Beginner Guide To Maintenance

Thank you for puchasing a skateboard from HAMMER!  Here are some tips on how to take care of your new board:

SAFETY

If you wear full safety gear, you can avoid most of the common scrapes and minor injuries that occur in an aggressive activity like skateboarding.  But safety gear or not, the most dangerous enemy to all skaters is the HUMAN ...in a motorized VEHICLE!  Always BEWARE: Vehicles and skateboarding do not mix.  Please learn this lesson early and live to skate for a long time!

ADJUSTING THE TRUCKS

Everyone likes their board to turn a bit differently.  So if it feels too stiff or wobbly, loosen or tighten the trucks.  Use a skate wrench, available HERE, or socket or adjustable wrench on the main largest nut in the middle top of the truck.  It's handy to take the wrench with you on your first session, until you have the board adjusted to how you like it.  You can always change it later, as your riding style develops.  (For instance, if you start increasing your skate speed, bombing hills, or tearing up bowls and streets, you might want to tighten your trucks for more stability.  On the other hand, if you are trying to turn more, and cruise, or carve some banks or bowls, you might find that loosening the trucks makes your board more responsive to your movements.) Remember not to loosen the kingpin nut too much.  Once the nut is flush (even) with the top of the kingpin bolt, that is as far as it should safely go.  If you need your trucks even looser, then consider switching out the bushings to a softer type.  (If you need your trucks way tighter, don't crank them down so hard that they crush out the bushings. In that case, consider switching out the bushings to a harder type.) Bushings available HERE.

ADJUSTING THE WHEELS

If your wheels spin freely, they are basically already adjusted.  But if they seem a little tight, you can loosen the axle nut about an 1/8 of a turn and see if that allows the wheel to spin longer or faster.  (If it doesn't spin as fast as your friend's wheels, don't worry.  The true test will be in how it rolls when you are standing on it.  Some of  the speed will depend on the different quality levels of bearings, and wheels available. ) Remember not to loosen the axle nut too much.  Once the nut is flush (even) with the end of the axle, that is as far as it should safely go.

CHECKING YOUR BOARD EVERYDAY

That's about all you can adjust on a skateboard.  Now you can probably leave it the way it is.  It's a good idea to check it over every time you go out skating.  Grab the trucks by the base and try to twist them, to see if the mounting hardware has loosened.  This will happen gradually, if you start doing impact tricks, or even if you just skate a lot.  If the board sounds rattly, that might be a clue that they need a little tightening. Also make sure the axle and kingpin nuts have not loosened up over time. (This can happen if you've tightened and loosened the parts many times, or if you are regularly doing tricks like grinds where the kingpin nut is getting hit, or in situations where the axle nuts are banging into curbs or landing so they get scraped.) Once you know the board is ready to roll, you don't have to think about it for the rest of the day.

MAINTENANCE

Keep your skateboard dry!  Once a deck gets wet, the wood expands, then shrinks again as it dries. This damages the bond of the glue, and will weaken the deck.  If it gets a good soaking and then dries out, a deck will usually sound less snappy, and it may feel soggy when you ride it.  It will also be more likely to crack or break or warp.

If your bearings get wet, they will rust, and so will the axles on your trucks.  The corrosion will expand the ball bearings inside, and can also slightly deform the axles with rust build-up.  This makes it hard to spin the wheel, and sometimes hard to get it off the axle for maintenance or replacement, if it got a soaking.

But if you do accidentally go through a big puddle or get caught in the rain...Wipe down your board as soon as possible.  Try to spin the wheels (by skating somewhere dry or spinning by hand) for a while until they are dry.  If you have a skate bearing oil on hand,  put one or two drops in each bearing.  Give them each a spin to let the oil get right in there.  That will hopefully prevent rust from forming.  (But if it gets a good soaking, you might have to take the wheels right off and remove each bearing. Then dry your axles, and wipe down the bearings the best you can.  You can clean them with isopropyl alcohol, and then relubricate them with a skate bearing oil.) ... Sound complicated?  Then just keep riding your rusty bearings until they are so terrible that you have to buy new ones.  That's what most skaters do! You can get a decent set HERE for $15 to $30. 

But the best rule is to just avoid water if you want to keep your gear in good shape!  (And also if you want to avoid doing maintenance at all costs...) Your new bearings are sealed and oiled, so they are designed to run a long time without any re-oiling.

STORAGE

Keep in mind that dampness and big variations in humidity can affect the wood in your deck. So if you leave it in a damp garage or basement all winter, your deck might warp over time.  It is best to store it somewhere dry and pretty stable, and keep it away from heat vents,  radiators or hot lighting.  All these things can warp decks.

BREAKAGE

Your deck is made of strong laminated hardwood cross plys, glued with superior adhesives.  But it is still only a thin piece of plywood.  Because of the typical kick-ended shape of the deck, (necessary for doing tricks), there is a lot of stress on the kicktail (where your back foot stays most of the time).  So once you start trying impact-type tricks, where your weight is temporarily off the board and then comes quickly back down to land, you will be putting a lot of stress on the deck. (Usually the steel truck axles and cast aluminum truck hangers can handle most heavy landings). 

The survival of the deck through this constant punishment will depend on how often you land tricks, (or trick attempts) properly, with both feet right on top of the truck areas.  You have to practise the idea of aiming to land on top of where the trucks are mounted. Over time, this will become a good habit and will keep your deck in one piece. Sometimes you won't be able to plan a correct landing, and that might result in a crack, break or delam. 

So be aware, that even on a brand new deck, even on flat ground, even (or especially) rolling slowly... 

If you land sloppy on a basic trick, and your foot stays on the upturned kick of the nose or the tail... you might break the deck. 

This is part of the challenge and the risk.  And as long as it doesn't happen too often, maybe it is part of the fun.  Sometimes your deck is old and worn out, and it is just telling you to put it out of its misery and get a new one!

Enjoy your new board!
-- thanks for reading, Dave Buchanan.