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  1. #1
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    Cup and Cone Bottom bracket inquiry

    original bottom bracket on 84 schwinn high sierra is just a touch rough. didnt notice it while riding, only when spinning cranks by hand with chain off. not sure if I should try to replace with cartridge, do nothing, or try to service. how do I determine which way to go?

    thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member vredstein's Avatar
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    The first step would be to try to service it. Servicing it could be a simply as just adjusting it, cleaning it up and relubing it, or replacing the bearings. You could take it to a shop or DYI. If you want to DYI, you need to determine what tools you need. You'll need three bicycle-specific tools at the minimum. Post closeup pics and we can get started on tool selection.
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    I'm always for diy. will get pics soon. i have a crank puller but not a c-spanner . it looks like the adjustable cup has wrench flats, i think.

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    It's just going to get worse and worse if it's rough. The metal's started to crumble. Either a cartridge or a stock replacement would be fine but the cup and cone style bb's longevity will totally depend on proper adjustment.

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  6. #6
    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    Looks like you only need a crank puller. A large Crescent wrench for the cup and a pair of Channel Lock pliers for the lock ring. Remember, the drive side is loosened in a clockwise direction and the left side is counterclockwise.

    If the bracket axle is good, you can get new cups and bearings for about $10.00. A cartridge is nice, but they don't always fit in nice on an older bike. I had a bear of a time on a Trek 360.
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    Pull the cranks, remove the non-drive side lockring and adjustable cup as oddjob2 recommended and then pull out the spindle and bearings. Don't remove the fixed cup yet as you can clean and work on it through the bb shell.

    If the spindle's and cups' bearing tracks are smooth, just clean everything and replace the bearing balls. Loose balls can be used in place of retainer held balls but you will need a couple of extras per side. "Glue" the balls in place with a bead of grease to hold them in position as you place them in the cups. Add the spindle, thread in the adjustable cup, add the lockring, adjust for minimal to no play and tighten the lockring.

    If the spindle or cups are damaged, the easiest replacement is a cartridge. Removing the fixed cup requires a specific tool or it can be clamped in a bench vise and the frame used as the turning lever. Remember the fixed cup is left-hand threaded.

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    You don't want any play. It should have a little preload that you can feel as drag with your fingers.

    http://draco.nac.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/8f.8.html

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    happy bike wishes Turtle Speed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    If the spindle's and cups' bearing tracks are smooth, just clean everything and replace the bearing balls. Loose balls can be used in place of retainer held balls but you will need a couple of extras per side.
    Is there a standard size for loose bearing balls in bottom brackets? Or at least a common size?

    I know front hubs usually take 3/16" and back hubs normally use 1/4", but I have no idea what size to get for BB's.

    Edit: link in above post makes it sound like between 9 and 11 1/4" balls?

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    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turtle Speed View Post
    Is there a standard size for loose bearing balls in bottom brackets? Or at least a common size?

    I know front hubs usually take 3/16" and back hubs normally use 1/4", but I have no idea what size to get for BB's.

    Edit: link in above post makes it sound like between 9 and 11 1/4" balls?
    Yes and no. The vast majority of loose-bearing bottom brackets use 1/4" ball bearings, available anywhere. Bicycle shops typically sell them in retainers, for ease of installation if nothing else. Cheap retainers have 9, 1/4" balls, more expensive retainers have 11, 1/4" balls.
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    I think the spindle would go bad first.

    I have put cartridges in Taiwan Schwinn frames and they fit fine. Just get the right length and offset.

    I have a feeling you may not be able to tighten the lockring enough on an old style cup and spindle set with pliers. A plumber's wrench is another substitute you can use but a hook spanner isn't that much money.

  12. #12
    happy bike wishes Turtle Speed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage sale GT View Post
    Just get the right [cartridge] length and offset.
    Dumb question, if I have a bike whose BB is shot and I want to replace with a cartridge, how do I go about finding out which size I need to order?


