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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 09-21-06, 07:35 PM   #1
newbojeff
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Can Bottom Brackets ALWAYS Be Removed??

I couldn't get the stock BB out of my '93 Bridgestone frame by myself. I figured I'd let my LBS have a go at it before I spent money on tools I may never need again and/or killed myself. They called today and said they spent an hour on it with an air hammer and a torch and no dice. They said the shell got to be red hot and the cups still didn't budge.

In their/my defense, this bike has been ridden in everything for the past 13 years and even basically lived outside for a year in the Northeast.

I've read about all the techniques -- bolts, penetrating solutions/oils, breaker bars, vices, torches, etc. -- but all I also read about on BF is success stories when it comes to BB removal.

So, with apologies for the negative waves, can bottom brackets always be removed?
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Old 09-21-06, 08:59 PM   #2
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Of course they can be, non-destructively... that's another matter.
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Old 09-21-06, 11:23 PM   #3
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sounds like a challenge Jeff, what you need to do is go into ANOTHER bike shop and say

"well, the other shop said they couldn't get it out, and then they said that you guys wouldn't be able to either! I found that hard to believe..."

do that enough and a shop will eventually get it out, and probably charge you nothing for the ego boost

- Joel
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Old 09-22-06, 12:07 AM   #4
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You gotta love a bike shop that goes to the torch instead of Sheldon Brown.

Hacksaw, Dremel maybe. But this is Sheldon's almost sure-fire solution:

http://sheldonbrown.com/tooltips/bbcups.html

Last edited by Rowan; 09-22-06 at 12:12 AM.
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Old 09-22-06, 12:09 AM   #5
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I wouldn't presume that those who work in shops float around on forums and websites too much. There are lots of different ideas out there, nobody has them all.

- Joel
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Old 09-22-06, 06:33 AM   #6
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If they really got the bb shell "red hot", they distroyed the metal's heat treatment and I wouldn't trust the frame again even if they manage to get the cup out. I further assume the paint is completely gone.

They owe you a new frame but I wouldn't go anywhere near that shop again for anything else.
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Old 09-22-06, 07:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomacropod
I wouldn't presume that those who work in shops float around on forums and websites too much. There are lots of different ideas out there, nobody has them all.

- Joel
Actually, I work in a LBS. However, I am inventory, shipping and recieving with some sales and minor service work such as tire/tube replacement.
Kinda funny I found this thread because we had a customer that wanted a new BB but his siezed and couldn't be removed the normal way.
The tech we had working on the bike is a skilled mechanic with 17 years experience. He made a bag using several large zip lock bags that wrapped around the BB (he also use several zip ties) and filled it with degreaser and let it soak for 3 days. (it will make a mess) He then proceeded to use a cutting wheel on an air tool to remove the removable BB cup. I didn't have time to watch him, all I know is he removed the BB with no damage to the bike itself. When I go into work today I'll ask him what he did with the cutting disk and pass on the info to you later today (this evening when I get off work).
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Old 09-22-06, 07:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillRider
If they really got the bb shell "red hot", they distroyed the metal's heat treatment and I wouldn't trust the frame again even if they manage to get the cup out. I further assume the paint is completely gone.

They owe you a new frame but I wouldn't go anywhere near that shop again for anything else.
This LBS has been pretty good to me over the past few years and I went in there viewing this as a salvage job. I'm not worried about the paint as it is already dinged, scratched, and has many spots of rust. I was planning on getting it powdercoated anyway.

Joel, great suggestion. Harris Cyclery (home of SB himself) is only a few miles away...

Look forward to hearing what you learn, Logistics
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Old 09-22-06, 08:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillRider
If they really got the bb shell "red hot", they distroyed the metal's heat treatment and I wouldn't trust the frame again even if they manage to get the cup out. I further assume the paint is completely gone.

