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  1. #1
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    headset's driving me crazy

    OK when I got this old '75 Peugeot the headset went south on the 2nd ride. I opened it up and found no grease and about half the bearings missing. I rebuilt it and it seemed to work for a little while, but it loosens up on almost every ride. I tighten it again, and the cycle repeats ...

    I have to admit, I used all 25 bearings in the packet on the lower race. There was still a small gap, so I went for it, even though the LBS advised me to remove one. Could this be the problem? The upper had a retainer clip with maybe a dozen bearings but the LBS mechanic told me to just use loose bearings - I put 24 up there, using plenty of grease in both lower and upper.

    I installed upright bars, and it is a single speed, so I have to stand on the pedals and pull on the bars if I need to accelerate or climb, which I imagine is putting some torque on the bars, and stress on the headset. But really, I'm just guessing here.

    These old Peugeot headsets have a knurled adjustable upper race, which is easily tighened by hand. Then I use a big ol' honking cresent wrench on the locknut, while holding the race with channel lock pliers. I get it adjusted where it feels right, then 15 minutes into a ride, the front end gets squirrely on me again. Damn.

    I've even begun to wonder if I anyone uses loctite.

    Ideas?
    Last edited by sunburst; 03-25-09 at 02:36 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member retroroadie's Avatar
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    Assuming the replacement bearing size is correct, and you have maxed out correctly on free-packing the bearings, check for: sufficient spacing between the upper cup and the locknut VS. the length of the threaded steerer tube. It is possible the locknut may be fooling you by tightening against the top of the steerer, and not against the upper cup; if so, then a simple spacer ring is required or you can cut the steerer down, depending on your needs. Luck.
    Last edited by retroroadie; 03-20-09 at 02:33 AM. Reason: clarification

  3. #3
    STFD mcgreivey's Avatar
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    And do you have the proper spacers/washers between the locknot and the upper race? Mine has center-pull brakes, and the brake hanger functions as a washer. I think I've seen bikes with a hanger and a washer, or maybe even two washers? But I think you need at least one.

  4. #4
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    retro,
    I took my bearings to the LBS, bought the same size, and got the advice to load them all, then remove one. But that's an interesting point about tightening against the steerer tube. I'll (try to) check that.

    mcgreivey,
    I have one washer and one brake hanger between the race and the locknut. If this were a problem however, I wouldn't think I could it get adjusted properly in the first place - which I seem to be able to do. It's after riding some distance that it gets funky on me.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bikedued's Avatar
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    I have an old Raleigh that does that. It tightens up just fine, but the locking nut and top race loosen themselves up as a unit. The whole top nut/washer/race backs off, while the tightness between them stays put. I've done everything short of using locktight. It was made in the days with non slotted steerers. I have considered using a Dremel and slotting it, might be the only thing that works. That or changing the entire headset, which I'd rather not do. No other headset would look right.,,,,BD

  6. #6
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikedued View Post
    I have an old Raleigh that does that. It tightens up just fine, but the locking nut and top race loosen themselves up as a unit. The whole top nut/washer/race backs off, while the tightness between them stays put.
    Interesting theory. Mine may be doing the same. I opened it today, and it doesn't have a slot either. I may have to cycle around with my headset wrench in my pannier.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Here's a test. After you've "locked" the adjustable-cup and locknut together, try moving the adjustable-cup underneath by itself with the channel-locks. Hold the handlebars with your other hand. If the adjustable-cup can still be moved, the two aren't locked together. One cause of this is that the tab in the slotted washer hangs up against the sides of the slot and digs in. This prevents it from moving vertically and the actual tension in the locknut is pushing against this washer and not the adjustable cup. To equalize the tension, you want to unscrew the adjustable cup upwards as you tighten the locknut downwards. This works equally well for slotted or unslotted headsets.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    There's no slot in old Peugeot steer tubes. Just a flat spot.

    Did you leave out a spacer or the Mafac brake hanger?

