Tech Tuesday: Clean and Lubricate Your Fox F32 Dust Wiper Seals

Aug 16, 2011 at 1:08
Aug 16, 2011
by Richard Cunningham  
 
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This Tech Tuesday shows how you can wake up your suspension fork’s performance in about five minutes for pennies, using a flat screwdriver, a clean cloth, some factory lubricant and little bit of elbow grease. The problem is dirty or poorly lubricated dust-wiper seals and the fix is quite simple. We used a Fox 32 Float RLC fork for the illustration.

hero image
Dry and dirty dust wiper seals can rob a fork of its low-speed sensitivity. Follow these simple steps to get your fork sliding smoothly again.

Stiction is the Enemy
Seal friction is the number one enemy of a suspension fork. Every time the fork reaches the beginning or end of its stroke, before it reverses direction, the stanchion momentarily stops sliding under the lip of the dust wiper seal. Once immobile, the dust wiper’s tightly wrapped synthetic rubber lip adheres to the stanchion tube. This creates a great deal of starting friction – like sliding a piano across a wooden floor – the force necessary to start the piano (or stanchion tube in this case) moving again is significantly more than that which is necessary to keep it sliding. Suspension engineers call starting friction “stiction” because it makes the suspension feel sticky instead of responsive.

what you ll need

What You’ll Need:

-A clean fork and a clean environment to work on it. (a bike stand is a great help here).
-A thin blade flat screwdriver to use to pry out the seal.
-Factory authorized lubricant for the seal (15-weight suspension fluid will work in a pinch).
-Masking tape to cover the screwdriver blade to keep from marring your sliders (not really necessary unless you like to keep your stuff looking new, or you own an Audi).
-A couple spotlessly clean shop towels (or a roll of paper towels).
-Your Mom's toothbrush.
-A bucket of water and some bio-degradable detergent (dish-washing detergent is OK).


Tip: The life and happiness of your fork depends upon its sliding surfaces, so make every move in a deliberate and controlled manner so you don‘t slip with the screwdriver and gouge the stanchion tube or cut the seal. Take your time and the job will actually go faster. Also, you may need to back off you low-speed compression or perhaps, add some spring pressure to compensate for the slippery action of your newly serviced fork seals. Grime and stiction build up over time as the fork loses its lubrication, which causes many riders to adjust their spring and damping pressures to compensate.



clean fork and seal area

Step one: Clean your fork well, especially around the inside of the arch where it curves behind the fork wiper seal. Dish washing detergent and water are a good call for this task.




Lifting wiper seal
Particles of dirt (right) should have been cleaned before removing the wiper.

Step two: take a close look at the dust wiper seal where it sits against the fork slider. There should be a few depressions molded into the base to allow a thin screwdriver blade to slip between the fork and seal. Tape up the screwdriver blade if you want to keep the sliders looking perfect and, using a slight side-to-side wiggle motion, work the blade under the seal until it lifts. You won’t need much pressure to lift the seal, so don’t force the screwdriver. Repeat in three places around the seal until you can lever it out all the way. Slide the seals up the stanchion tubes about 3 inches.



locate and lift glide ring

Step three: Look inside the slider to find a foam lubrication glide ring – most forks use one as a reservoir for lubricating oil and to continuously spread new lubricant on the stanchion tube. You may get lucky and pry them up with a screwdriver blade, but it’s a lot easier to put the bike on the ground and compress the fork to lift the glide rings. Slide the foam glide rings up near the seals.



clean seal cavity

Step four: Using a towel wrapped around the screwdriver blade carefully clean the seal area and under the glide rings until there is no evidence of oil or grime. Fill the cavities with paper towels or shop towels so dirt and grime can’t fall into them while you work on the seals and glide rings. You can use masking tape to hold the plugs in place.



brush wiper

Step five: Use your mom’s tooth brush, along with bio-degradable cleaner or detergent and water to clean the seals and glide rings inside and out. Dry all parts with a clean towel.



