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Replacing / servicing bottom brackets on old bikes

Old 08-05-19, 01:18 PM
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Simplex
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Replacing / servicing bottom brackets on old bikes

Hi there,


I've noticed on two of my bikes that there is a degree of play in the cranks. One is an old Talbot, the other is an old Schwinn. There is considerably more play on the Schwinn's, like almost a centimetre and I have not ridden it in case of complete failure.


I got a crank removal tool to see if it was just that they were not attached to the spindle properly. Upon removing, cleaning and re-attaching it seems that on both bikes it is the spindle that is moving within the body of the bottom bracket. I did some research and it seems most people will just replace bottom brackets on bikes like these, which makes a lot of sense.


To my knowledge, both are cup and cone bottom brackets, the Talbot has 8 notch (shimano type?) and the Schwinn has 3 (no idea). I would post pictures/links but I haven't made enough posts to do so. My understanding is that I will have to get a C-spanner to remove the bottom brackets then measure the width of the frame shell and the length of the spindle to find suitable replacements.


So, my first question is, will I be able to find one tool that can do this? The second is, are there potential worries about threading and which way to try and loosen the cups (the Talbot is french made by Peugeot). Then there's finding the potential replacements, is something like the Shimano UN-55 gonna be an easy drop-in replacement for either bike? Guess I will need to get an additional tool to fit it.


Any advice would be muchly appreciated!


Thanks
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Old 08-05-19, 02:57 PM
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With a cm of play, you've made a good call to stop riding it.

Rebuilding a BB is one of the more potentially difficult tasks in routine bike maintenance.

You'll need to get the removal tools for the BB cups, and yes, the drive (right) side fixed cup is a left hand thread. It may also be quite stuck, needing penetrating oil, a heat gun, and/or a mallet. You'll need to get the installation and adjustment tool(s) for whatever BB you end up buying or salvaging. Most lockrings can be loosened with a universal spanner with one tang. There are several different adjustable cone configurations, though. Some can be moved with a large crescent wrench. Some need a special pin spanner.

Many cartridge BBs come with a spacer and you can use it with 68 and 73 mm shells. But the length could be a challenge. Many old spindles are asymmetric, and you may have troubles getting the chain line and shifting right. You'll need to line it up in person to be sure. This table may help: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/bbsize.html

Is there a bike coop in your area? They're typically very good at stocking salvaged parts and they can be real cheap. And they can help you with tools and advice.
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Old 08-05-19, 03:44 PM
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If the Talbot is really old (say pre-1990 or so) the bottom bracket is likely to be French threaded (M35x1) and replacement bottom brackets are not all that common. Phil wood sells French threaded bottom brackets but they are very pricy. Velo Orange sells a French threaded bottom bracket that is a lot less costly. Shimano doesn't list any French threaded cartridge bottom brackets so they are out.

What type of crank is currently on the Talbot? If it's a square taper type the above bottom brackets will work. If it's a cottered crank, you will probably have to replace it.

Does the Schwinn have a "three piece" crank or an Ashtibula one piece? If it has a three piece crank it should be English threaded and Shimano's UN55 or UN26 will work but you will have to pick the correct spindle length.
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Old 08-05-19, 05:27 PM
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Before spending too much time finding replacements, open them up and see if thereís really any damage. You might be fine with just cleaning, regreasing and reinstalling.
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Old 08-07-19, 02:24 AM
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Thanks for the replies guys. Both bikes are single-speed conversions and have square taper cranks; also yeah the Talbot is from the 80's/90's .. I think they were an anglo-french brand, the history is hard to find. The Schwinn has a three-piece crank I believe. (Nearly made enough posts to link photos!)

There is a bike coop near me, gonna go in today and see if I can borrow some tools.

I'm definitely into fixing rather than replacing. I guess that involves taking the whole BB's apart, replacing bearings cleaning and regreasing, is it possible that the spindle is worn on the inside and would also need replacement?
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Old 08-07-19, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Simplex View Post
I guess that involves taking the whole BB's apart, replacing bearings cleaning and regreasing, is it possible that the spindle is worn on the inside and would also need replacement?
Yes, it's possible either the spindle or the cups will be worn out and need to be replaced. After you clean them, look for any pitting or other damage/deformation of the surfaces that the bearings roll on. If they're both smooth, you're good to go. Regrease and reassemble. Same goes for the bearings. If they're still round and smooth, you don't need to replace them, though if you're not sure, replacing them is relatively cheap.
If you do need to replace, the co-op likely has use replacements that might be okay to use. Just double check that they don't have any damage either.
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Old 08-07-19, 06:38 AM
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The spindle seems to be the softest metal and is often the first thing to wear out.