  9. #9
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikedued View Post
    I have an old Raleigh that does that. It tightens up just fine, but the locking nut and top race loosen themselves up as a unit. The whole top nut/washer/race backs off, while the tightness between them stays put. I've done everything short of using locktight. It was made in the days with non slotted steerers. I have considered using a Dremel and slotting it, might be the only thing that works. That or changing the entire headset, which I'd rather not do. No other headset would look right.,,,,BD
    Slotting does not work. It was a half baked solution to begin with. Usually what ends up happening is that the keyed washer, well fails at it's job.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  10. #10
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtdrop View Post
    There's no slot in old Peugeot steer tubes. Just a flat spot.

    Did you leave out a spacer or the Mafac brake hanger?
    My stack looks like this: adjustable cone, washer, brake hanger, locknut.

    A few suggestions have probed whether I could tighten is sufficiently. I can easily overtighten it, if I want, so I think I've got the right washer setup.

    Made it to the farmer's market and back today, and didn't even have to use the wrench in my bag. That, however, it not enough of a test. It will have to prove itself over time.

  11. #11
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Having an extra ball is much worse than missing one. "When in doubt, take one out." There should be a small gap slightly narrower than the width of one ball. If you can't see the width clearly, it will look like a gap big enough for a ball.

    Be sure you are holding the adjustable cup well with a wrench or giant channel-lock while tightening the locknut.

    Another possibility is that the fixed cups are not parallel. Normally, you would have them reseated, but if they're not parallel on a bike this old, it's a sign that the head tube could be damaged. I don't know if you can even get a French-threaded headset any more. Which leads me to say:

    Sorry, but this bike may not be worth fixing. I faced this a few months ago, too, with a Peugeot from about the same year. Can't complain, given that it lasted this long. I retired the bike and moved many of the parts to another frame.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  12. #12
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    I don't know if you can even get a French-threaded headset any more. Which leads me to say:

    Sorry, but this bike may not be worth fixing. I faced this a few months ago, too, with a Peugeot from about the same year. Can't complain, given that it lasted this long. I retired the bike and moved many of the parts to another frame.
    That's ridiculous. I've never had any problems finding parts for my three mid-seventies French road bikes. French headsets are no longer being made, but there are still lots of them out there. The Stronglight A-9 is my favorite. It's one of the best and lightest ever made.
    Last edited by Grand Bois; 03-22-09 at 06:57 PM.

  13. #13
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    That's good to know! And I agree that Stronglight headsets are excellent. In fact, back in the day, it was my favorite, over Campagnolo. I found them to be the longest-lasting headset of all.

    Where do you get your French threaded parts?

    In my case, my Peugeot UO8's crankset was coming undone. It's steel and cottered, and I gave up finding the missing bolt that attaches the chainring to the crankarm. The bike was never that good. My mother found it in the street, and the headtube was bent back from a head-on collision. I straightened it most of the way but not perfectly. And it's not a good hill climbing bike. I was attached to it emotionally until a few months ago when I realized that that was silly.

    I chose a 1971 Raleigh Super Course frame, also picked up from the street. I thought it would ride just OK. I've been very pleasantly surprised. It rides a heck of a lot better than the Peugeot did, and it's an excellent hill climbing bike.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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  14. #14
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Having an extra ball is much worse than missing one. "When in doubt, take one out." There should be a small gap slightly narrower than the width of one ball. If you can't see the width clearly, it will look like a gap big enough for a ball.
    I put all 25 in and could still see a gap, and as you say, it was a little less than one ball width. That's why I left them all in. I've considered taking it all apart and pulling one ball, but that seems like a lot of work for a guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Be sure you are holding the adjustable cup well with a wrench or giant channel-lock while tightening the locknut.
    About the 3rd time around with this problem, that's what I started doing.

    There's one more thing I don't think I fessed up to: The stem bolt was rounded off so I used a stem from my Trek. It was a bear to get in, and I sorta forced it. Later I was told that Peugeot uses 22.0mm stems, while my newer stem was 22.2mm. Could that be causing this? I dismissed it early on, but for the sake of thoroughness ...