lubricate glide ring

Step Six: Prepare the lubricant you will use to saturate the glide rings (Fox sells it in 5 cc bubble packs). Slide the glide rings into the fork cavities and put enough oil into them so that they are dripping full. Use your finger to lubricate the stanchion tubes for an inch or so above the rings.



press wiper seal in

Step Seven: Slide a dust wiper down on the fork slider and visually align it so it sits level with the slider. CAREFULLY, push the seal in using hand pressure and the screwdriver blade. Place the blade near the outer edge of the seal where it is reinforced by an internal steel band molded into the rubber. Press the seal in by working around the circumference in three opposing spots until it seats. This will not take a lot of force, so use some love. Take care when you reach behind the fork arch with the screwdriver.



inspect seal

Step eight: Make a visual inspection to ensure that the dust wiper seals are seated evenly on the fork sliders and then cycle the fork about ten times to get the fork running smoothly – wipe any excess oil from the fork and then go ride.



Ready to ride
A job well done. Cycle the fork a few times to get the dust wiper and stanchion tubes lubricated and then enjoy riding your front suspension as it was intended to be.


Remember to clean your fork and seal area well before you remove the wipers. Small amounts of grime can shorten the life of your fork if it gets into the mech. Got any more tips for sprucing up a fork? We'd love to know.




Past Tech Tuesdays:

Technical Tuesday #1 - How to change a tube.
Technical Tuesday #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
Technical Tuesday #3 - How to remove and install pedals
Technical Tuesday #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
Technical Tuesday #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
Technical Tuesday #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
Technical Tuesday #7 - Tubeless Conversion
Technical Tuesday #8 - Chain Wear
Technical Tuesday #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
Technical Tuesday #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
Technical Tuesday #11 - Chain Lube Explained
Technical Tuesday #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
Technical Tuesday #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
Technical Tuesday #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
Technical Tuesday #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
Technical Tuesday #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit
Technical Tuesday #17 - Suspension Basics
Technical Tuesday #18 - Adjusting The Fox DHX 5.0
Technical Tuesday #19 - Adjusting The RockShox BoXXer World Cup
Technical Tuesday #20 - Servicing Your Fox Float Shock
Technical Tuesday #21 - Wheel Truing Basics
Technical Tuesday #22 - Shimano Brake Pad Replacement
Technical Tuesday #23 - Shimano brake bleed
Technical Tuesday #24 - Fox Lower Leg Removal And Service
Technical Tuesday #25 - RockShox Motion Control Service
Technical Tuesday #26 - Avid BB7 Cable Disk Brake Setup
Technical Tuesday #27 - Manitou Dorado Fork Rebuild
Technical Tuesday #28 - Manitou Circus Fork Rebuild
Technical Tuesday #29 - MRP G2 SL Chain Guide Install
Technical Tuesday #30 - Cane Creek Angleset Installation
Technical Tuesday #31 - RockShox Maxle Lite DH
Technical Tuesday #32 - Find Your Tire Pressure Sweet Spot
Technical Tuesday #33 - Three Minute Bike Preflight Check
Technical Tuesday #34 - MRP XCG Install
Technical Tuesday #35 - Stem Choice and Cockpit Setup
Technical Tuesday #36 - Handlebars - How Wide Affects Your Ride
Technical Tuesday #37 - Repairing A Torn Tire
Technical Tuesday #38 - Coil spring swap
Technical Tuesday #39 - Trailside help: Broken Shift Cable
Technical Tuesday #40 - Installing a Fox Float Air-Volume Spacer
Technical Tuesday #41 - Replace the Seals on Your 2011 RockShox Boxxer World Cup Fork


Visit Parktool.com to see their entire lineup of tools and lubes
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90 Comments

