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Old 02-03-12, 01:04 AM   #1
MrEss
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Better Living Through Chemistry? (stuck seatpost and stem content)

I've got an 80s TrueTemper Schwinn frameset that I picked up off of Freecycle some months ago. The bike had obviously been left outdoors for a long time, and the stem and the steatpost are S-T-U-C-K.

After soaking them down with penetrating oil for a few months, they're still not budging. Following Sheldon's advice, I used the (cheap) saddle as a wrench to apply torque to the seatpost... destroying the saddle by bending the rails.

I've acquired a few pounds of dry ice. I packed the seat tube and steerer with that material and waited until ice began forming on the outside of the tubing... it still won't budge. I'd been hoping the greater thermal contraction of Aluminum would pop them loose. We did manage to destroy the vice at the LBS, but the seatpost remains fixed.

As a last attempt, I re-cooled the seat tube and then thermally shocked it by pouring boiling water over the outside (with the cold on the inside) while applying torque to the seatpost. No progress.

Since it's winter, the leftover dry ice will last longer than normal outside in my cooler... I might still have a bit left after work tomorrow. Before I offer it up on Freecycle (to someone with the patience to saw them out with a hacksaw blade), does anybody have any other ideas that I might try?

Last edited by MrEss; 02-03-12 at 01:10 AM.
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Old 02-03-12, 01:21 AM   #2
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For the fork, lop off the stem, remove the fork from the frame with the stub of stem in it, and stick the steer tube in a lye solution for a few days. It'll eat away the aluminum and leave the steel.

For the seatpost, lop off the post about 3-4 inches above the frame and use a jab hacksaw to saw down the inside bore in at least a couple places while playing "Another One Bites The Dust" or some equally vindictive tunes of your choice. This can take a while, and it's tricky to know when you're through the post and starting into the frame tube, but be patient... you have nothing to lose, right? Given that yours is an extreme case, three cuts might be better than just two.
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Old 02-03-12, 01:22 AM   #3
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This is How To Remove A Stuck Seat Post or Steering Stem - the safe way and it works every time...
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Old 02-03-12, 01:34 AM   #4
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Just use the existing seatpost and stem at their current height.
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Old 02-03-12, 11:49 AM   #5
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Unfortunately for this frame, I just don't have the emotional or monetary investment to be willing to try hacksawing it out. It's probably headed back to Freecycle, from whence it came.

If any C&Ver from Wisconsin wants a 25" 1987 Schwinn LeTour with a stuck stem and seatpost, you get first dibs. PM me.
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Old 02-03-12, 12:29 PM   #6
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Try CRC Freeze-Off. It worked for me.
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Old 02-03-12, 12:47 PM   #7
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While various methods will work most of the time, sometimes, cutting it out is the solution. As a chemical engineer with 35 years in operations, I have no problem going through the list of various chemical methods. If nothing else works, for me it comes down to either using sodium hydroxide, or cutting it out. The sodium hydroxide will dissolve the aluminum, but will also ruin at least some of the paint, AND requires serious safety gear to protect yourself. So I would not encourage using sodium hydroxide (it is up to you).

The worst accident in my working career in chemical plants was when an operator was not wearing the proper PPE, and got a small amount of dilute caustic in both eyes. He was blinded (at 30 years old). A couple of years later he got two cornea transplants. Pretty serious indeed, and not for the ill prepared.

So all in all, cutting it out is my preferred option after I have tried Kroil, ATF/acetone, strong ammonia, cold, etc.

Face enough stuck stems and seat posts, and none of the various home remedies will always work. With a couple of dozen stuck posts and stems, I have over 90% success without cutting. At one point (after about the first dozen), I was at 100% and naively thought that I had it all figured out and would not need to cut one out. Then I had my as@$ handed to me on a Trek 510.

+1 To below, I like the air hammer idea, it sure makes sense.

