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Author Topic: fixing up old trackball  (Read 1553 times)

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severdhed

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fixing up old trackball
« on: September 17, 2010, 02:10:28 pm »
hey guys, since i have two cabinets now, i can't help but want to have a trackball in both of them, since one has a horizontal monitor and one has a vertical.  i have a Utrak currently installed in my vertical cab, and i love it.  i had planned to eventually purchase another one for in my showcase cabinet, but not for a while since the cost is high. (not just the utrak, but trackballs in general).  well, looking through my basement, i found my old 3" Wico trackball, that i thought quit working.  just for S&G i decided to hook it up and try it...and it works.  it doesn't feel super smooth like my utrak though.  i did replace the rollers and bearings in it, but i think they need lubricated or something.  also the ball is a little rough looking. 

i dont want to spend a bunch of money, since i dont really have it to spend right now.  here are the questions i have:

1. what kind of lubricant should i use on the bearings?  what do i do, put them in a ziplock back and soak them for a while?

2. is there a cheap way to make this ball look better?  i thought i remember someone mentioning using toothpaste or something common like that.  do i just polish it with a rag, or a dremmel or something else?

3. i am installing this in a 5/8" MDF panel, covered with 1/8" plexi.  i have a mounting plate, which i plan on routing out the top of the mdf to make the plate sit flush, then covering it all in plexi.  the problem is the lip on this trackball is so low, that the plexi will stick up higher than the lip on the trackball, will this cause pinching when rolling my hands across?  my utrak mounts perfectly flush and feels great, but i hate to spend the money for a new trackball when i have this one that works fine.


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BadMouth

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2010, 04:00:00 pm »
Look up pool ball polisher on youtube.  The basic idea is to put an automotive buffer or drill attachment (if you already have one) in the bottom of a bucket and let the ball roll around on it while it's spinning.

Xiaou2

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2010, 07:07:53 pm »

 Most bearings use lubricant which is too thick, causing the trackball to be
too hard to move.

 The best thing Ive found to remove the original lube, is Radioshacks "electronics cleaner".
Spray it on one bearing side, allow it to sink in for a few seconds, then free spin it
between your fingers for 60 seconds.  Flip the bearing over, repeat.  Repeat both sides
one last time.  Bearing should spin 10x as long.

 Electronics Cleaner loosens & eats crud, then evaporates into thin air.  Its quite
awesome... but a little expensive.  Wont need much though... and can be used
for all kinds of other cleaning needs. (eating marker, soil, sticker residue, etc)


 If you feel you need to add lubricant, you can try to allow some light oil, such as
"3-in-1 Oil" to soak in.

 Soaking bearings can easily get fragments of dirt trapped inside the bearings.
Best to do each one separately.

Turnarcades

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2010, 09:44:28 pm »
I've heard of people supposedly using pool balls as trackballs - try this for a unique look.

Radford119

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2010, 10:22:25 pm »
1. White Lithium grease for the bearings. It's light weight and usually comes in a spray can.
2. Try a Magic Eraser or any type of granular abrasive cleaner (Comet) with bleach will probably make it look brand new.
3. Maybe bevel or file the edges of your plexi so your edges aren't so harsh.

severdhed

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2010, 10:56:48 pm »
I've heard of people supposedly using pool balls as trackballs - try this for a unique look.

interesting idea, but the trackball I have is 3", billiard balls are smaller than that.

i'll have to look around to see what cleaners i have around the house.  i'm just excited that this thing works, i thought for sure one of the optical boards were dead.
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Mario

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2010, 11:22:11 pm »
I cleaned my trackball with auto polish and cleaner. I used the cleaner first, which got rid of the dirt, and then polished to a nice shine. I did this all by hand. The white trackball looked like new.

For the bearings, I used electronics cleaner that someone else mentioned. I used a drill to spin the bearings at a relatively high speed to break up any junk in the bearings. I did this by using a dart shaft that fit into the drill chuck and also into the center of the bearing. Simply pushing the dart shaft against the bearing with light pressure was enough for the drill to spin the bearing, and I felt this was safe for my fingers in case the drill slipped. After this, I soaked the bearings in the cleaner to finish cleaning them, and then used some light oil to lubricate them. It was a great improvement in the bearing movement and they work fine, but I couldn't get them to work like new.

