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What to do...lower headtube cup damage

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What to do...lower headtube cup damage

Old 02-08-15, 11:06 AM
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55kfog
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What to do...lower headtube cup damage

I picked up a fixed gear off CL, but something felt a little off in the headset. As I took it apart, it looks like the bearing cage wasn't seated properly and damaged the lower headtube cup/race and fork.



How much worse can something like this get? Should I go through the process of replacing the lower headset race or just repack and ride? Thanks
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Old 02-08-15, 11:27 AM
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A replacement headset should be inexpensive. I'd just replace it while it's apart, rather than reassemble it and find out I need to take it apart again to replace.
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Old 02-08-15, 12:02 PM
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Yeah, you're probably right. I'll have to check for replacement costs and go from there.

I wasn't sure if the groove in the fork would reduce the benefit of swapping that out. Do you think the bearings would seat like normal if I replaced the headset? Thanks
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Old 02-08-15, 12:31 PM
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if i were concerned about cost i would just reassemble it properly and test it. what's to lose? assuming all the parts are there.

if the cages are destroyed you can buy new headset bearings in cages at your LBS or just discard the cages all together and buy individual ball bearings (put in as many as you can then remove one) at the LBS or local hardware store. always take the old parts with you when shopping.

on second look, the steerer might be damaged. would help to see it without the crown race on there.

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Old 02-08-15, 01:42 PM
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I can't tell much from the photos, though it looks like the ball track is OK. I see some damage, but not in the ball track, it would be nice to see the upper races for comparison, but from what I see, the damage seems to be in a non critical area.

I'd reassemble using the upper retainer below since that's the more critical bearing. Make sure it's in right side up. Grease, assemble and adjust, and ride. If you can adjust it and it rides OK, then it is, and you can continue riding un til you have a reason to check the headset fresh.

BTW- if you have them, you can try your luck with loose balls rather than the retainer.
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Old 02-08-15, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
if i were concerned about cost i would just reassemble it properly and test it. what's to lose? assuming all the parts are there.

if the cages are destroyed you can buy new headset bearings in cages at your LBS or just discard the cages all together and buy individual ball bearings (put in as many as you can then remove one) at the LBS or local hardware store. always take the old parts with you when shopping.
Good point- I'll try it out again to check, but I called my LBSs and found out how affordable a new set would be (as low as $25). It'd be nice to keep the original look, but I'm ok with switching too. The cages and bearings seem ok...it's as if the guy had it tightened down in the wrong spot and it just started a groove.
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Old 02-08-15, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I can't tell much from the photos, though it looks like the ball track is OK. I see some damage, but not in the ball track, it would be nice to see the upper races for comparison, but from what I see, the damage seems to be in a non critical area.

I'd reassemble using the upper retainer below since that's the more critical bearing. Make sure it's in right side up. Grease, assemble and adjust, and ride. If you can adjust it and it rides OK, then it is, and you can continue riding un til you have a reason to check the headset fresh.

BTW- if you have them, you can try your luck with loose balls rather than the retainer.
Yeah, it is a little hard to see, but the ball track does look damaged to me taking a closer look at how the new groove was created. I'll try to post new pics when I get home.
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try that when I reassemble and see how it goes.
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Old 02-08-15, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by 55kfog View Post
Yeah, it is a little hard to see, but the ball track does look damaged to me taking a closer look at how the new groove was created. I'll try to post new pics when I get home.
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try that when I reassemble and see how it goes.
Where there there any ball bearings in lower cup when you took it apart? The fact that somehow a new bearing surfaced was formed also makes it looks like it was run without ball bearings for a while, or perhaps a mismatch between the cup and the fork crown. My guess is a little work with a file and some new bearings would do the trick.
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Old 02-08-15, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
Where there there any ball bearings in lower cup when you took it apart? The fact that somehow a new bearing surfaced was formed also makes it looks like it was run without ball bearings for a while, or perhaps a mismatch between the cup and the fork crown. My guess is a little work with a file and some new bearings would do the trick.
Yes, there was a full cage of bearings, which actually look reusable. I'll consider using a file and adjusting based on what I find when I reassemble. Appreciate the ideas...considering other things I've found on the bike, I should also consider that maybe it was mismatched.
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Old 02-08-15, 06:23 PM
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...
...I've never seen a headset tube race constructed like the one you picture, which appears to be of two parts. Is this some sort of newer, straight from China fixed gear ?

