I use a fork with a 1 1/8" steerer, a standard headset, some spacers, my stem and, on top of it all, my headset cup and star nut bolt. No surprises.
I want to remove some spacers from the steerer column and put a bracket (the function of which is irrelevant for this discussion), which, however, can not be used as a structural part of the assembly (i.e. it can not withstand the vertical forces exerted on, say, a spacer).
What I'm thinking is this:
1. put the stem right on top of the headset
2. use all spacers and star nut bolt to tighten things up
3. tighten the stem bolts
and the question is this:
Can I then remove the spacers and headset cup from above the stem?
Do they serve any purpose? I mean with the stem holding the fork tightly and under pressure and all.
I do have the feeling that someone will respond "Sheldon Brown did it with a seat clamp."