. A container of hot water would probably work just as well. Or hot water with mild degreaser or detergent.

I don’t really think of the dissolving. In fact, it has never occurred to me that dust is dissolving at all and I’ve never seen hair in a bearing. I’m more concerned with the degreasing and rinsing properties, coupled with fast and relatively clean evaporation. What I’m saying is that whatever’s being left by the acetone itself (you were talking about buildup from the acetone after all) should inherently be easily dissolved into a new bath of acetone. I don’t even know what would be left behind by 99% pure acetone, though. I don’t honestly know what makes up the other 1% though I suspect a great amount of that 1% is just water, not icky impurities.

Absolutely. I mean, as you agitate, these things are distributed throughout the entire container of solvent. They don’t remain only in the space the bearing occupies. Maybe that’s what I was trying to say. And then after agitation, you should definitely be ejecting the contents of the bearing as much as possible. By the time you’ve done these things, I really don’t think there’s a real “buildup” happening. Which is the original thing I’m debating. It hasn’t even occurred to me to think about the efficacy of acetone (or mineral spirits or whatever) on dissolving hair and dust. As I mentioned earlier, I always visualize rinsing this stuff out and also “ejecting” it out along with whatever solvent happens to remain in the bearing once you take it out of the container.

Well, you and I totally agree on this point. No question.

I got a full ceramic for $20. Still expensive and totally not worth it IMO. But it’s neat to have tried one. I really think (admittedly without looking it up!) that your time frame is off. The lubrication will mitigate oxidation to an enormous degree, not just a little. I always lube. A stainless steel bearing will take longer to oxidize in a meaningful way than just a few months to a year. If I live by an ocean and leave it exposed and never play it… maybe? I dunno. But you don’t really hear about people pulling a bearing out and noticing all the pitting and compromized performance due to oxidation. It’s not a goblin worth being afraid of, whether on a certain scale it IS actually happening or not.

And if it IS happening, that’s just a tradeoff I guess. I’m more interested in the “solvents build layers of crud up over time” argument. If oxidation turns out to be a real problem after all, it’s a separate one and I guess the only solution is to replace the bearing. I’d do that if it became an issue for sure.

Good discussion!

Gotta read those articles now…