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And the stem is still stuck....

Old 04-19-18, 11:35 AM
  #1  
Jicafold
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And the stem is still stuck....

I have a stem stuck in an old Raleigh. It is a steel frame, aluminum stem, steel expander. Expander and bolt are free. I have poured a combination of ammonia and drain cleaner into this thing from the bottom of the fork and let it soak for over 6 months. I switch back and forth between the two and leave the frame upside down. I now have transmission fluid in it for a couple weeks. It is still stuck. Time to progress to lye/sodium hydroxide? I mean really...how long should this take?
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Old 04-19-18, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Jicafold View Post
I have a stem stuck in an old Raleigh. It is a steel frame, aluminum stem, steel expander. Expander and bolt are free. I have poured a combination of ammonia and drain cleaner into this thing from the bottom of the fork and let it soak for over 6 months. I switch back and forth between the two and leave the frame upside down. I now have transmission fluid in it for a couple weeks. It is still stuck. Time to progress to lye/sodium hydroxide? I mean really...how long should this take?
Good for you for sticking with relatively non-destructive methods for this long. Most people would have sawn the stem off and burned the quill out five and a half months ago.

Caustics will eat away only what they can reach. Lubricants will only lube what they can reach. ATF probably won't get into the microscopic gaps at room temp. You could get it quite warm, but of course the problem with putting warm liquid into the joint is that the metal will expand, tightening the joint. (WARNING: ATF has a flash point of around 300 F/150C, so keep it below that!)

Or you could dilute the ATF it with something much thinner. I have mixed it with acetone, which worked ok. It doesn't go into solution, but you can shake it up so that the acetone can carry it deeper into the gaps. (If you mix with acetone, don't warm it up at all. Acetone is extremely flammable even below freezing.)

May I suggest alternatively that you use some method to freeze the stem. It will contract more than the steerer, and even if it doesn't break loose immediately, will allow penetrant farther into the corroded area. If you can get some dry ice in direct contact with the stem from underneath, that would work. Or there are freezing/penetrant sprays that I have used successfully. Might take the whole can, but it always works.

How are you trying to remove the stem itself? What are you using to restrain the fork?
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Old 04-19-18, 12:08 PM
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You have more patience than me. I would take out the front wheel, and front brake caliper so that you can see up inside the steerer tube. Pour or spay some penetrating oil in from there with the bike upside down. Then find a piece of steel rod that you can place into the the steerer tube from the bottom and pound it.
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Old 04-19-18, 01:35 PM
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After the above methods I have tried pounding it out from the bottom side as well as putting the stem in a vice and twisting the fork. I'll have to take a look for some of that freeze spray. I didn't know there was such a thing.
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Old 04-19-18, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Jicafold View Post
After the above methods I have tried pounding it out from the bottom side as well as putting the stem in a vice and twisting the fork. I'll have to take a look for some of that freeze spray. I didn't know there was such a thing.
Finish Line Chill Zone is what I used. Silly name, good product (no connection to FL)
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Old 04-19-18, 02:04 PM
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I used to pound it with a steel rod from the bottom at first, it will work on stems that aren't so stuck. On those stubborn ones i don't recommend it, if you think about it that wedge will just wedge further out which will damage the fork tube
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Old 04-19-18, 02:13 PM
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Kroil.

Using Kroil has never failed me, and I have had things stuck so bad you run out of curses.

Here's what I would do if I had your fork.

1. Wash it out real good in hot soapy water. Completely degrease it.

2. Warm in oven or use hairdryer to fully dry it out.

3. Douse it real good with Kroil.

4. Let sit for a day and douse it again.

5. After day two, tap the stem in both directions using a brass punch or a brass rod. Be sure to back up what you are hitting, i.e. place the fork crown on something very solid, like a vise or a solid piece of steel. Use a brass hammer if you can, but the heaviest steel hammer will do if you are using a brass rod.

This method employs shock force to loosen and free the galvanic corrosion between your fork tube and the stem.

6. It may not budge the first day but keep trying and be patient.
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Old 04-19-18, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
Kroil.

Using Kroil has never failed me, and I have had things stuck so bad you run out of curses.

Here's what I would do if I had your fork.

1. Wash it out real good in hot soapy water. Completely degrease it.

2. Warm in oven or use hairdryer to fully dry it out.

3. Douse it real good with Kroil.

4. Let sit for a day and douse it again.

5. After day two, tap the stem in both directions using a brass punch or a brass rod. Be sure to back up what you are hitting, i.e. place the fork crown on something very solid, like a vise or a solid piece of steel. Use a brass hammer if you can, but the heaviest steel hammer will do if you are using a brass rod.

This method employs shock force to loosen and free the galvanic corrosion between your fork tube and the stem.

