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Headset bearings and seized stem : new grease?

Old 06-06-21, 10:14 AM
  #1  
jonny7
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Headset bearings and seized stem : new grease?

I have a nice vintage Rossin bike that I have planned to restore entirely. My next step would be to regrease the headset bearings, but I've just realized that the stem is seized in the forks. Thus my access to the bearings is very limited, I can't remove them from the bike to clean them apart. From what I can see they're in a somewhat good shape but the grease is a bit dirty. I'm hesitating : would it be better to try to clean them the best I can spraying WD40 or would it be safer to try to avoid a mess and simply add a thin layer of new grease onto the bearings and the old grease? Is there any reason not to mix to different greases?

As or the stem, two bikes shops have failed in their attempt to remove it so I don't think it will move anytime soon.
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Old 06-06-21, 10:39 AM
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I guess I'm fortunate not to have ever had a badly stuck stem or seat post on any bike I've ever touched, mine, my kids or neighbors and their kids.

We are talking about the vintage type of stem that looks like a 7 aren't we? It's never failed me to just loosen the bolt for the wedge or expander plug a turn or two and then whacking it with a hard mallet or if this is a socketed hex that is in a counter bore, then take a punch or nail that fits into the socket and give that a really good whap with a hammer.

That loosens up the wedge and things should be easy-peasy from there. Is the stem loose and twists but won't lift out? Then just unscrew the wedge bolt fully and remove the stem leaving the wedge or expander plug. If the stem won't loosen, then you'll need to wait for someone that's dealt with that.

If this is a pista type stem then don't do any of what I just said.
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Old 06-06-21, 10:42 AM
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You're really going to want to get that stem out of there in the long run. Especially if you plan to "restore" it



​​​​​​https://www.google.com/search?q=stuc...w=1366&bih=617
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Old 06-06-21, 11:02 AM
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Yes it is a quill stem. The aluminum has most likely corroded and is now seized inside the forks. The wedge is free and so is the bolt. I've tried a lot of hacks but none have seem to work. I'll try to heat it but this really is my last resort. It really sucks to have a seized stem like this but at least it is in an OK position (hence my question conerning the bearings...).
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Old 06-06-21, 02:47 PM
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Penetrating oil. Kroil. And time. It'll come out.
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Old 06-06-21, 03:01 PM
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Lye works too if you get to the point of last resort and don't care about the stem. Lye will do a number on the aluminum and leave the steel alone.

But that would be desperation for me. If the aluminum is that corroded in the steerer then what is the steerer going to be like inside? it might be best to just cut off the steerer a few inches above the fork and have a new length brazed on with a internal union for strength.

Others that have converted a fork from threaded to threadless have done that with supposedly good results. I was going to do that with my Raleigh before I just decided to get a new bike for other reasons.
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Old 06-06-21, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Lye works too if you get to the point of last resort and don't care about the stem. Lye will do a number on the aluminum and leave the steel alone.

But that would be desperation for me. If the aluminum is that corroded in the steerer then what is the steerer going to be like inside? it might be best to just cut off the steerer a few inches above the fork and have a new length brazed on with a internal union for strength.

Others that have converted a fork from threaded to threadless have done that with supposedly good results. I was going to do that with my Raleigh before I just decided to get a new bike for other reasons.
The steerer is generally fine in these cases. A replacement fork is going to be much cheaper and easier to find than the cost of steerer tube replacement. An internal union is also going to complicate finding a new quill stem that fits. The complete steerer should be replaced if you are going that route.

Converting to threadless brings a whole nother set of issues finding headsets and stems for 1" threadless. 1 1/8" generally won't work in an older steel frame headtube.

Either way, they need to get the old stem out first.
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Old 06-06-21, 08:28 PM
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Tried the blowtorch method today and flooded the whole thing again with penetrating oil.
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Old 06-07-21, 09:02 AM
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If the stem isn't 'slammed' you can generally unscrew the locknut and top cup and slide them partially up the exposed quill of the seized stem, which should make enough room to put fresh grease in the headset.

IT might also be possible to cut the old bearing retaining ring away and clean and replace with 'free packed' (no retaining ring) bearings and new grease.
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Old 06-08-21, 02:35 AM
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Is there a hole out the bottom of the fork crown or is it solid? I havenít seen all that many stuck quill stems, but dropping a rod in and hammering on the wedge eventually breaks the stem out. Best done off the bike obviously, which may require cutting off the old quills.
Otherwise the usual methods of removing a stuck seat post work, ie lye or drill then careful use of a hacksaw held in a pair of vise grips. A bit tedious, but really only 15 to 30 minutes of misery if you commit and just do it. Careful not to cut the steer tube from the inside.

If you do opt to leave it, which I would not, I would flush out the old grease with the solvent of your choice until it runs clean, then after it evaporates out I would shoot in fresh grease with a syringe.
You can also do some clever things with a pinched drinking straw to push grease through small gaps.
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Old 06-08-21, 02:49 AM
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I posted this in another thread:

Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
I've had more quill stems than I can remember and only one was frozen. I have a racing jack (for cars) with a long aluminum hollow handle. I put a rod through the stem, heated it with my heat gun, attached my jack handle to it as a long breaker bar and popped it pretty easily.

So really you needed a long breaker bar.
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Old 06-09-21, 08:01 AM
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Wd-40 is not a lubricant. It is meant for separating stuck parts from each other. Apply wd-40 to stem, maybe rotate bike upside down and spray wd-40 from below to the fork tube. Remove the stem bolt. Wait 15 mins, day, 2 days. Apply more wd-40. Try to get the stem moving with a rubber mallet. Try to rotate the stem. It's just a pipe inside a pipe. I haven't yet seen a part which can't be dislodged with enough effort. Stem doesn't even have threads so it can't be too badly stuck.
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Old 06-09-21, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Ihmemies View Post
It's just a pipe inside a pipe.
At one point one wonders if they haven't merged into a single pipe..!
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Old 06-09-21, 07:50 PM
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Here is what I did with the last stuck stem on the Fuji. I clamped the fork in a vise and grabbed the bull by the horns and away they went.

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Old 06-10-21, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Ihmemies View Post
Wd-40 is not a lubricant. It is meant for separating stuck parts from each other. Apply wd-40 to stem, maybe rotate bike upside down and spray wd-40 from below to the fork tube. Remove the stem bolt. Wait 15 mins, day, 2 days. Apply more wd-40. Try to get the stem moving with a rubber mallet. Try to rotate the stem. It's just a pipe inside a pipe. I haven't yet seen a part which can't be dislodged with enough effort. Stem doesn't even have threads so it can't be too badly stuck.
You're wasting your time with WD-40. Kroil, PB Blaster, or a 50/50 mix of ATF & Acetone are far superior penetrants.
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