  • + 14
 I read the bottle in the second pic a Deos Usip...Huh?!?
  • + 7
 lol it says 'dish soap'
  • + 5
 lol it's a DISH SOAP
  • + 1
 Awesome!!
  • + 8
 this is the same as Fox show on there website for maintanence. Only they put electrical tape on the stansions so when you take the seal up and rotate it, it cleans the crap out of inside the seal but still nice to see it on here. :-)
  • + 10
 And they put electrical tape over the end of the screwdriver to protect the paint. Both major omissions in my opinion. When you see how much stuff can be removed with the strips of electrical tape you wouldn't neglect to do it. I put two strips on and it may take a few passes until no more grime is removed by them. Tip is to cut the electrical tape on a slant OR stick it at an angle so that it doesn't bunch up when you slip the wiper over it. I also try and clean the sponge as much as possible - squeeze it with a clean rag and watch how much dirt gets onto the rag. You can also flip the sponge so the surface that rubs against the stanchion is renewed.
  • + 2
 could you provide a link to the fox site where it shows the electrical tape trick? thanks
  • + 5
 Is it the same for a Rockshox ? There should be a Tech friday too, we want some more ! Razz
  • + 1
 I'm assuming this will work on other brand forks - can anyone confirm this before I start sticking a screwdriver into my Domains?
  • + 0
 in theory it should work... but from my experience - it won't. I haven't done it on Fox so I can't compare, but removing dust seals on RS involved using some force. Eventually you should be able to do it, but... if you have Domain then just follow RS manuals - if you don't want to mess with internals then just disassemble lowers without touching what is in uppers. What you get is: much easier access to dust seals and access to inside of lowers without worry of **damaging uppers with a screwdriver** or dropping oil on your front brake rotor or pads... maybe it will take you half an hour longer, but it will be uncomparably less stresful, believe me.
  • + 0
 Ok thanks, I'll keep cleaning the stanchions with some fork oil and that'll do it until next servicing ^^
  • + 1
 right i feel stupid also asking this question but is this also the same as marzocchi 66 RC3 as i dont want to mess them up on a wild guess????
  • + 1
 The best way to do it would be to service the seals while you change the oil. That means taking off the lowers and accessing them while they're away from the rest of the fork. It's easier to be more thorough, but this method works with all quality forks. Just remember to use the oil that the company reccomends. If you're in a pinch you could always use the same weight oil, just use google to make sure it's safe.
  • + 1
 What about an older pair of Manitou Shermins? They are about 5 years old and I don't have the money to update them yet.
  • + 1
 Do they seals look like the ones in the video? If you can pry them off and do everything then yes it will work.
  • + 1
 I've just changed the seals on my Rockshox Domain, and no, you can't do the same trick. When you remove the seals on RS, they are destroyed (I even had to cut mine ...). It might work with non-standard seals (enduro ones maybe), but not the stock ones.
  • + 5
 Maybe next Tech Tuesday you can put your front tire on the right way... Smile
  • + 1
 hahah, you're sooo right!
  • + 1
 probally running it that way for more grip, or just a bit of a donkey Smile
  • + 2
 One question, please, for the experts: Is the same mechanic for a 36 Talas FIT RLC?

I prefer to know it before I start to mess it up. Big Grin
  • + 4
 Yes.
  • + 1
 Thanks dude Smile
  • + 1
 ahhh i bought a seal kit for marz forks and it had them little foam rings in, i thought it was part of the packaging so binned them. haha. didnt have them in the forks before anyways
  • + 3
 you should pack some light weight grease where the foam ring is/was. itll make the fork a lot smoother.
  • + 0
 Richard, one thing you've failed to mention, is to take a piece of tape and cover the tip/blade of the screwdriver to protect you from attacking you stanchions unnecessarily. It is quite easy to slip off the seal and hit the stanchions.

So, to all of you who are about to do this, be cautious and tape up the blade of the screwdriver! This is a handy and quick tip to keep your fork running smooth.
  • + 1
 Unless it was added after the article was written, it does say to tape up the screwdriver tip with tape.
  • + 2
 I was careful to mention the use of tape on the blade of the screwdriver to protect the fork sliders, but it's really a pain in the butt to keep the tape on when you are working the blade under the seals, and I still bunged up the paint --- Sooo, use tape if you own an Audi, but a little caution and the ability to live with a slight ding in the paint will save a lot of fuss-time. That's why I showed the evil deed (gouged paint) on this Tech Tuesday. BTW, I like the electrical tape on the stanchions trick too.
RC
  • + 1
 Did this today to my Fox 40 and 36. It was a piece of cake, thx
  • + 2
 Use synthetic bath oil instead of damper fluid for the lowers, that's what the team techs do. damper fluid is no good as a bath oil it is designed differently
  • + 1
 Dumb question coming up....

