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How to Get an Inline Speed Skate Axle Out When the Usual 4mm Hex (Allen) Wrench Will Not Work

roadskater's picture
[This is not rocket science, as they say, but a simple solution that made a frustrating delay eventually go away. The lever is your friend, except, of course, when it's not...like when it allows you to break things. In this story, however, it's all good...about the only good found in this particular weekend.] After 95 miles on the railtrails in Georgia and Alabama, we looked forward to being back in North Carolina for the Tour to Tanglewood training ride at Spinz in Archdale. But it was maintenance time first, so after the drive up from the land of Peachtree streets, we had an evening of frustration while upgrading our brake pads and wheels. We stayed up so late working on our gear that we gave up easily the next morning when the rain came through and decided not to skate after all. In addition to my brake hardware and pad upgrades, eebee had stuck axles in the second position of both her frames. The 100mm wheels had come out easily, but the 84mm wheel axles would not budge. [I'm wondering if this has to do with the fact that we've both had trouble with hub cracks in the 100mm wheels, and this has perhaps put undue stress on the 84mm ones?] Usually they're stuck until I get real about breaking them loose, then I can hear that snap and smell the cap gun fragrance of the bonded metal surfaces letting go, and it's all good. This weekend, nothing we tried could break them loose, and we sort of broke/cracked/stressed at least one 4mm Allen hex wrench handle trying. We did try a bit of spraying but didn't get into soaking the axles overnight. That might've worked. What we did the next day was go to Harbor Freight to look for cheap tools we could afford and would likely need only a few times in life...the ones that say CHINA on them. Eebee wanted a right angled 4" x 4" or so 4mm wrench of the plain old style that sometimes came in the box with skates in the previous century. We found lots of not so adequate seeming solutions. Most hex wrenches had one end much shorter than the other. We felt sure we wouldn't get a good grip on these with the vise grip damaging devices. Some were anodized looking and sparkly but didn't seem like they'd apply any more force than what we already had. The problems we had with our existing wrenches were either they were too long and actually started twisting like a candy cane when we tried to loosen the axles, or the handle was too small (the T part), or it was painful to grip the wrench and try to get enough force to loosen the axle. In some cases, we were simply afraid, very afraid, of the handle breaking and some skin damage or worse being the outcome. I had looked around my house for the ton of screwdriver bits and other junk, most of which has been robbed of anything with 4mm on the side of it. We found lots of Torx star bits and thought of TomB and ninjaskater and their Powerslide axles. So I was out of 4mm stuff other than the long-stem T-handle wrenches that were letting us down. After looking at all the options, we picked up the Pittsburgh Metric 6-Pc 3/8" Drive Hex Bit Set (Item 35183, 6 point, sizes 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 7mm, 8mm, 10mm) for about $10 and looked around at a bunch of other stuff, including some very long hex bit sets that we felt might twist like the long Allen wrenches we'd already tried, but did have the advantage of seating further into the hex bolt head. We voted for the shorter items listed above. Back at the skate hovel, I found an old Skil Wrench (no longer a power wrench, but still a 3/8" socket wrench of the manual sort) that I've kept because it has a long fat handle and is pretty hefty too, so it feels powerful even if it's not. Without any huge effort, I was able to get a nice grip on the socket wrench handle and almost gently loosen both of the stuck axles. This was about the only thing that worked all weekend, so I thought I'd share this small success. It's possible the B'Laster PB Penetrating Catalyst we sprayed on the night before helped loosen things, but I think we did that so poorly it likely didn't help. The important factors were likely a more direct application of the power without twisting, a more comfortable grip, and of course the most likely greatest factor, the long, solid handle of the socket wrench. Any long socket wrench would have done the trick, but it was fun to use a powerless power socket for a useful project. [The socket wrench in the photo is a trusty Sears Craftsman 43784 3/8" unit with an 6.5" handle. It's good for using first to limit the torque you can put on an axle or other bolt or nut. The Skil Wrench has a handle just under 12" long, and it's boxy and flat at the business end, but round and knurled at the handle.] We didn't find the Loc-tite blue I thought I had, and neither did we find anti-seize compound I imagined I had purchased along the way, but we did see the Teflon plumbing thread tape lying about and decided to wrap some onto the aluminum threads to see if this would help in keeping the axle from seizing to the frame. Time will tell but it felt buttery smooth winding in. Hope this helps! What do you guys use, by the way, if anything, for keeping these axles from seizing and for getting them loose.
Socket Wrench with 4mm Hex Bit Socket Makes a Good Solid Tool for Removing Stuck Inline Speed Skate Axles


eebee's picture

Allen Wrench

"Eebee wanted a right angled 4" x 4" or so 4mm wrench of the plain old style that sometimes came in the box with skates in the previous century."

