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Quill Stem Creaking - HELP!

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Quill Stem Creaking - HELP!

Old 05-09-13, 03:13 PM
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Quill Stem Creaking - HELP!

Hi, Boys & Girls!

The 3TTT quill stem on my '97 Klein is driving me NUTZ! It started creaking last month, in rhythm with my pedal strokes when I'm pedaling hard. I played with the height....and thought I had cured it...but the creaking came back after a few miles (It comes back under hard pedaling, when I'm transferring a lot of pressure to the bars- and once it starts, it'll do it under all but the lightest of pedaling).

I* took the stem out and greased it liberally (Including the expander)...same thing......nice and quiet for the first 14 miles....then put a hard effort into going up a hill...and it's back!

There seems to be a hair of play between the stem and the steerer tube. I can put my hand on it and feel the stem move slightly if I use a lot of force and rock the bars side to side. Not like it's flopping around or anything- it takes a lot of force to move it...but I know that play shouldn't be there- and is likely the source of the creaking.

The bike, although old, is in near pristine condition, and hardly ridden in the past by it's previous owner. It's a great bike, and I love it- but please...someone help me get rid of this creaking!!!!
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Old 05-09-13, 03:26 PM
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Could be the bar creaking inside the clamp -- at least on my fixed-gear, going to a handlebar that didn't have a separate sleeve for the clamp area cured the creak that I would get climbing hills.
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Old 05-09-13, 03:29 PM
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Did you try adjusting the headset bearing preload? Could that be what is causing the looseness?
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Old 05-09-13, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
Could be the bar creaking inside the clamp -- at least on my fixed-gear, going to a handlebar that didn't have a separate sleeve for the clamp area cured the creak that I would get climbing hills.
That's what I thought at first.....but I tracked the noise don....definitely coming from the headset/stem. (I actually thought the bars were cracked at first- as the sound radiates out through them pretty good!)

Originally Posted by bobotech
Did you try adjusting the headset bearing preload? Could that be what is causing the looseness?
I'll give that a try. The headset is one component I've never messed with before. Got any quick links of how exactly I do it, to save me from Googledom?

Thanks.
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Old 05-09-13, 05:43 PM
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Hey Metalpedaler How deep is the quill stem into the headset????
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Old 05-09-13, 06:12 PM
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This shows up on my commuting bike occasionally. Taking it out and regreasing has always fixed it. The fit is very good, meaning that my thinnest shim stock was too thick to work.

I have heard of using toothpaste to install a bar into the stem to prevent creaking. Perhaps that would work here.

A 1997 bike is old? That's 15 years newer than my newest bike.
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Old 05-09-13, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Fastfingaz
Hey Metalpedaler How deep is the quill stem into the headset????
Initially, it was fairly deep. But I pulled it up a bit, and that actually seemed to cure the problem for a ride or two....but now it's doing it again. The steerer tube on mine sticks up about 2", and there's like a spacer on top of the big nut (which is the top nut of the headset) with another nut on top of the spacer.....I'll take a pic after I eat, and see what youse think.

Originally Posted by Matariki
This shows up on my commuting bike occasionally. Taking it out and regreasing has always fixed it. The fit is very good, meaning that my thinnest shim stock was too thick to work.

I have heard of using toothpaste to install a bar into the stem to prevent creaking. Perhaps that would work here.

A 1997 bike is old? That's 15 years newer than my newest bike.
I ALMOST got electrical tape to go down in mine [Am I desperate or what?].

Hehe.... nah, '97 is modern to me..... My next bike will be older! (I just get the feeling that some on here would think anything older than 2011 is "old" )
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Old 05-09-13, 07:01 PM
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A friend and I had a 21st birthday party for a couple of our bikes last fall (hey, any excuse for a party is a good one), and that was my newest bike.
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Old 05-09-13, 07:38 PM
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i had a nasty creak, like yours. thought it was the stem. fiddled with the stem and the noise would go away for a while then come back. turned out to be coming from the area between the fork crown and where it sits on the fork. i guess messing with the stem changed the geometry enough to temporarily cause the noise to disappear.
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Old 05-09-13, 09:37 PM
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I was recently testing my headset and heard a nasty creak. After swiveling the headset several times, I grabbed cable to see if they were rubbing or something. Turned out to be a creak in a cable stop on the down tube.
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Old 05-10-13, 10:00 AM
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I think I've covered all the bases: Checked the cables; bar clamp; spokes; Noise is definitely coming from the head tube area....and I know that that little play between the stem and the steerer tube under load shouldn't be there- and is probably the culprit. But what to do about it? (I'm thinkinjg: Make a shim by cutting a soda can.... But I think it'll be too thick.)
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Old 05-10-13, 10:06 AM
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Ive got 2 bikes the bars induce creaking noises, I too know things are not loose.
so I live with it , ... at 65, parts of Me creak too.
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Old 05-10-13, 10:11 AM
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Here's a pic showing the spacer thingy I was talking about:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
SANY1822c.jpg (80.9 KB, 233 views)
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Old 05-10-13, 10:12 AM
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Hate those Kreaks... Replace all and see what happens - Local guy after many months of searching found a damn near microscopic hair line crack in his head tube...