is this the service that fox recommend every 24 hours of riding or something? If so, much easier than I thought it would be, no need to take it to LBS!
  • + 2
 no. see tech tuesday #24.
  • + 1
 thanks mate, off to pull my forks apart!
  • + 1
 to fellow riders: is there a substitute for the fox lubricant? cauze where I live in the Phils, finding a fox lubricant would be next to impossible..
  • + 1
 10th picture, looks like he's damaged his fork with the screwdriver.... there must be a less "abusive" way of removing the wiper?
  • + 1
 take off the lowers and use a open ended wrench to pry them out
  • + 1
 ^ I think that defeats the purpose of a quick lube and clean. If you take the lowers off you may as well putnew oil and seals etc in.
  • + 0
 Yeah, you have a bike worth over $6 K with carbon rims and you will have to destroying seals and possibly stanchions with screwdriver...!!!??? Common guys, dont ruin your expensive forks this way!!!
  • + 3
 will this work on the fox 40´s and 36´s? anyone? thanks
  • + 3
 yes
  • + 2
 can u guys do a tech day on marzocchi forks. not everyone has top noch stuff and we still need to service.
  • + 1
 My rock shock lyrik is quite sticky and squeaky until I cycle it a few times. Could that need an oil change?
  • + 1
 Yes, you should rebuild your Lyrik! This little trick cannot do miracles with your fork. Smile
  • + 1
 Is that something I can do or should I have a bike shop do it?
  • + 0
 Bombers don't need servicing every 5 minutes, so its nowhere near as necessary anyway
  • + 1
 Isolated-T-Storms, I don't have a Lyrik, so I don't know exactly how to rebuild it (probably it's pretty much the same as any other fork) but if You are not sure how to do it, take it to the LBS and watch how they do it so you could do it by yourself next time.
  • + 1
 What IllestT said is true. All I do is to my Marzocchi is that i put some 10wt oil on the stanchions and ride. And it's perfectly good for a week or so.

lol
  • + 2
 I assume this will work on all Fox forks? specifically Fox 40's?
  • + 2
 yes
  • + 3
 Mojo have a vid on YouTube for fox 40's. It looks easy enough, I think you need to remove the lowers with the bike upside down so the oil stays in. Then you can change the seals etc in a few mins...
  • + 1
 indeed an thats the best way to do it
  • + 3
 I would recommend pulling a Fox apart ala the Mojo vid. It's really no more complicated than this method and allows you to inspect your bushings and bath oil and pull off the whole dust seal and foam ring for a more thorough cleaning, as well as lubing. I found that soaking the foam rings with float fluid or 15wt fork oil keeps them lubed longer and packing the space around the foam ring and inside the seal with slick honey makes for long lasting stiction free performance.
  • + 1
 Yeah i really really really wouldnt recommend doing it this way, even if you dont have the "official" tool things like reseating seals is best done applying even pressure otherwise you could rip/damage them allowing crap into your forks and or the stanchion which is a far more serious problem and a higher cost to replace.

secondly as stated above its no more hassle (with the exception of older talas systems on fox - i believe) to just pull the lowers off, fresh oil bath and also coat those bushings with slick honey, judy butter or prep m. then syringe in some oil, or if you have no foam rings a light run of said lube around the inners of the seals, that will achieve much more than the relatively thin 5/10wt oil your going to put on the foam rings and it usual lasts longer. more is not always better in that case too.

And if you dont have a proper seal press sockets come in very handy (various forks will need different sockets and you may need 2 sizes as RS and Marzo forks have oil and dust seals, oil seal being inside the lower requiring a smaller socket than the dust seal)
  • + 4
 the method shown in this PB article seems fiddly, over-complicated and more prone to causing damage through using a sharp edge (metal screwdriver) around the fork stanchions and seals

why not just do the usual "LOWERS SERVICE" method that Fox recommend for their forks?

