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Rear dropout too tight for axle

Old 08-06-12, 01:14 PM
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Rear dropout too tight for axle

A 1991-era Fuji frame has a horizontal rear drop out that is too tight.

Measuring the rear spacing, I get 129 on the caliper.

A Park dropout alignment tool shows the dropouts are near perfect.

I've tried several different rear wheels, both 126 and 130.

The dropouts were pretty much mint, as if a wheel hadn't been mounted in there.

What to do next?
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Old 08-06-12, 02:00 PM
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Is the the width? Or the slot where the axle slides into?
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Old 08-06-12, 02:18 PM
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Too tight for what? 129 is just fine. You could stuff anything from a 126 to a 130mm hub in there with no ill effects.

126mm was common road bike rear spacing for older bikes till the '80s, 130mm is still common for road bikes, and 135mm is for mountain bikes and cyclocross style bikes.

If the frame is steel and it is a MTB and you want to shove a 135mm hub/wheel in there, you should have no problem doing so other than it being a pain to spread initially when you put the wheel in.

Look up cold setting a frame at sheldon brown's website and you can b end the stays for good if you want 135mm.
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Old 08-06-12, 06:59 PM
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Are you measuring the dropout spacing between the INSIDE faces of the dropouts? That's the way it should be done. If you are measuring outside to outside, you will get an incorrect value.

Frames of that era were often spaced 128 mm to allow either a 126 or 130 mm hub to fit as that was the time frame when 7-speed (126) and 8-speed (130) were both being sold on new bikes, often using the same frame.
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Old 08-06-12, 09:08 PM
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What precisely is the Problem?

IF it's because the drop out spacing is 1MM too short, that ISN'T a problem.
IF the drop out won't "swallow" a 10MM dis. axle, bend it open.
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Old 08-06-12, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by leftthread
A 1991-era Fuji frame has a horizontal rear drop out that is too tight.

Measuring the rear spacing, I get 129 on the caliper.

A Park dropout alignment tool shows the dropouts are near perfect.

I've tried several different rear wheels, both 126 and 130.

The dropouts were pretty much mint, as if a wheel hadn't been mounted in there.

What to do next?
A 20-year-old steel frame may never have been in perfect alignment. 1mm is well within factory tolerances. I would put it together and ride it without further thought.
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Old 08-07-12, 08:24 AM
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Sorry for the lousy description of the problem.
The problem is not the lateral width between the dropouts.

The problem is the horizontal slot of the drive-side dropout is slightly too narrow to accept the axle.
The non-drive side is tight but will work.
Measuring the slot of the right dropout, I get 8.88 to 9.23 mm.
A sample axle is roughly 9.55.

Maybe the frame was dropped on the derailleur hanger and it ended up bending it enough to close it.
(The paint appears cracked where the adjuster screw emerges on the back)
Maybe the paint is slightly too thick.

The only solutions I can think of are to sand the paint down on the inside of the slot and hope it makes up the .5 of a millimeter difference.
Or bend the dropout, but I'm not sure how to approach that.



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Old 08-07-12, 09:05 AM
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Try bending it.
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Old 08-07-12, 10:21 AM
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I would put a wedge in there and gently bend it.
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Old 08-07-12, 10:53 AM
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I would NOT bend it. Scrape away the paint first and, if that isn't sufficient, file the dropout face just enough to accept the axle. Be sure to file only the lower face of the dropout slot to avoid vertical misalignment of the rear wheel.
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Old 08-07-12, 11:22 AM
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Try slipping the axle in from the side (at the back of the dropout), that will tell you if it was bent. Also, my 50+ year old eyes aren't that great anymore, but do I see a crack at the hole for the adjuster screw? And does it appear on both sides?

Last edited by gearbasher; 08-07-12 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 08-07-12, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider
I would NOT bend it. Scrape away the paint first and, if that isn't sufficient, file the dropout face just enough to accept the axle. Be sure to file only the lower face of the dropout slot to avoid vertical misalignment of the rear wheel.
Ok.