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    Yes and no. The vast majority of loose-bearing bottom brackets use 1/4" ball bearings, available anywhere. Bicycle shops typically sell them in retainers, for ease of installation if nothing else. Cheap retainers have 9, 1/4" balls, more expensive retainers have 11, 1/4" balls.
    But the 9-ball and 11-ball retainers are the same diameter, and it's just the # of balls that differs? In other words, there aren't different race sizes and retainer sizes to worry about?


    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Loose balls can be used in place of retainer held balls but you will need a couple of extras per side.
    Is there anything specific I should keep in mind if I'm using loose balls rather than a retainer? I just add a couple extra balls until it "looks pretty full"? I'm just scared to ever try it without a retainer, cuz I learned hub overhauling from reading Sheldon Brown, who wrote to be very very careful about the number of balls that go in the race. ("If there is one too many [balls], the wheel will tilt slightly one way and another after installation, and can not be trued.") I just want to make sure I can't goof up a bottom bracket somehow.

    Sorry for the thread sidetrack, I just have similar questions and I didn't want to bother starting a whole new thread. Thank you all for the help, by the way.

  13. #13
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turtle Speed View Post
    Dumb question, if I have a bike whose BB is shot and I want to replace with a cartridge, how do I go about finding out which size I need to order?
    Remove crankarms & measure the length of the spindle from end-to-end. It's the only way to be certain. Your Schwinn High Sierra is English thread, and I'd bet the BB spindle is 122.5 or 124mm in length.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turtle Speed View Post
    But the 9-ball and 11-ball retainers are the same diameter, and it's just the # of balls that differs? In other words, there aren't different race sizes and retainer sizes to worry about?
    Exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turtle Speed View Post
    Is there anything specific I should keep in mind if I'm using loose balls rather than a retainer? I just add a couple extra balls until it "looks pretty full"? I'm just scared to ever try it without a retainer, cuz I learned hub overhauling from reading Sheldon Brown, who wrote to be very very careful about the number of balls that go in the race. ("If there is one too many [balls], the wheel will tilt slightly one way and another after installation, and can not be trued.") I just want to make sure I can't goof up a bottom bracket somehow.

    Sorry for the thread sidetrack, I just have similar questions and I didn't want to bother starting a whole new thread. Thank you all for the help, by the way.
    Fill the cup, using the spindle to push the balls into place and grease to keep them there. "Enough" is the number of balls it takes to fill it, minus one. You don't want them rubbing against one another.

    After you drop a bearing ball inside the frame for the fifth time in a row you'll understand why bike mechanics like retainers over loose balls.
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  14. #14
    Retro Grouch onespeedbiker's Avatar
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    If you are trying to maintain the bike as original, than you can do the BB service, if not you can pick up a cartridge BB http://www.amazon.com/Shimano-BB-UN2...bottom+bracket install it and forget it.. personally I like loose ball, but I also have a lot of time on my hands.

  15. #15
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    The big thing for me is to use plenty of sticky grease to keep the balls in place as you work. Tweezers are a good tool to have once your fingertips get greasy.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    The big thing for me is to use plenty of sticky grease to keep the balls in place as you work. Tweezers are a good tool to have once your fingertips get greasy.
    For working inside an installed fixed cup, tweezers are more than "good", they are essential if you don't want to drive your self crazy positioning loose bearing balls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Turtle Speed View Post
    Is there anything specific I should keep in mind if I'm using loose balls rather than a retainer? I just add a couple extra balls until it "looks pretty full"? I'm just scared to ever try it without a retainer, cuz I learned hub overhauling from reading Sheldon Brown, who wrote to be very very careful about the number of balls that go in the race. ("If there is one too many [balls], the wheel will tilt slightly one way and another after installation, and can not be trued.") I just want to make sure I can't goof up a bottom bracket somehow.

    Sorry for the thread sidetrack, I just have similar questions and I didn't want to bother starting a whole new thread. Thank you all for the help, by the way.
    sheldon has a pretty good set of instructions for putting it back together with loose balls. you may have already seen it
    http://sheldonbrown.com/tooltips/bbadj.html

    once I get this thing apart, I'll decide if I want to go with the cartridge or old style. mostly depends on spindle and cup damage. I have the tool needed to install a cartridge, but I have yet to remove a fixed cup and this one may be on there pretty tight. a new adventure either way

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Chicago View Post
    I have the tool needed to install a cartridge, but I have yet to remove a fixed cup and this one may be on there pretty tight. a new adventure either way
    If you have a decent bench vise, you can clamp the flats on the fixed cup in the jaws and use the frame as your lever to unthread it, left-hand threads as you probably already know.

