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Single broken crank... options

Old 07-18-13, 12:42 PM
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Flandry
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Single broken crank... options

So, some jackass broke off my pedal last night. It was my Specialized Tricross Singlecross (Sugino Messenger crankset?). I noticed something was wrong when i unlocked it and started riding, and thought that the pedal had been bent. It wasn't until i got home that i realized that what had happened had stripped the threads, and the pedal was completely loose.

Unfortunately, because it was a steel pedal bolt in an alloy crank arm, the threads in the crank arm stripped and it will have to be replaced. It's the left-side arm.

I've fixed endless flats and done some other maintenance, and I know a crank puller is the only dedicated tool necessary to do the job, but that's about it. I've never taken off a crank before. I called the lbs and they charge $35 just for the labor. I imagine their price for the crank itself will be exorbitant. I don't really trust the lbses here i have encountered since i moved. Miss my old one in Cambridge. :/

My questions are:
1) Can i buy just the left crank arm? It's all i need... If so, how tough is it to find a compatible arm?
2) Would you recommend i buy the puller and change this myself, or is there a reason to have pro do it?
3) Should i be concerned about e.g. the bottom bracket considering the force necessary to break the threads on the pedal?

Would appreciate some thoughts on this.

Edit: A new question... I see my current crank arm length is 172.5, which is rather uncommon at least for replacements from what i can see. Is a 170 mm replacement going to be a problem? Anyone run a bike with mismatched arm lengths?

Last edited by Flandry; 07-18-13 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 07-18-13, 12:55 PM
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The crank does not necessarily need to be replaced; a Heli-Coil insert can generally be used to make an economical repair and will provide stronger threads than the original ones in the aluminum alloy. The hole is drilled and tapped oversize and a helical steel insert is installed. This is a left-hand thread which is somewhat peculiar to bicycles, but a good bike shop or even a well-equipped machine shop can do the work.
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Old 07-18-13, 01:21 PM
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Hmm interesting. I'd prefer a repair over replacement.

I called the LBS and they said they don't recommend that because it doesn't last. Is that just smoke or is there something in that?
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Old 07-18-13, 01:57 PM
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It just smoke , They don't want to be liable in case it doesn't hold , they don't know how to do the repair . As stated before if the job done right ,it be better than before .
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Old 07-18-13, 03:53 PM
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Thread inserts are a bit more robust than the coiled wire style of helicoil.
See here for example of the process.
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Old 07-18-13, 03:57 PM
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"I called the LBS and they said they don't recommend that because it doesn't last."

Bull****. Properly installed they are stronger than the original aluminum threads and you'll only get them out with a special removal tool. Many military and aerospace manufacturers routinely install Helicoils during manufacture due to their superior strength and wear resistance.

Edit: Unlike the process described above, Helicoils do not rely on threadlocker to be kept in place. They are actually fabricated larger than the tapped threads and rely on an insertion tool to twist them smaller as they are wound into the hole. They then expand as the insertion tool mandrel is withdrawn, locking themselves into place.

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Old 07-18-13, 07:09 PM
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Appreciate the feedback. The first and closer LBS said they won't do it because of liability reasons. The guy at the second place said he wouldn't recommend it because it weakens the crank arm too much and can cause the aluminum to crack due to the expansion force from the insert. It's a plausible explanation from a metallurgical point of view but i don't know if we're talking about something like going from 100 to 10 times safety factor (not an issue) or from 10 to 2 times, which would obviously be of real concern.

The second guy actually suggested a couple places i could possibly get it done if i decided to get it done (one of which was the first and closer lbs), so i don't think he particularly had an axe to grind. In his words "I know those two places have old Cuban mechanics, and those have been known to make a bottom bracket out of a pop can." Hehe. He also made the probably true observation that the labor of a repair is going to cost more than a new crank arm anyway.

I also called an auto mechanic and he suggested a place too far away to be practical, saying he didn't do that kind of repair.

If i had a shop and power tools i'd undertake it myself, but i'm shopless and the bike is my primary transportation right now, so i think i'd better just get a replacement.

So is buying a puller and doing it myself practical or is there a reason to let the pros do it? Any other suggestions on this approach?
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Old 07-18-13, 08:25 PM
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There are a good number of shops in your area that can and will do this job. As pointed out above a coil insert thread is stronger than one tapped directly in to aluminum, which is why coils are spec for aircraft and military applications.

The process does remove a bit of metal, but cranks have plenty of meat there, so there's no concern. The liability excuse is pure BS but may be an economic issue since it's hard to charge enough for the job on a left crank, though many shops will do this on the right since that crank is pricier.

