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Old 05-04-12, 10:12 AM   #1
dwellman
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Bottom Bracket "quandry"

Not really a question so much as a RFC (Request For Comments)

Ok so I picked up this very dirty (VERY dirty) SR500 for not too much money.

Although the bottom bracket felt smooth, I take nothing for granted and had the LBS remove the BB and rather than take any chances and went ahead and installed a fairly new UN54 I had lying around, because I don't have the tools for the older Shimano "adjustable" type BB anyway.

Turns out most the components on the bike were, once clean, looked as new as the day the fell off the assembly line. There's no discernible wear anywhere in any bearing, cup, cone, bolt, caliper; heretofore I was admonished for abandoning the cup and cone BB for the cartridge and to switch back to it. I'm certainly leaning that way. Again, I don't have the proper BB tools to mess with it ever, myself, but I understand that these things last a pretty long time once installed properly.

This is the type of BB I mean:
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Last edited by dwellman; 05-04-12 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:31 AM   #2
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newer bottom brackets are disposable whereas the old ones literally last forever with routine maintenance.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:35 AM   #3
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Tools , are an investment. A ball and cone will give years of service if regular maintenance is done. Personal experience, use precision balls , good grease, and not all b.b. are created equal . The one advantage of ball and cone is you can see the wear.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:39 AM   #4
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Save the old BB and put in in when the UN54 wears out. If it ever does.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:45 AM   #5
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Higher end Shimano stuff really lasts a long time, especially the BBs. I had a project bike with a DA7400 group on it and yes, some of the stuff like the chainrings and the brake ancilliaries (cables, pads...etch and the headset (looked like the owner rode it undadjusted/loose for a long time) was worn out, but the main guts like the calipers and the derailleur mechanism were still and very good functional condition, despite the scratches and some road rash they had. But the one that really stood out was the BB which like you noted, cleaned up really nice (except for the lockring I buggered up a bit when I was removing the BB from the frame) Pretty much to brand new state. and the races in the cups and spindles were perfect.
Yes, do try to re-use the original Shimano BB on that bike if it still looks good. I think it can go man many more trouble-free miles.

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Old 05-04-12, 11:14 AM   #6
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So, I'm getting an HCW-4 for this or. . . is there a different tool for this type, if I was so inclined to do this myself?
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Old 05-04-12, 11:31 AM   #7
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So, I'm getting an HCW-4 for this or. . . is there a different tool for this type, if I was so inclined to do this myself?
HCW-5 and the green spanner:
http://www.parktool.com/product/pin-spanner-green-spa-1
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Old 05-04-12, 12:31 PM   #8
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I'm a big fan of the pliers-style tool for the lock ring. I believe the Hozan version is still available, but you can make one with a pair of channel locks and a file



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Old 05-04-12, 12:44 PM   #9
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I'm a big fan of the pliers-style tool for the lock ring. I believe the Hozan version is still available, but you can make one with a pair of channel locks and a file



Hey, I like that idea! I guess if you file it deep enough you could use it for lock rings with two, four or eight slots? Saves the slippage danger from a single peg spanner, gives more leverage and you're holding the pegs tight into the slots naturally. Bravo!
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Old 05-04-12, 02:16 PM   #10
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Hey, I like that idea! I guess if you file it deep enough you could use it for lock rings with two, four or eight slots? Saves the slippage danger from a single peg spanner, gives more leverage and you're holding the pegs tight into the slots naturally. Bravo!
Thanks, though I borrowed the idea from someone else. I've used it on 3-slot lockrings with no trouble, those have the potential to be problematic. It also works on the ball ring on SA hubs:

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Old 05-04-12, 06:43 PM   #11
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yeah, my two park tools cost $30, and i probably could've used a generic pin spanner and saved $10. i could've spent that on one bb service at the lbs. but now i know exactly how clean, lubed, and tight or loose every subsequent bb overhaul will be. i'm never again allowing someone else to work on my bikes. just been taken advantage of once too often. and all it takes is once to make one feel like merde!
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Old 05-04-12, 10:44 PM   #12
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I would expect the UN54 to far outlast any cup/cone bb, while being quite resistant to water/dirt and requiring no maintenance.