    Otherwise, if you have, or can borrow, a commercial fixed cup wrench, look in the "Homemade Tools" thread for a description of some aids to keep it from slipping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    Remove crankarms & measure the length of the spindle from end-to-end. It's the only way to be certain. Your Schwinn High Sierra is English thread, and I'd bet the BB spindle is 122.5 or 124mm in length.
    I would also measure each side from the center of the frame to see if your crankset requires a bottom bracket with offset.

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    If you do get a cup and cone bb, be sure to regrease it every now and then unless you buy one with seals around the spindle. Unsealed bottom brackets like the stock one you had depend on the grease to catch any grit that gets around the spindle but if it gets wet or oiled or wet with soapy water that can emulsify the grease, or even if it's just not regreased often enough, the grit will work its way in to where the bearing balls roll.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    If you have a decent bench vise, you can clamp the flats on the fixed cup in the jaws and use the frame as your lever to unthread it, left-hand threads as you probably already know.
    ha, i have been going through people i know attempting to find one with a bench vise. first time i've ever found facebook useful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Chicago View Post
    ha, i have been going through people i know attempting to find one with a bench vise. first time i've ever found facebook useful.
    The vise trick can work, but it can be difficult to find a vise with nice sharp ends. The fixed cut flats are really thin. Likewise the bike can slip out its grip and you can end up with scratched paint or with getting smacked in the face by the bike you are leaning on. So the lesson is; using the real tool is always a better answer if possible. Almost any LBS will have one and would likely break the cup free for you and charge maybe $10 to do it. Then after you get it all back together you will need to have them tighten it for you, so another $10. You can get the Park branded tool with the pin spanner on the other end for less than that:

    $17.55 w/ free 2 day shipping here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Park-Tool-HCW-...bottom+bracket

    While you are there...might want to look for other bike tools you will eventually need; A crank bolt tool, a crank extractor, a cassette remover, and definately a pedal wrench and maybe a set of cone wrenches if you wheels are not all sealed bearing ones....

    Post more questions as they arise. Folks here are glad to help.

  23. #23
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    Thanks kisisler for showing me the tool. I already have most of the others you mentioned. Not a pedal wrench though. My box end wrenches have never failed with pedals.

    I have a giant adjustable wrench that I think would fit, would it be a big step down from the park tool below?

    Quote Originally Posted by ksisler View Post
    The vise trick can work, but it can be difficult to find a vise with nice sharp ends. The fixed cut flats are really thin. Likewise the bike can slip out its grip and you can end up with scratched paint or with getting smacked in the face by the bike you are leaning on. So the lesson is; using the real tool is always a better answer if possible. Almost any LBS will have one and would likely break the cup free for you and charge maybe $10 to do it. Then after you get it all back together you will need to have them tighten it for you, so another $10. You can get the Park branded tool with the pin spanner on the other end for less than that:

    $17.55 w/ free 2 day shipping here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Park-Tool-HCW-...bottom+bracket

    While you are there...might want to look for other bike tools you will eventually need; A crank bolt tool, a crank extractor, a cassette remover, and definately a pedal wrench and maybe a set of cone wrenches if you wheels are not all sealed bearing ones....

    Post more questions as they arise. Folks here are glad to help.

  24. #24
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Chicago View Post
    I have a giant adjustable wrench that I think would fit, would it be a big step down from the park tool below?
    Probably not that much if it's really nice, but if there's play on the sliding jaw it'll likey end in tears.

  25. #25
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    That big adjustable wrench is more likely to slip off of the flats than a "real" fixed cup wrench and should have at least the same clamping arrangement as the proper tool. I believe a decent quality vise is a far better tool than the adjustable.

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