If that is the case, your best bet when something goes bad (and stuff will go bad), is to replace the part with something better designed and manufactured.
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Old 02-08-15, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by 55kfog View Post
Yes, there was a full cage of bearings, which actually look reusable. I'll consider using a file and adjusting based on what I find when I reassemble. Appreciate the ideas...considering other things I've found on the bike, I should also consider that maybe it was mismatched.
Perhaps the cage bearings were in upside down?
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Old 02-08-15, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...
...I've never seen a headset tube race constructed like the one you picture, which appears to be of two parts. Is this some sort of newer, straight from China fixed gear ?

If that is the case, your best bet when something goes bad (and stuff will go bad), is to replace the part with something better designed and manufactured.
@3alarmer It's a 2010 Sputnik (Jamis) that was set up on the fixed gear side of its flip flop hub. The headset is original from what I can tell. I've only worked on bikes that I've owned for the most part (limited), but the ones I've seen have been built similarly. The assembly is like the one about two-thirds down the page here: Servicing Bicycle Headsets In my pics of the fork, the crown race is still on the fork, for reference. I hear you on the benefits of replacement. I think I'm leaning towards replacing the headset because the frame and fork is what interested me most, and pushed me to buy the bike anyways.

@onespeedbiker Could be the case...I don't remember checking that when I pulled it out, so maybe. The groove that takes off the inner part of the cup is smooth and distinct, so my guess is that it was not seated properly. Maybe upside down, too.

Also, if anyone wants to see the top cup, here are a couple pics. To compare, on the lower cup pictures from before, the damage is to the inner "ring" of the cup.
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Old 02-08-15, 09:27 PM
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Do you have a picture of the caged bearings you removed from the bottom?
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Old 02-08-15, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by 55kfog View Post
@3alarmer It's a 2010 Sputnik (Jamis) that was set up on the fixed gear side of its flip flop hub. The headset is original from what I can tell. I've only worked on bikes that I've owned for the most part (limited), but the ones I've seen have been built similarly. The assembly is like the one about two-thirds down the page here: Servicing Bicycle Headsets In my pics of the fork, the crown race is still on the fork, for reference. I hear you on the benefits of replacement. I think I'm leaning towards replacing the headset because the frame and fork is what interested me most, and pushed me to buy the bike anyways.

@onespeedbiker Could be the case...I don't remember checking that when I pulled it out, so maybe. The groove that takes off the inner part of the cup is smooth and distinct, so my guess is that it was not seated properly. Maybe upside down, too.

Also, if anyone wants to see the top cup, here are a couple pics. To compare, on the lower cup pictures from before, the damage is to the inner "ring" of the cup.

...OK, thx, I see the difference in terms of where your original race shows wear on the anodizing. You've already done almost half of the work to replace it, and that's what I would do. You can buy some pretty good headsets for not a whole lot of money on Amazon these days. And yours looks to be pretty standard in terms of dimensions.
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Old 02-08-15, 10:45 PM
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Looks to me like it wore a groove in the steerer tube all the way around, just above the lower crown race. If that's the case, I'd be worrying that the steerer tube could snap off right there at the groove.
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Old 02-08-15, 11:54 PM
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@onespeedbiker here are some pics of both bearing cages. I believe the one on the right are from the top.


@3alarmer After cleaning things up a bit more and listening to feedback here and at a couple LBSs, I think I am going to end up swapping out the headset. Part of the reason is because of what CroMo Mike brings up. I did ask about safety at the LBSs, and they thought it would be fine, but also, I don't want the damage to get worse on the stem. I brought home a headset that has a crown race that would go above where the groove is, so I hope that helps give some reinforcement as well.

Still thinking this through, but leaning towards replacement.
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Old 02-09-15, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by 55kfog View Post
@onespeedbiker here are some pics of both bearing cages. I believe the one on the right are from the top.


@3alarmer After cleaning things up a bit more and listening to feedback here and at a couple LBSs, I think I am going to end up swapping out the headset. Part of the reason is because of what CroMo Mike brings up. I did ask about safety at the LBSs, and they thought it would be fine, but also, I don't want the damage to get worse on the stem. I brought home a headset that has a crown race that would go above where the groove is, so I hope that helps give some reinforcement as well.

