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  1. #1
    Stand & Jump!
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    My Headset Fell Apart!

    actually, the bearing cage inside the headset fell apart. it is in about eight or nine little mismatched pieces. when I removed the headset, the bearings and pieces started to fall out; slowly though, because they were covered in dirty grease. I cleaned everything off, but it looks that even if i were to put the pieces back in, it would take forever to match them back up again. Can I use any old replacement set of bearings and cage, or do I need a specific one? My bike is a Schwinn Traveler from the 80s (I think), and the headset says "Tange Seiki Co. LTD Japan" on the top nut.

    I need major help quick, because this is the bike I ride to and from school and work, and I'm screwed without it.

  2. #2
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    you can loose ball it, but you will need another ball or two of the same size. Its friday, just go buy a new headset at your lbs.

  3. #3
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    No extra ball bearings, and I don't really have the money for another headset. I could probably pick one up cheaply at the local co-op, but would it fit my bike? Do these things come in different sizes, or what?

  4. #4
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    Take the bearings in and see if they have some the same size. If you can't get balls in retainers the same size, you might be able to get a couple extra loose balls the same size. If you want to loose ball it, put grease in the cups, fill the cup with balls in the race where they will be when assembled, and then remove one ball. This usually works, but it makes putting a heaset together a little tricky due to gravity, you will need some sticky grease.

  5. #5
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    It sounds like the bearing races must be completely ruined if the bearing cage broke apart. I'd go for a new headset. You don't have to spend a fortune -- about $20 plus a few bucks for labor. I recently had one replaced on a 1980's Trek tourer. Have a bike shop do it. It doesn't take long, so labor shouldn't be too high, but It takes some knowledge and experience to get one that will fit right (mine needed a very short stack height), then uninstall the old bearing races and install the new ones, and finally install and adjust the headset, fork and stem. You need to know the exact size of your frame's head tube, the diameter and length of the fork's steering shaft and the dimensions of the steering stem. A good bicycle mechanic can spec out your bike in a few minutes. But finding a headset to fit it may be a challenge.

    A resourceful local bike (Bikeworks in Greenvale NY) found a Ritchey headset for my Trek. I think this may be the type you need. It's actually made by Tange, but has slightly larger bearing balls on the bottom, which should hold up better if you ride rough roads, hit pot holes, etc.

    If you know the size you need, you can buy a Ritchey HS for about $15.00 to $20. Try Loose Screws (www.loosescrews.com), the great online bicycle parts shop, or Harris Cyclery, home of the legendary Sheldon Brown www.harriscyclery.com.

    Good luck.

    EB

  6. #6
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmraspa
    actually, the bearing cage inside the headset fell apart. it is in about eight or nine little mismatched pieces. when I removed the headset, the bearings and pieces started to fall out; slowly though, because they were covered in dirty grease. I cleaned everything off, but it looks that even if i were to put the pieces back in, it would take forever to match them back up again. Can I use any old replacement set of bearings and cage, or do I need a specific one? My bike is a Schwinn Traveler from the 80s (I think), and the headset says "Tange Seiki Co. LTD Japan" on the top nut.

    I need major help quick, because this is the bike I ride to and from school and work, and I'm screwed without it.
    You should be able to get replacement caged bearings at just about any LBS, however, as everyone else has suggested, you will be better off using loose bearings as replacements. You need 5/32" balls and you will need 50 of them (25 for the top cup and 25 for the bottom cup, assuming your headset is 1"). Get "Grade 25" balls, if you can - they are the hardest and the roundest. Caged balls are not good in headsets and competent wrenches replace them with loose balls at the first opportunity. All caged balls do for you is make assembly easier. They also lead to brinnelling and indexed steering, both of which are undesirable problems for your headset.

    I have resurrected several old headsets just by replacing the caged bearings with loose balls. Try this first and if it's not operating smoothly, then you may need a new headset. An easy way to see if the bearing cups and races are still good is to run a ball point pen around them and if they are pitted you will feel them quite easily (even if you can't see them). If you have pits, you will be better off with a new headset,
    as those pits will just eat new ball bearings faster and faster.
    "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
    - Oscar Wilde

  7. #7
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmraspa
    Do these things come in different sizes, or what?
    Yes, they do come in different sizes. Assuming we are talking about a 1" threadless headset, there are two common sizes. These are commonly referred to as "I.S.O." and "J.I.S" standards. The ISO will have a crown race with an inside diameter of 26.4mm and are commonly used in head tubes with an inside diameter of 30.2mm. JIS have crown races with a 27.0mm and are (usually) used in head tubes that are 30.0mm. The crown race sizes are not interchangeable, but the other diameter can be worked around (either you mash a 30.2 cup into a 30.0mm headtube, or you put a 30.0mm cup into a 30.2mm headtube and use a special locking compound). Your best bet is to take your bike to the LBS and let them do the measurements. Tange Seiki are very common headsets and your bike could be either ISO or JIS. You really have to do the measurements to be certain.
    "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
    - Oscar Wilde

  8. #8
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    If you are planning to replace the bearings, either with loose balls or new caged bearings, make sure you thoroughly clean the old cups and examine them very closely. Use a bright flashlight and/or magnifying glass. Those broken cages may well have gouged or scored the races, and if that's the case you will need a new headset.

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