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Old 02-03-12, 07:28 PM   #8
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These methods always assume the stuck stem / post is alloy... What about when it's steel? I'm dealing with a stuck stem right now on an old 3 speed, and brute force + PB Blaster hasn't done squat. I'm guessing the next step is to saw it out, but is there something else I could try?
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Old 02-03-12, 07:40 PM   #9
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Try CRC Freeze-Off. It worked for me.
I had good luck with this product too. So much so that I wrote them via email and offered them free use of my slogan for their product: "Freeze Your Nuts Off"! I never heard back.
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Old 02-03-12, 08:05 PM   #10
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What about applying some sort of rotary impact force on the offending stem or seatpost, in combination with chemical penetrants and/or temepreature shock. I'm still waiting for someone out there to figure out how to do such with modified pneumatic tools that will interface mechanically with a post or stem.
BTW, another vote for CRC's "Freeze Off"! I removed a stem from hell on my bike's steerer tube with the stuff, after everything short of lye, ammonia and cutting it out failed miserably..... The secret is to use it properly so you take most advantage of the difference in coefficient of material shrinkage between the two differing metals that are atuck together....

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Old 02-03-12, 09:11 PM   #11
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I managed to get a badly stuck post loose with an air hammer recently, it might be worth a shot if you've got access to one of those.
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Old 02-03-12, 11:39 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
...lop off...
You may finally get to the point that the stem and seat post are not worth any more time - If and when this happens just do the "lop off" - Go to a machine shop to do it and it will go fast... Good Luck...
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Old 02-04-12, 03:58 PM   #13
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I have a frame that I want to try using a seatpost puller similar to one made by FTwelder, I don't have it bookmarked but it's in one of the many threads on this subject and might worth a try if you have access to scrap.
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Old 02-18-12, 10:03 AM   #14
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My 2 cents worth, but I tied the bb of the frame to a 4 x 4 post with a nylon tow strap, I then attatched a "come a long" to the seat post and secured the other end to another large stationary object. I then take up tension on the come a long, to apply a considerable amount of extracting force, and then use a pipe wrench to try and twist the seat post. This has so far worked 2 out of three times. Soaking and lube prior to this are also a good idea.
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Old 02-18-12, 10:42 AM   #15
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^ 2 out of three?

Well I lopped off a stem yesterday, what a shame it was a nice TTT one. anyway I then sawed through the sidewall of the stem on one side and NADDA!

I had to run out so.... I tried something unusual I cut the top off a half flat Dr Pepper and turned the steerer/stem upside down in it. I left it there over night and an hour or so ago I swapped it out for amoena.

As for the Lye idea.. what kind of vessel do I need for his? and how long before the steerer gets damaged?
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Old 02-18-12, 11:19 AM   #16
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^ 2 out of three?

Well I lopped off a stem yesterday, what a shame it was a nice TTT one. anyway I then sawed through the sidewall of the stem on one side and NADDA!

I had to run out so.... I tried something unusual I cut the top off a half flat Dr Pepper and turned the steerer/stem upside down in it. I left it there over night and an hour or so ago I swapped it out for amoena.

As for the Lye idea.. what kind of vessel do I need for his? and how long before the steerer gets damaged?
Something big enough to submerge the steerer tube. When I used lye for a stuck seatpost I let it soak/work for several days.
The lye pretty much dissolved the seatpost, and ruined the paint around the seat lug.

I can not stress enough how important protective eye wear, and gloves/clothing is!!! As well as a safe and ventilated work area.

Good luck!
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Old 02-18-12, 03:15 PM   #17
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The lye will dissolve that aluminum can quickly. Need a plastic container. Again, I personally would not use caustic (lye) at home. Its affect on human tissue is immediate.
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Old 02-18-12, 03:27 PM   #18
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Well I think we can rule out the lye then.

You know I am certain that I heard the title of this thread somewhere else... a Zoloft advert perhaps? LOL
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