Curious Dawes Headset
In chipping away at the Dawes Double Blue project, I made a surprising discovery. After removing the stem I had a struggle to work the lockring and the Weinmann brake hanger--which, like the lockring, has a small tab that's meant to fit in the narrow slot cut into the threads of the steerer--over the steerer tube itself. Ordinarily they just slip right off, but in this case they fit extremely tightly. I had to wiggle them hard and pry gently with a strip of hard wood to finally get them off. Once they were removed the locknut and adjustable cup threaded right off.
It wasn't until this morning when I was looking at the fork that I realized what the problem is: there's no slot cut into the steerer tube. It was obviously put together that way at the factory, and it's obviously MEANT to have a slot--the lock ring and brake hanger both have the little square tab that's meant to fit into the (in this case nonexistent) slot in the steerer. That's why hanger and lockring were so hard to remove--whoever assembled it in Birmingham in 1963 just rammed the tabs down over the threading. The threads are a little nicked where the tabs forced across them, but there's no real damage.
So much for quality control. It strikes me as unlikely that the guy who put this one together didn't notice that there was no slot. Maybe the factory was in a rush to fill an order, maybe the assembler was so stricken with Beatlemania that he couldn't focus on his work, or maybe he was a lazy sod who just couldn't be bothered to take the unslotted fork back and get another one. I imagine that a worker at the Miyata or Nishiki factories would have committed seppuku before he would have assembled a bike that way.
I hasten to add that my intent in pointing this out is not to malign the English--I like them and their bikes and my fellow Dawes enthusiasts too much for that--but you have to admit that it's an odd omission. An entertaining one, too, since there's no real harm done--I believe I can easily cut the required slot with needle file. This is the fun thing about working on an old bike--you never know what you'll find.
This WAS a factory oversight, right? It's not really possible that all Dawes were assembled this way, is it?
man, you get up early. I have seen this approach used on several bikes...usually Japanese. I've never cut a slot in the fork, but I have filed off several tabs. I think that they are just there to aid assembly, as the locknut holds them in place after it is adjusted. Really, I don't think too much of that slot...
Yes, you can just file off the tab, but that does make it a little harder to get the headset adjustment just right. Also, isn't the steerer slot usually on the BACK of the steerer tube? This one would have to be on the front, because that's where the tab is on the Weinmann brake hanger (the round lockring, of course, doesn't care whether it faces back or front.)
It's usually in the back, but AFAIK that more a matter of convention than any real benefit.
Originally Posted by jonwvara
It's trivial to file a slot in the steer tube with an ordinary hand file. It takes only a couple minutes.