By Mike Garrison
Whether it's wheel nuts, wings, tools, tracks, trinkets and/or anything in between, the LiveRC staff gives their testimonial and review of each every Thursday morning!
A key part of R/C racing, no matter how fast or slow you are, is to make sure you are having fun. Recently, I have had the opportunity to race 17.5 Stock 2WD Buggy with a borrowed car at few different races, something I haven't raced in years - and the combination of intensity, precision, and challenge that comes with stock racing has been really fun. The new challenges have added a new level of fun that I didn't realize I was missing while racing mod classes. With that being said, to be competitive in stock racing your equipment has to on point in terms of not only setup, but also by minimizing weight, balanced and powerful (but still legal) electronics, and having a seemingly-frictionless drive train to put that power down efficiently.
One of the most important aspects of a free-spinning drivetrain is to equip your car with free-spinning bearings. The best way to have free-spinning bearings is to carefully remove the rubber seal on each bearing, spray out all of the grease from within the bearing, lube the bearing with high performance bearing oil, re-install the rubber seal, and put the bearing in the car. For this week's Thursday Testimonials, I tried out and reviewed two items which have been on the market for years; however, these items came highly recommended to me in my quest for free-spinning, stock racing-ready bearings: the RPM Bearing Blaster and Schelle Racing Black Diamond Bearing Oil.
RPM RC Products - Bearing Blaster
The RPM RC Bearing Blaster is nothing new; in fact, it hit the market over 12 years ago. While it has been around since before many of today's racers even started racing RC (myself included), it is a tool that, after religiously cleaning bearings for my stock buggy, I wanted to try out first hand.
The RPM Bearing Blaster is a simple two-piece design - the plastic pieces are held together by hand. The channels inside the assembly eliminate back pressure, which drives as much cleaning power through the bearing as possible. The cone-shaped holder fits all bearings ranging from 1/8" (3mm) inside diameter to 3/4" (19mm) inside diameter. For those who use monster-sized bearings, a separate Mega Bearing Blaster is also available.
RPM makes a bold statement by describing the Bearing Blaster as being "the smallest, most effective tool in your toolbox" in the item's description. Is this truly the case? No. The Bearing Blaster is certainly helpful, but I would not consider it the most effective tool in my toolbox. Does it work? Yes. The Bearing Blaster does, in fact, significantly clean up the act of cleaning bearings. Without the Blaster, when spraying out bearings, whatever you chose to clean out the bearings with ends up back in your face, on the ground, and covering the pit table - and it takes a lot of spray to get the job done. With the Bearing Blaster, you simply insert the spray nozzle into the Blaster, hold the bearing in place by pinching it between the top and bottom pieces, and spray away. The excess spray comes out of the bottom of the Bearing Blaster, and is easily cleaned up and absorbed by a rag placed underneath before spraying. Eye protection when spraying any sort of cleaners or degreasers is always recommended, but the chances of getting a faceful of motor spray are considerably lower when using the Bearing Blaster. You also don't have to clear a 10-foot radius around you, as what little mess is made can be contained to a very small area - meaning you can easily clean bearings in your pits without showering your neighbors.
- Simple, small, and easy to transport in toolbox.
- Eliminates majority of the outrageous overspray found when cleaning bearings without this tool.
- Also available in the "Mega" size for bigger bearings.
- Very clear instructions and usage recommendations and tips are included.
- Unlike RPM's plastic car parts, the Bearing Blaster comes in blue and blue only.
- For those of us with unorganized toolboxes, a carrying pouch or bag included would be handy.
The final word on the RPM Bearing Blaster is "two thumbs up". If you are not doing consistent bearing maintenance and cleaning, your $9 is probably better spent on new bearings, but if you are someone who does perform regular bearing cleaning and maintenance rituals this little guy is hot stuff. If I must be picky, I am not a fan of the RPM blue, but otherwise the only other disappointment I have here is the fact that it's taken 12 years of being on the market for me to finally try this helpful tool out.
Beacon Rating: 4 out of 5
Schelle Racing Innovations - Black Diamond Bearing Oil
The RPM Bearing Blaster helps in blasting out the grease, dirt, and grime, but once the bearings are clean its time to re-oil them. Re-oiling the bearings ensures a smooth, consistent, and longer lasting bearing. A good bearing oil will provide all of those without comprimising the free spin feel like grease often does.
The top of the line Schelle Racing bearing line and accessories is dubbed "Black Diamond." The Black Diamond oil is sold in a 10cc oval bottle with metal, fine-needle tip. This oil is a pure synthetic, designed to reduce drag with its thin viscosity. In addition, Schelle has added their secret blend of additives to prevent sludge and corrosion inside your bearings. While I am not sure what the requirements of R/C bearing oil must be to reach "military grade" status, according to Schelle the Black Diamond oil is military grade as well.
Schelle's Kurt Wenger says that this oil is safe for all bearings including drivetrain, gearbox, and even motor bearings. He also advises, during the cleaning process prior to oiling, to "never use brake cleaner on bearings - only citrus-based or alternator cleaner for electric parts."
The Schelle Racing Black Diamond Bearing Oil runs right down the middle in terms of price. The handy 10cc bottle doesn't offer as much oil as some other brands, but it also doesn't cost as much as some other brands. The bottle features a metal tip, which is greatly appreciated when trying to drop oil in tiny bearings without making a mess. I applied 3-5 heavy drops of oil per bearing throughout the drivetrain, and the difference is quite significant. The cleaned and Schelle Black Diamond-oiled bearings spin more freely than a new, greased bearing and are quieter. Even after nearly one month of running, the bearings are still smooth, quiet, and free. I do not recommend going an entire month without doing bearing maintenance; however, for the sake of this test - and a bit of laziness - I was impressed to see the results after such a significant amount of time and abuse put on them.
- Handy, easy-to-use bottle with metal applicator tip.
- Provides very smooth and consistent free-spinning feel to bearings.
- Does not break down at high temperatures, which makes it ideal for bearings throughout the entire car (drivetrain, gearbox, steering, and even motor bearings).
- Quiets some bearings.
- The cap is tiny and not attached to the bottle, so it's easy to lose the cap for fumbly-fingered and scatter-brained users - ultimately making the bottle unsafe for travel due to spillage (learned from personal experience).
It is very difficult to review or judge something like bearing oil, unless you simply get a terrible product that is clearly no good. The Black Diamond Bearing Oil is far from terrible, and has worked very well for me. I am not a bearing oil connoisseur by any means, but judging by the results it has yielded so far, and the respected reputation of the Schelle brand and its products, I have little worries that it will let me down anytime soon.
Beacon Rating: 4 out of 5