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Old 08-20-09, 10:15 PM   #1
Shmef
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Headset Problem with a 1970 Schwinn Continental

So, I purchased a Schwinn Continental from a gent just out of Cle Elum for 20 bucks, all parts original and intact. After the usual deep clean, everything works just fine and dandy, happy love story of steel rims and crazy alien antennae shifters and steel being awesomely heavy, etc.

However, I have discovered a most distressing problem! When I turn my bars left, slowly, but surely, the head set also begins to loosen over time. Not right away, but a week or two of riding and the bars turn independently of the wheels... every time I adjust it back, it gets loose again! I've tried adjusting more or less every nut and bolt in that department, loosening them, tightening them, pretty much every possible combination you can come up with on a threaded headset/stem, and it persists.

I'm at the end of my rope... should I pony up and just convert to threadless through and through? I'm not looking to spend a bundle, so I'll probably just end up scrapping a random fork with a long enough tube for it, and I have a road handle-bar and variety of stems, just need to find whatever size they made headsets in back in the day (I think it's a 1", not positive though) and put that on... just wondering if this is a common problem I'm too stock-stupid to fix or if it's really just kinda wonky to the point of no return.

Thanks in advance all the lovely people of this forum, and whoever decides this thread is worth consideration.
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Old 08-20-09, 10:20 PM   #2
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Why don't you try smearing a bit of RTV silicone on all of the threads in question.

It sounds like, at some point, there's just not as much gripping power as there used to be.
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Old 08-20-09, 10:24 PM   #3
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Hi,
I guess I have to ask the simple question first....maybe your looking at it so hard you don't see it..
BUT is the washer with the little nib between the bearing race cup and the lock nut there or in good shape?
It sounds like you are loosening the bearing cup and the locknut, so I would guess you forgot the washer, OR the little nib is wore off.

Rick
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Old 08-20-09, 10:26 PM   #4
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I would remove the top locknut and look at the washer between it and the adjustable cone. It was pretty common to have the tang of the washer strip off and make it impossible to get the locknut tight enough without messing up the adjustment. I'd replace the washer- in fact, put two in for good measure- they're less than a dollar:
http://www.bikepartsusa.com/bikeparts/item/01-80046/

You realize, of course, that the locknut on top is supposed to be really tight. The official Schwinn tool was a 18" long box-end wrench- tighten it down until it screams.
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Old 08-20-09, 10:42 PM   #5
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I'll check the washer, guess I spaced it! Must have taken it apart a dozen times... and yeah, I know the lock nut should be tighter than a tourniquet, but I'll make sure she's not going anywhere...
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Old 08-20-09, 10:51 PM   #6
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I'd take the headset apart and fully overhaul it - clean and re-pack with new ball-bearings. And THEN I'd put in another washer - spacer as I put it all back together.
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Old 08-21-09, 03:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shmef View Post
... Not right away, but a week or two of riding and the bars turn independently of the wheels... every time I adjust it back, it gets loose again! ....
Sounds like the quill is loose. Have you inspected and lubed the expander wedge and bolt threads? Are you properly tightening the bolt on top of the quill? Could it be inserted too far?

Here's a page of Sheldon's that explains... http://www.sheldonbrown.com/handsup.html

Here's the text near the bottom that explains why inserting too far is a problem...
Too Low! Danger!
Note: Steerers are butted at the bottom, so the hole in the steerer is constant-diameter until near the bottom, then the walls taper inward in the butted section.

It is vitally important that the stem extender (or stem) is not inserted so far that the wedge is installed where the steerer is narrowing, or it could come loose unpredictably.

When this happens, only the edge/corner of the quill or wedge contacts the steerer, and it is trying to "grab" a slanted surface.

This is sometimes a problem on smaller frames if you try to insert the stem or a stem riser too far down into the steerer.
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Old 08-21-09, 08:08 AM   #8
wrk101
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+1 I would do maintenance on the headset, really easy to do. Then I would follow others recs on tightening it down, etc.
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