If you don't mind routine maintenance, there's nothing wrong with the old three-piece BBs. I don't enjoy throwing away non-serviceable cartridges.
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Old 08-07-19, 06:47 AM
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I've serviced quite a few bikes of that era. There's a good chance that the spindles and cups are pitted. If so, they're toast, and it would be a shame to buy tools for parts that will probably never go back on the bike. You might be able to get the BB's far enough apart for an inspection with tools you already have on hand, for instance a big crescent wrench on the flats of the fixed cup. Slide the guts out and inspect, then decide what's worth buying. If you buy modern BB's for both bikes, then you only need to buy one tool to rule them all, so you might actually come out ahead.
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Old 08-07-19, 09:34 AM
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Schwinn


Talbot


Righty right, here's the bb's pictured.

I guess my next step will be to simply get them taken apart and go from there; I'll post pictures of all the parts when I've managed to undo them and will check for deterioration.

So I'll need a C-spanner, something like this - https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Ice-Toolz-B...ool_117914.htm , to remove both of them..

If it turns out that I need new BB's, For the Schwinn, what precise measurements do I need to make to see if the Shimano UN-55 will be a suitable replacement?

For the Talbot, is there a way of telling whether the threading is French or English?

I'm guessing this is the Velo-Orange BB I'd be looking for if it turns out to be french

://velo-orange.com/collections/bottom-brackets/products/grand-cru-bottom-brackets-hollow-axle-alloy-cups-1

If it turns out to be English, would the Shimano UN-55 be a suitable replacement?
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Old 08-07-19, 06:42 PM
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From the looks of both BB they are completely repairable. Get your co-op to show you how to remove the crank arms and take the adjustable cups off.
Replace all the bearings, (should be 11 on each side) lube it up generously with grease and re-assemble. The only problem will be making sure the spindle is inserted correctly. Normally the stampings on the spindle should read correctly if viewed from the top tube. If the spindle is indeed damaged, just find a replacement in the bins of your co-op. There will be many of the same type. Seldom is there damage, in bikes with this kind of condition. Smiles, MH
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Old 08-07-19, 07:06 PM
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Non drive side is fairly easy to remove. If you don't have a lock ring tool that fits, use your crummiest screwdriver and a hammer to drive it CCW.

Drive side is the hard part. The real trick is finding a tool to match your bottom bracket and getting whatever tool you use to stay in place while you torque it (usually) CW. I've had success using a c-clamp just barely loose until I got it to break loose. My ultimate trick is to get a helper to thread the whole bike horizontally atop a bench vise, take a minute to think about which way to twist it, and use the whole bike frame as a lever.

Sealed BB's are much easier.
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Old 08-07-19, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Simplex View Post

If it turns out to be English, would the Shimano UN-55 be a suitable replacement?
I'm willing to bet both bikes are English thread. The Shimano UN-55 is an excellent choice.

Once you have them disassembled, measure the length of the spindle. This is the only measurement you need.
(In some cases older BB spindles were asymmetrical. If a crankarm hits the chainstay, get a BB one size longer.)
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Old 08-07-19, 11:04 PM
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Like Retro Grouch says, non drive side is easy. You can actually extract all of the BB parts from the non drive side, clean, and inspect with the drive side cup in place. This will tell you what's worth keeping before you shell out on more tools. The lock ring is seldom hard to remove. You can get a crescent wrench on the flats of the French BB, even with the spindle in there.

Once the parts and the BB shell threads are cleaned up, if the Schwinn parts fit the French bike, and vice versa, then they have the same threads, but by "fit" I mean that the cups can be threaded in all the way by hand without needing any tools or force. This is a case where knowing the "feel" of threaded parts is useful.
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Old 08-08-19, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Simplex View Post


Talbot


For the Talbot, is there a way of telling whether the threading is French or English?
You have a Stronglight crank on the Talbot. Six-sided wrench flats on the adjustable cup and eight notches on the lockring indicate English thread:




Source: Sutherland's 4th Edition
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Old 09-15-19, 04:26 AM
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Run into a bit of a snag with the Schwinn cranks - I donít think my crank tool is the right fit - any ideas ?
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Old 09-15-19, 07:13 AM
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These look very fixable. If you don't have the lockring tool, a large pair of channel lock pliers can be used. And you don't need to remove the fixed cup. Just open it up, clean and inspect everything, I'm betting it will not need replacing. New grease, re-assemble and adjust. Re-torque the crank arms after 25 miles or so.