These don't develop freeplay and are also lighter and easier to install, plus are very inexpensive. One of the bargains of a lifetime really.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:54 PM   #13
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These don't develop freeplay and are also lighter and easier to install, plus are very inexpensive. One of the bargains of a lifetime really.
There is nothing wrong with the old cup/cone systems if you keep up the maintenance, but I generally agree with this sentiment - the UN54-type cartridges don't cost much, work well, and do last a VERY long time. I've converted most of my old bikes over and never looked back.

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Old 05-04-12, 11:19 PM   #14
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There is nothing wrong with the basic Shimano cratrdiges if they are the right size length. I use them a lot. I would prefer a high end vintage adjustable BB set up with precision loose balls on a vintage bike but this is actually a more expensive option. That takes more labor and skill to properly set up.

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Old 05-05-12, 04:14 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by rccardr View Post
Save the old BB and put in in when the UN54 wears out. If it ever does.
Yeah, I'm definitely doing that.

I suppose the rest is academic at this point, which is the wheelhouse of C&V, anyway, right?
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These don't develop freeplay and are also lighter and easier to install
The adjustable BB is actually eight grams lighter (caged ball bearings, grease, and all).

What are these so-called advantages about loading, cornering, and friction again?
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Old 05-05-12, 06:30 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by lee kenney View Post
Tools , are an investment. A ball and cone will give years of service if regular maintenance is done. Personal experience, use precision balls , good grease, and not all b.b. are created equal . The one advantage of ball and cone is you can see the wear.
Need three tools: lock ring wrench, pin wrench for the adjustable cup, and a wrench with two flats for the fixed cup. Should cost about $50 total. That's the price of several service events at the LBS and of between one and three cartridge BBs. If you like the DIY and "it's all vintage!" aspects of this little corner of cycling, the tools are a worthwhile investment.

A rule of thumb is to service cup/cone BBs every year or so or when you ride a bit rainstorm or in dust or sand. With these old and sometimes hard-to-source parts, you want to be diligent about maintenance to preserve them. If the bearings are good now you have likely several decades of use left in them with good maintenance. Without good maintenance, you could kill them in a few months if there is abrasive dirt inside.
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Old 05-05-12, 10:46 AM   #17
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Yeah, I'm definitely doing that.

I suppose the rest is academic at this point, which is the wheelhouse of C&V, anyway, right?
The adjustable BB is actually eight grams lighter (caged ball bearings, grease, and all).

What are these so-called advantages about loading, cornering, and friction again?
You're either not weighing them correctly, or you are quoting bad info.

Right here, a 113mm Shimano 600 cup/cone bb (including plastic sleeve, but without bolts or grease) weighs all of 300 grams.

A 118mm UN54 bb, in a 5mm LONGER length, weighs only 294g, also w/o bolts.

The UN54 bb cost me about $20 online, and I expect it would far outlast the cup/cone version.

Yes, I would save the cup/cone version, in case a new buyer didn't care for the aesthetics of the plastic "adjustable" cup.
I myself don't care for that either, so luckily the UN54's I keep buying for Italian bikes all come with an aluminum left cup which doesn't protrude at all and which is only scantily heavier if that.

Cup/cone bb's are a well-developed part but which requires better control of bb machining, something that should not be taken for granted.

I have occasionally seen even a respectable, gently-used cup/cone bb give short service before bearing pitting set in, and I have also had a couple of c/c bb's that required a couple of bearing adjustments before settling in and giving some years of service. I have yet to come across a troublesome UN5* bb needing anything beyond the need to re-tighten a cup, unless it was subjected to jumping or extended immersion.

