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What the fork?

Old 01-02-13, 08:43 PM
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Sprayman
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What the fork?

Howdy;

I'm overhauling an old bike. The forks on the bike have a lot of play in them, even though everything is tight. I plan on pulling it apart, cleaning and greasing everything, but before I do, what should I look for? What would cause the forks to be so loose?

Thanks
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Old 01-02-13, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Sprayman View Post
Howdy;

I'm overhauling an old bike. The forks on the bike have a lot of play in them, even though everything is tight. I plan on pulling it apart, cleaning and greasing everything, but before I do, what should I look for? What would cause the forks to be so loose?

Thanks
Could the problem be that this bike somehow has 2 forks when there should only be one?

Seriously, the likeliest cause is a loose headset. Less common, is a sloppy fit on the crown race, or headset cups, both of which need to be tight press fits. Least likely, but not heard of, is a braze failure at the fork crown.

Years ago a friend had a fork that drove him crazy, always feeling a trace of play no matter how he adjusted the headset. This lasted a month or so, until one day he removed the front brake to work on it and the crown and blades fell off the steerer. One more reason to always use a front brake.
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Old 01-02-13, 09:27 PM
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What kind of headset? Threaded or threadless? With threadless the usual suspect is not enough gap between the steerer and the top of the stem clamp.
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Old 01-02-13, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
What kind of headset? Threaded or threadless? With threadless the usual suspect is not enough gap between the steerer and the top of the stem clamp.
Good question. I'll reply tomorrow after I pull it apart. It's a 1958 Schwinn Jaguar that sat out in the weather for years and years. I'm almost scared to take apart the headset.
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Old 01-02-13, 09:54 PM
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Hmm, You have a threaded headset, but it worries me you did not know that. You should read up headsets before you pull it apart http://sheldonbrown.com/headsets.html
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Old 01-02-13, 10:57 PM
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a 1958 bike that sat outside for years? every bearing on that bike should be taken apart, cleaned, and be reassembled with new balls and lots of fresh grease.
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Old 01-03-13, 05:39 AM
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As mentioned, read up on headsets on Sheldon Brown and the Park websites. The next step is to disassemble and inspect the headset, fork and headtube. Assuming the headtube and fork are in good shape, I would think it highly likely that you will need to replace the headset. That old and having sat outdoors chances are that the headset is corroded. If it was heavily greased in days gone by, there is a chance you could get by with cleaning it up, putting in new bearings and grease, and properly adjusting it. Since the headset is that loose and it was left outdoors, I'm guessing this bike was not that well cared for.

New headsets can be purchased for anywhere from $15-45 at your LBS or online. My suggestion is to get it at the LBS, both to support local business and to assure you get an appropriate headset.
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Old 01-03-13, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
Hmm, You have a threaded headset, but it worries me you did not know that. You should read up headsets before you pull it apart http://sheldonbrown.com/headsets.html
Good suggestion. Thank you. On this bike I'm doing what I know how to do (bottom bracket, front hub, wheel truing, chain), getting help from a friend on what is completely alien to me (Bendix coaster brake), and asking questions/researching on the parts I've done once or twice (like the headset). I'm in the learning process and a '58 Schwinn is a good bike to tinker with. I pulled the headset apart once, but obviously did something wrong while reassembling it. Guess I'll pull it apart again, after reading the Sheldon Brown article.
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Old 01-03-13, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by pierce View Post
a 1958 bike that sat outside for years? every bearing on that bike should be taken apart, cleaned, and be reassembled with new balls and lots of fresh grease.
That's my intention, and I'm having fun learning along the way. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 01-03-13, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Sprayman View Post
I pulled the headset apart once, but obviously did something wrong while reassembling it. Guess I'll pull it apart again, after reading the Sheldon Brown article.
It would have been better to tell is this to begun with. We have all made mistakes, but if you are asking for help we need to know all the relevant information; and certainly this was relevant. But keep at it, there is nothing better than finally getting it right!
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Old 01-03-13, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pierce View Post
a 1958 bike that sat outside for years? every bearing on that bike should be taken apart, cleaned, and be reassembled with new balls and lots of fresh grease.
I would be more concerned about the integrity of a steel frame that sat out in the elements.
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Old 01-03-13, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Delmarva View Post
I would be more concerned about the integrity of a steel frame that sat out in the elements.

those things were made from gas pipe gauge steel. sandblast the frame til its shiny on the outside, if you don't see any actual perforated holes, primer and spray it with color of choice, slap parts back on and ride it for another 50 years.
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Old 01-03-13, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
It would have been better to tell is this to begun with. We have all made mistakes, but if you are asking for help we need to know all the relevant information; and certainly this was relevant. But keep at it, there is nothing better than finally getting it right!
And, I finally got it right. I read the suggested article and watched a few instructional videos. I pulled the headset apart and found I had put in one set of bearings upside down. I turned it over, gave everything a bit more grease, and it all fit back together nicely. It's now turning smooth as silk and there's no wobble.

