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Right crank creaking

Old 03-18-16, 10:41 AM
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Right crank creaking

Hey all,

I've been having trouble with a creak that I can't get rid of. I'm pretty sure it's crankset or BB-related. I've got a nice old 600 crankset on a UN-55.



It happens when I'm going over the top on the drive side, it still happens when I'm up out of the saddle, and it's not the chain or chainring teeth rubbing on the FD. When I had a noise like this before, it got worse and worse until eventually I checked the chainring bolts and a few of them were finger loose and about to fall off. So this time I tightened and tightened until I sheared the heads off two of them. I replaced all 5 with new steel chainring bolts, lightly greased on the inside (threads) but not the outside. I've tried swapping pedals and that didn't get rid of the noise.

I took the BB out, wiped everything down, and reinstalled it with lightly-greased threads and a new (plastic) spacer (because before the NDS was not quite tightening all the way to the BB shell). The noise seemed a better after that, but has come back.

The other day I tried the drive-side crank-bolt, and it was surprisingly not that tight. I wrenched it in nice and hard, and it stopped the sound for that night, but it has since come back.

Another clue, it always seems to be worst on warmer afternoons, which suggests to me something going on with thermal expansion. But is there really that much difference between a 40-60deg SoCal morning and 70-80deg afternoon as far as steel and aluminum are concerned?

So I'm worried that the apparent looseness of my crankbolt (not finger-loose) is just from normal squirm, and by re-tightening it I may have over-tightened. And I'm also worried that my right crank is rounded out and I need a new crankset.

Can a rounded square-taper crank be detected by eye? Any bright ideas what might be causing my noise?
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Old 03-18-16, 12:05 PM
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Threaded cartridge bottom brackets do have a tendency to squeak or creak and that's where I'd look again. First, I'd remove the cartridge and heavily regrease, or better, wrap the drive-side threads with a couple of layers of plumber's teflon tap and be sure to torque it to spec, (350-400 inch-pounds) which is a lot higher than most people think unless they use a torque wrench. If that doesn't solve the problem, you may indeed have a damaged crank arm.
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Old 03-18-16, 12:34 PM
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Thx, I will try that. That will involve pulling the crank. Anything I should look for while it's off?
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Old 03-18-16, 12:52 PM
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Try tightening everything with the correct torque values using a decent torque wrench.
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Old 03-18-16, 12:58 PM
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Had it since new? No? past owner may have ridden it loose and stretched the square taper so it no longer fits the BB axle well.
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Old 03-18-16, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Had it since new? No? past owner may have ridden it loose and stretched the square taper so it no longer fits the BB axle well.
My dad bought a bike in 1970, it had race-oriented Campy components on it. Some time in the early 80s he had a shop swap out the big crankset for this 52-39, including a sugino ball-bearing sq-taper BB (and swap out sewup wheels/tires for clinchers). But he never rode it, almost certainly less than 1000 miles, and gave the bike to me.

A few years ago when I built up my CrossCheck for commuting, I used that crankset. I have since replaced the BB with UN-55, and had the cranks off the square-tapers 3 or 4 times, due to temporarily trying out a different crankset (octalink v1).

The point being, if the sq taper is rounded, it's nobody's fault but my own. (I don't have a torque wrench, but when i put on cranks, I work HARD, to the point that the last turn is putting the wrench on one hex behind the crank, and using two hands to squeeze the wrench & crank together until the wrench is at the crank)
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Old 03-18-16, 02:15 PM
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Just .. the socket in the softer aluminum changes not the crank spinde of tempered steel .

so I suppose the fall back is the BB , lean similarly on the 3/8" Breaker bar in the Spline installation tool.

Or the pedals (I got a pair of Campag pedals from a friend because the rivet had loosened and the cage squeaked a little moving on the rivet.
drove him nuts, but he went on to clipless pedals anyhow.

Center punch spread the aluminum of the rivet a Bit more .. in the hole...
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Old 03-18-16, 06:23 PM
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Pedal cleat ?
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Old 03-18-16, 09:40 PM
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If the female square taper part of the crank is slightly damaged from riding under torqued it mat be hard to fix. I have had success in this case by applying a thin layer of silicone caulk to the BB shaft prior to assembly, The silicone fills the voids with an elastic dampening material and can sometimes quiet the creak.
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Old 03-18-16, 10:15 PM
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Remove pedals. Clean threads. Apply grease to threads thoroughly. Reinstall pedals.