They owe you a new frame but I wouldn't go anywhere near that shop again for anything else.
I agree. That is a total primitive Pete hack job. If its a lugged frame, the tubes are joined with solder, which is put into the joints at brazing temps, which is much less than red hot. Frame could be seriously compromised.
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Old 09-22-06, 09:24 AM   #10
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I've never encountered one that I couldn't get loose. There are two keys:

1. You've got to have a tool that matches, or closely matches, the lands or splines or whatever the fixed cup has.
2. You've got to have a method of holding your tool securely onto the fixed cup so you can put some serious torque onto it.

Solve those two and the rest is gorilla work.
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Old 09-22-06, 02:59 PM   #11
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I don't know retro....
I spent a lot of time trying to remove the BB from a KONA (steel) frame I really want. Right tools as well. Couldn't get it out.
The local LBS had it for 4 weeks soaking in oil. Every day they stuck the air impact gun on it and drained the tank trying to get it out. 30 days and I just bet they cursed that mornings' job. Handed it back to me and said "no charge" They couldn't get it out either.
I paid 10 good dollars for this frame at the police auction. I don't want to give up yet.
Here's (maybe) my next plan. Get the local welder to spot weld a 4 ft steel bar onto the BB. Hold the frame very securely and just pull. If the frame bends, I wasn't going to get it out anyways...

Any other hairbrained ideas out there? I used up two CO2 extinguishers already on one plan lol....
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Old 09-22-06, 05:25 PM   #12
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OK, so I picked up the frame tonight. No charge. I think the mechanic might have been exaggerating when he said they got the shell "red hot." The plastic derailleur cable router was a bit melted on the metal cup side, but the paint wasn't bubbled. They too used impact wrenches on it for over an hour.

One thing I couldn't understand about the Sheldon Brown method was the insertion of a nut inside the bottom bracket to get the cup out. I still have the BB itself still in the way. Can't get the drive side out because the plastic cup is stripped and can't get the metal cup on the non-drive side out because it is seized into the frame.

I'm also open to other hairbrained ideas, but I think both jbains and I need to consider if the juice is going to be worth the sqeeze.
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Old 09-22-06, 05:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbojeff
OK, so I picked up the frame tonight. No charge. I think the mechanic might have been exaggerating when he said they got the shell "red hot." The plastic derailleur cable router was a bit melted on the metal cup side, but the paint wasn't bubbled. They too used impact wrenches on it for over an hour.

One thing I couldn't understand about the Sheldon Brown method was the insertion of a nut inside the bottom bracket to get the cup out. I still have the BB itself still in the way. Can't get the drive side out because the plastic cup is stripped and can't get the metal cup on the non-drive side out because it is seized into the frame.

I'm also open to other hairbrained ideas, but I think both jbains and I need to consider if the juice is going to be worth the sqeeze.
I would apply heat to the bottom bracket, not the shell. Keep soaking in Liquid Wrench. Drink a beer.

Also tap on one end of the bottom bracket with a hammer -- GENTLY. You are trying to break free the corrosion, not knock the bottom bracket out.

Last edited by spider-man; 09-22-06 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 09-22-06, 08:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillRider
If they really got the bb shell "red hot", they distroyed the metal's heat treatment and I wouldn't trust the frame again even if they manage to get the cup out. I further assume the paint is completely gone.

They owe you a new frame but I wouldn't go anywhere near that shop again for anything else.
Agreed. I pretty much never go "torch" unless I'm willing to destroy most of the surrounding parts --which is pretty much never. Only one BB/frame has stumped me so far, and it is hanging behind me right now waiting for round three someday. I think I can guarantee I will eventually get it apart before I die.
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Old 09-22-06, 08:56 PM   #15
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A good grip and a long enough lever....

A loose translation of an Archimedes quote: "give me a place to stand and I will loosen that bottom bracket."
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Old 09-22-06, 09:11 PM   #16
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Brainstorming: As far as the vice idea goes, you could insert a long seatpost into the seat tube, with a good deal of post sticking out, and use that to get some leverage. Maybe use a large clamp to press down on the side of the side of the bottom bracket shell that's facing up (I'd use a thinnish piece of wood between clamp and frame to avoid damaging the latter.) to keep it from popping off the tool.

