Bicycle Mechanics - how to destroy a stuck quill stem?
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09-08-10, 11:43 PM
I'm trying to get my stuck quill stem out of an old bike frame. It's an aluminum stem and the frame is steel. I managed to push the wedge thing off, but it's too big to fall out of the hole in the steerer tube. So, it's just kinda bouncing around in there now. The quill stem is still stuck.
I've read several threads about this with people suggesting all sorts of chemicals and techniques, but I'm looking for something that's free and that's guaranteed to work (preferably fast too). Although I'd like to save the stem, at this point, I'm ready to destroy it and replace it with a spare I have lying around.
I've tried hammering it down. It budges about a quarter-millimeter further down into the fork, but it's just remained there now. I'm not sure if I should hammer it upside-down, through the steerer tube hole, since this sounds like it would drive the wedge back into place.
I don't have a vise to try some serious twisting (though I hear that may bend the fork, which I want to keep). I do have a drill, though the bits may not be big enough. No dremel accessible. No torches either. Any suggestions?
09-09-10, 12:20 AM
PB blaster and a mallet always does it for me after a good night's soak
It'll be easier to remove it in one piece than cutting it up.
09-09-10, 01:20 AM
You can also remove the fixing bolt and screw in a tightly fitting screw into the quill. Then use a slidehammer to smack it off.
Yeah, PB-blaster's the shlt!!! I've had stuck seatposts and stems that wouldn't budge using Liquid Wrench and other penetrants. Along with lots of elbow grease and gorilla muscle. Then I squirted PB-blaster on and let it sit for a couple hours. The seatposts actually loosened themselves and slid all the way down by themselves!
09-09-10, 06:20 AM
Free, guaranteed to work, and non-destructive are words that rarely go together. Spring for the PB-Blaster if you want to save the fork.
09-09-10, 06:26 AM
Stop by a car repair shop; 10 seconds with an air hammer will free the stem.
09-09-10, 07:22 AM
Free, guaranteed to work, and non-destructive are words that rarely go together.
+1 It's like light, cheap and good. Pick any two.
09-09-10, 09:29 AM
I've removed a frozen stem by sealing off the bolt hole on the top of the stem with duct tape; inverting the bike; and pouring ammonia down into the bottom of the fork, filling to the (inverted) top. Let sit for 4 hours or so, pour out, rinse with water.
Handlebars still in? Bike still inverted. Then gently twist the fork tines with your hands while standing on them or holding them with your feet. This should break loose pretty readily.
If it already budged a quarter of an inch going down, you have essentially broke the corrosion bond between the stem and steerer tube so I think it's only beiing held on there by friction. Some steerer tubes do thicken at the pottom to reinforce the crown and steerer tube connection so you might be essentially just jamming the stem against that narrowed lower portion of the steerer tube if you continue to hit it from the top.
Turn over the bike and start hitting the stem from the bottom with a dead blow hammer, as close to the vertical portion of the stem as possible. Now do it in a controlled careful manner and don't go all ape on it as you might end up breaking or bending other parts of the frame. I wouldn't place the frame on a bench. just hold it at the fork crown to minimize the impact on the frame from the dead blow mallet. Just take your time and keep spritzing on the penetrant between the stem and steerer tub and it should eventually/gradually come out.
A friend with a vise, a can of PB Blaster, and patience. Almost always works, but there always is a stem that will not yield to this effort.
09-09-10, 10:25 PM
Hmm... I guess I should try PB Blaster. No clue how I'll manage to spray it in with the wedge thing blocking obstructing the stem from the bottom of the steerer tube though. Also, I thought PB Blaster was for rust (iron, steel, etc.), not the aluminum/steel galvanic bonding.
Unfortunately, it didn't move by a quarter-of-an-inch like another poster mentioned. It went down a quarter-millimeter, which is about a pin's width. It's still as stuck as ever. I'll try the upside-down stem-knocking technique with some PB Blaster (I've just been using motor oil as a lube so far).
But if this fails, what's the next step? I'm willing to sacrifice the stem. Would drilling it out be the next step? As I said, no vise available. None of my friends have a vise either.
Drilling it would be one of my last choices. Do you own a drill press? Even with a drill press, that is a major undertaking. Cut it off first.
Find a frame builder.
PB Blaster is water compared to Kroil and Schaeffer's Penetro 90 if you can find either locally. I would try using a slide hammer if you can find a way to get one on.
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