Bearing maintenance is probably the most overlooked item on our "rebuild" or set up regimen list. It really isn't that bad when you are set up to tackle them and do the job right to keep your bearings in tip top shape. One could argue that as inexpensive that bearings are you could simply just replace the entire set every time you rebuild your car. This is a valid "excuse" but not a cheap one considering these days serious racers rebuild their car every other week. So how do you go about proper cleaning and lubricating your bearings? I hope to shed some light on this subject as this is what I have been doing for the past 12 years.
Back in 2006 when I started to get a bit more serious about my 1/8 Nitro program I started to tear the entire car apart and noticed that the bearings would take a beating. At that time I thought I'm going to have to replace the bearings every time I do this. Even at a $1.00 each times 18 bearings that's only $18....... But at 24 times a year = $432. That cuts into my race budget big time!
So I started to look into better bearing grades, lubricants and how bearings were made and their different types. The biggest shock came when I found that most average bearings only came with a slight bit of "grease" in them. These bearings are not properly lubricated right from the factory. Yes there are oiled bearings, but most are not and to know for sure it was just best to lubricate them anyway. So, what kind of oil / lubricant to use and how to go about it?
To cut right to it this was a several year process. Using brand A then to brand B. I ran through the alphabet and nothing seemed to be great. Some were good but nothing that would last. Early on I discovered that the grease from the factory would in some cases not play well with most lubricants. In fact it would harden or become jello-like and ruin the bearing from the get go. Being frustrated I let go of the subject until I happened upon a old friend at a car show a few months later who is in the petrochemical industry and told him what I was trying to accomplish. Even they don't get into micro bearing lubes but he turned me on to an email address for one of his engineers. The email was enlightening to say the least! That one email targeted exactly what I was looking for and 6 formulations later TS-1+ was created. Upon our testing for TS-1+ formulation number 4 has become our TS-1C for ceramic / ceramic hybrid bearings. A few years after that TS-200+ was created for Tim Smith to help in getting his electric land speed cars to 200+ MPH (and to keep him from disintegrating bearings at those RPM)
So what's the regimen?
First off: Those brand new kit bearings or low buck replacement bearings, soak them for several hours in Kerosene. I suggest a small chemical resistant container and agitate them for a few seconds every so often to get all of the factory junk loosened up and out. If they are rubber sealed type take one seal off (it will snap back on) and soak them.
Ceramic: The same goes for them only I suggest Ronsonol lighter fluid to soak them in and clean them. Kerosene can be a bit rough on ceramic surfaces.
Then of course lube them with Track Star TS-1+ or TS-1C for your high dollar ceramics. When you do a rebuild start the process over with your cleaner. For those serious in R/C racing will have a set already cleaned, lubed and ready for the next tear down and simply swap back and forth.
I DO NOT suggest "natural", "organic", citrus, simple green, purple power or any water based cleaners. they also can react with factory grease and congeal them.
Once you extract the bearings from the cleaner lay them on a towel and more than likely you will see even more junk coming out. I suggest re-cleaning them. If the drainage from the bearing looks good I give them a little "feel spin" in my fingers if they feel clean or spin free I lay them on a clear spot on the towel and lube the face until I see blue on the towel. TS-1+ is blue so when it hits the towel I know its thoroughly lubed. Then wipe the face off and install. The same goes for the Ceramics. (Only you will see orange)
As always if you have any questions about this article or any of our products please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(All Track Star lubricants are blended right here at the shop and include all USA manufactured materials and packaging)