Aw, well the previous century wasn't that long ago :-). It just seemed I could get anything out with that simple, plastic-less wrench. All I had to do was wrap a tea cloth around it several times and pull. No pesky plastic bits to bruise my palms.

Anyway, I'm glad Roadskater's other idea worked. 

roadskater's picture

The Old Schoool Wrenches are Good to Have

No slight intended toward the plain wrenches of "the previous century." I merely realized it may have been that long ago that I saw one (but actually probably not). I can't recall which skates I might've gotten one of these with. I've had skates from:

  • Target cheapies...not sure what brand...bad wheels were the main problem
  • Rollerblade
  • Ultrawheels (loved them)
  • K2 (the old Flight 76 were great)
  • Roces 5-wheel rec skates
  • Verducci V-Tec boots & Shockwave 5x80mm frame (great frame)
  • 5x84 Ultimate Attitude "flag" frame
  • Mogema R-1 boots
  • Milleniem 3x100+84 frame
  • Powerslide c4 boots

Probably the wrench came with those K2 skates that were so great. What model is that you have? I remember it has a longer frame but is still four wheels. It's a good mix of support and speed features methinks.

eebee's picture

It was an event freebie

I had K2 Kinetics (women's). But I got the favorite wrench from some event, I believe, like Philly Freedom Skate or Miami Great EsSkate. I had two of them at one point. Butterfingers: I dropped the last one down into the body cavity of my car. It may still be in there unless it fell out of a rust-hole in the bottom. Those Rollerblade or Mogema wrenches with plastic handles with a knob on one end are useful for prying out the bearings when you're not strong enough to poke them out through the other side.
roadskater's picture

Yes, K2 Kinetics, Good Stuff. Mogema Wrench Awesome Too

Yes. Kinetics. Several good roadskaters had those and some did A2A in them quite happily. Even the Flight 76 would hold an 80mm and I did A2A once in those, at least. It was the really rainy A2A and people with speed boots were in the lobby nursing blisters. I had muscle pains but no blisters. Sometimes a rec boot is better. It'd be cool to have some super comfy 4x100 K2s but the last time I tried on rec skates they rubbed my shins quite a lot. Could have been the skates...K2 Mods methinks. Kinetics were cool. Here's that Mogema tool...it's kind of cool. For those who haven't used it I'll say why I like it. I like that it has a hole to put it on a necklace or hang it on a nail. It has a bearing puller that seems pretty strong (would be nice if the handle were metal, but not for carrying while skating meknows). Once you've pulled one side (bearing), you can push the other side (bearing) out with the handle, which also helps when pressing the bearing back in (though flipping the wheel over and pressing on a hard surface seems to work usually...just don't damage the outer shields of the bearings or they no worky so great). On the side it reads 4 DIN 911 C.V. GERMANY. I assume this means 4mm made to DIN 911 standard and made from chrome vanadium in Germany. Great Mogema 4mm Hex Allen Wrench for Inline Skates with Bearing Puller and Pusher: Here's one of the nicest tools for changing bearings on inline skates. Bearing puller at the top, and pusher on the handle.Great Mogema 4mm Hex Allen Wrench for Inline Skates with Bearing Puller and Pusher: Here's one of the nicest tools for changing bearings on inline skates. Bearing puller at the top, and pusher on the handle.
skart's picture

Screw Extractors

I used a screw extractor in the past for exactly the same problem. It is definitely a more expensive solution but it works really well... Or, and this will destroy the axle... http://homerepair.about.com/od/interiorhomerepair/ss/screw_extractor.htm

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