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  1. #1
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Problems adjusting threadless headset - Cane Creek S6

    I've had a Cane Creek S6 (with sealed cartridge bearings) installed on a Nashbar touring frame, and I'm having trouble figuring out the proper preload setting.

    How in the world is it properly adjusted? I've read parktool and some threads here. Even with the cap and bolt completely removed, and stem bolts loose, I can't feel any knocking, either by hand or by rocking the bike with the front brake applied. I don't have a torque wrench with low enough settings (read in a thread that 12 - 15 in/lbs is the proper torque). I attempted tightening it to find the point where the steerer would have friction, but I ended up pulling the star nut to the top of the tube. I tapped that back down...need it be replaced?

    With sealed cartridge bearings, perhaps it will never be over compressed? Or maybe the star nut was never properly installed?

    And since I never felt knocking, what's the best way to gauge the tightness? By riding it? Unfortunately, I won't have the drivetrain assembled for a while until some replacement parts come in.

    I thought threadless headsets were easier to adjust than threaded!

  2. #2
    * vpiuva's Avatar
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    If you're having star nut issues then I would start there. It should not pull up the tube. Get another one installed by the LBS if you don't have the tool. Star nuts are cheap.

  3. #3
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vpiuva
    If you're having star nut issues then I would start there. It should not pull up the tube. Get another one installed by the LBS if you don't have the tool. Star nuts are cheap.
    Actually, I bought the frame and fork used, and the starnut was installed, so I have a spare that came with the headset. Bad idea to tap it down myself? I know centering it properly may be a challenge...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JunkYardBike
    Actually, I bought the frame and fork used, and the starnut was installed, so I have a spare that came with the headset. Bad idea to tap it down myself? I know centering it properly may be a challenge...
    If you can pull the old star nut out completely, I'd do it. Otherwise, thread a long bolt into it and drive it down well below where the new star nut should go.

    Installing a new star nut without the "proper" tool is rather easy if you are careful.

    Thread a long bolt fully into the new nut and center it visually over the steerer tube. Tap it in with a light hammer on the bolt head, keeping it visually straight as you go, until the both flanges are just in the steerer but still too high.

    Then I like to remove the bolt, add the top cap and rethread the bolt through the top cap into the nut. That way the top cap acts as a centering guide as you drive the nut down the proper distance - usually 15 mm below the steerer or top spacer top.

    I'd preload the headset by hand. A torque of 12-15 inch-pounds is only a little beyond finger tight so you shouldn't have trouble if you just estimate it. You can induce some initial play by loosening the top cap and stem and pulling some slack in the stem's position just to demonstrate to yourself it can be there.

  5. #5
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Well, after tapping on the star nut for about 30 minutes, wondering how I could jam it in there evenly, I went with vpiuva's advice and brought it to the LBS. Good advice - got it installed and the headset adjusted in 5 minutes.

    For what it's worth, it looks like the previous owner of the frameset had installed the starnut himself. The lower "star" was severely bent in one direction, which may have accounted for it loosening. Or it could have been my gorilla tactics with the long handled wrench.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JunkYardBike
    Well, after tapping on the star nut for about 30 minutes, wondering how I could jam it in there evenly, I went with vpiuva's advice and brought it to the LBS. Good advice - got it installed and the headset adjusted in 5 minutes.

    For what it's worth, it looks like the previous owner of the frameset had installed the starnut himself. The lower "star" was severely bent in one direction, which may have accounted for it loosening. Or it could have been my gorilla tactics with the long handled wrench.
    You may have been "tapping" a bit too gently. Star nuts take some real convincing to start them in. You do want to support the fork well so you don't damage it. Either straddle the fork over a well padded support block or put an old hub in the dropouts to protect them and the fork legs and stand it on the hub.

  7. #7
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider
    You may have been "tapping" a bit too gently. Star nuts take some real convincing to start them in. You do want to support the fork well so you don't damage it. Either straddle the fork over a well padded support block or put an old hub in the dropouts to protect them and the fork legs and stand it on the hub.
    You're right, I wasn't hitting it with much force. There was about .5 mm difference between the star nut and the inside fork diameter, and it kept seating crookedly. If I gave it a good whack, I'd have to get pretty lucky to have it set squarely.

  8. #8
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    I've done many installs of starnuts with the correct tools and once you understand the forces applied to get these things to work, things like using the bolt and the cap as a guide works very well.

    My new fork for my commute bike needed the starnut installed and I used the exact method that Hillrider stated. I used a 2 lb Plastic mallet to start it off and that always seems to work best for me. I should have just waited and used the right tool at the shop, but I wanted to get that fork mounted so bad....
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  9. #9
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ang1sgt
    I've done many installs of starnuts with the correct tools and once you understand the forces applied to get these things to work, things like using the bolt and the cap as a guide works very well.

    My new fork for my commute bike needed the starnut installed and I used the exact method that Hillrider stated. I used a 2 lb Plastic mallet to start it off and that always seems to work best for me. I should have just waited and used the right tool at the shop, but I wanted to get that fork mounted so bad....
    So how do you start it? It would only enter on an angle. Do you then persuade it the other way with the mallet? Or, when Hillrider says it takes some convincing, do you give it a good whack to start with, hoping the first flange sets relatively straight?

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