How to Maintain Skateboard Trucks
Skateboard trucks are the longest lasting component on your skateboard and can last several years depending on how much grinding you do or how much impact you put on them. Many skaters like riding the same trucks for as long as possible because getting used to new trucks can take a while and can change the way the board rides and how certain tricks feel. In most cases, you can replace only the parts you need in order to keep skating the same set of trucks for a long time, or refresh your trucks with a full truck rebuild kit.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How to Replace Skateboard Truck Bushings
- How to Replace Skateboard Truck Kingpins
- How to Rethread Skateboard Truck Axles
- How to Replace Skateboard Truck Pivot Cups
When to Replace Bushings
Bushings commonly get worn out over time and start making your trucks floppy and unstable, which can cause you to get a lot of wheelbite. If your bushings are split or crushed on one or both sides, it’s probably worth replacing your bushings so you can get some more responsive turns and less flop.
It’s best to get the replacement bushings that are the same brand as the trucks you are riding because they are specifically designed to fit the geometry of that truck. Some brands like Bones and Shorty’s make bushings that will fit into several different brands of trucks.
How to Replace Bushings
- To replace the bushings, remove the kingpin nut with a ½ inch wrench or skate tool. Take off the old top washer and bushing, then the hangar, and finally the old bottom bushing and washer.
- Put on the new washers and bushings with the thicker bushing on the bottom. Next, put the hanger back onto the kingpin and into the pivot. Then, put the smaller bushing and washer on top. You don’t necessarily have to replace the washers. If they’re indented and bent all out of shape, then you might as well throw the new ones on.
- Finish up by threading the kingpin nut onto the kingpin to your liking.
- It’ll take a little time to break in the new bushings and your trucks might be squeaky and get some auto-turn for a bit, but after a few sessions they’ll be good to go.
When to Replace Kingpins
The kingpin is the large bolt that runs all the way through the truck and holds everything together. Occasionally after a lot of abuse, kingpins get ground down or break. When your kingpin snaps or the threads have been ground down to the point where it’s impossible to get the kingpin nut to thread back on, you’ll have to replace the kingpin.
It’s best to get the same brand of kingpin that you had so you know it will fit properly. Also make sure you’re getting the proper length. You don’t want to get a low kingpin if you don’t have low trucks because it won't be long enough to reach all the way through, and a regular kingpin on low trucks will stick out too much and catch on whatever you’re grinding.
How to Replace Kingpins
Remove the Kingpins
- To remove the kingpin, take apart your trucks so only the baseplate and kingpin are left.
- Set up the kingpin side near you and the the pivot cup on the far side so you can get a comfortable angle to swing the hammer.
- Use a hammer and something metal and narrow, such as a sturdy bolt, to smack the end of the kingpin with. After a few hard, direct hits, the kingpin should come loose.
Install the New Kingpins
- Flip the base plate over and slide in the new kingpin. Spin it around from the underside to ensure the splines are lined up. You’re going to have a hard time hammering the kingpin in if they aren’t lined up properly, so adjust it until the splines are lined up and put a little pressure on it to set it in place.
- Bridge the baseplate across the pieces of wood with the new kingpin hanging down between them.
- In the same manner that you smacked out the old kingpin, hold the baseplate steady and hammer in the new one.
- It will take a good amount of force to get it to go in, but a few direct hits should be all you need. Make sure it’s completely in and flush, then reconstruct your truck.
When to Rethread Axles
Skating is tough on every inch of your skateboard. When you’re learning flip tricks, landing primo a bunch, or skating gaps and kicking out, the ends of your axles are going to get smashed up from hitting the ground. When the tips of your axles get smashed or mushroomed out over time, the threads become damaged and it makes it hard to take off the axle nuts, and even harder to put them back on.
This is where rethreading your axle comes in handy. You can shave off the metal blocking the threads, allowing the nut to go back on smoothly.
How to Rethread Axles
- Start by removing your axle nut and wheel.
- Put the die tool on the end of the axle. When you begin to rethread your axle, make sure that the die goes on flat, perpendicular to the axle.
- Twist the die, making sure that you keep it completely flat so you don’t start cutting new threads that are crooked and don’t line up with the original threads.
- Keep your hand sturdy and turn it slowly clockwise, you’ll feel some resistance as the die cuts away the metal filings that are obstructing the threads. Once the die gets through the mangled threads and links up with the original threads, you’ll feel less resistance and you can stop turning it.
- Back the tool out and check your work. If you did it right, the threads on the ends should look cleaner and the nut should be able to catch the threads.
- Do a quick check to see if the nut will go on. If it does, go ahead and put your wheels back on and go skate!
When to Replace Pivot Cups
Pivot cups are an often over-looked part of your skateboard trucks. They will need to be replaced from time to time. If your pivot pops out of the pivot cup or feels rattly , it’s probably a combination of loose trucks and a blown out pivot cup.
How to Replace Pivot Cups
- Replacing a pivot cup is an easy and inexpensive fix. Any time that your trucks are taken apart for maintenance, you can replace the pivot cups. Just pry the old one out with a screwdriver and put a new one in.
- You can get pivot cups on their own or get them as part of a truck rebuild kit, but be sure they’re the same brand because they might not fit properly otherwise.
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