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Headset removal/installation no special tools required.

Old 06-01-11, 04:22 PM
  #1  
gbg
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Headset removal/installation no special tools required.

I am in the process of converting my non disk bike into disk.
First I replaced the threaded for V-brake front fork with a fox threadless fork.
This required replacing the headset. I went to the LBS to see if they had the tools
for sale and they didn't, so I said I can make a removal tool from a copper pipe and an
installation tool with some bolts and washers.

The guy said you can always use a hammer and screwdriver to remove it.
Since I didnt care about the old headset I thought I would try it. Got the rubber hammer and large Screw driver and started tapping it out.
After a few mins it was out no fuss no muss. Since I didn't have the installation tool I thought about using
this rubber mallet. I took my shiny new red Chris King HS and started tapping it in, soon it was half way in and I hammered it home.
Perfect.

I thought maybe I was lucky it shouldn't be this easy. Recently I cracked the seatpost tube on another
MTB and removed the other CK headset the same way. I thought I would need a new frame
but a friend got the frame welded from a guy that could weld AL. I reinstalled the headset the same way.

I thought this was one of the more difficult procedures on a bike, but a rubber mallet and a large screwdriver is all that is needed.


PS accidently saved before I was ready

Last edited by gbg; 06-01-11 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 06-01-11, 04:25 PM
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Old 06-01-11, 04:37 PM
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I've done it that way several times. All on steel frames and the most expensive headset I did it on was $20, though. I think I'd be scared to do a CK that way.
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Old 06-01-11, 05:31 PM
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The shops I work i have lots of screwdrivers and lots of rubber hammers. If that was a satisfactory way to remove and install headset bearing cups they wouldn`t have spent hundreds of dollars on bearing removal sleeves and bearing presses.

Using a screwdrived risks marring the same surface you want to install that new bearing cup into. A removal sleeve distriputes the force evenly and guaranteers no gouges or distortion. Steel frames aren`t all that soft, but aluminum and carbon fiber are a lot more sensitive.

And installation is usually something that requires a considerable amount of force equally distributed to prevent distorting the bearing cup. If you had an easy time of it I`d guess your tolerences were off - either as a result of the way you removed the original cups or due to manufacturing errors. I personally wouldn`t be happy treating a CK headset that way but its your bike and you can do whatever you feel like with it.
But maybe you should write CK and ask if you`ve voided your warranty. Some of the recent sealed bearing on some brands of bicycles require specialized installation and removal tools. Without those tools shops aren`t authorized to either do warranty work or sell the bikes in the first place.
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Old 06-01-11, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
The shops I work i have lots of screwdrivers and lots of rubber hammers. If that was a satisfactory way to remove and install headset bearing cups they wouldn`t have spent hundreds of dollars on bearing removal sleeves and bearing presses.

Using a screwdrived risks marring the same surface you want to install that new bearing cup into. A removal sleeve distriputes the force evenly and guaranteers no gouges or distortion. Steel frames aren`t all that soft, but aluminum and carbon fiber are a lot more sensitive.

And installation is usually something that requires a considerable amount of force equally distributed to prevent distorting the bearing cup. If you had an easy time of it I`d guess your tolerences were off - either as a result of the way you removed the original cups or due to manufacturing errors. I personally wouldn`t be happy treating a CK headset that way but its your bike and you can do whatever you feel like with it.
But maybe you should write CK and ask if you`ve voided your warranty. Some of the recent sealed bearing on some brands of bicycles require specialized installation and removal tools. Without those tools shops aren`t authorized to either do warranty work or sell the bikes in the first place.
Well since the guy at the LBS suggested it i assume they have used that technique.
As far as both frames go they are AL and the headset was tight as before when finished. I wouldn't do it my Carbon Trek 6.9 since all the bearings (BB and headset) are integrated "slip fit" so the only tools I need are my fingers. Which I think is the best method.
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Old 06-02-11, 01:25 AM
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Originally Posted by gbg View Post
Well since the guy at the LBS suggested it i assume they have used that technique.
As far as both frames go they are AL and the headset was tight as before when finished. I wouldn't do it my Carbon Trek 6.9 since all the bearings (BB and headset) are integrated "slip fit" so the only tools I need are my fingers. Which I think is the best method.
And your point is what exactly??? Simply because you happen to have an integrated headset in your carbon fiber frame you think that justifies your procedure for a press fit headset installation??? Integrated means the cups are built into the frame so people like you don`t have the option of installing them yourself!! The only thing you`re installing are the bearing races.

