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How To Repair Your Skateboard

You’ve been riding the same skateboard for several months and it is showing its age.  But you are strapped for cash.  You don’t need to be a skilled carpenter to bring your board back to life and make it last a bit longer.  Let’s take a look at how to fix and repair razor tail, delamination, bearings, and your trucks.

Skateboards Are Supposed to Wear

old skateboard deck next to a new deck

Nothing lasts forever and skateboards are no exception.  These contraptions of wood, metal, and urethane take a beating and eventually the parts wear down and break.  It is important to take care of your skateboard to make it last as long as possible.  

Don’t ride in the rain.  Don’t leave it in a hot car.  Don’t throw it against things.  Rotate your wheels.  Perform regular maintenance, etc.  Following these do’s/don’t’s should help preserve the life of your setup, but parts will eventually die on you. 

No matter how hard you try, you will not be able to make your skateboard last forever and you will need to replace parts eventually.  Once parts are broken, it is a good idea to replace them.  The beauty is that you don’t have to replace everything all at once.  

You can replace one thing at a time.  But, if you are broke or waiting for parts to arrive from Amazon, we have you covered!  Let’s look at some common issues that happen as boards are wearing out and discuss how we can fix these problems.

How to Fix Razor Tail

Razor tail is the term for when several of the layers of plywood on the nose and tail of your deck wear down creating a sharp edge on the underside of your board.  Razor tail is unavoidable if you drag your tail, do enough ollies and flip tricks, and do slides.  The rougher the ground you are skating, the more prone your deck will be to razor tail.  

I can think of 2 different ways to fix razor tail:

  1. Sand the edge of the tail until the razor tail is gone.  This is definitely faster and easier to do if you have access to power tools.  A belt sander will make quick and easy work of your razor tail.  If you don’t have access to tools, you can use coarse grit sandpaper on a sanding block.  Sand back and forth along the edge until the razor tail is gone or at the least, less sharp.
  2. Cut the razor tail off.  You will need a saw for this; a jigsaw or a band saw would work the best.  Take the saw and cut the end of your tail, back to where the majority of ply’s are still intact.  Just make sure you keep the curved shape on the tail.

Both of these methods will help you shave down the razor tail and will help you to get your pop back.  The only real downside is that your deck will now be shorter.  One of these methods will provide a nice fix until you are able to get a crispy new deck, just be sure to follow the existing shape and not cut the tail off square.

How To Fix Delamination

Delamination occurs when the individual ply’s of your deck start coming apart.  Regular skateboards are may of Plywood.  Individual layers of wood are glued together to add strength to the skateboard.  Over time the glue can start to let go and these layers can start to separate.  A delaminated board will be much weaker and has far less pop than a deck whose ply’s are still well glued.

The only way I can think to fix delamination is with glue and a 2 step process.  

  1. Squirt wood glue into the spaces where the ply’s are separated from one another.  This is easier done with a syringe, but make sure it is big enough to allow the glue to flow through it.  A meat syringe is ideal, a medical syringe has too narrow an opening for the glue to go through.  They can be found at a Dollar Store or hardware store for a couple of bucks.  If you cannot get a syringe, you could try and stuff it into the void with a butter knife, a card, or any thin flat tool.  The important part is that the glue is evenly distributed within the delaminated area.
  2. Put weight on the deck and let the glue cure.  You will need to put weight over the area that you have just glued.  The more weight the better but at least 20lbs/10Kg.  You want to be able to see the glue squishing out of the edge.  Without removing the weight wipe away the excess glue.  Leave the weight on until the glue is cured.  Overnight should be plenty of time, but the label on your glue should tell you how long it takes for the glue to fully cure.

How To Fix Bearings

old rusty skateboard bearings

Bearings are an important part of your setup.  They are the things that let you roll and maintain speed.  Good quality skateboard bearings are very strong but do take impact from drops and airs and horizontal stress from slides.  Rain and skating through puddles is murder for bearings.  It is important to keep them in good shape. You won’t get very far without bearings.  

Let’s look at some potential issues with bearings and how to fix them:

  1. First, remove the bearings from your wheels.  You can use a bearing tool to remove them, or do what I do, and use the axle of your truck or a screwdriver to pry the bearings out.  Now that they are out we can see what the problem is.
  2. Remove the rubber dust shield.  Your bearings have a rubber dust shield on one side (unless you have a shieldless bearing like Ronson Raw).  Very, very, VERY carefully take a very thin metal tool (I use the blade of a utility knife) and stick it between the rubber dust shield and the side of the bearing.  Gently lift off the dust shield.  It won’t take much effort to pop them out. Make sure not to bend or damage the dust shield.  If the dust shield is damaged in any way, it will no longer work effectively, and you are better off not using it.
  3. Inspect the bearings.  Look very closely at your bearing housing (the outside part), the balls, and the bearing races (the groove that the balls sit in).  
  • If the race is damaged, this cannot be fixed.  You either have to live with it or replace the bearing.
  • If a ball is crushed, you could remove the ball, but that bearing won’t spin as well with one less ball.  It is probably best to replace it.
  • If there is no visible damage, they probably just need a cleaning.