Originally Posted by gearbasher
do I see a crack at the hole for the adjuster screw? And does it appear on both sides?
Yes, it is on both sides.
Y-shaped, 1/4 inch on the outside.
Y-shaped, 1/8 inch on the inside.
No go on slipping the axle in from the side at the back of the dropout.
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Old 08-07-12, 12:48 PM
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It does look like it's actually bent a little bit.
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Old 08-07-12, 07:42 PM
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Regarding the crack in the dropout:
Originally Posted by leftthread
Yes, it is on both sides.
Y-shaped, 1/4 inch on the outside.
Y-shaped, 1/8 inch on the inside.
No go on slipping the axle in from the side at the back of the dropout.
If so, the dropouts should be replaced.
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Old 08-07-12, 07:53 PM
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You guys have some good eyes to see the cracks.

How would one go about getting the drop out replaced?
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Old 08-07-12, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by jim p
You guys have some good eyes to see the cracks.

How would one go about getting the drop out replaced?

Any halfway decent framebuilder can de-braze the old and braze in new dropouts. The frame will require repainting afterwards, naturally.
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Old 08-08-12, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills
If so, the dropouts should be replaced.
Thanks, Jeff, and to all.
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Old 08-08-12, 09:48 AM
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Those dropouts are made of heavy steel. If it were my bike, I'd bend it. That may not be the best thing, but I'd feel safe enough. If it fails, it will probably warn first, and it won't be a sudden disaster.
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Old 08-08-12, 10:05 AM
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I wouldn't bend it since you already have a crack in the casting. I'd file it, and to be safer, I'd drill a very small hole through the dropout at the base of the cracks to minimize further migration. Forged dropouts don't like to be bent much.
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Old 08-08-12, 10:07 AM
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You sound more knowledgeable than I am. I'll defer.
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Old 08-08-12, 11:01 AM
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Looks like the threads in the derailleur hanger tab are full of paint or powdercoat. Gonna be a bear to install the derailleur.
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Old 08-08-12, 11:27 AM
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Couldn't the cracks just be cracks in the paint? Steel really can take a lot of punishment and I wonder if we are just obsessing over the cracks which may only be skin deep so to speak.

Obviously the frame was dropped, you can plainly see the damaged paint in the bottom of the derailleur hanger but steel really is resilient to damage like that that would kill an aluminum bike frame.
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Old 08-08-12, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bobotech
Couldn't the cracks just be cracks in the paint? Steel really can take a lot of punishment and I wonder if we are just obsessing over the cracks which may only be skin deep so to speak.

Obviously the frame was dropped, you can plainly see the damaged paint in the bottom of the derailleur hanger but steel really is resilient to damage like that that would kill an aluminum bike frame.
Yes, but... the dropout is cracked in a place that's already weak: the dropout adjuster hole. It might be OK, or it might break when the rider is miles away from rescue. It's hard to know, and replacing dropouts is basic for a framebuilder.
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Old 10-25-18, 12:20 PM
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Use wedges to expand dropout opening

On my CRMO track bike frame, one drop out was too narrow to accept the axle. Axle measured 9.8mm Measuring left dropout in three locations (from opening) 9.3mm, 9.5mm & 9.7. I made a three part ẅedge and shims using 1¨ x 1/8¨ aluminum flat bar. I wrapped the center wedge with paper to gradually increase the thickness stopping to remove the shims/wedge and taking measurements. The opening gradually increase and at 11 wraps of paper, the measurements were 9.80, 9.83 & 9.92mm. The wheel mounted with no further issues.

Note: Before starting this fix I verified frame alignment and dropout alignment/parallel using methods from RJ The Bike Guy (You Tube).
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Old 10-25-18, 12:59 PM
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Despite the fact that this is a 6 year old thread, I'm glad you posted your picture. Looks like a good approach: you want to be able to apply a lot of spreading force but with control, and your wedges do this. You could probably use grease to allow the wedge to slide without galling - might work better than paper. But as you note, the paper was your incremental wedge gage. Brilliant!

Glad you got it fixed.
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