And I`m not interested in what some moron at your local bike shop told you because if thats what he told you that certainly qualifies him as a moron. Suggest you have a look at the Park Tool procedure for press fit headset installation. It also lists the dimensions for acceptable / unacceptable press fit installations. The use of a vernier is recommended. On the other hand, you yourself might consider a ruler is accurate enough for your oun work methods.

Hate to buy a used bike from someone like you.
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Old 06-02-11, 08:59 AM
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the "rocket tool', ala campag # 723, is a quick shop-tool,
pull it up, it snaps behind the edges of the headset,
1 blow with a mallet and it's done.

I do have a big screwdriver, too , bought it to pry the disc pistons back in,
to change the pads on my car.
at home I also have tapped around the edges of the headset inserts with one..
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Old 06-02-11, 09:26 AM
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I recently installed cups for a threadless headset using a block of wood and ballpeen hammer. Seemed to work fine. Just don't use too much force and all is good. The crown race is more of a pain because it's hard to get started, I had to use a piece of PVC pipe which I did not like because it can crack.
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Old 06-02-11, 10:13 AM
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I don't see a problem with this as long as you take your time and remove/start the cups straight.

If you can distort a tool steel bearing race with a rubber/plastic mallet,your a better man than me.
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Old 06-02-11, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
And your point is what exactly??? Simply because you happen to have an integrated headset in your carbon fiber frame you think that justifies your procedure for a press fit headset installation??? Integrated means the cups are built into the frame so people like you don`t have the option of installing them yourself!! The only thing you`re installing are the bearing races.

And I`m not interested in what some moron at your local bike shop told you because if thats what he told you that certainly qualifies him as a moron. Suggest you have a look at the Park Tool procedure for press fit headset installation. It also lists the dimensions for acceptable / unacceptable press fit installations. The use of a vernier is recommended. On the other hand, you yourself might consider a ruler is accurate enough for your oun work methods.

Hate to buy a used bike from someone like you.

Even in the context of this forum I am sometimes surprised at the emotional displays connected to one of the most basic of machines. I guess it's just human nature, everyone has their thing.

Most people would never consider buying special tools to work on a bicycle, so they use the pliers, hammers, and screwdrivers that are available. And guess what? The bikes work just fine and people are happy to be riding them rather than walking.
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Old 06-02-11, 01:39 PM
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Well put. I suppose it's just how you're "brought up", as a bike mechanic. If you started out doing shade tree work on old 3-speeds or maybe BMX bikes you just use what's in the garage. If you're brought up at a bike shop with lots of carbon on the floor then you'll be doing things by the book and that's the ONLY WAY.

Even if gbg's LBS wrenches are the former I'm surprised they didn't flinch at someone going at a CK headset with screwdriver and hammer. Sure if you do it right (this involves mostly care plus a little prayer and luck) then you could probably easily pop in headsets like that without a problem 99% of the time. But if that one percent time happens on a $125 headset and $700 frame and wrecks either one then yikes!
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Old 06-02-11, 01:51 PM
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Personally, I'd probably just buy the tools when I get the parts, I don't know how my dad did it, if he had special tools, they are long gone now. (his second wife killed him and left all his stuff in another state in a house to be repossessed by the bank)
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Old 06-02-11, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
Well put. I suppose it's just how you're "brought up", as a bike mechanic. If you started out doing shade tree work on old 3-speeds or maybe BMX bikes you just use what's in the garage. If you're brought up at a bike shop with lots of carbon on the floor then you'll be doing things by the book and that's the ONLY WAY.
Not necessarily. I banged in a standard threadless headset with a rubber mallet and a block of wood (and more sandpaper than I wanted) a few years ago. Never again. I have built up two bikes since then, and the headsets were the only things I had done at a shop. It's a small price to pay to have it done right.
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Old 06-02-11, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Humpy View Post
Even in the context of this forum I am sometimes surprised at the emotional displays connected to one of the most basic of machines. I guess it's just human nature, everyone has their thing.

Most people would never consider buying special tools to work on a bicycle, so they use the pliers, hammers, and screwdrivers that are available. And guess what? The bikes work just fine and people are happy to be riding them rather than walking.

