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  1. #1
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    Help! headset removal/problems

    so i thought i would cut a corner or two in repainting my frame and leave the headset/fork on while stripping the paint with paint stripper... bad idea. i guess some of the stripper found its way into the headset and messed up the lubrication in there, because now it is rough when i turn it. so now i want to remove the headset and repack the bearings etc.

    this headset hasn't been touched since the bike was assembled in 1972, i believe. but it was in seemingly perfect condition before the stripper got to it. so i'm assuming i'm going to have a hell of a time getting some of these pieces apart.

    the problem is i dont think i have the neccessary specific tools to remove this and service it. my question to you folks is this: what exactly do i need to do this, and how do i actually do it? i have been looking around and searching forums but headsets seem to be a not-much-talked-about subject in the maintenance world.

    thank you!

  2. #2
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    Not that difficult. I'm assuming you have a "quill" style stem on this bike, so you first need to remove that. There should be an adjustable upper-bearing cup, and a lockring of some sort. The lockring may simply be knurled, may have flats on it for a wrench, or cutouts for a special wrench. Under that the bearing cup will have flats for a wrench as well, usually a thin headset wrench. Usually, no problem to remove all this. Rotate the lockring by whatever means is appropriate, and remove along with any spacers. Keep track of the spacers and their position.
    Now you can start removing the bearing cup. Normally, the headset bearings are caged, but loose ones are possible.
    Again, keep track of the orientation of the cage. With the top, adjustable cup off, the fork will simply drop out of the steering tube. There will be another caged bearing on the bottom race.
    Clean everything thoroughly, buy new bearings, regrease, and reassemble. The trick is to get the tension on the bearings right. The fork should rotate freely with no "play" in any direction. Once you get the adjustable cup in this position, you have to hold it in this exact position while you tighten the lockring. Usually, you'll have to hold the fork in position as well. (I usually just straddle it and hold the wheel with my knees.

  3. #3
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    thanks so much for the description. i do have the quill-style stem, and upon trying to remove it i have discovered it to be totally siezed. i undid the bolt 3-4 turns on the top and tried moving it every which way, no luck... so i put a block of wood on the top and hit it lightly, then harder, trying to release it by pushing it farther in. no luck there either. (broke the wood in half). any tips on removal of a siezed stem?

    and my lockring is knurled and has four small pin-holes in the top, kind of like the BB cup. i ahve a bad feeling that this will be siezed worse than the stem.. any tips on how to get some force on that piece with no wrench flats?

    thanks

  4. #4
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr.goggles
    so i thought i would cut a corner or two in repainting my frame and leave the headset/fork on while stripping the paint with paint stripper... bad idea. i guess some of the stripper found its way into the headset and messed up the lubrication in there, because now it is rough when i turn it. so now i want to remove the headset and repack the bearings etc.

    this headset hasn't been touched since the bike was assembled in 1972, i believe. but it was in seemingly perfect condition before the stripper got to it. so i'm assuming i'm going to have a hell of a time getting some of these pieces apart.

    the problem is i dont think i have the neccessary specific tools to remove this and service it. my question to you folks is this: what exactly do i need to do this, and how do i actually do it? i have been looking around and searching forums but headsets seem to be a not-much-talked-about subject in the maintenance world.

    thank you!
    www.parktool.com repair section has the drill on headsets.

  5. #5
    cab horn
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    Is it an AL stem seized inside a steel frame or?

  6. #6
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    i'm not exactly sure. it is a steel frame, pivo stem.. so i believe it is alloy/aluminum?

  7. #7
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    First, make sure your bike is resting on the ground, not a stand. Then unscrew the stem bolt a little further so it sticks up about 1/4". Place a stronger block of wood on top, like oak or teak and hit with 10-lb mallet. Escalate to 30-lb sledgehammer if necessary, but you may sacrifice the stem-bolt in order to loosen it. Once you've pushed the expander out the bottom of the stem, removing it will be easy.

    BUT... you may want to leave the stem & handlbars on in order to have something to grab in order to undo the nut on the stem. Do you mean there's no big nut on top with wrench-flats? Just a knurled locking with.. pin holes? or square cut-outs for a lockring-wrench? If you plan on doing this a couple more times in the future, buy the appropriate lockring tool, or visit a DIY station at a shop and use their tool. Last resort, you can use big channel-lock pliers or pipe-wrench on that lock-ring. Grab the handlebars with one hand use the tool with the other one. Once you've loosened the lock-ring then you can remove the handlebar & stem.