  15. #15
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    No, that is not likely to be causing your problem, unless the stem width is preventing you from torquing down on the locknut. That doesn't seem likely.

    So after tightening your locknut, have you tried turning the adjustable cup? It should be impossible.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  16. #16
    Senior Member miamijim's Avatar
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    Yank the stem and post a picture of the inside of the crown nut so we can see if its bottoming out.
    WWW.CYCLESPEUGEOT.COM 2005 Pinarello Dogma; 1991 Paramount PDG 70 Mtb; 1976? AD Vent Noir; 1989 LeMond Maillot Juane F&F; 1993? Basso GAP F&F; 1989 Terry Symmetry; 2003 Trek 4700 Mtb; 1983 Vitus 979

  17. #17
    cab horn
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    Headsets are N-2 for # of bearings. f
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  18. #18
    Senior Member miamijim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    Headsets are N-2 for # of bearings. f
    WWW.CYCLESPEUGEOT.COM 2005 Pinarello Dogma; 1991 Paramount PDG 70 Mtb; 1976? AD Vent Noir; 1989 LeMond Maillot Juane F&F; 1993? Basso GAP F&F; 1989 Terry Symmetry; 2003 Trek 4700 Mtb; 1983 Vitus 979

  19. #19
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
    Most useful reply of the day.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  20. #20
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    If you guys are saying I need to dismantle the entire thing and take out a bearing or two, that's what I'll do. But what's the effect of too many bearings: reliability? this loosening problem I've got?

    I haven't wanted to disassemble based on a "rule of thumb", unless it was absolutely necessary.

    Also: "crown nut" = lock nut?

  21. #21
    Senior Member miamijim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    If you guys are saying I need to dismantle the entire thing and take out a bearing or two, that's what I'll do. But what's the effect of too many bearings: reliability? this loosening problem I've got?

    I haven't wanted to disassemble based on a "rule of thumb", unless it was absolutely necessary.

    Also: "crown nut" = lock nut?
    Crown nut = top nut

    As far as bearing go put as many in there as you can. Forget that -1 or -2 buisness. The only time you run into an issue is if you put to many in and they dont properly sit in the race and stack up.

    I think what we're trying to say to you is pull the stem and take a picture of the inside of the fork at the top with all of the headset parts installed so we can see what your talking about.
    WWW.CYCLESPEUGEOT.COM 2005 Pinarello Dogma; 1991 Paramount PDG 70 Mtb; 1976? AD Vent Noir; 1989 LeMond Maillot Juane F&F; 1993? Basso GAP F&F; 1989 Terry Symmetry; 2003 Trek 4700 Mtb; 1983 Vitus 979

  22. #22
    Senior Member miamijim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    Most useful reply of the day.
    That means I'm rolling my eyes at the old wives tale -2 bearing advice.
    WWW.CYCLESPEUGEOT.COM 2005 Pinarello Dogma; 1991 Paramount PDG 70 Mtb; 1976? AD Vent Noir; 1989 LeMond Maillot Juane F&F; 1993? Basso GAP F&F; 1989 Terry Symmetry; 2003 Trek 4700 Mtb; 1983 Vitus 979

  23. #23
    )) <> (( illwafer's Avatar
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    rivendell has a $5 solution for you:
    http://www.rivbike.com/products/list...product=30-016
    Smart Headset Locknut

  24. #24
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by illwafer View Post
    rivendell has a $5 solution for you:
    http://www.rivbike.com/products/list...product=30-016
    Smart Headset Locknut
    That's looks good, but I've got French threads. This is English - right?

    Also, I had to smile at my LBS's mechanic today when he told me to use loctite (refer to my 1st post).

  25. #25
    Senior Member aidy's Avatar
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    did you try tightening the upper cup with a pipe wrench, tightening down the locknut, but not all the way, then untightening the upper cup again until the fork moves around freely and then tightening the locknut all the way?

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