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Old 09-15-19, 07:15 AM
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un-thread the center of the tool and install the wider section first, watch for cross threading. Once the base bottoms out then thread in the handle. The idea here if the larger section of the tool to grab the crank in the smaller thread and handle to push against the stud of the spindle

see about 1:22 in this video
https://video.search.yahoo.com/searc...4&action=click
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Old 09-15-19, 09:18 AM
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I agree with some of the comments here, a good clean and service may be all that is required, i've serviced many.. and all that i came across was to replace the cup on the DS... the race was rusted after rubbing it down it was pitted, grabbed another one from the parts bin.
You should be able to remove the fixed cup on the DS using a larger adjustable wrench {too}.
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Old 09-15-19, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Simplex View Post

Run into a bit of a snag with the Schwinn cranks - I donít think my crank tool is the right fit - any ideas ?
It may be the angle of the photo, but it looks like the part that threads into the crank has a left-hand thread. That can't be the case... can it?
Otherwise, as suggested by others, unscrew the center part before carefully screwing (by hand, to start) the other part into the crank.
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Old 09-15-19, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
It may be the angle of the photo, but it looks like the part that threads into the crank has a left-hand thread. That can't be the case... can it?
Otherwise, as suggested by others, unscrew the center part before carefully screwing (by hand, to start) the other part into the crank.
Good catch, it does look like it is a left handed thread unless that is just a burr left over from manufacturing, it should be a R/H thread.


Here is a Park Tool video clearing showing that at about 1 minute

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Old 09-15-19, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeTBM View Post
Here is a Park Tool video clearing showing that at about 1 minute...
I know... I've got two of them! That's why I was puzzled.
That's one thing I've learned the hard way once or twice... don't drop threaded tools!

EDIT: Oooh! That demo on the video looks like the extinct Shimano Octalink V1 crank interface. Reminds me I should find a spare BB so I don't have to replace my crankset.

Last edited by sweeks; 09-15-19 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 09-15-19, 04:29 PM
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I've replaced all my BB's with Shimano UN's after driving myself nuts trying to keep the old style bearings adjusted properly. And yes, that looks like the right crank removal tool. Just try threading it in carefully until it bottoms and then insert the handle portion and start cranking. I usually end up using a rubber mallet near the end.
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Old 09-15-19, 04:44 PM
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Hi there. If you end up needing to remove a fixed cup on one or both bikes the Late Great Sheldon Brown's site shows how to make and use a very inexpensive tool to do that with. I made thetool and I've removed some really stubborn fixed cups and didn't have to use either heat or harsh chemicals to do. Here's the link to the tool which is show about two-thirds of the way down the page.

I've also have used large channel-lock pliers to both loosen and tighten a lock ring. Just be sure that you have something to hold the adjustable cup in position when tightening the lock ring.



https://www.sheldonbrown.com/tooltips/bbcups.html

Cheers

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Old 09-17-19, 05:03 AM
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Managed to get the cranks off . I think the problem was that the tip was too long, so when threading the larger part onto the crank it was binding and not letting it thread (I didnít have this problem with the cranks on the Talbot). I removed the tip and it worked fine.

Shell width is definitely 68mm and Iíve measured the spindle as accurately as I could to 122.5mm. Iíve started trying to remove the drive side cup turning it clockwise with a large adjustable and a hammer - it is starting to move as you can see but itís pretty stubborn , think Iíll get my hands on a big cheater pole and go from there.
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Old 09-17-19, 06:37 AM
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A couple of tips: I see the pedals are still on the cranks. Removing pedals usually makes crank removal easier.

I like to disassemble the adjustable (non-drive) side of the BB first. Get the guts out and inspect. If everything looks perfect, there's no real reason to even remove the drive side if it's a pain. You can reach in there to clean and grease in situ.

A few drops of penetrating oil may help get that cup out. Work it back and forth a few times, which may help clean out dirty threads. Come out a fraction of a turn, turn it back in twice that amount, add more oil, repeat. If you've ever cut threads by hand with a tap or die, it's like that.
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