Still thinking this through, but leaning towards replacement.
Could you take a picture of one of the bearings positioned on the crown race?
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Old 02-09-15, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by CroMo Mike View Post
Looks to me like it wore a groove in the steerer tube all the way around, just above the lower crown race. If that's the case, I'd be worrying that the steerer tube could snap off right there at the groove.
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Old 02-09-15, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by CroMo Mike View Post
Looks to me like it wore a groove in the steerer tube all the way around, just above the lower crown race. If that's the case, I'd be worrying that the steerer tube could snap off right there at the groove.
on second look, i think you are right. could help to see it without the crown race.
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Old 02-09-15, 11:56 AM
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The more I look at this, I almost sure the damage was done by a lower cage bearing installed upside down.


I found this link that shows similar damage (but certainly not brinelling). Tamia Nelson's Outside » Heading Off Headset Problems The crown race on your bike also seems to have a notched interface that I have never seen before



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Old 02-09-15, 12:49 PM
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that looks dangerously worn
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Old 02-09-15, 01:27 PM
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@onespeedbiker @hueyhoolihan Sorry, I didn't see these replies earlier. I would have taken another picture with the bearings on the old race, as well as the stem out the race, but I decided to swap the headset out and already installed the new crown race...pic below. There wasn't any damage beyond what can be seen in the other pic...the stem was clean underneath the crown race, for whatever that's worth. That's an interesting link, onespeedbiker. Thanks. The damage does look very similar. Bummer.



@italktocats @cale @CroMo Mike would you not ride on this stem based on the pic? Based on what I saw and what the LBSs said when they looked at it, I felt reasonably comfortable, but you guys have me a bit concerned. I've never had something like that happen. If it were to fail would it (generally) be a catastrophic failure...like all at once? To be honest, as far as I have come with this bike, I think I'm going to try it out, but appreciate your feedback and any experiences.
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Old 02-09-15, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by 55kfog View Post
....would you not ride on this stem based on the pic? Based on what I saw and what the LBSs said when they looked at it, I felt reasonably comfortable, but you guys have me a bit concerned. ...
I would have no (zero, nada) qualms about riding this fork. There appears to be no material wear or scoring of the steerer, just a bit of buffing where it apparently rubbed on the ID of the pressed in section of the lower cup.

The greatest stress on the steerer is below the crown race, which provides support and becomes the fulcrum for bending moments. There is reaction stress above the steerer, (just as in there is stress on both sides of a seesaw), but it diminishes as you move from the crown. Also note that steel steerers are significantly overbuilt with wall thicknesses of about 1/8" for the lower 2" or so.

Failure in quality steel steerers is just about unheard of, and failure above the crown race, rarer yet. IMO, if you continue to ride this fork, mounting a lightning rod and ground strap to your bike, since the odds of being struck by lightning are worse than those of this fork failing.
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Old 02-09-15, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I would have no (zero, nada) qualms about riding this fork. There appears to be no material wear or scoring of the steerer, just a bit of buffing where it apparently rubbed on the ID of the pressed in section of the lower cup.

The greatest stress on the steerer is below the crown race, which provides support and becomes the fulcrum for bending moments. There is reaction stress above the steerer, (just as in there is stress on both sides of a seesaw), but it diminishes as you move from the crown. Also note that steel steerers are significantly overbuilt with wall thicknesses of about 1/8" for the lower 2" or so.

Failure in quality steel steerers is just about unheard of, and failure above the crown race, rarer yet. IMO, if you continue to ride this fork, mounting a lightning rod and ground strap to your bike, since the odds of being struck by lightning are worse than those of this fork failing.
Thanks for your feedback. That's helpful. One LBS mentioned the same thing about the build quality, in general, of steel shafts. Once I get through a couple more things on the bike, I'll hook up that lightning rod and ground strap and give it a go. Fingers crossed.
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Old 02-09-15, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 55kfog View Post
... would you not ride on this stem based on the pic? Based on what I saw and what the LBSs said when they looked at it, I felt reasonably comfortable, but you guys have me a bit concerned. I've never had something like that happen. If it were to fail would it (generally) be a catastrophic failure...like all at once? To be honest, as far as I have come with this bike, I think I'm going to try it out, but appreciate your feedback and any experiences.
I been down many times including the variety of fall that includes flipping headfirst in a high-side fall, this is without question the worst way to fall. I don't know if your fork will fail. I hope never but I've replaced frames with cracked welds at the headset. Just as a precaution and advise you to pay close attention to the part for signs of damage. After all, the fork looks to have supported previous riders above the race so it's a bit of a guess how it will react to being suddenly unburdened or supported.
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