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  1. #1
    Member gr8fzy1's Avatar
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    Cheap front suspension fork repair (Alternative Lubrication)

    Hi, first time here and I was wondering if anyone had some suggestions for me.
    I have a relatively cheap mountain bike with front/rear suspension (HUFFY Incline) that has sat in my basement for over a year do to a taco'd rear wheel I didn't have money to replace.

    I finally got a replacement rear wheel and installed it, but when I leaned on the bike my weight drove the front fork down until it bottomed out. Because this was my former year round bike, it's seen some hard use...and I was unable to decompress the fork until I cut the rubber sleeves off and dribbled hair clipper oil into the shocks, then grabbed the wheel and yanked REALLY HARD. My suspension is working again, but occasionally it takes a hop off a curb for the suspension to actually move at all. I was wondering if there are any cheep alternative lubricants that I can use on the suspension? I am unemployed for 3 years, and all my money has been coming from collection recyclables, so with the coming colder weather my cash flow is going to plummet.

    I was thinking about using petroleum jelly for lubrication, then making improvised sleeves from an inner tube that had exploded from a pinch flat, But I was uncertain if there were any rubber bushings or seals that might be effected/deteriorated by contact with petroleum jelly.

    This bicycle is my only transportation and ANY advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    A lot of the really inexpensive suspension forks are either just springs in the tube or use stacks of rubbery elastomer slugs for both springing and damping. If the forks are just sprung they often rely on using grease both as a lubricant and to provide a viscous damping effect. When that grease washes away or migrates out of the way it can dry out and turn chunky or depending on what the forks are made from if the bushings are simply steel you could have rust issues that are jamming the forks.

    Oiling them was a good start. Try keeping the legs wet with a motor oil or automatic transmission fluid for the next few dozen miles. The oil, and especially the ATF will go a lot towards freeing the bushings up. Also if you have top caps on the legs that are removable then try taking these off and dribble a bit of the oil or ATF down inside. Lifting the top caps, if any will also let you find out what sort of springs you have. If you don't have any top caps that are removable then check up from the bottom of the legs and see if there's anything down there you can see. On one of my very first suspension bikes when I did that I could see the spring through the bottom of the very cheap forks. If yours are the same then the exposure through the bottom like this means that you can try turning the bike upside down and just flood the legs with motor oil then pour it all back out. Let the excess drain into a tub for a few hours until it doesn't drip anymore. Ride it like that for a while to work the oil in and free everything up. For longer term protection mix some thick grease with mineral spirits to make it thin like the oil. Fill the legs with this and pour and drain like before. In this case when the solvent dries away after a couple of days you'll have nice long lasting protection for the winter.

    Other than these options I can't really suggest anything else for you. If you have a way of getting pictures of the fork crown and up from the bottom of the legs we may be able to suggest some other fixes for you.

    The ultimate fix would be to find a rigid fork and just ditch the cheap suspension fork. If things don't move then they can't break and will be more reliable long term.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  3. #3
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    Replace with rigid.

  4. #4
    Member gr8fzy1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gr8fzy1 View Post
    Hi, first time here and I was wondering if anyone had some suggestions for me.
    I have a relatively cheap mountain bike with front/rear suspension (HUFFY Incline) that has sat in my basement for over a year do to a taco'd rear wheel I didn't have money to replace.

    I finally got a replacement rear wheel and installed it, but when I leaned on the bike my weight drove the front fork down until it bottomed out. Because this was my former year round bike, it's seen some hard use...and I was unable to decompress the fork until I cut the rubber sleeves off and dribbled hair clipper oil into the shocks, then grabbed the wheel and yanked REALLY HARD. My suspension is working again, but occasionally it takes a hop off a curb for the suspension to actually move at all. I was wondering if there are any cheep alternative lubricants that I can use on the suspension? I am unemployed for 3 years, and all my money has been coming from collection recyclables, so with the coming colder weather my cash flow is going to plummet.

    I was thinking about using petroleum jelly for lubrication, then making improvised sleeves from an inner tube that had exploded from a pinch flat, But I was uncertain if there were any rubber bushings or seals that might be effected/deteriorated by contact with petroleum jelly.

    This bicycle is my only transportation and ANY advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
    Yeah sorry that I forgot to take a picture of my bike for you. As it is my mind is messed up from medication I'm taking and I gave you the wrong model. It's not a Huffy Incline, It's a NEXT Power X 26", the exact model is pictured below.



