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Old Bottom Bracket issues

Old 01-04-12, 10:10 AM
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Old Bottom Bracket issues

So i bought an old bike a couple of weeks ago, it's an old RIH sport dutch bike ('76 I think). The bottom bracket was extremely wobbly. I went to my community workshop today and took off the non drive side, cleaned everything, regreased, reassembled, adjusted and it was more or less ok. A little wobbly still, but as close as I could get without having issues with binding.

By the time I got home, only a couple of miles, it was noticeably worse. Not as bad as before (yet), but obviously looser.

1. I reused the ball bearings. I'm in Spain, and don't really know where to find new ones.
2. I didn't use the bearing retainer thing, and had to add a couple of balls from a different batch to make up the space. A no no, I know, but again, it's what I had and the retainers were causing issues.

Is it worth my time to try to fix it again? the adjustable cup is pretty old, and the only way to make it move after a certain point is with a hammer and old (really big) nail. If not, how much trouble is it to get a cartridge BB that will fit, how do I measure it, etc. Clearly I have just enough experience working on bikes to be dangerous.

Thanks
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Old 01-04-12, 10:20 AM
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If the threading is a common one like English or (unlikely) Italian, and the crank is a JIS or ISO square taper, you should be able to fit a cartridge bottom bracket. Measure the length of you current spindle and use a close match.
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Old 01-04-12, 10:23 AM
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Without the right number of original spec ball bearings, that BB will never be right.

A new square taper cartridge bottom bracket will run you about $30. You would need to know the spindle length of the one you're replacing, the threading of the BB shell (English, Italian or French), and assuming the BB you have is square taper, whether the crank on the bike fits a JIS or ISO square taper bottom bracket spindle. Lots of questions you may not have the answers to.

If it was me looking for a cheap solution, I would replace all the bearings with a complete set sized as close to the original as possible, then reassemble and keep my fingers crossed.

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Old 01-04-12, 10:26 AM
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1. Reusing the ball bearings may not have been a good thing.
2. Throwing away the retainer was a very good thing. But the "balls from a different batch" is a possible concern.

Measuring for a cartridge bottom bracket depends on BB shell threading, the spindle length, the drive-side offset, if any, and the taper. What crankset are you using?
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Old 01-04-12, 10:26 AM
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Did you tighten the lockring correctly? If the lockring on the left side is loose or missing, the bearing cup will work itself loose. Clean out the threads in the frame and the bearing cup and it should become smoother. Replacement bearings and retainers should be common enough- try ebay or similar. A lot of sellers based in the EU will send items elsewhere in the EU.
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Old 01-04-12, 10:36 AM
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There are multiple possible issues.

If available and compatible a cartridge would be best, but on an old bike spindle length alone is not sufficient - way too much variation in chainwheel chainline.

If you overhaul again you need to use a fresh set of ball bearings. There's nothing wrong with using a new set of retainers on an already old bike if you can't find loos balls. You just get typically two fewer ball bearings per side - slightly less smooth, slightly quicker wear.

There may be wear/pitting on the bearing surfaces. Combine that with differently worn balls and possbibly poor adjustment or securing of the lockring and damage could quickly ensue.
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Old 01-04-12, 10:36 AM
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Crankset is a piece of crap that was on the bike when I got it. Steel chainring, aluminum arms, plastic guard on the outside. It's new, and recently installed, but as evidenced by the thick paste of grit and grease, the BB was never messed with. I planned on finding an old steel crankset a bit more period correct at one of the community workshops. I'll check at the shop tomorrow to see where I can find new balls. Luckily here in Madrid there are a ton of community workshops where I can use the space and tools and find parts for free or almost free.

And you guys rock. Within 5 minutes of posting I had 3 replies. Thanks.
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