Hope this helps.

Mario

Xiaou2

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2010, 02:06:56 am »
FYI - If the bearings are not new, there is only so much restoration that can
occur.  Usually there has been some wear inside the bearing track, as well as
possibly the balls worn down a little.  Sometimes rust had developed, and after
removal, there are pits.  And any fragments of metal could get ground into the
race, creating bumps.

 A brand new "Stiff" bearing should have no problem with the method mentioned
however.   Personally, I do not recommend the drill spinning, because if the thing
spins too fast and off-center, it could result in wear.  Spinning them by hand is
really quite easy.  By spinning them 2x each side for 60 seconds, should allow the
complete removal of all the bearing grease.  It will dissolve and leak out the bottom
as you spin. (make sure bearing is horizontal)

 Also, I really do not think its necessary to oil them.  Trackball bearings dont really need it.
They do not go through and heavy pressure and high spin abuses.  Even the light
oil will probably slow them down too much due to the additional friction.  Though, Theres
probably an ultralight, "watery oil" made for things like tiny watch parts that might be
best suited for this application.  Even then, it would probably need a tiny drop at most.
(not easy to apply so little, without taking a bearing apart)

 White trackball recovery might have differing results depending on the age.  I think
the older balls might be made with material that damages with Ultraviolet light - causing
a yellowish look, that probably cant be removed unless you take off quite a lot of
material.  I could be mistaken though.


RandyT

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2010, 12:58:50 pm »
A brand new "Stiff" bearing should have no problem with the method mentioned
however.   Personally, I do not recommend the drill spinning, because if the thing
spins too fast and off-center, it could result in wear.

Drill spinning is fine.  Bearings are designed to handle RPM's in the thousands, and your hand drill doesn't have a chance of doing this.  And if you are holding them in your hand while doing it, there's also no chance you'll put enough force on them to do them any harm whatsoever.

Quote
Also, I really do not think its necessary to oil them.  Trackball bearings dont really need it.
They do not go through and heavy pressure and high spin abuses.  Even the light
oil will probably slow them down too much due to the additional friction.

It is absolutely necessary to oil them.  Direct metal on metal friction will kill a bearing 10X faster than if lubricated.  With no lubrication, you also get corrosion.  Be smart and oil the bearings.  The little bit of resistance that thin oil might cause is paltry compared to what metal dust, corrosion and abnormal wear to the races will cause.

RandyT

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2010, 09:06:06 am »
I haven't bought a new trackball in a long time. I grab up old ones from the local op (they just pull them from their GT machines periodically) and clean them up.

  • Clean 'em
  • Spin 'em
  • 3-in-1

I've only had 1 unit ever fail to perform as good as new afterwards.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2010, 09:07:41 am by CheffoJeffo »
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jimmy2x2x

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2010, 04:16:02 am »
How often would you suggest cleaning and lubricating?

Do you just apply the 3 in 1 directly to the bearings, or soak them, bag them?

severdhed

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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2010, 10:24:16 am »
well, i am seeing some conflicting info here...  i dont have any 3-in-1 oil, i'll have to pick some up.  this trackball was in rough shape when i got it, i found it lying in the bottom of an empty cabinet i picked up a few years ago.  i replaced the bearings and rollers shortly after getting it, but it never really felt right.  so when it came time to build a new panel, i ended up getting a new Utrak instead, (the translucent light up ball is really nice).

so, anyway, the bearings are a few years old, but have only a few hours of use on them.  most of you seem to indicate lubricating them with 3-in-1 oil is the way to go, what is the process here though?  do i spray them with electrical contact cleaner first?  then spin them in a drill and then soak them in a plastic bag with oil?  or do i just put a few drops of oil and spin them by hand?
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Re: fixing up old trackball
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2010, 09:25:44 pm »
There is no conflict about the most important aspect...  That you first have to
clean the bearings of the thicker bearing grease.  The heavy bearing grease is what
is probably causeing the bearings to feel sluggish, because there is too much friction.
Lighter oil is put in After you remove the heavy stuff.