    It does have caps on the top of the forks...scratch that, ONE cap, I forgot that I lost one in a crash and stuffed a rubber ball in the left one...I'll have to take a drill to it and pull the ball out. But anyway, since it got stuck in the down position, then sprang back up once lubricated and tugged, I'm assuming it's a spring suspension. Also the bottoms of the fork are sealed, so the only way I'll be able to tell is to look down the cap like you suggested. I'll come back later with ACTUAL PHOTO'S of my bike, maybe that can help out some. I'll keep you posted.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by gr8fzy1; 10-02-10 at 10:13 AM. Reason: Trying to remove thumbnail. Ca n't figure it out.

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    cheapo forks are just grease lubed

  6. #6
    Member gr8fzy1's Avatar
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    Okay, I managed to snap some shots of my bicycle. It's rather beaten up and I didn't know about the rust on the fork behind the rubber cuffs. But I looked at the bottoms of the shocks and they DO have drainage holes.



    Tops of the forks, debris may have gotten trapped in the lip of the rubber cuff and caused the abrasions here. Can some sanding and rust preventative paint fix this?


    Here are the bottoms of the shocks. Should I tape over/plug these holes, then fill the shocks with oil and let it sit for 24 hours? Or should I jut pour the oil and let it drain through?


    And here is a model of what I saw when I removed the caps and looked in the tops of the towers. My camera couldn't photograph that deep into the stack, so I improvised.


    Comments appreciated and needed.

  7. #7
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Nice CAD or whatever rendering. If you can whip that sort of thing up in a quick flash you should be thinking about looking for work as a CAD operator or image illustrator.

    Anyhow looking at the damage it is obvious that the forks are totally toasted. Nothing you can do is going to make the forks functional in the way that they were intended. Sanding off the rust will just reduce the size of the stanchions and make the fork legs wobble in the lower leg bushings and generally make the front end feel like poo.

    Here's a thought. You're hard up for money so I gather getting new forks is out of the question. So since these forks are shot beyond recovery I'm going to suggest that you convert them to rigid forks. Figure out how they come apart and then replace the springs with sections of thin wall pipe that you scavenge from whereever that fits into the forks to replace the springs. Size the length of the tubes so the forks compress about 1 to 1.5 inches down in their fully open travel. While you've got things apart rip away what is left of the rubber slider boots and sand clean the rusty areas that fit down into the lower sliders. Now comes the fun part. When it's all done and you're sure that the two "spring" tubes are just right and the fork is collapsing down about 1.25 inches to replicate the static sag that the forks would have with you on the bike mix up some good grade of epoxy and work it down into the top of the slider bushings. Heating the area until it's warm will thin the epoxy to almost a water like consistency and allow it to wick into the thin gap between the stanchion tube and the bushing in the slider. Keep it warm and keep sliding the fork to aid in working it in. When it seems good then allow to cool and use the last of the epoxy to lay in a nice little fillet bead around the top. Be sure the fork is collapsed firmly against the compression "spring" tubes and allow the epoxy to cure. When it's hard you've got yourself a $5 (for the epoxy) set of rigid forks for a budget price.

    It's very likely that the forks will come apart if you unscrew that little cap down inside the tops of the stanchions. If nothing else the springs should come out and allow you to fit some thinwall metal tubes into their place.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  8. #8
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    you need a very long 5 MM or 6 MM Allen key to reach down there, but it not frozen in place, go ahead and remove it. turning counterclockwise. and once you do you able to remove the spring, clean it up and oil as everyone said before. try keeping the parts oil and it should last all winter.
    bikeman715

  9. #9
    Member gr8fzy1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    Nice CAD or whatever rendering. If you can whip that sort of thing up in a quick flash you should be thinking about looking for work as a CAD operator or image illustrator.

    Anyhow looking at the damage it is obvious that the forks are totally toasted. Nothing you can do is going to make the forks functional in the way that they were intended. Sanding off the rust will just reduce the size of the stanchions and make the fork legs wobble in the lower leg bushings and generally make the front end feel like poo.