Knew another guy who fixed a kreak in his stem by adjusting his seat... Who knows... Good luck...
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Old 05-10-13, 10:15 AM
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I've experienced several aluminum frames stretching and ovalizing at junction points. I'd bet this is the case here.
Addressing stretched tops of seattubes, I've had success finding a tighter fitting longer seatpost. Maybe you can find a quill which fits a bit better. A precision caliper would be useful here, or lugging the bike down to a shop which stocks these older stems.
Keeping the contact areas completely grit free is also key. Make sure you've got the inside of that steerer absolutely spotless when regreasing.
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Old 05-10-13, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Ive got 2 bikes the bars induce creaking noises, I too know things are not loose.
so I live with it , ... at 65, parts of Me creak too.
It drives me nuts. Next ride, I'm taking out my [quiet] $300 Bikesdirect bike!

Even my cheapo $99 10-speeds when I was a kid didn't creak. Heck...I have to take my weight off of one side of the bars if I ride past people...otherwise ya hear "czzch!....czzzch!....".....

I'm thinking that movement in the stem can't be good, either- and will likely get worse or lead to worserer[sic] troubles down the road......
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Old 05-10-13, 10:18 AM
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maybe a steel Tig stem will be stiffer.

I suppose the other one is a threadless fork..


If You DO Go Nuts see if that qualifies you for a disability pension.
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Old 05-10-13, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by zandoval
Hate those Kreaks... Replace all and see what happens - Local guy after many months of searching found a damn near microscopic hair line crack in his head tube...

Knew another guy who fixed a kreak in his stem by adjusting his seat... Who knows... Good luck...
Originally Posted by Ferrous Bueller
I've experienced several aluminum frames stretching and ovalizing at junction points. I'd bet this is the case here.
Addressing stretched tops of seattubes, I've had success finding a tighter fitting longer seatpost. Maybe you can find a quill which fits a bit better. A precision caliper would be useful here, or lugging the bike down to a shop which stocks these older stems.
Keeping the contact areas completely grit free is also key. Make sure you've got the inside of that steerer absolutely spotless when regreasing.
Oooo! Youse guys are skeering me!

Good idear about the calipers, Ferrous [Heh...love that handle!]- My neighbor has a decent pair of calipers [Well, really, just one ]- I'll have to pop over there.

It's amazing how a little sound can resonate and be amplified through aluminum parts!
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Old 05-10-13, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
maybe a steel Tig stem will be stiffer.

I suppose the other one is a threadless fork..


If You DO Go Nuts see if that qualifies you for a disability pension.
The stem seems stiff enough....it's just that there's a hair of play inside the tube. (Just enough to start it moving under heavy load)

Well, before I got the bike...I was tempted to get one'a them threaded-to-threadless adapters.....

Hey, going nuts and going on the dole is called "Winning the lottery" around here!
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Old 05-10-13, 10:42 AM
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Does the stem have any play on the headset top nut? This should be a snug fit with no play.
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Old 05-10-13, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds
Does the stem have any play on the headset top nut? This should be a snug fit with no play.
Yes- but only under load- i.e. if I'm pedaling hard, or put a lot of weight/strength on the bars while standing still, trying to get it to make the noise. If I put my hand at that juncture while trying to rock the bars, I can feel some movement. Slight...but it's there. I'm pretty sure that's the problem....but what to do about it?
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Old 05-10-13, 11:10 AM
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If you know exactly where you want the stem and won't be moving it,you can fill the void with Loctite bearing mount.It will fill a gap .030 wide and is strong enough to hold a spun con rod bearing in an engine.

But you better know where you want the stem,it will take heat to remove the stem next time.

It's Loctite bearing mount,not threadlocker.

if you want something that's not so permenent,you can put a few wraps of teflon tape around the stem before inserting it,it's real thin and works good on squeeks.

Last edited by Booger1; 05-10-13 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 05-10-13, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Booger1
If you know exactly where you want the stem and won't be moving it,you can fill the void with Loctite bearing mount.It will fill a gap .030 wide and is strong enough to hold a spun con rod bearing in an engine.

But you better know where you want the stem,it will take heat to remove the stem next time.

It's Loctite bearing mount,not threadlocker.
Interesting! I can't believe I've never heard of that stuff before- I used to rebuild engines! I'll keep that in mind as a last resort.

That just gave me an idea: Loosen the stem, and see if I can get my skinniest feeler gauge between the stem and the steerer... If I can, then maybe I can find some kind of shim material of the same thickness [or buy another feeler gauge and use the appropriate blade!]...maybe glue it in, so it doesn't fall down inside every time I loosen the stem.....???
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Old 05-10-13, 11:20 AM
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You can buy shim stock in brass or stainless down to .0015...... you can buy shim stock that you can peel the layers off,a thou at a time,until you get want you need.

Last edited by Booger1; 05-10-13 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 05-10-13, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by MetalPedaler
Yes- but only under load- i.e. if I'm pedaling hard, or put a lot of weight/strength on the bars while standing still, trying to get it to make the noise. If I put my hand at that juncture while trying to rock the bars, I can feel some movement. Slight...but it's there. I'm pretty sure that's the problem....but what to do about it?
Maybe you can replace that headset nut for another with an exactly 22.2 mm hole?
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