I've been doing "lowers services" for my Fox forks and my customers Fox forks (also for Rockshox and Marzocchi) for years

its easily the best method because you refresh the lubrication oil in the fork lowers after thoroughly cleaning them, replace the Float fluid on the foam rings after completely removing and cleaning them away from the fork.

and can fully inspect / clean / replace the fork seals properly as the stanchions are not in place, and can use seal tool to press the seals back into the fork 100% flat with no damage to the seal outer

takes 10-15 minutes with practise
  • + 1
 ^^ this method is what Fox recommends on their service site for their forks.
  • + 1
 @ hampsteadbandit if you are feeling generous maybe you could do a write-up or vid. I know I would find it helpful.
  • + 1
 Got all my Fox oil's and weights, seal driver etc on ebay. All legit and half the price. Fantastico !
  • + 1
 what if your running, say a two step air totem set up, can you still just pull the seals out and clean them?
  • + 2
 Totem has 2 sets of seals, dust seals and oil seals.It's rather hard to clean both of them with just pulling them up. If you want to clean seals in Totem I would recommend dissasembling the fork.
  • + 1
 okay thanks for the info
  • + 1
 Do you think the sliders and seals come off just like that and are like that on rockshox argyle rct?
  • + 1
 From my experience, not really. On RS forks the seals sit quite tight in the lowers, so to get them out it's just easier to take the fork apart. Et silleen Big Grin
  • + 1
 The same on the Marzocchis. It takes a bit more force to take them off, but it can be done CAREFULLY.
  • + 1
 nice carbon wheels on the bike Smile
  • + 1
 is this the same 4 36 floats??? cheers
  • + 1
 How could it be? It's a completely different fork...
  • + 1
 what kind of stand is that in the last picture?
  • + 1
 Will any 15wt suspension fluid do the job or do I have to get the fox one?
  • + 2
 Fox fluid is not necessary so 15wt is ok
  • + 1
 What about for Marzocchi 888 ?
  • + 1
 Good info i should do this to my fox van
  • + 0
 They use Float fluid to lube the dust wipers. Shouldn't this be suspension fluid?
  • + 1
 Yes.
  • + 2
 There are two types of fluid found in Fox forks; Damping fluid and Lubrication fluid. Float fluid is the stuff designed for lubrication and thus what you want to be using on your seals.
  • + 3
 Float Fluid is typically only used in the air chamber. The fluid in the legs that actually comes in contact with the foam ring during fork operation is the suspension fluid. Although Fox recommends using the Float Fluid to lube the foam ring, it's unnecessary. As you ride, the foam ring is splashed with suspension fluid [Fox 7 or 10 wt, a.k.a. Torco RSF], which keeps it lubed. The Float Fluid is high viscosity, but likely won't stay in the foam ring for longer than your next ride. There has never been a trace of it on the foam ring when I've opened up my forks. Perhaps Fox wants to sell Float Fluid? Wink
  • + 1
 thats y your ment to do seal maintanance every 15 hours of riding
  • + 2
 That's why you don't have to do this kind of stuff on a Marzocchi! lol
  • + 1
 great tech tuesday thank you.
  • + 1
 Would 10wt fork oil work?
  • + 3
 Don't go by the weight - you need to compare viscosity. Fox 7wt is the same as Torco RSF, and the Torco is waaaaay cheaper. One company's 7 wt is NOT necessarily the same as another company's 7 wt. Read this www.pvdwiki.com/index.php?title=Suspension_Fluid for more info than you ever wanted.
  • + 1
 you can use Fox's Green 10wt oil. it is what they recommend and what they now use in the lowers for lubrication.
  • + 1
 Okay, used the red 10wt i have and fork feels a million time better!
  • + 1
 Just finished now! Thanks for the tip =)
  • + 1
 cool
  • + 1
 wicked, im on it.
  • + 1
 ok thanks
  • - 2
 will gt80 work as a good oil
  • + 5
 No, use a proper fork oil
  • + 2
 finish line has stachion lube with flouropolymer oil that really works . and you put it on the stanchion and thats it

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