    Here's a thought. You're hard up for money so I gather getting new forks is out of the question. So since these forks are shot beyond recovery I'm going to suggest that you convert them to rigid forks. Figure out how they come apart and then replace the springs with sections of thin wall pipe that you scavenge from whereever that fits into the forks to replace the springs. Size the length of the tubes so the forks compress about 1 to 1.5 inches down in their fully open travel. While you've got things apart rip away what is left of the rubber slider boots and sand clean the rusty areas that fit down into the lower sliders. Now comes the fun part. When it's all done and you're sure that the two "spring" tubes are just right and the fork is collapsing down about 1.25 inches to replicate the static sag that the forks would have with you on the bike mix up some good grade of epoxy and work it down into the top of the slider bushings. Heating the area until it's warm will thin the epoxy to almost a water like consistency and allow it to wick into the thin gap between the stanchion tube and the bushing in the slider. Keep it warm and keep sliding the fork to aid in working it in. When it seems good then allow to cool and use the last of the epoxy to lay in a nice little fillet bead around the top. Be sure the fork is collapsed firmly against the compression "spring" tubes and allow the epoxy to cure. When it's hard you've got yourself a $5 (for the epoxy) set of rigid forks for a budget price.

    It's very likely that the forks will come apart if you unscrew that little cap down inside the tops of the stanchions. If nothing else the springs should come out and allow you to fit some thinwall metal tubes into their place.
    Lol, It's google sketchup, but yeah, that took me about 5 minutes. But about the bike, I asked because I have another suspension fork in my basement that still springs good and has intact rubber boots, but I have no idea how to go about taking the fork off. Can this be done with regular tools or do I have to see a professional? I do have a 5mm T wrench to get to the bolt inside the stacks, but I can't seem to get the end into the hole.

  10. #10
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    your 5 MM T need to be about 16 " long to reach the bolt head. To replace the forks you need a 5 or 6 MM Allen key to loosen the bolt in the stem ,back off 5 turns, hit it with a hammer ,the stem will drop down, pull up to remove, put aside for the time being. Now you need 2 32 MM wench or a 12 " crescent wench to remove the locking nut. remove any spacers, remove the adjustable nut, watch out for bearings than may fall out as you remove the forks. clean out the cups and bearing of grease. Use a hammer and a punch to remove the race on the forks if the replacement forks don't have one . Repack the cups and bearings with fresh grease and reverse what i have told you. Good luck.
    bikeman715

  11. #11
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    All I'll add to bikeman's reply is that if you don't have a big enough adjustable wrench and if you don't mind some small marks on the big head set nuts that you can use a pipe wrench or water pump pliers as well.

    Also your present fork and headset are what is called "threaded". That means the top of the fork's steer tube is threaded. Your replacement fork would also need to be a threaded type and the steer tube must be the exact same length to within a 1/16 inch at the outside to fit your frame. If the threaded steer tube is only slightly longer you can cut it down. But only if the upper threaded bearing cup does not try to screw down onto the part where the threads are not fully formed. If the threaded steer tube is too short there is no way to use it. If the fork has no threads and appears to be much too long a steer tube that means it is one of the newer style threadless headset styles. That's fine but it means you would need to buy a threadless headset to use that fork and you would need to buy a threadless stem and some spacers. All in all it begins to take the repair out of the budget range in a hurry if the fork is not an easy drop in replacement.

    Anyhow you have a bunch of options from replacement of the fork to "locking" the old one. Size it all up and select your poison... And best of luck whichever way you opt to go.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  12. #12
    Member gr8fzy1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    Also your present fork and headset are what is called "threaded". That means the top of the fork's steer tube is threaded. Your replacement fork would also need to be a threaded type and the steer tube must be the exact same length to within a 1/16 inch at the outside to fit your frame. If the threaded steer tube is only slightly longer you can cut it down. But only if the upper threaded bearing cup does not try to screw down onto the part where the threads are not fully formed. If the threaded steer tube is too short there is no way to use it. If the fork has no threads and appears to be much too long a steer tube that means it is one of the newer style threadless headset styles. That's fine but it means you would need to buy a threadless headset to use that fork and you would need to buy a threadless stem and some spacers. All in all it begins to take the repair out of the budget range in a hurry if the fork is not an easy drop in replacement.
    hehehe, crap...there goes the option of using the Fork I had spare...







    Had intact full boots too...darn...

  13. #13
    Member gr8fzy1's Avatar
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    Well, I used motor oil like you suggested....and they are working again! Sadly though, I've gained about 30lbs since I last rode the bike. So although the springs are freed and functional, they are still 1/4-1/2" from bottoming out on me. Thanks for the tips, I'll keep them in mind for my next bike. As it is, the shocks now sound like someone pulling their foot from a mud filled metal drum, but they are considerably absorbing most small bumps and holes. Thank you BC.

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