  8. #8
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    Once you've pushed the expander out the bottom of the stem, removing it will be easy.
    Not necessarily.A plug type expander can cause the base of the quill to have taken a permanent set against the sides of the steerer,and it may still have to be wrestled out. Lube and alot of cuss words,don't help much either.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Is it a French frame? The headset with "pinholes" sounds like it could be a Stronglight P-3. The Pivo stem is a pretty good clue, too. If your steerer tube has a flat spot instead of a groove, it's French. Be careful not to screw up the threads on the fork. If it is a Stronglight, the serrated lockring pulls straight off. It's not threaded and if you turn it you'll screw things up badly. If you destroy the headset and it's French, it's going to be expensive to replace.

  10. #10
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    it is french. its a 1972? gitane tour de france. if there is aluminum oxide build-up, then i ahve heard ammonia will break it up. i dont have pure ammonia sitting around, but would it be terriblyl bad to just spray windex at it? just an idea.

    i'm going to try taking the lockring off with the stem still installed. yes, it has NO flats for a wrench, just a knurled edge and four little pin-holes in the top of the lockring. so you are saying i shouldn't try to turn that top lockring at all? but should try to pull straight up on it? i'm a little confused on that.

    thanks

  11. #11
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    and i just did some checking and the tour de frances did indeed come with a stronlight headset. i'm hoping to get this out soon, but dont want to destroy the headset as they will, indeed, be hard to come by.

  12. #12
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    yay! i got the headset out.

    for the stem, it just took quite a bit of pounding with a sock on the top of the bolt.

    the top lockring WAS knurled, but what i ended up doing was tap it on all sides with a hammer and then force-fit my sugino bottom bracket pin tool into the holes on the lockring (just barely) and that came loose easily. then through tapping LIGHTLY with a hammer using the pin hole on the side of the serrated locknut and a screwdriver loosened it up and got it out.

    then, kind of expected, i discovered that two of the ball bearings were missing from the runners on the top. and more missing from the bottom.

    so now i have to find ball bearings of the same size .. im guessing at a hardware store?? and how should i go about reassembly? thanks all for your help on this additional question

    it definately is a weight off my shoulders to have that off.

  13. #13
    cab horn
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    You should be able to grab replacement bearings at your LBS. They are cheap.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    If it's a Gitane TdF, you definitely have a Stronglight P-3. I love it when I'm right!

    The Gitane TdF is my all-time favorite ride. I have a Peugeot PX10 that I don't ride any more since I built up a Gitane TdF. The Gitane feels much better to me. I think that the undersize down tube and shallower head tube angle has something to do wirh it.

    The headset goes back together the way it came apart. If you can't get the adjustment right, get help. It won't cost much for a LBS to adjust it for you. Then again, it's not rocket science and you should be able to do it yourself.

    If you need any parts, contact me. I've got lots of French stuff. I think I've even got a spare Stronglight P-3.

    Here's mine:

    http://community.webshots.com/photo/...15648998ZkhXGG

  15. #15
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    good lookin bike. i'm converting this frame to a fixed gear, but have kept all the original parts so i can put it back together if i ever want to. i do think it is a very handsome frame, i am painting it tomorrow and will have pics afterwards. thanks for your help, i'll look you up if i ever need parts

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr.goggles
    thanks so much for the description. i do have the quill-style stem, and upon trying to remove it i have discovered it to be totally siezed. i undid the bolt 3-4 turns on the top and tried moving it every which way, no luck... so i put a block of wood on the top and hit it lightly, then harder, trying to release it by pushing it farther in. no luck there either. (broke the wood in half). any tips on removal of a siezed stem?

    and my lockring is knurled and has four small pin-holes in the top, kind of like the BB cup. i ahve a bad feeling that this will be siezed worse than the stem.. any tips on how to get some force on that piece with no wrench flats?

    thanks
    Here is what I did. Unto the bolt a little bit more, and strike the bolt with a hammer. It should fall down. Now, drip liquid wrench into the stem between the stem and steerer, and have someone hold the fork while you manhandle the stem. My 20 year old stem on a soviet roadie came out this way, pretty easily too.

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