6. It may not budge the first day but keep trying and be patient.
Patience is clearly not a problem for @Jicafold

I agree, shock can help loosen stuck parts. IME however, the amount of shock that is required can deform aluminum stems, so it has to be judiciously applied in ways and spots that will not cause cosmetic or structural problems. Seems to me that if the OP didn't care how the stem came out looking after beating with a hammer and punch, they would have cut it off long ago. Something softer than the aluminum would be better, and a hardwood block between the stem and the hammer has been the best way I've found to transmit the shock while preventing damage.
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Old 04-19-18, 02:55 PM
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And Kroil works for galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals?
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Old 04-19-18, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Ghrumpy View Post
Patience is clearly not a problem for @Jicafold

I agree, shock can help loosen stuck parts. IME however, the amount of shock that is required can deform aluminum stems, so it has to be judiciously applied in ways and spots that will not cause cosmetic or structural problems. Seems to me that if the OP didn't care how the stem came out looking after beating with a hammer and punch, they would have cut it off long ago. Something softer than the aluminum would be better, and a hardwood block between the stem and the hammer has been the best way I've found to transmit the shock while preventing damage.
You present a good point. I made my comments only thinking of myself, and how I would do it. In my opinion, a stem or seatpost that is stuck severely enough to warrant breaking out the hammer deserves what it gets. I would never reuse it, and straight into the metal bin it would go.
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Old 04-19-18, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Jicafold View Post
And Kroil works for galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals?
It doesn't dissolve the corrosion or cause any reaction, but it does "creep" as they claim.

ETA: Be mindful when you are using Kroil. A little goes a long way. We can get used to juicing the hell out of some rusted bolts with Liquid Wrench, but you'll be throwing money away if you do this with Kroil. Its not cheap.
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Old 04-19-18, 09:47 PM
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Yeah.. the OP must be hell bent on saving the stem?!

One time i soaked it with a mixture of transmission fluid and acetone for a week, it still wouldn't budge so i belted the stem down a little bit and it moved! {bit like a frozen nut technique.. if you tighten it up a tad it will loosen** Then clamped it in a vice.. twist it left to right in small motions at first.. adding upward pressure.
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Old 04-20-18, 12:04 AM
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If the expander is out of the steerer tube, can you run a nutted threaded rod from the top of the stem bolt hole and through a plate at the bottom of the steerer? You can still use whatever concoction to loosen it, but you can apply a constant pressure pulling the stem down as the liquid does it job.

Just wondering.

John
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Old 04-20-18, 04:39 AM
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I'd have cut the stem out long before six months. If it's an older low-end Raleigh, you should be able to get a replacement stem fairly cheap.
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Old 04-20-18, 06:58 AM
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It's a 1973 Raleigh Competition with a 531 frame so I'm trying to save the GB stem. Not necessary though and keeping the whole stem there provides more surface area in the vice. You cannot get the steel expander out as the bottom of the steering tub has a lip preventing it from coming out.

Last edited by Jicafold; 04-20-18 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 04-20-18, 07:22 AM
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Last time I had a stem that frozen I cut it off just to remove the fork from the frame. I then used a tall Olive jar filled with Oxalic Acid and put the fork tube/stem in it, took six weeks but it came right out after that.

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Old 04-20-18, 09:28 AM
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Stuck Handlebar Stem by Jobst Brandt
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Old 04-20-18, 10:26 AM
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Another Kroil user here.
Never failed yet.
Stuck aluminum stem in steel fork. Galvanic corrosion, yes. Sweat, years of neglect, raw aluminum against bare steel. Kroil, sit overnight, shock from hammer blows, kroil, twist and viola.
Never thought that one would be salvageable but it was.
Not cheap, but amazing stuff. One can lasts a very long time.
Of course your results might vary.
Good luck.
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Old 04-20-18, 11:57 AM
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I've had good luck with both Kroil and PB Blaster. Have you tried tightening the stem bolt? Seems counterintuitive, but anything that would break the aluminum-steel bond could help. Just a thought.
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Old 04-20-18, 12:38 PM
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last resort involves in a hacksaw, to remove the fork unscrew the headset, then get the rest of the aluminum bored out

1"OD , 7/8" ID , 6/8 is 3/4 that would be a good drill size to use to not cut into the fork itself

Best, find a drill press, not freehand..




....
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Old 04-20-18, 03:45 PM
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If there is a way to immerse it in vinegar that might dissolve the corrosion. Years ago I had a sailboat. The shrouds were attached to the mast with a stainless bolt bassed through the mast which had an aluminum compression sleeve around it that was corroded solidly to the bolt. I soaked it in white vinegar for a week and the corrosion dissolved allowing me to remove the aluminum sleeve.
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Old 04-20-18, 03:59 PM
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Vinegar works well for things in the ocean because it dissolves calcium carbonate well. I don't think it will help much for this kind of thing though it may be worth trying I guess.
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Old 04-21-18, 11:23 AM
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I think I will mail order some Kroil and see how that does. Thank you.
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Old 04-21-18, 11:40 AM
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This guy has some innovative solutions ..


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Old 04-21-18, 11:47 AM
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interesting..

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