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Old 03-02-08, 03:43 PM   #1
brett jerk
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pitted headset

hey guys, I have another question about my crappy beater of a bike. The headset is almost definitely pitted, but I'll try to describe my problem although I don't have a great grasp on the terminology. When I tighten the top cap on my headset (the frame is a '67 raleigh grand prix) down, the part that holds the ball bearings from the top, the wheel and handle bars wont move at all, so I have to loosen it and then it shakes up and down (like I can pull my fork/wheel down a few cm and push it back up). I realize this is bad. Despite this being bad, I've been riding it like this for like 6 months and haven't had any real issues with it other than constantly having to adjust it (tighten it a little so the fork doesnt shake too much/loosen it so that I can turn the wheel). Is there a cheap way that I can fix this? I'm willing to do the labor and have a fair amount of experiencing fixing the rest of the components on my bike. If not, how much should I pay for a headset etc?
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Old 03-02-08, 04:19 PM   #2
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A couple potential problems here: a) it's likely that the headset is threaded at 26tpi, the "old Raleigh" thread. You won't be able to find a modern HS with that thread, so if yours is trashed you might be looking at a new fork with standard 24tpi threading. The other HS parts will fit. b) By riding it loose as you have been doing for 6 months, you might have ovalized the headtube. If that's the case the fixed cups won't really be fixed but will sort of rattle around in the tube. If the HS itself is not actually pitted (lucky you) you might be able to fix the cups in place with some JB Weld. I'd definitely stop riding it until you've torn it down to see if it's salvageable.
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Old 03-02-08, 05:15 PM   #3
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thanks for the help.

how exactly would I "tear this down" ? I'll put the work in and check it out if you can give me a heads up as to what exactly i'd be looking to do. tear the headset out and see if it looks like a circle?

otherwise looks like i'll be riding this frame into the ground as it is definitely the "old raleigh" size and it looks like putting parts into it would be a serious investment which I would rather hold off on and put into a new frame when I get the $$$ together.
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Old 03-02-08, 05:53 PM   #4
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how exactly would I "tear this down" ?
There are instructions at the Park Tool website.

This link is also in the stickied thread entitled, "New Posters - please READ THIS"
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Old 03-04-08, 02:49 PM   #5
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Take the fork off. See if you can wiggle the fixed cups in the headtube. They shouldn't move at all. If they move even slightly, take them out, clean them and the headtube thoroughly and glue the cups back in place with some JB Weld. Then re-assemble with some fresh bearings and grease, adjust the best you can and ride it.
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Old 03-04-08, 04:36 PM   #6
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Most bike shops with some history to them have a bucket of old but servicable bits and pieces. I'll bet that visiting a couple of shops will turn up what you need to get it right.

Another option is to check out the garage sales and second hand shops in your area that have a lot of bikes. Pick up an old beater just for the parts. I'll bet you can get something for between free and $10.

Another thought is to pull it apart. If the threaded top cone is OK but the cup seat is split or pitted then you can just get the new frame cup from some other headset. The only really critical part is the actual threaded top cone. The rest of the bits may not be universal but you can finagle them to work with each other. You may not be able to use the dust seals is all. But if this is just a temporary fix pending a shiney new toy it'll last long enough.

If the cups are badly pitted or even cracked and distorted then there's absolutely nothing you can do to fix this that doesn't involve a tool post grinder and a lathe. Once the cup and/or cone are not smooth and round the balls will not roll and total failure is not far away.
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Old 03-13-08, 09:17 AM   #7
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hey guys, thanks a ton for the help. While the headset is still pitted, I decided to take bcriders advice of taking apart the headset and checking it out. Turns out that I had somehow mashed a bunch of the ball bearings in the headset (some were in two pieces, some in like 8-10) so I put some new ones in after cleaning it out and it's much much much better. Can't believe I didn't just try this from the get go.

thanks!
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