Ball bearing shield removal

I’ve received questions from several places pertaining to removal of ball bearing shields. Firstly, my purpose for removing the shields are so that I can (a) clean off old grease and repack with new grease, or (b) remove old oil and relube for better casting ability.

For high speed bearings (those on the baitcaster’s spool shaft), I will usually remove and discard the shields and use a very light viscosity oil, so that the spool need very little torque to activate spinning. I do this as I’m in the habit of casting light finesse lures with the baitcaster. Yamaha Synthetic Valve Oil (Light) which is available at Yamaha music stores, is a very low viscosity oil that permits the bearing to spin on very low torque. Remington’s REM Oil, used for lubricating rifles is also a very low viscosity oil that I like. For those who want a little bit of protection for their ceramic ball bearings, I use TSI-301 Dry lube.

For low speed applications (eg crank shaft, level wind worm gear and handle knobs), I usually fill the bearing up with light grease (I cut Cal’s grease with CorrosionX oil till it’s thinned to my preferred consistency), then fit back the shields to retain the grease inside. For those who are thinking of cutting grease with oil, do test a small batch first. Cut your grease a week or two in advance, then set aside in a sealed container and check for chemical reaction. If it turns to slush, or it becomes gum, or it hardens, or it separates back to grease and oil means that your combo is reacting and cannot be used.

UPDATE: Since I posted this piece, Cal’s Grease had introduced a lighter grease (Purple label), but I’ve yet to try it. Theoretically with this lighter grease consistency, you might not need to experiment with cutting grease anymore.

So if your purpose for removing the shields are for service and maintenance, I’ve reproduced below, my reply to one such request.

Devilzken wrote:
Hi I saw from ya tutorial u remove the clip and remove the shield for the ball bearing. Wan. To ask what tools u use to remove the c clip. It looks impossible to remove it I tried. Mayb can give some pointers tks

I assume you are talking about removing the ball bearing shields.

Note that there’s a few types of shields in the market:

Rubber Coated Shield

Some bearings eg EZO above and Boca bearings have rubberised Shields. If you look at Ball bearing manufacturer’s specifications and see RU, 2RU, RS or 2RS to their model name, it’s this type of shield. The above bearing is a 2RS. The 2 means its got a  shield on both sides.

They’re the simplest to remove as it’s a rubber coated shield. Simply use a sharp hook, hook on one edge and pry up.

C Clip Fastened Shields

Then there’s the C Clip fastened shield. If you look at Ball bearing manufacturer’s specifications and see ZS or ZZS to their model name, it’s this type of shield. The above two bearings have ZZS shields.

At the edge of the outer race, you will find a tiny gap that is formed by the two legs of the C Clip. I use a very sharp hook (Daiichi Aji 12) to hook on one leg of the C Clip. If your hook is sharp, it will pull one end out. Then you can easily remove the C Clip by hand and tap or blow out the shield with some air. If your clip doesn’t come out, it’s simply because your hooks are not sharp enough. Buy or replace the hook.

Type Z Shields

Lastly, there’s the permanent shield. If you look at Ball bearing manufacturer’s specifications and see Z or ZZ to their model name, it’s this type of shield.

You find these on the CRBB and ARB bearings of Shimano and Daiwa reels. For this case, it is intentionally made to prevent you from getting under the shield, so you take a big risk removing those shields. I have destroyed many such bearings so if you wanna attempt shield removal, you better have a replacement bearing ready in case you botch it up.

Between the inner race and the shield is normally a tiny gap. Use a very sharp hook to pry the shield up from here. Take extreme care in what you do as the very sensitive balls are micro millimetres from this and if you touch them, your bearing will be ruined. If you succeed, the shield will get deformed with a spout. Use a precise needle nosed plier to catch on this spout and forcibly pull the shield off.

Normally, I’d not risk damaging a new and good ball bearing of this sort. I’d put these bearings in a bottle of Simple Green solution and run it in the Ultrasonic cleaner for several minutes. Replace the solution when it turns milky. Finally rinse off with water, run again several minutes in fresh water, blow dry, then inspect for spinning times. If the bare bearing can spin freely on a dowel for longer than 15 seconds, it should be sufficient for most casting reels. If it stops abruptly in a short time, then it’s worth trying to risk prying off the shield. If you succeed, you gain more experience and confidence doing such stuff, and you just might be able to save your bearing (a crooked shield robs you of torque and spin time). If you fail, no loss. You needed to replace that bearing anyway.

I’ve detailed a bit more information on removing and refitting ball bearings in this articles:
https://gaspinggurami.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/servicing-shimano-aernos-1000fa/
https://gaspinggurami.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/servicing-accurate-boss-bx-400nx/
https://gaspinggurami.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/first-imprssion-abu-revo-ver3-stx-8-0/

HTH,

LL

Text and Images © Lawrence Lee
All Rights Reserved
If you want to use any content for your own publication, please write me @ Lee.TC.Lawrence@gmail.com

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12 responses to “Ball bearing shield removal

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  2. All of us can make up the cleaning process of the ball bearings but experts only got success because re assembling the bearing is the difficult process than removing parts.

  3. I lubricates the my new reel bearing with penn synthetic oil. Then, after assemble the reel, the reel feel very rough and noisy while cranking,seems hopeless. But, your tutorial just make my day, I open the bearing shield as you do (quite difficult for the first time), clean it up, packed with relix grease..assembled…and the result just great! It feels very smooth! I never know that the solution is just that simple. Thank u so much!

  4. Hello Sir,

    I’ve upgrading my spool’s bearing to boca ceramic, but does it need to be lubricate with oil or just let it runs dry?

    • If want to cast very light lures, you need the spool to be able to spin on the lowest torque. Not using any lubricant at all on your Boca Ceramic bearings will help achieve that. However, if you want to cast heavy lures, jigs etc, having a very light oil will give the bearings better longevity.

      Oil is a personal choice you make. Have oil, bearings last longer. No oil, bearings spin faster.

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