Off hand, I suggest you give the folks at Ferris Wheels in Jamaica Plain a call (tell them the Chain-L guy sent you). If that's too far, PM me with where you live (and who already said no, and I'll give you some other names.
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Old 07-18-13, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Flandry
So, some jackass broke off my pedal last night. It was my Specialized Tricross Singlecross (Sugino Messenger crankset?). I noticed something was wrong when i unlocked it and started riding, and thought that the pedal had been bent. It wasn't until i got home that i realized that what had happened had stripped the threads, and the pedal was completely loose.

Unfortunately, because it was a steel pedal bolt in an alloy crank arm, the threads in the crank arm stripped and it will have to be replaced. It's the left-side arm. . .
I'm not sure I follow this. If someone broke off your pedal from an aluminum crank arm, you likely have a lot more damage than just stripped threads. If you just have stripped threads, I can't imagine how someone did that (unless they used a wrench, which is even more bizarre). Maybe your pedal was improperly installed and the threads finally let go.

BTW, Though you need a different bike shop, don't go to a car shop -- they will not have the correct insert size.
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Old 07-18-13, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork
I'm not sure I follow this. If someone broke off your pedal from an aluminum crank arm, you likely have a lot more damage than just stripped threads. If you just have stripped threads, I can't imagine how someone did that (unless they used a wrench, which is even more bizarre). Maybe your pedal was improperly installed and the threads finally let go.

BTW, Though you need a different bike shop, don't go to a car shop -- they will not have the correct insert size.
Here's a possible scenario. Either the pedal was slightly loose,or someone loosened it in an effort to steal it and was interrupted. Loose pedals hold until there's only about 3-4 threads engaged, then the next hard load tears them out. Being partly loose is far and away the numberone cause of this type of damage.

So loose pedal makes sense, but we'll never know why it was loose.
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Old 07-18-13, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
Here's a possible scenario. Either the pedal was slightly loose,or someone loosened it in an effort to steal it and was interrupted. Loose pedals hold until there's only about 3-4 threads engaged, then the next hard load tears them out. Being partly loose is far and away the numberone cause of this type of damage.

So loose pedal makes sense, but we'll never know why it was loose.
OK as usual, implied questions are way too subtle for this forum.
Rather than guessing, I'll point out that the OP's description raises the question of how much damage was done to the arm, and whether that damage is too much for a simple helicoil repair. And, of course, I leave those questions open for the many speculations to follow.
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Old 07-18-13, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork
OK as usual, implied questions are way too subtle for this forum.

Rather than guessing, I'll point out that the OP's description raises the question of how much damage was done to the arm, and whether that damage is too much for a simple helicoil repair. And, of course, I leave those questions open for the many speculations to follow.
I responded to a post where you posited one theory, and offered another. Note I opened the post with "here's a POSSIBLE scenario....."

Of course we don' know what happened, nor the actual extent of the damage. But we don't have to know, since we're not fixing it. The OP will go to a shop that is familiar with the job, and they can make an assessment and decide if it's appropriate before doing it.

So, while we're working blind and speculating (all of us) the decision will be made by someone who can lay eyes and hands on it.
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Old 07-18-13, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Flandry
So, some jackass broke off my pedal last night. It was my Specialized Tricross Singlecross (Sugino Messenger crankset?). I noticed something was wrong when i unlocked it and started riding, and thought that the pedal had been bent. It wasn't until i got home that i realized that what had happened had stripped the threads, and the pedal was completely loose.
Recommend holding the question until you have taken the time to take a pix or two, then post so folks can pontificate correctly!
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Old 07-18-13, 10:16 PM
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You may want to try Ebay for a left crank arm. A pedro's or Park puller can be had for about $25. DIY might be your cheapest and fastest option.
Ferris Wheels is a pretty good shop; but they are a bit funny - they take walk-in customers on a first come first serve basis and if it's busy like on a typical weekend it can be frustrating to wait if you don't know how they work. Repairs during the riding season can take a bit of time, they often have a backlog; just like every other shop.
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Old 07-18-13, 10:24 PM
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Ebay, left arm only around $40.

yes buy a crank puller.

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw...172.5&_sacat=0
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Old 07-18-13, 10:25 PM
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Be sure the crank arm itself is not bent , before you spend the $ on the thread insert.
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Old 07-19-13, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
There are a good number of shops in your area that can and will do this job. As pointed out above a coil insert thread is stronger than one tapped directly in to aluminum, which is why coils are spec for aircraft and military applications.

