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Old 09-16-06, 10:39 PM   #1
peripatetic
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Threaded headset rubber o-ring crown race?

I made the mistake of dismantling the headset on an 80s Centurion. There was this little rubber o-ring in between the fork crown cone and the crown race. It was not a complete ring, but rather a small strip of rubber that fit into a tiny groove at the bottom of the race. Now I can't get the rubber part back in--I think that it needs to be stretched tight into the groove, but I really can't figure out how to do that.

If I just put it in and re-install the headset, will it work its way back into the groove? Or is it supposed to be a true o-ring, and therefore it's broken? If yes to the second question, is there somewhere I can get a replacement for this? Or can I just chuck the rubber seal? Or should I just install a new headset--I have a cheapo one, made of CrMo, I think, that looks fine.

Help! I just want to get this puppy re-assembled!
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Old 09-17-06, 06:53 AM   #2
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I suspect that it's supposed to be a complete O-ring and it's broken. Finding a replacement seal (if you can) will likely take longer than several headset overhauls. The "A" (for anal) answer would be to replace your whole headset. If it was my 80's Centurion I'd leave it off and just do without. Bikes only slightly older than your Centurion never came with headset seals and we managed to ride them just fine.
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Old 09-17-06, 07:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
Bikes only slightly older than your Centurion never came with headset seals and we managed to ride them just fine.
True, but after 2000 to 5000 miles, the crown race and lower cup would be badly "brineled" and we'd be buying a replacement. Those old Tange Levin headsets, so beloved of OEM's, weren't famous for their longevity.
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Old 09-17-06, 08:19 PM   #4
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True, but after 2000 to 5000 miles, the crown race and lower cup would be badly "brineled" and we'd be buying a replacement. Those old Tange Levin headsets, so beloved of OEM's, weren't famous for their longevity.
Hillrider, your cup is half empty. That means that the OP has, on the low side, another 2,000 miles before he has to replace his 25 year old headset.
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Old 09-17-06, 08:54 PM   #5
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You guys are great. Thanks for the info. I'm thinking I might just swap in this unbranded-but-new headset I have. I'm planning on selling the thing anyway.

FWIW, I don't notice any brinelling, though the chrome on the outside has become oh-so-slightly pitted.

Seems like a properly-sized o-ring wouldn't be that hard to find--aren't things like this kind of standardized? Couldn't I just find some o-ring/rubber distributor/manufacturer and get something of the proper width and diameter and flexibility from them?

Thanks for the info, though.

BTW, any short info about Tange Levin headsets? Were they just common for the era, or also special in some way?
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Old 09-17-06, 09:20 PM   #6
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BTW, any short info about Tange Levin headsets? Were they just common for the era, or also special in some way?
There was nothing at all special about them. They were cheap but serviceable headsets that usually appeared as OEM on low to mid-priced bikes. They did their job, for a while at least. I had them on a couple of Treks and Bridgestone road bikes and had to replace it at about 2000 miles on one Trek. I installed a Shimano 600 (loose bearing, not the later cartridge bearing Ultegra design) and got over 15, 000 miles on it.

RG, I guess my cup is half empty. I always was a bit of a pessimist but the benefit is I am rarely disappointed.
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