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  1. #1
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    Star washer in carbon fork

    The carbon fork on my Jake the Snake 2012 has very recently been replaced and disassembling the headset has revealed that the bike shop who fitted the headset and steerer have used a star-spangled(fangled?) washer which, according to Bike Mechanics 101, is a complete no-no and can dangerously damage the cardon fork tube.
    Is that the case? Or am I worrying about nothing? I'm guessing that if I need to remove the fork from the headset/steerer then the fork tube will incur serious damage when I try to remove the washer?
    Any advice gratefully accepted please.

  2. #2
    30 YR Wrench BikeWise1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giskard View Post
    The carbon fork on my Jake the Snake 2012 has very recently been replaced and disassembling the headset has revealed that the bike shop who fitted the headset and steerer have used a star-spangled(fangled?) washer which, according to Bike Mechanics 101, is a complete no-no and can dangerously damage the cardon fork tube.
    Is that the case? Or am I worrying about nothing? I'm guessing that if I need to remove the fork from the headset/steerer then the fork tube will incur serious damage when I try to remove the washer?
    Any advice gratefully accepted please.
    Is the steerer tube silver colored? It might be an aluminum steerer, in which a star nut is just fine.

  3. #3
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWise1 View Post
    Is the steerer tube silver colored? It might be an aluminum steerer, in which a star nut is just fine.
    +1

    Lots of carbon forks have an aluminum steerer. If, however, the steerer is carbon, you should consider pulling out the starnut (actually, more like "pull" it out) - I do this with a simple ad-hoc tool I made from a threaded rod, a few large washers and a couple of nuts. Anyhow.... replace the starnut with something like this or these

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWise1 View Post
    Is the steerer tube silver colored? It might be an aluminum steerer, in which a star nut is just fine.
    Good point, but it's a full carbon fork and the steerer tube is carbon.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by wroomwroomoops View Post
    +1

    Lots of carbon forks have an aluminum steerer. If, however, the steerer is carbon, you should consider pulling out the starnut (actually, more like "pull" it out) - I do this with a simple ad-hoc tool I made from a threaded rod, a few large washers and a couple of nuts. Anyhow.... replace the starnut with something like this or these
    The problem is that in removing the stamut I'll damage the carbon steerer tube, and given that carbon is prone to sudden failure when the surface is damaged, I didn't think it'd be a safe option.

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    Did you go back and talk to them? What is the brand of the fork? Have them explain it, install it correctly, or replace it if it can't be corrected without damaging the new fork.

    My assumption is that it is in error - but that would be very surprising since it's such a common understanding, I can't imagine any shop actually making that blunder. I believe there are carbon steertubes that do use a star nut, but have no idea if that's the case here.
    Last edited by Camilo; 09-17-12 at 03:14 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member bsektzer's Avatar
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    Perhaps just pushing it down out of the way would be a safe and acceptable option (?)
    Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.
    Immanuel Kant

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
    Did you go back and talk to them? What is the brand of the fork?

    My assumption is that it is in error - but that would be very surprising since it's such a common understanding, I can't imagine any shop actually making that blunder. I believe there are carbon steertubes that do use a star nut, but have no idea if that's the case here.
    I haven't spoken to the bike mechanic at the shop yet - he wasn't available.
    The shop that fitted the fork (it's a Kona all carbon fork fitted as standard on a Jake the Snake 2012) aren't the most competent and seemed a bit overwhelmed at the job of fittng the fork. Another more local shop checked the bike over for me and found the star washer in the carbon steerer.

  9. #9
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giskard View Post
    The problem is that in removing the stamut I'll damage the carbon steerer tube, and given that carbon is prone to sudden failure when the surface is damaged, I didn't think it'd be a safe option.
    Well, of course, if you push it down or hammer it down, then of course you will damage the steerer. That's why I use my self-built starnut remover tool - it gently pulls the starnut out of the steerer tube. It does this keeping the starnut perfecly coaxial to the steerer, minimizing scratches.

  10. #10
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsektzer View Post
    Perhaps just pushing it down out of the way would be a safe and acceptable option (?)
    Much easier to keep the starnut coaxial with the steerer, if it's pulled instead of pushed.

    You need a threaded rod of appropriate length, a large washer (or two, depending on details of your implementation) and two nuts to build your own starnut remover tool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by giskard View Post
    The shop that fitted the fork (it's a Kona all carbon fork fitted as standard on a Jake the Snake 2012) aren't the most competent and seemed a bit overwhelmed at the job of fittng the fork. Another more local shop checked the bike over for me and found the star washer in the carbon steerer.
    So why did you use them?

    Did they have the mechanics Cytech Level / Technical 2 certificate posted on a wall? This is the standard training for bike mechanics in the UK, and most shops will have these posted for customers to see, as it proves that their mechanics are trained.

