Semi-unresponsive bearing from misaligned cage

It seems like every now and then I have a bearing go semi-unresponsive.

While spinning, you can hear the point when it wants to “grind” to a stop; this is especially apparent when using compressed air to continuously spin the bearing.

Visual inspection while spinning reveals some sort of asymmetrical pattern in the “ball and cage” area, as if it has gone out of round somehow. I’m making a big assumption here, but I think my crappy throw or a misalignment of the stars is causing exactly that-- the bearings and cage to go slightly out of round.

Is there any way to “reset” the way the balls and the cage are set in between the races? Try to zero the alignment or whatever?

The cages on most bearings are actually quite a bit off center, and can shift around a fair amount. It’s more than likely some other problem with the bearing, not involving the cage.

Have you tried just cleaning it?

I have not yet with this particular bearing. It was a brand-new Spec X that I didn’t want to muck around with until I had to. I find I’m too eager to mess with things that don’t need messing, and since it was working perfectly I didn’t bother. But now it seems I’ll have no choice.

I’m not sure the “swirling around in the solvent” is cleaning debris aggressively enough… should find a mineral spirits-proof container for more aggressive shaking. I do not have such a thing at the moment. Tempted to try the “pack with metal polish” trick on a bearing or two, also, though that puts me even more into “messing around with stuff” territory.

This exact same thing happened on another “premium” bearing, although it was showing the responsiveness right out of the box. No amount of cleaning restored it, but it had that reproducible “grind to a halt at intervals” thing going as well. Eventually had to request a replacement (still waiting to arrive).

I tried the metal polish mod on some of my bearings this weekend, and it worked pretty darn well. It’s a messy process though.

You could try using a soft bristle tooth brush on the bearing. It won’t hurt it, if you’re careful.

Cool, thanks for your replies, Jake. At least I’m less paranoid about the cage now. What kind of polish did you end up using, and where did you source it? Something for automotive, kitchenware, or jewellery?

I used some old mothers aluminium (works on all metals) polish. You can get it pretty much anywhere known to carry similar items - automotive stores, Home depot, etc.

I’ve used Turtle Wax Polishing Compound and Scratch Remover (white) with good results.

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Got some yesterday and gave it a go (couldn’t find the Old Mother!). Revived another semi-unresponsive bearing that had gone to the “life support” bag. If a simpler cleaning of the Spec X doesn’t do it for me, I’ll try it once again.

Thanks for the suggestion!