gritty clicks in ball bearings

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by sharp_edge, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    This is a bit difficult to describe accurately with words. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this but at least a couple of my ball bearing folders would develop sporadic gritty clicks. They were smooth in the beginning and are still smooth but over time this one or two gritty clicking noise would show up though it is not that they are present every time the knives are opened (hence sporadic). It almost sounds something is inside the pivot area but I see nothing after disassembly; flushing with water won't help either. Is it possible that some balls in the bearings are no longer perfectly round? Or could it be because of the groove/trace developed on the titanium side of the pivot area? Or maybe the issue is in the detent ball / blade interface?
  2. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    If the ball bearings are ceramic, which many companies are using, they sometimes will chip off a little or occasionally broke apart. Need to strip down and clean out any chips or broken balls. If balls are steel then ??
    sharp_edge likes this.
  3. rpttrsn

    rpttrsn Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2006
    "Or could it be because of the groove/trace developed on the titanium side of the pivot area?"
    What knife and model are you talking about?
    I have one ZT , I think its the 0470, that does not have a washer between the bearing and the titanium. I thought the knife was missing this washer as I didn't think it was good to have the bearing riding on the titanium. I have not used this knife allot so no issues yet. Maybe it has become a problem if this is the case. If it is a ZT you could send it in for repair and mention your issue.
    I have not run into this problem with any other knives. What lube are you using? I would remove the bearings and flush well with WD40. Blow it out and lube with a better lubricant then WD40
    sharp_edge likes this.
  4. Cscotttsss

    Cscotttsss Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 3, 2015
    I occasionally notice this when closing my ZT 0460ti. Like you said it is still smooth as butter but you can hear the sound.
    sharp_edge likes this.
  5. Eversion

    Eversion Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 9, 2020
    I would take the knife apart and inspect the bearings and the surfaces they come into contact with, and clean all such surfaces and bearings with something like isopropyl alcohol, then see how it feels.

    It could be a dimple in the flat surfaces, or a chip in a bearing ball, or simply a stubborn piece of dirt.
    sharp_edge likes this.
  6. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    My ZT 0462 is pretty quiet to open but clickity clacks shut. It doesn't bother me any, but it's definitely different.

    I'm fine with it. Its my most rock solid ZT in terms of lock up and I love the large size.
    sharp_edge likes this.
  7. Conrad smith

    Conrad smith

    Apr 18, 2020
    I had this in my kershaw leek, it clicked weirdly sometimes when I closed it, like a little pop noise. Still never knew what it was, cleaning with water never helped it only went away when I dismantled it and cleaned it real good. I think it was something stuck in the detent ball.
    sharp_edge likes this.
  8. YellowSwiss


    Sep 28, 2015
    This may be a dumb question, but is there a way to convert a knife with bearings to washers? I would assume the gap between the blade and liners is a bit larger on knives with ball bearings so I wouldn't think a person could just change to bronze washers.
  9. Conrad smith

    Conrad smith

    Apr 18, 2020
    i would think there would be recesses in the blade and or liner of knives that have bearing (this is so the bearing can sit in the recess) so short answer is theres no easy way to convert to washers, long answer is its possible you could fill in the recesses, but i don't know if this is correct.
  10. pachiderm


    Mar 25, 2014
    This is a problem that frequently occurs with my ZT 0560. When it gets bad I take it apart and rinse out the bearings, dry them, and then lube them with Tuff Glide. Thing's good as new when I'm done but does require this treatment every once in a while depending on how much use it sees.

    Hinderer's tri way pivot system does a decent enough job with this. I'm sure you could try doing it on your own if you have the skill and tools to manufacture a metal disc to put in the gap, but it's probably more trouble than it's worth.
  11. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    Hinderer's tri-way is the answer. So you will have to fill the recessed pivot area with a spacer and then a washer can be running on top of it.
  12. marthinus

    marthinus KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 10, 2006
    Warm water, dish washing soap plenty of oil. From my experience it is normally just some dirt that got into the pivot.
  13. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    Update: I disassembled the knife and give it a thorough flush then added some tuf glide. The gritty clicks are now gone. But based on my experience, it will come back just a matter of time. Anyway, it seems something was inside the pivot area even though I did not use the knife in a dusty/dirty environment.

    About flushing the pivot without disassembling the knife, I have found some moisture would remain in between the steel liner and the g10/cf scale such that rusty spots would develop on the liner over time - hair dryer blowing did not seem to be able to drive it out. Not a big deal though.
  14. PirateSeulb


    Jun 6, 2017
    Are they caged bearings? Have you cleaned, flushed, and re-lubed them if so? I wouldn't normally suggest that but it seems that a bearing cage might be the last place where some dirt could be stuck.
  15. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    Yes - it is caged ball bearings. I know stuff does not get into the area easily if at all in my case. That's why I suspected whether some balls might no longer round or some piece fell off the cage or whatever or could it be the groove developed on the ti side.

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