(Been there, done that.)
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Old 03-19-16, 02:13 AM
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Get a torque wrench. For bottom bracket and crank work, a Craftsman beam style wrench is adequate and less expensive than the Park model. Follow the torque recomendations here:
Torque Specifications and Concepts | Park Tool
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Old 03-19-16, 09:21 AM
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Installing Cranks by Jobst Brandt Once properly torqued don't retorque.
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Old 03-19-16, 10:40 AM
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First thing to try is pull the cranks, wipe the tapers and inside of the cranks with a clean rag, grease the bolts and washers generously. Reinstall crank arms with a torque wrench. You want to use around 25 ft/lb.

I don't wish to start a religious war, but the typical reason cranks creak is because there is a bunch of grease on the tapers, and often no or too little grease on the bolts and washers. (BTW I am a very experienced former professional mechanic, and couldn't care less about the theory behind this)

If you have been riding around with loose crank bolts, there's a good chance that you have ruined the cranks, but try the above anyway.

BB threads and pedal threads should also be well greased, as has been mentioned.

Last edited by Salamandrine; 03-19-16 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 03-19-16, 01:49 PM
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OK gang, it's not pedals, I swapped pedals, no difference.

Another consideration, the spacer I have is plastic. I went to the lbs to get a spacer, and they just gave me 2 plastic ones for free. So I put the BB together with one spacer on each side, when I torqued down the NDS, the spacer assploded. The right side didn't, so maybe I didn't torque it down enough.I would prefer a metal spacer, and on the NDS, because this spacer has affected my FD alignment and I want it back.

Rode the Hellfire Fat Tire (15mi) at Camp Pendleton this morning. 14th in my age group (45+), 1:41. I'm pretty pleased. But I'm tired. Will not be working on the BB today...
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Old 03-19-16, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad
OK gang, it's not pedals, I swapped pedals, no difference.
Yes, but did you grease the threads adequately? That was my issue when I was chasing a mystery creak- I disassembled and reassembled the crank & BB 3 times on 3 consecutive weekends. On the third go-round, I cleaned all the parts and applied fresh grease on all threads and mating surfaces. After installation with correct torque... blissful silence.
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Old 03-19-16, 10:15 PM
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No, I don't grease pedal threads. I could try it though.
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Old 04-06-16, 03:14 PM
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The other day coming home I detected that there was significant play in the whole bottom bracket, not individual cranks, but the right&left cranks could move together like half a degree. The cups had come quite loose.

So that night I finally had (made) time to pull the cranks and BB, wipe everything down, reinstall with antisieze (on the BB threads, not the crankarms).

I moved the plastic BB spacer from the DS to the NDS, and (like the other plastic spacer I tried before), assploded it when I snugged up the NDS cup (it wasn't even that hard). DS cup I especially tightened, I got the 8-9 inch wrench horizontal and heavily leaned on it (and I'm 250#, although I didn't get my feet up off the floor). The cranks I pressed onto the square tapers so tight, I need to tweak my low limit screw, because in the granny I'm now lightly chain-rubbing where I wasn't before (which means to me the crank is in further than it was before).

NO difference, if anything it's a little worse.

I have an alu spacer on order, I will slap that in, see if it makes a difference.

Assuming it doesn't, I will also try swapping out another BB & crankset I have (which I don't use because the spindle is too long and the chainline is like 3 sprockets too far out).

Haven't tried teflon tape yet...
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Old 04-19-16, 09:52 PM
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AND the winner is, pedal threads.

I swear I tried different pedals before, to no avail. I guess though I needed to fix two things, since I found my right crankbolt to be loose, and that got tightened up. Tonight I pulled my pedal (and extender), greased up and put on a different pedal. Silent. Put back the original pedal (with more grease), silent.

I bet what it is, that pedal eye on the right crank had to be helicoiled. I bet the helicoil worked a little loose, but grease in there quieted it up.
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