That's right.
I built up my first wheels in 2003 and they are still perfect. BUT I didn't have a truing stand or a dish tool, and the wheels have been on my winter beater the last 5+ years,
doing 2+ hour rides on washboard frozen foot print paths in -20C and colder, with 280+ lb rider and winter gear. But I guess "some people" wouldn't by those wheels either
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Old 06-02-11, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
I'm surprised they didn't flinch at someone going at a CK headset with screwdriver and hammer.
Me too. I've hammered in (and out) more than a few headsets and the results have been fine. But I did scratch them up here and there. I think if I ever spent the money on a CK or other high dollar headset I'd have a shop install it "the right way."
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Old 06-02-11, 11:49 PM
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to remove the headset cups with out damaging/marring them you can use a softer material as a punch(such as aluminum) instead of a screwdriver(made of very hard tool steel). instead of a pricey headset press you can make your own with a threaded rod and some nuts and washer. I think i got this idea from someone on this forum
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Old 06-03-11, 06:30 AM
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As a new comer to this group I was reluctant to comment in this thread but as an "old timer" when it comes to making my living with hand tools I feel I have something to contribute to the thread.

There are many reasons for special tools. Some make a job go more quickly, some reduce the risk of damage to equipment and/or injury to the user. There are very few tasks which cannot be accomplished satisfactorily by a skilled technician using basic hand tools. In many cases it is the unskilled technician who benefits the most from the use of specialized single purpose tools.

I will generally give a task a go with what I have on hand. I often end up making special tools or fixtures if I think they will make the task go more smoothly next time. It never hurts to try 'old school' methods first, in many cases you may discover that a job can be done just as well with a hammer and a drift (or screwdriver) as it can with the aforementioned 'rocket tool' (which is little more than a glorified, light duty, sort of drift punch anyway). Most special tools are designed to do one job and do that job very well. Basic hand tools, such as a hammer and a drift, can accomplish countless tasks in the hands of a skilled craftsman and can easily do irreparable damage in the wrong hands. A skilled craftsman will know know his limits and make his own choices as to which special tools he needs in his inventory.

It only makes sense that a bicycle shop would have the "latest and greatest" tools and gadgets. Providing the mechanics with all the special tools to accomplish the job with minimized risk of damage to inventory and/or injury to the mechanic can improve the "bottom line". I am a retired 'old fart', I have made my living working on mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical machinery all my life. I have many tools and many interests. Bicycles are just a hobby to me, not an obsession, I enjoy working on them as much (probably more) as riding them. Some of the specialized bicycle "stuff" that I found a need for I have made, others I have purchased, but in the vast majority of cases I have applied common sense, basic mechanical aptitude, and the vast array of hand tools that I already have to accomplish the task. There is still more than one way to skin a cat.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by sathor View Post
Personally, I'd probably just buy the tools when I get the parts, I don't know how my dad did it, if he had special tools, they are long gone now. (his second wife killed him and left all his stuff in another state in a house to be repossessed by the bank)
Interesting...

I'd be on the next bus to get those tools. I bet the bank doesn't even know what to do with a tensiometer.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by goatalope View Post
Interesting...

I'd be on the next bus to get those tools. I bet the bank doesn't even know what to do with a tensiometer.
he died in 03, about 2 months after I got married, he couldn't come to the ceremony, and then his wife smashed the wedding video twice so he could never get to see it, before she finally killed him.

I do have 2 photo albums and a posterboard from when he did a ride across America before I was born, (probably before my parents married for that matter, it would have been late 70's) I remember for a while he volunteered at a childrens' home repairing bikes.

-oh, the bus ride is 24 hours on a greyhound. I did that once before

Last edited by sathor; 06-03-11 at 09:43 AM. Reason: added -oh....
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Old 06-16-11, 07:42 AM
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Absolutely - why pay for a bunch of pricey wrenches when a pair of pliers works just as well?
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Old 06-16-11, 10:18 AM
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Well said Larwyn. I'm all for avoiding using vise grips or pipe wrenches but even such things have their place when used correctly.

The key is not in the choice of tools but in the skill and judgement of the user. The biggest two advantages of a headset press are that they make installing the headset cups quicker and for those with less judgement and skill it makes it a safer process. Two key elements for any bike shop that is based on time and money. So for a commercial LBS hiring some kids at low wages a headset press makes perfect sense. But a hobbyist mechanic with skill and judgement can use a no marr mallet or a block of wood and a hammer and do just as nice a job with no damage risk at all. It just takes a little longer to ease/walk the cups out or into the frame a little at a time.
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