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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 11-04-06, 10:42 AM   #1
GRedner
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Help Gabe the neophyte repack his headset! Questions inside

1. The (quill) stem binder bolt was really tight, to the point that I had to hammer sideways on the allen wrench to loosen it. Can/should I do anything before reinserting it at the end to prevent it from seizing?
2. How important is it to wear gloves when handling greased surfaces or solvents? Will plain latex surgical gloves do?
3. There's grease in the bearings, but also on a lot of the other headset parts. Should I degrease everything before putting it back together, or just the bearings?

More questions as I progress...

Thanks,
-Gabe
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Old 11-04-06, 10:44 AM   #2
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Argh, I edited my post to correct the spelling in the title, but it doesn't show up in the thread view. I really *do* know how to spell "repack"...
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Old 11-04-06, 10:50 AM   #3
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1) Apply a light coat of grease to keep it form seizing next time.
2) I just use my bare hands and clean up afterwards. If you like to use surgical gloves, get the unpowdered ones.
3) This would be a good time to clean everything up, and check for pitting and brinelling.

Good luck! Remember the sequence of which parts go where.
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Old 11-04-06, 11:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GRedner
1. The (quill) stem binder bolt was really tight, to the point that I had to hammer sideways on the allen wrench to loosen it. Can/should I do anything before reinserting it at the end to prevent it from seizing?
2. How important is it to wear gloves when handling greased surfaces or solvents? Will plain latex surgical gloves do?
3. There's grease in the bearings, but also on a lot of the other headset parts. Should I degrease everything before putting it back together, or just the bearings?

More questions as I progress...

Thanks,
-Gabe
As bykerouac says grease everything on the quill. Grease the bolt that tightens the wedge, grease the wedge, grease the shaft of the quill up to the insertion point. Over greasing all of the internal parts won't hurt anything, just make sure that you clean up anything that squeezes out of the headset nut.

For gloves, I usually don't bother but you can get cheap nitrile (the blue ones) at any big box store. They are tougher and more chemically resistant then latex. They also don't cause allergic problems in some people like latex can. They are relatively cheap too.

If you have taken apart the headset and want to repack it, I suggest putting grease on your finger and putting a nice layer in the races. Then set the bearings into the grease. If there's enough grease the bearings should hold in place nicely. Don't over do the grease in the lower bearing. You want enough to hold and lubricate the bearings but you don't want so much that it sqeezes out of the races and makes a dirt magnet around the lower bearings.
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Old 11-04-06, 12:19 PM   #5
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Thanks guys.

Here's my status update: I've taken everything apart, and wiped down all of the headset surfaces. I don't see any pitting, so I assume the grinding noises were just due to grit in the mechanisms. The ball bearings were caged (thank goodness), and I've put them in a jar with some degreaser to soak, and I'm agitating it occasionally. In about twenty minutes I'm going to give them a final clean and wipe, and start putting stuff back together. Hopefully I'll post a victory message afterwards
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Old 11-05-06, 08:30 PM   #6
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I think it came out OK!

I finished the repacking yesterday afternoon and put everything back together. I had a moment (ok, like 30 minutes) of panic because I thought I had lost a piece to go on top of the fork crown race (correct terminology, hopefully - the metal ring on top of the fork). As it stands, it looks to me like the bottom set of bearings is not really sealed in - there's a gap around the outside. I also forgot (stupid, stupid, stupid) to take a photo of the thing before taking it apart.

However, the headset turns silky-smooth. I took it out for a ride today with no problems, so I will declare victory.

If I am right about the bottom part being poorly sealed and wrong about having lost a piece, then either (a) this headset design really sucks, or (b) it was sold to me with a piece missing. Either way, it looks like grit will easily penetrate the bottom bearings, and I'll have to repeat this process much more often than I'd like, or else replace the headset. Fortunately, Harris sells two compatible headsets for not much $$, so I may go that route if my gut feeling about the grit proves correct.
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Old 11-05-06, 10:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GRedner
I think it came out OK!

I finished the repacking yesterday afternoon and put everything back together. I had a moment (ok, like 30 minutes) of panic because I thought I had lost a piece to go on top of the fork crown race (correct terminology, hopefully - the metal ring on top of the fork). As it stands, it looks to me like the bottom set of bearings is not really sealed in - there's a gap around the outside. I also forgot (stupid, stupid, stupid) to take a photo of the thing before taking it apart.

However, the headset turns silky-smooth. I took it out for a ride today with no problems, so I will declare victory.

If I am right about the bottom part being poorly sealed and wrong about having lost a piece, then either (a) this headset design really sucks, or (b) it was sold to me with a piece missing. Either way, it looks like grit will easily penetrate the bottom bearings, and I'll have to repeat this process much more often than I'd like, or else replace the headset. Fortunately, Harris sells two compatible headsets for not much $$, so I may go that route if my gut feeling about the grit proves correct.
Depending on the headset, there may not be a seal on the fork race. Lots of headsets don't have them. If it doesn't have one, it's not the end of the world. As you've seen headsets are pretty cheap. Look into Shimano road headsets. I've seen 105 level sealed units for as little as $40.
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New! Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
New! Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.
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Old 11-06-06, 05:19 AM   #8
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You make a seal for headsets with a section of old inner tube but you need to disassemble to fit.
Cut a tube about 2" in length.
Slide over steerer tube to fork crown.
Assemble headset.
Pull up inner tube sock over lower race and double over if you want. experiment with the correct length for your fork/headset style.
This will keep most road muck out of the lower race and extend the life between serving.
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