How to clean your bearings

  1. Put your bearings into a glass jar with a lid (make sure the dust shields are off).
  2. Cover them with a degreaser (minimum 75% rubbing alcohol or carburetor cleaner works well) 
  3. Put the lid on and shake for a few minutes.  The cleaner should be a bit dirty and you will see bits of dirt in the solution. 
  4. Empty out the cleaner and repeat steps 1-3 until no more dirt appears and the solutions stays clean.
  5. Put the bearings on a paper towel and using a clean tooth brush dipped in the cleaning solution, gently scrub the inside and outside of each bearing.
  6. Rinse with the cleaning fluid again and gently bang the bearing (with the open side down) on a paper towel to knock out any crap that might be left in there.  
  7. Rinse again, spin a couple times and set on paper towel to air dry (usually takes a couple hours).  DO NOT RINSE BEARINGS WITH WATER.
  8. Apply 2 drops of lubricant to the balls of the bearings; one drop on one ball, then a second drop on the adjacent ball.  I recommend Bones Speed Cream, but you could also use clipper oil or sewing machine oil (it will probably be easier to find Speed Cream than any other options)  Do not over lubricate. Less is more.
  9. Spin the bearings several times to distribute the Speed Cream.
  10. Gently wipe off the dust shields with a clean lint free cloth and put them back in place.
  11. Wipe the entire outside of the bearing with a small amount of the lubricant on a rag.  This will help prevent rust.  (BONUS: they are also easier to slip back into your wheels)

Its a good practice to clean your bearings monthly, more frequently if you are skating through lots of dirt, dust and puddles.  Bearings could last you a couple years if you take care of them.

How To Fix Skateboard Trucks

hard bushings and quality skateboard trucks

Unless you are an experienced welder or a machinist, it is going to be very difficult to fix any damaged metal parts of your skateboard trucks.  If you have a cracked hangar or base plate, you will need to replace them.  Trucks are extremely durable and can last for years so when these parts break, you probably should have replaced your trucks a few weeks ago.

The bushings, king pins, washers and pivot cups can be replaced quite easily.  You will just need to get the parts.  Independent Truck Co. offers a full repair kit that has a couple sets of these replacement parts in a sleek easy to cary box.  With this kit, you are able to fix your trucks multiple times before needing to replace them.  Several companies also offer replacement parts, but you will have to buy what you need as they do not offer a complete kit.

Lets look at some simple repairs we can do to fix our trucks:

  1. Remove the nut from the king pin.  Pull off the truck hanger (The “T” shaped thing with the axles) and remove the bushings and washers.
  2. Inspect the metal parts.  Look for cracks in the metal parts and metal filings that might fall out.  If there are cracks or filings, it is probably time to replace the trucks. 
  3. Damaged bushings.  Simply turn the bushing 180 degrees so the damage part is facing the opposite direction from the way it was originally situated.  This will give you a bit more life out of the bushings.  Its a good practice to rotate your bushings monthly (depending on how much you skate).  This distributes the wear evenly around the entire bushing as opposed to the damage only happening in one spot.
  4. Damaged or Squeaky Pivot cups.  I’ve not seen these wear out too often but they would have to be replaced if they were badly damaged.  If your board creaks and squeaks when you turn, its not the bushings its the pivot cups.  With the hanger off, scrape some bar soap or wax shavings into the pivot cup.  This lubricates the rubber and kills the annoying squeaking. (BONUS: depending on the soap or wax you use, your skateboard might smell pretty.  Mine all smell like lavender.)
  5. Replace a bent king pin.  Take off the hanger and unbolt the base plate from our board.  You can tap out the kingpin through the base plate with a hammer or a rock.  Slide the new bolt in the way the old one came out, but make sure it is seated properly in the baseplate.  The new kingpin shouldn’t rotate or wiggle much.  If it does, the baseplate may be worn.  I had this problem on an old set of blank trucks.
  6. Straighten your bent axle.  This is not easy to do, and you could make things worse rather than better.  You will need to put the bent axle in a vise and carefully bend it back into place.  This might get you by for a couple light sessions, but metal that has been bent is quite weak, so order some new trucks right after you bend the axle back.  You don’t want to attempt to kickflip a 10 stair with these ones.

Hopefully these few tips have helped you to keep skating when your finances are tight, but remember that these fixes are only temporary.  Skateboards should not be ridden with damaged parts.  Skateboarding has plenty of danger and risk as it is so riding with damaged components will only compound the potential for personal injury.  

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