The process does remove a bit of metal, but cranks have plenty of meat there, so there's no concern. The liability excuse is pure BS but may be an economic issue since it's hard to charge enough for the job on a left crank, though many shops will do this on the right since that crank is pricier.

Off hand, I suggest you give the folks at Ferris Wheels in Jamaica Plain a call (tell them the Chain-L guy sent you). If that's too far, PM me with where you live (and who already said no, and I'll give you some other names.
I've moved to Miami; sorry about the confusion.

Regarding what occurred:

I still think either a car (unlikely) or a heavy object (hammer/break bar) bashed the pedal. It went from sound to cracked in the resin portion, and from sturdily attached to suddenly wobbly.

No doubt i finished the job myself, by not recognizing what exactly was the problem. I had the bike locked up, and when i came back and started on my merry way, i thought that just the pedal itself was broken. It was dark, it was late, it was Little Havanna, and it wasn't until i got home that i realized that the problem was mostly in the attachment point, and by that point the rest of the threads were gone.

I've been quoted $20 for the arm and $25 for the labor by another LBS. I'd either order one myself and the tool or have them replace it because without my own power tools and shop i doubt i'll be able to go the repair route for that price and even then i'd have to worry about it being weakened.

I doubt the crank arm itself is bent. It's a pretty solid chunk of aluminum... I am concerned what might have happened to the bottom bracket with that kind of force, which is why i asked in the first post if i should do something to check it out.

Edit: The quote is for a 170 mm arm. I doubt i can get a 172.5 for that price. I'm willing to compromise on a slightly shorter arm on one side after reading some experiences with slightly different crank arm lengths.

Last edited by Flandry; 07-19-13 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 07-19-13, 08:45 AM
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Depends on your shop tool level, spindle runout is hard to really test.. on the bike

if it were solidly mounted in a lathe chuck and rotated , you would see the free end
move up and down ..
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Old 07-19-13, 09:02 AM
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$20.00 is a good price for the crank, and the labor is fair if it includes servicing the BB, but high for simply hanging the crank.

I wouldn't go for the wrong length though. Take some time and seek out a correct length crank, or consider replacing the entire cranksets. There are always good bargains on complete crank sets, usually for less than the price of 2 crank arms alone.

Also consider visiting a co-op of which there are two in Miami. They can probably give you a good deal on a used crankset, or you can trade some volunteer time for labor and tools to service the BB and mount a crank you bought on line.
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Old 07-19-13, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
$20.00 is a good price for the crank, and the labor is fair if it includes servicing the BB, but high for simply hanging the crank.

I wouldn't go for the wrong length though. Take some time and seek out a correct length crank, or consider replacing the entire cranksets. There are always good bargains on complete crank sets, usually for less than the price of 2 crank arms alone.
I can't take too long on this because I'll be busing and walking until i get it fixed.

Also consider visiting a co-op of which there are two in Miami. They can probably give you a good deal on a used crankset, or you can trade some volunteer time for labor and tools to service the BB and mount a crank you bought on line.
That's a good suggestion; i've never looked into a co-op before. I found the Magic City co-op webpage and an old article about an impending "Miami Bike Cooperative", but couldn't find any current info on a Miami Bike Cooperative. Which is the other co-op here? It would be great to order the part and then pay a rent or donate time to use a tool at the co-op.

What things do i need to be aware of when ordering my own crank arm? I know there's a square and diamond spindle but not if these are specific to brand, style of bike, or what...
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Old 07-20-13, 11:41 AM
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Between not knowing if i had "square or diamond" and whether I had ISO or J.I.S., and not having a tool yet to check, the whole DIY route was going to drag on too long. Sometimes, the first time around, it's better to just observe and learn.

So i rode a single-pedaled bike a couple miles to the LBS i mentioned above to make the special order for the left crank arm. I thought that the place looked a bit old-fashioned and quaint for the modern webpage (for a small local chain of stores). I went in and asked for the guy i had spoken to on the phone and they said no one of that name worked there; maybe i was looking for the store across the street. Huh? What kind of nut establishes a second bike store across from an existing one? However, he offered to check the diamond vs square thing for me, threw the bike up on the stand, and pulled the crank. Turns out it has diamond orientation. He walked over and picked up a replacement... I said "you have one in stock?"

He says, "Sure."

A bit dubious, i asked (looking at the spindle) "Is it an ISO or J.I.S.? I can't tell by looking at it."

He looked at me like I had grown a third eye. "Nobody's ever asked me that. I have no idea what you are talking about."