    Was the fork a warranty replacement / aftermarket, did it have the SFN pre installed?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
    So why did you use them?
    I had no choice - they're the bike store my employer's cycle-to-work scheme uses. you may be able to guess which bike store I'm talking about.

    Quote Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
    Was the fork a warranty replacement / aftermarket, did it have the SFN pre installed?
    Yes the fork (and frame) were warranty replacements but the headset internals weren't supplied but sourced and fitted by the bike shop.

    What's an SFN? You mean a star fangled nut?

  13. #13
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    There are some carbon steerer forks that use a specific starnut (IIRC Cannondale provides them) but for most carbon steerers a starnut is an absolute no-no. I'd go back to the dealer and explain the problem and have the fork replaced. There are few bike accidents more serious than a fork failure.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by giskard View Post
    I had no choice - they're the bike store my employer's cycle-to-work scheme uses. you may be able to guess which bike store I'm talking about.

    I've a shrewd feeling I can. Does this store also sell other lines of products unrelated to bikes, by any chance?

  15. #15
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    I can picture only two ways to remove the star nut without further damaging the carbon.

    1, simply grind the bastard out with a dremel. Highly tedious.

    2, fashion a clamp that forces the nut into a cone shape. Possibly painstaking, but I'd consider it first. It could be used on other star nuts.

    I guess a possible dealbreaker is the hole in the bottom of the crown being too small to allow a large enough tube inside.

  16. #16
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    Guessing it's the store with a name beginning with H.

    For the nut, wouldn't touch it, and demand that the store replace the fork, if they refuse, contact your local trading standards.

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    Bad luck.
    +1 for the suggestion to pull the SFN down only as far ar required to get it out of the way of proper carbon steerer bung. (Confirm that the SFN is a problem first though, write to the manufacturer)

    Semi-informed mental ramblings:
    How stressed is the steerer though? A damaged fork leg would worry me a lot, particularly higher up near the crown. The steerer area we're talking about is above the crown race - the crown race is carrying the bulk of the weight of you and the bike. The middle to upper steerer is bearing a lateral force (what's left of it after the forks flex, that is). I suppose this is at its greatest under brakes or whacking into a pothole.

    Salient question:
    Horror stories abound about carbon fork legs breaking. But has anyone in the forum seen a carbon fork failure in the steerer?

    Possible tactic:
    Complain to the shop. The local manager will gamble on it being not an issue and deny any possible problem. Go high in the H-Hierarchy, with veiled threats about trying to get them removed as the bike-to-work supplier.

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    Here's an infamous steerer break. Aluminum, and I think Hincapie may have weakened it in an earlier crash.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...cGlYkQyNX7MiiQ

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jolly_ross View Post
    Possible tactic:
    Complain to the shop. The local manager will gamble on it being not an issue and deny any possible problem. Go high in the H-Hierarchy, with veiled threats about trying to get them removed as the bike-to-work supplier.
    From what I heard from someone who used to work there, a lot of the mechanics don't really know what they're doing. It's entirely possible they'll believe there is no problem...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airburst View Post
    From what I heard from someone who used to work there, a lot of the mechanics don't really know what they're doing. It's entirely possible they'll believe there is no problem...
    That is very possible, the the problem is that the next time the headset is serviced and the star washer needs to be removed, the steerer tube might end up being destroyed.

    Thanks to everyone for your advice.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by giskard View Post
    That is very possible, the the problem is that the next time the headset is serviced and the star washer needs to be removed, the steerer tube might end up being destroyed.

    Thanks to everyone for your advice.
    You don't need to remove it when you service the headset, or even when you replace it.

    That said, anything can happen at Halfords. I've seen them sell bikes with the forks on backwards before, not even realising it.

  22. #22
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    Well I've spoken to Halfords and the guy I spoke to admitted that the star-fangled washer shouldn't have been used so he'd be speaking to the mechanic to find out why he did that and he'd speak to his manager about ordering another fork from Kona. Haven't heard back yet but assuming they do order a new fork, I'd prefer that they just give me the fork so I can get it fitted myself, but no doubt they'll insist on doing the job using the same mechanic who cut the steerer 1.5" too short (so the handlebars are way too low for me) and used the wrong type of fitting, a mistake that ranks up there with putting petrol in a diesel engine.

  23. #23
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    I'd flat-out insist on them giving me the fork to install myself. Get them to pull the crown race off the old one and that's it.

    The monkey cutting your steerer too short should've been enough to earn you a new fork in the first place... that's just woeful.

  24. #24
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    If you have requirements for taller than the minimum height stem ,
    More exposed steerer and spacers,
    so much has been said... don't go with another Carbon steerer fork.

    It's just a wrong application. Metal steerer.. is what is better..


    angled up rise stem..

  25. #25
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    If you have requirements for taller than the minimum height stem ,
    More exposed steerer and spacers,
    so much has been said... don't go with another Carbon steerer fork.
    +1

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