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Old 05-05-12, 11:09 AM   #18
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I'm a big fan of the pliers-style tool for the lock ring. I believe the Hozan version is still available, but you can make one with a pair of channel locks and a file



I love it! I am going to go out in my tool boxes and look for a pair of channel locks to sacrifice. Why didn't I think of that?????
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Old 05-05-12, 11:12 AM   #19
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Save the old BB and put in in when the UN54 wears out. If it ever does.
In my experience in the 15,000 -20,000 miles range.
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Old 05-05-12, 11:37 AM   #20
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I myself don't care for that either, so luckily the UN54's I keep buying for Italian bikes all come with an aluminum left cup which doesn't protrude at all and which is only scantily heavier if that.
I think the UN54 is being phased out by the UN55 which comes with an alum left cup. And still around $20, unbelievably cheap.

As someone else said, it is important to get a cartridge with the right axle length when you are replacing a cup/cone system so you get a good chainline. Fortunately, there are good resources on the net to sort out this complex problem.

As several of us have been saying, there is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping the cup/cone system if it is in good shape. But I firmly believe the cartridge systems are overall a better BB.

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Old 05-05-12, 03:55 PM   #21
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Same "spindle" type (whatever that is. Not getting up to see, because I'm sick. . .) I'll weigh it again, but I'm pretty sure I Ted it in correctly. Not that weight matters: performance matters.
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Old 05-05-12, 04:25 PM   #22
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I hope you're feeling better soon, Dwellman.

I got to thinking maybe you weighed an earlier cup/cone version without the channels in the cups for seals, that maybe they would be lighter.

This earlier 600 bb actually weighed 301g, but I also found another Sealed 600 cup/cone bb that was 4 years newer (1990) than the first sealed 600 bb I weighed, and with a black, printed spindle. It weighed only 293g (apparently because the cups don't extend as deeply into the bb thread bore).

Also, a 1970's Dura-Ace cup/cone bb here weighs only 266g, but one would have to compare that to the better UN9* cartridge bb's, which are listed as being well below 250g iir.
For the record, the 253g UN7* bb would have been the one specified for the 600 and XT groups, fully a tenth of a pound less than the C/C version it replaced (and I've heard UN-7*'s can last 50k miles).

Weighing UN-71 and UN-91 bb's here in the 115mm length shows actual weights of 258 and 244g respectively.
Sadly, both are long out of production, ...with the possible exception of an NJS Pista version, of which I know almost nothing, except that it is/was JIS tapered.

I agree that the weight isn't any big deal on a vintage bike (or any bike) that is not used for competition.
I've even been happy with the 330g LP-26 Shimano bb's that lasted a very long time even with a tendency to feel gummed or sluggish after many many years, but you can (and I have) actually rebuilt and adjusted one of those if you know how to get the thing apart (by pulling out the bearing retainer, thus letting the balls group together on one side of the raceway, after removing the shield,nut,washer and cone from the other end).

Last edited by dddd; 05-05-12 at 04:59 PM. Reason: Weighed another one!
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Old 05-05-12, 07:17 PM   #23
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Tylenol kicked in, so I got an hour or two of quasi sentience. My scale shows (without bolts):

In 113 mm trim:
297 g for the BB-1050? Shimano adjustable type (Came off an SR500, which is a 105 equipped bike, and I did not flush any the white lithium grease out) pictured in post #1
305 g for the Shimano UN54

My guess is the casing on the UN54 makes the difference otherwise the mechanicals / innards are the. . . same? Or close enough the same. Otherwise, they're so close in weight to each other (8 grams, that's what? a spit and a fart?) the "lighter" discussion is a pedantic aside (which I, obviously, considered otherwise I'd never have weighed them in the first place. Har har). If I were marketing either, I'd list both at 300 g and call it a day.

My original thinking were any performance benefits, tangible or intangible, worth sticking with the Adjustable type (i.e. reinstalling) over a cartridge based, specifically the UN54-- which is what's in there now

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Old 05-05-12, 07:58 PM   #24
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In my experience in the 15,000 -20,000 miles range.
IME, less than one (winter) season.
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