Old Schwinns are tanks, yes, but they're fun to work on.

Thanks
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Old 01-03-13, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by pierce View Post
those things were made from gas pipe gauge steel. sandblast the frame til its shiny on the outside, if you don't see any actual perforated holes, primer and spray it with color of choice, slap parts back on and ride it for another 50 years.

I'll get around to that eventually. One of the previous owners spraypainted it red and did a horrible job of it. That's too bad, because the original color was a beautiful blue. And you're right.....It should hold up for another 50 years.
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Old 01-04-13, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by pierce View Post
those things were made from gas pipe gauge steel. sandblast the frame til its shiny on the outside, if you don't see any actual perforated holes, primer and spray it with color of choice, slap parts back on and ride it for another 50 years.
Having worked with galvanized gas pipe I doubt a bike would have tubes that thick. As with cars the worrisome rust works it's way from the inside out toward the painted side.
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Old 01-04-13, 02:04 PM
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you ever ride one of those 1950s Schwinn cruisers? 60 lbs, easy. we wrecked many of them rattling down fire roads in teh early 1970s. the frames were nearly indestructable but the solid blade forks, and the wheels, were awful
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Old 01-04-13, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by pierce View Post
you ever ride one of those 1950s Schwinn cruisers? 60 lbs, easy. we wrecked many of them rattling down fire roads in teh early 1970s. the frames were nearly indestructable but the solid blade forks, and the wheels, were awful
Fortunately, I don't intend to thrash around on this bike (the bike and I are both too old). I'm just overhauling it to ride it occasionally, and add it to my stable of vintage Schwinns.

BTW....60 pounds is an exaggeration, although not much of one. There's a reason people call these old Schwinns "anchors."
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Old 01-04-13, 08:13 PM
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the Schwinn 'inch-pinch' tanker bike with a springer fork that I had circa 1970 was just about 60 lbs with balloon white sidewalls and fenders. after a few crashes on the fire roads of Mt Tam, I stripped off the mangled tank with its silly buzzer-horn, and the fenders, and the bad springer forks were exchanged for a blade fork (that I think came from a Higgins or something), and then it was probably 50 lbs.

what I would have given for a decent front brake on that bike, hahahahaah.
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Old 01-04-13, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Sprayman View Post
I'll get around to that eventually. One of the previous owners spraypainted it red and did a horrible job of it. That's too bad, because the original color was a beautiful blue. And you're right.....It should hold up for another 50 years.
If the beautiful blue paint is under the spray paint, I have had good luck removing spray paint with acetone (nail polish remover). Try an inconspicuous area first.
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Old 01-05-13, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
If the beautiful blue paint is under the spray paint, I have had good luck removing spray paint with acetone (nail polish remover). Try an inconspicuous area first.
Thanks. I'll give that a try. Right now I'm waffling between leaving it as it is, or completely stripping it down to the metal and having it professionally repainted. If I can use acetone to get the spray paint off of the factory paint, then all the better. I'll rub some on the bottom bracket and see what happens.
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Old 01-05-13, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by pierce View Post
the Schwinn 'inch-pinch' tanker bike with a springer fork that I had circa 1970 was just about 60 lbs with balloon white sidewalls and fenders. after a few crashes on the fire roads of Mt Tam, I stripped off the mangled tank with its silly buzzer-horn, and the fenders, and the bad springer forks were exchanged for a blade fork (that I think came from a Higgins or something), and then it was probably 50 lbs.

what I would have given for a decent front brake on that bike, hahahahaah.
Sounds like you had one of those balloon tire bikes like a Phantom. In that case, 60 pounds sounds about right. Sometimes I'll ride one of my vintage Schwinns for a few days and then get on a modern bike, and I feel like I'm flying.
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