I explained that spindles came in ISO or J.I.S. standards and he said he'd never had trouble. One of the wrenches mentioned the Campagnola spindles were different and i told him that was the ISO and that Japanese bikes generally used J.I.S. Well, the guy says to me "this is a chinese bike so it should be okay then." I was a bit worried by this exchange, but i had read Sheldon's article on the issue and he says at the end he's interchanged without problem on his own bikes, so i'd try not to get too hung up on it. Still, maybe the guy at the other shop would be a bit more aware...

The spare arm he had was a 175 and i had decided earlier to go with the 170, which he did not have, so he suggested I could go see if they had it across the street. I was also a bit disappointed at the heft of the spare (a cheap sunlite brand one, i think), but not too surprised that's what they had in stock for a replacement.

About knocked out at the courtesy of his offer, I wandered over to the modern-looking competitor, staffed with a handful of people in matching store shirts. They had not a single one in stock, neither 170 mm nor 175 mm, and would have to order it and wait up to 4 business days. The kicker is that not only did the employee I had spoken with not know to check diamond or square (he was looking at one that was square on the screen, not what i needed, and I mentioned that... he seemed a bit sheepish as he acknowledged that one wouldn't work), but it was the exact same cheap replacement brand anyway, so it would have amounted to the same thing, but with a longer wait. I didn't even bring up the ISO vs J.I.S. question.

Well, i took my business back to the other place, and came away with two attached pedals (it's amazing how much easier it is to pedal with two ) and a bill for $25.68: $6 labor and $18 for the part. Compared to the $25 + $20 i had been quoted over the phone by the other place, i'm more than pleased with the outing.

It's hard to know what potential issues are real issues (square vs diamond) and which are not necessarily as important (ISO vs. J.I.S.) and also how much the chance of encountering an incompatibilty is. I still have no idea if the diamond vs. square is a brand, region (e.g. Japan vs. European) or use (e.g. track vs road vs mountain) thing, but i guess that ISO is relatively rare in mainstream bikes these days based on the conversation at the shop.

Hopefully, now i know enough to do my own repair next time...

Last edited by Flandry; 07-20-13 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 07-20-13, 11:55 AM
  #22  
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I'm glad it worked out, and you're back on the road.

As for the square vs. diamond, it's not anything you could mistake. Firstof all both are square, it's just a 45° difference in the orientation of the hole to the crank arm. The so-called diamond pattern is more common, with the corner pointing down the arm, and on the so-called square hole the face of the square points to the arm.

You cannot make a mistake here since the wrong orientation would have one crank 45° away from opposite the other. BTW- you never have to remove the crank to check, since the spindles are always the same at both ends. Just look at the spindle and across to the mounted arm to see how the square is oriented.
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Old 07-20-13, 12:33 PM
  #23  
Flandry
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
I'm glad it worked out, and you're back on the road.

As for the square vs. diamond, it's not anything you could mistake. Firstof all both are square, it's just a 45° difference in the orientation of the hole to the crank arm. The so-called diamond pattern is more common, with the corner pointing down the arm, and on the so-called square hole the face of the square points to the arm.

You cannot make a mistake here since the wrong orientation would have one crank 45° away from opposite the other. BTW- you never have to remove the crank to check, since the spindles are always the same at both ends. Just look at the spindle and across to the mounted arm to see how the square is oriented.
Thanks. I know it's just an orientation thing, but i'm not quite ready to adapt such a novel cadence as putting the wrong one on the left would require...

I am having trouble seeing how I would tell the difference without removing the crank. How can I tell what the orientation of the spindle is without removing at least one crank?
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Old 07-20-13, 12:37 PM
  #24  
FBinNY 
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Originally Posted by Flandry
Thanks. I know it's just an orientation thing, but i'm not quite ready to adapt such a novel cadence as putting the wrong one on the left would require...

I am having trouble seeing how I would tell the difference without removing the crank. How can I tell what the orientation of the spindle is without removing at least one crank?
There's no way to know without removing one crank. The BBs are all the same at both ends, so it's only a matter of making sure both cranks match. If buying a (matched) pair of cranks, it doesn't matter either way.
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Old 07-20-13, 12:50 PM
  #25  
FBinNY 
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Originally Posted by Flandry
Thanks. I know it's just an orientation thing, but i'm not quite ready to adapt such a novel cadence as putting the wrong one on the left would require...

I am having trouble seeing how I would tell the difference without removing the crank. How can I tell what the orientation of the spindle is without removing at least one crank?
There's no way to know without removing one crank. The BBs are all the same at both ends, so it's only a matter of making sure both cranks match. If buying a (matched) pair of cranks, it doesn't matter either way.
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

“Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.
FBinNY is online now  

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