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  1. #1
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quill stem issue

    I picked up a cheap 1999 Raleigh M40 mountain bike for my spouse to use as a winter bike. It has a quill stem and the handlebars were set really low. I unscrewed the nut to raise the stem and I only can get a half an inch. My spouse then interfered and unscrewed the stem entirely and pulled it out. It has the angled bottom but no wedge. Is the part missing? How do I figure out what to get to replace it? Or did it simply come that way? Or is it down in the tube someplace?

    If I pursued getting an entirely new stem (on that is adjustable might be good for him) how do you measure the stem size?

    Thanks for any help you can get me.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 08-19-12 at 08:23 AM.

  2. #2
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Goldfinch- Sounds like your wife unthreaded the stem wedge bolt completely out of the wegde. Then the bulk of the stem will slide out of the steerer, but the wedge will remain. It is very possible that the wedge is stuck/rusted in place. If you turn over the bike, remove the ft wheel and any hardware that is going through the fork (say a reflector) you should be able to acess the wedge from below and tap it out through the top. Clean steerer and wedge up, lube all and reinstall so that the markings on the quill of the stem are at the headset's lock nut. (So the stem is inserted about 2 1/2"). That's the highest the stem can safely be set at. If she wants higher bar grip position then a stem or bars that are taller will be the option. Don't forget to check the cable's lengths if the controls end up a lot higher then stock.

    While the stem and wheel are removed consider cleaning and lubing the headset bearings. Likely they are unserviced since factory assembly. Andy.

  3. #3
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
    Goldfinch- Sounds like your wife unthreaded the stem wedge bolt completely out of the wegde. Then the bulk of the stem will slide out of the steerer, but the wedge will remain. It is very possible that the wedge is stuck/rusted in place. If you turn over the bike, remove the ft wheel and any hardware that is going through the fork (say a reflector) you should be able to acess the wedge from below and tap it out through the top. Clean steerer and wedge up, lube all and reinstall so that the markings on the quill of the stem are at the headset's lock nut. (So the stem is inserted about 2 1/2"). That's the highest the stem can safely be set at. If she wants higher bar grip position then a stem or bars that are taller will be the option. Don't forget to check the cable's lengths if the controls end up a lot higher then stock.

    While the stem and wheel are removed consider cleaning and lubing the headset bearings. Likely they are unserviced since factory assembly. Andy.
    Thanks!

    Actually, I am the wife and it was my husband that unthreaded the stem wedge bolt.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Thanks!

    Actually, I am the wife and it was my husband that unthreaded the stem wedge bolt.
    Whoops, so much for gender assumptions!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Thanks!

    Actually, I am the wife and it was my husband that unthreaded the stem wedge bolt.
    Figuring the sequence of events, that makes more sense.

    Anyway, the bottom of the steerer has a thicker wall for strength, so the inside tapers to a smaller ID at the bottom. Wedges can get trapped pretty well there, so if it doesn't fall out of the bike is flipped over (your spouse can handle that), you can try picking it up with the stem bolt.

    For future reference, the stem will tighten when you tighten the stem bolt. But to loosen the stem you back off the bolt 1/8" or so, then tap it down with a hammer to free the wedge while leaving it attached at the bottom of the bolt.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Got it! First I let it soak with a bit of thin oil, gave it a tap and it freed itself. Now my spouse has his stem at the height he needs. Thanks guys.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    in the future loosen the bolt just so it sticks up proud above the stem top,
    then a tap with a soft hammer will loosen the wedge and still being on the bolt,
    it wont fall loose.


    Bear in mind the safety marks saying ,' don't extend above this line' or to that effect.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Got it! First I let it soak with a bit of thin oil, gave it a tap and it freed itself. Now my spouse has his stem at the height he needs. Thanks guys.
    Next time, tell him "if you really want to help-----DON"T HELP!"
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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  9. #9
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Next time, tell him "if you really want to help-----DON"T HELP!"


    I should have cleaned and lubed the headset bearings but impatience by the rider won out.

  10. #10
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Goldfinch- sorry about the assumption. Your hubby is lucky to have a wife taking care of his riding needs. Andy.

    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Thanks!

    Actually, I am the wife and it was my husband that unthreaded the stem wedge bolt.

  11. #11
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
    Goldfinch- sorry about the assumption. Your hubby is lucky to have a wife taking care of his riding needs. Andy.
    No problem! He takes care of the cooking so I am happy.

  12. #12
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    in the future loosen the bolt just so it sticks up proud above the stem top,
    then a tap with a soft hammer will loosen the wedge and still being on the bolt,
    it wont fall loose.


    Bear in mind the safety marks saying ,' don't extend above this line' or to that effect.
    +1 There should be a minimum insert line on that stem. Don't raise above it.
    See some of my bikes on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BillsVintageSteelBikes

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  13. #13
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
    +1 There should be a minimum insert line on that stem. Don't raise above it.
    Safety warning heeded.

    On a related topic I moved a carbon seatpost from one of my bikes to another. I am right at the minimum insertion line. I sure would like another 1/4 of an inch. Maybe a new seat with higher profile but I love my saddle. Oh well.

  14. #14
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Safety warning heeded.

    On a related topic I moved a carbon seatpost from one of my bikes to another. I am right at the minimum insertion line. I sure would like another 1/4 of an inch. Maybe a new seat with higher profile but I love my saddle. Oh well.
    New longer seatpost. Usually cheaper than saddles, if you go alloy, and to be honest the benefit of a carbon post is pretty marginal.

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