When I first got my skates a year and a half ago, I played with different ways to adjust them to improve my agility. The hardness of your cushions and adjusting the action on your plates are the two common ways to customize your skates. However at the time, the other obvious way for me to achieve fast wheels with quick turning was to adjust the nuts on my wheels slightly loose so they had a little wiggle action, like this:
It seemed like a good idea at the time and I’ve been skating with my wheels like that ever since. What I didn’t realize, this seemingly harmless adjustment was damaging my axles. It wasn’t until Rollercon11, when I showed my skates to one of my instructors, that she pointed out my wheels had way too much wiggling in the wrong direction and I should inspect my hangers and possibly get new ones. Wiggling like this…
Even with the nuts as tight as they could go, this is what my wheels do. The loose wheels wore down the axle of my hanger so much that you could visibly see the damage when compared to a new hanger.
To fix the problem, I had to take apart my skates to replace the hangers. Following is a short tutorial on taking apart your skates. It’s a good idea to take your skates apart semi-regularly to inspect the parts, even if you aren’t having any problems, as a small crack can turn into a bigger problem if it’s not spotted quickly.
This is also the process you use to replace your skate cushions (also called bushings). The hardness of your cushions, mixed with how tight you adjust the truck nuts will allow you to customize your ride. The softest cushions will give you more turning action but less stability. You can customize further by choosing conical-shaped cushions, allowing for even more action.
If you are rolling on skates with adjustable pivot pins, you will also need adjust your pivots after going through the process below. (EG: Plates which have adjustable pivots include Avenger, XK-4 DA 45 and Invaders.) Check out this great video from Roller Girl on how to adjust your pivots.
Here is another video by Fluster Cluck on adjusting your pivots.
Before you get started…
Removing your wheels will make this job easier, so do that first. You may as well inspect your wheels and your bearings as well.
If you’ re happy with your current skate setup, write down your truck settings. Similar to adjusting your toe stops, your truck settings can be personalized as well. The more loose your trucks are, the easier it is to turn – however you may be less stable on your skates and looser trucks may inhibit your speed. For more information on how to adjust the action on your trucks, check out this video!
If you like where they are at, measure the distance of the nut with a tape measure or count the kingpin threads which stick out from the nut.
Using your skate tool, loosen and remove the two nuts on your truck from each kingpin.
Pull off your first washer and cushion to reveal the hanger, then pull out the hanger. Then remove the second cushion and washer from each kingpin.
Easy, right? Don’t forget to take this opportunity to clean your parts ‘n pieces! Inspect your pivot cups (the part that your hanger tip is inserted into) for wear and cracks, ensure your plate is secure to your boot and look for cracks or wear on the plate itself.
To reassemble put everything back on in the opposite order, adjusting your trucks how you like them with the truck nut. If you are rolling on trucks with an adjustable pivot pin, make those adjustments after you tighten your truck nut (see first video posted above.)
Finally, put your wheels back on and tighten the wheel nuts so you get maximum spin but no wiggling in your wheels!
Remember that your skates are meant to be taken apart! For more information on other skate maintenance, check out this page.