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How Do You Restore A Speed King


I just picked up two speed kings yesterday. One works Great, but the other one, Oh My. I removed the two screws on the bottom and had one heck of a time getting the springs out. Finally after a few choice words they came out rather stifly. They were packed with grease that turned to glue.

Is the grease from the bearings or were the springs packed in grease?



“I did not trip and fall. I attacked the floor and I believe I am winning.”
Posted on 14 years ago
Posts: 1017 Threads: 349

Okay, I've refurbished a couple of Speed Kings. The bearing covers are easy to get off by using compressed air. If you have an air compressor... I used to work on old cars.

Take out the screws and springs, then cover the cap with a cloth to catch it because there's a bit of velocity, then using a rubber nozzle (the basic air tool for cleaning dust with air pressure) blast compressed air into the upright. The cap will pop off. At that point, you can pretty well disassemble to bearings and columns, if that's how far you want to go.

Is it necessary? Probably not, but there is a ton of dried out and stiff grease in the column, covering the spring, and generally gumming up the works.

I'm just curious about how this stuff works. Last night I disassembled my Canopus Hi Hat to see if the tension adjustment assembly works the same as on the Ludwig Spur Lok. The answer is yes!

Posted on 14 years ago

Agreed on removing the end caps with mikey777. If you just pound the vertical post about halfway up with a rubber mallet, they will come off easily.

As far as cleaning the inside of the posts, here's what I do:

You can buy a small, round wire brush attachment for a Dremel (but it also works in a regular drill). The size of the wire brush is exactly the same size as the inside of the posts. I remove the "guts" from the posts, put lighter fluid or paint thinner in the posts and let it soak overnight. After I dump that out, I immediately run the drill with the wire brush attachment. I go slowly up and down each post several times. When you are done, the posts look brand new!

As far as repacking, the springs etc., I use a spray lubricant like Tri-Flow. It works beeter than grease and WD-40, because it has Teflon in it, so it now only lubricates and protects, but also cleans itself at the same time, so you don't have a lot of leftover gunk afterwards. I just unscrew the screws and give it a few new sprays of Tri-Flow every now and again (as well as the bearings on either side of the posts and on either side of the hinge pin heel plate). It works great for me and no more mess!

Posted on 13 years ago

Quick little U tube on removing the caps.



“I did not trip and fall. I attacked the floor and I believe I am winning.”
Posted on 13 years ago

I tried it last night on two SK's I have. Used a rubber hammer. Took four to five hits, and they popped right off .

Cool beans.


“I did not trip and fall. I attacked the floor and I believe I am winning.”
Posted on 13 years ago

Howdy forum folks,

I have been working on my vintage speed king pedal that was frozen up, and I must recommend not doing a lot of techniques that people on the forum here have recommended. Some of what I've read is just asking for trouble.

If you have an old speed king that's frozen up but not RUSTED up (meaning the rust is the reason for freezing), you have a chemical problem with your pedal due to the oil inside the piston chambers congealing and turning to the consistency of jelly or glue. IT JUST NEEDS TO BE CLEANED, not cracked open, or heated up with a heat gun, or drilled or ________ method (insert the name of any other destructive method into the blank there). So here's what you need to have:

Can of Acetone (hardware stores have)

Wire Pipe Cleaning Brush

Can of WD40 (or whatever combo spray cleaner/lube you like)

Safety Glasses

Gloves (latex)

Lubricating Oil (*read below)

CLEAN Empty Glass Bottle with SCREW-On top (drink bottle size at least - such as a snapple bottle)

Flathead Screwdriver

Teflon Tape (*read below - may not be necessary)

Rag/Towel for Cleaning (Will get greasy, so don't be using those fancy towels you stole from that 5 star hotel and use to impress your guests when they stop by for a weekend)

Needle Nose Pliers

So, IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA, let's clean the pedal. Remove the beater and the footpedal from the mechanical spring housing unit since that's what we need to focus on here.

SAFETY: Do wear safety glasses in case anything splashes into your eye (yeah, everyone thinks helmets and safety glasses and other safety equipment doesn't look "cool," but eye pain, blindness, head injuries, living as a vegetable really is a lot less cool by exponential factors, so let's get over how you look to other people - plus, one medical bill may be several times more than that super awesome drumset you wanted to buy but can't afford because you have to pay that stupid medical bill instead). Wear gloves to keep your hands from getting filthy, which they certainly will.

Now, underneath the pedal, you'll see two flathead screws underneath the piston columns that adjust the spring tension in the pedal - unscrew and remove these. Place these two screws in the empty glass bottle.

What you may see now is super gross and nasty - congealed oil that may be a drab olive green color. Lovely. What you have inside the cylinders are two parts - the spring and the piston, both of which need removal. The piston itself is actually two pieces of metal - a larger diameter metal cylinder with a hole drilled axially at one end where a smaller metal cylinder fits securly inside and held in place. When the spring and piston are together, the smaller cylinder inserts axially into the spring to keep it in position, but in my case, the smaller cylinder had come free of the larger, and I had to lightly tap it with a hammer (read that again: LIGHTLY tap it) back into the larger cylinder which should hold it with friction.

At this point, you may have to use needle nose pliers to pinch and remove the springs as well as the pistons. Put both in the glass jar with the screw caps you have already removed. The springs should be an easy removal, but the pistons may be too deep for your pliars. If they won't come out by inverting the housing and trying to let them fall into your hand by gravity, no worries - we've got them surrounded and they're coming out with their hands up or on stretchers... however they want to do it:)

Here's where the mess starts. Pour a little acetone down the open shaft and begin working the mechanical portion of the pedal back and forth (don't use fingernail polish acetone as it probably has a bunch of other chemicals you don't need in it... go to the hardware store and buy a good can of the stuff - I was a chemistry major and this is the ultimate solvent for cleaning in the lab that is pretty safe compared to some other nasty stuff out there).