But of course you want to take care not to damage the seat tube too.

I find it hard to believe that a decent shop couldn't get it out.
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Old 09-23-06, 09:10 AM   #17
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Your mention of a plastic ring on the non-drive side leads me to beleive that this is a cartridge BB, correct?
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Old 09-23-06, 08:16 PM   #18
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No. Non-cartridge (not even sure what to call it...non-cartridge? Just plain old?)
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Old 09-23-06, 11:43 PM   #19
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Quote:
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...... Can't get the drive side out because the plastic cup is stripped and can't get the metal cup on the non-drive side out because it is seized into the frame.....
Quote:
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No. Non-cartridge (not even sure what to call it...non-cartridge? Just plain old?)
Am I correct in understanding that you have a cup and cone bottom bracket with a plastic fixed (drive side) cup and a metal adjustable (non-drive side) cup?

Can you please provide pictures of both sides of your bottom bracket?
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Old 09-24-06, 05:53 PM   #20
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I believe that is correct. Here are the pics: whole frame, drive-side (plastic, no flash), non-drive-side (metal, flash). Hopefully they are somewhat clear. The drive side with the flash came out looking like it was just chock full of mud. I partially destroyed the plastic cup with a poorly fitting tool. I think you can clearly see the bearings on the non-drive side.

I have a Park BBT2 on the way and am going to pick up some PB Blaster in the next few days. Note the long seatpost and bench vice in the back.

In the meantime, any other thoughts?
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Old 09-24-06, 09:13 PM   #21
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this is a cartridge bottom bracket. The last time a "stuck" one came into the shop, two mechanics tried to get it out, the traditional way, before giving up. I took the frame over to the vice and got it out that way. If it doesn't come out that way...well...

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Old 09-25-06, 12:06 AM   #22
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Sledgehammer the spindle. That's what I would contemplate. The BB shell has taken a beating already, so open the bench vice jaws to sufficient width past the spindle, place the BB shell on the vice (with the side shown in the centre picture down), take a decent sized metal mallet and strike the BB spindle to break the race/bearings/plastic cup. If that doesn't work, turn the whole lot over and try from the other side. It seems to me that the housing on the BB cartridges aren't that thick, and may just break under the force of the mallet. You can then use a hacksaw to cut out the rest of the junk.

I am also thinking that this may not be a Shimano type BB cartridge, but another type that has sealed bearings pressed on the spindle and protected with a centre metal shell. What you might have done here is remove the seal of the bearing cartridge to reveal the balls. If this is the case, using the mallet technique above should be somewhat simpler.

You may need to get the BB refaced after all this.

Other than that... I am lost for another other ideas.
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Old 09-25-06, 12:12 PM   #23
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Excellent eyes Rowan. I did pick out the bearing seals on one side.

I have PB Blaster and am waiting for a BB tool prior to our date with the vice. Failing that, I may take the sledgehammer approach, which may not work, but it might be therapeutic.
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Old 09-25-06, 04:03 PM   #24
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I agree with the sledgehammer approach. I would start by hammering the spindle from the non-drive side towards the plastic cup on the drive-side. Before doing that, I would soften the plastic drive-side cup up a little by drilling a circle of holes around the inside of the bb shell (NOTE: DON'T DRILL INTO THE BB SHELL).

If you get the spindle and bearings out of the way, then you can cut and pry the remaining plastic drive-side cup out. Removing the spindle will also allow you to employ Sheldon Brown's homemade tool for fixed cup removal. You may need to alter the size of the washers for the non-drive side cartridge bb cup.
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Old 10-04-06, 07:18 AM   #25
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It appears that heat does the trick. Lucky for me it's a welded steel frame and not AL or a lugged frame.

Now it's time to choose the colours for the paint job.
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