Acetone hopefully will begin dripping out the area where the chrome beater mount and the piston housing meet. Most likely, it will be black and super nasty. Don't drip it onto any nice clothes or those high dollar shoes you have:)

If the acetone is not draining out the bottom, try placing the screwdriver or any long metal object (even the beater shaft) into the open housing and press down on the piston while working the mechanics of the pedal. Whatever object you're using should start moving up and down from the pedal action. This should start working the acetone into the old oil and dissolve it and finally flow out the pedal. Do this repeatedly until you can invert the pedal and the piston slides out.

Now, take your wire pipe brush and push it up and down the open shaft while dripping some acetone in there now and then. Again, wear safety glasses - when you pull the brush out, it may flick some acetone about which in an eye will BURN. No fun.

Once the brush comes out of the shaft with no more gunk on it, just pour small amounts of acetone down the open shaft and work the pedal while the acetone drips out. Do this repeatedly until the acetone runs pretty clearly and isn't dark and dirty anymore. You should be amazed that the pedal will just free up and those bearings are gliding like hot butter (unless you have a RUST problem).

Now, drip some acetone not in the open shaft, but between the chrome beater mount and the piston housing. Work this until the acetone runs clear. Pour a little acetone down the open shaft again just to see if any remaining gunk is in the housing and work the pedal until the acetone runs clear.

You may have a lot of nasty black oil all over the pedal's outside. Clean this off by pouring acetone ONTO a rag and wiping it off. Acetone is super volatile (it vaporizes easy... if you pour some on your hand, your hand will get cold because it evaporates so fast and takes heat from your hand), and you can trap it in the rag which allows you to clean longer with less acetone compared to pouring acetone on the pedal and then wiping.

Ok, so once you have your pistons, springs and screw caps in the glass bottle, pour enough acetone in to just cover the parts when the bottle is LAYING ON IT'S SIDE with the cap SCREWED ON. Just roll the bottle back and forth, and lightly shake (don't break). SAFETY: BE CERTAIN to unscrew the cap every few moments to release the pressure in the bottle which can build from the acetone vapors and the heat (yes, HEAT) that results from the dirty oil going into solution with the acetone.

Hopefully this will clean the parts, but if there's some stubborn oil left, try using your wire brush on it and afterwards clean with the bottle technique until nice and clean.

Reinsert the pistons into the pedal, but you may have to rotate them until they are in the proper position so that they rise and fall when working the mechanical action (if you can't visually tell, insert a screwdriver or beater shaft into the open housing shaft and onto the piston and watch to see if it rises and falls with the piston). If the piston isn't rising and falling, try manipulating it so that it falls into place and finally acts properly.

Next, put the springs back in so the small piston cylinder inserts through their axes. Spray some WD40 down the shaft and work the mechanics, and do this a couple of times. The WD40 will drip out the bottom - that's ok. Spray some WD40 between the chrome beater mount and piston housing and work the mechanics again. Screw the caps back into place to a tension you like.

You may ask, "What about the oil?" For a week or so, use the pedal without the oil inside and see how it behaves. Though the bearings are smooth without the springs and pistons inserteed, the pedal will be a little stiff though it doesn't have oil in it and it shows how important the oil is to keep internal friction down. We're just working the pedal out a bit. After this time period, give it another cleaning in case some hidden gunk broke loose, which is what we're trying to do by playing it for a week. Once you have it cleaned out, put your oil in it and it's good to go.

So if for some reason oil is leaking out the screw caps, try wrapping teflon tape just a wrap or two, not a million wraps, around the screw caps. Teflon tape is available at hardware stores and is used by plumbers when screwing the faucet together so it won't leak.

Ok, so what oil to use? Honestly, I can't say right now because I've been trying to find out from Ludwig what they recommend. They don't have anything on their website from what I can find telling you what to use (you would think they would considering what a classic pedal this is - almost a century old). Don't use anything too thin nor too thick. I may end up using some motor oil if I don't get a response from Ludwig, but if anyone finds out what Ludwig uses, please post.

Good luck...


Posted on 13 years ago
Posts: 1017 Threads: 349

Personally, I wouldn't use motor oil. It would work, but I think it'd leak at some point, whether out the bottom of the post or through the bearing caps.

I used a synthetic grease used commonly on cars and stuff. Not a lot - grease the piston assembly and the spring and put it back in. The grease that you just cleaned was so nasty because it was really old. This would be fresh and clean -- and if you feel like it you can change it every so often.

The grease works well, doesn't leak and.... well, it just works

Posted on 13 years ago


also you want to be able to remove the caps they where designed that way, I would not seal them with teflon tape,

Note that teflon tape is not really tape and should not prevent you from removing the caps. It comes in tape form, is extremely thin and flexible and is made to conform to the shape of threads to prevent leaks by filling the gaps.


Posted on 13 years ago

No problem, I read into your reply that you thought the teflon tape would prevent you from removing the caps.

Interesting grease. Here's a link to the company's website description of it:


Posted on 13 years ago

I'll just echo the others on the bad call for oil and good call for grease.

An easy way to think about lubricant is its intended service and in the most general terms oil is great for higher RPM and grease is great for lower RPM (although that certainly isn't by any means the defining criteria as there a countless other things to consider).

vintagemore2000 Good call on an easy to source grease... It's likely most places that have decent bike shops have Slick Honey or one can purchase online.

Also if its coming from the west coast it's proabably coming from these guys regardless of the final packaging ....

Posted on 13 years ago