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Stuck Steel 1938 Stem

Old 08-19-22, 03:51 PM
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dantonvb
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1938 Stuck Bianchi Steel Stem


I recently bought a 1938 Bianchi frame. It came with a stuck steel stem (pictured), which I think may be a Cinelli. It appears to be original. The stem is already without the screw, and the conical nut is free inside the fork steerer, at the bottom.

I tried to remove the stem, after overnight soaking with vinegar, and after that with WD40. I searched the forums but all the posts I found are about stuck aluminum stems.

Any ideias about removing this steel stem, without major damage to stem or fork ? Thanks!

Last edited by dantonvb; 08-19-22 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 08-19-22, 03:58 PM
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I've seen a lot of discussion in the past noting acetone + automatic transmission fluid as a homemade penetrating oil. Before trying it, search Google for "acetone atf bikeforums" and you'll see a lot of advice from folks who have done it before. Unfortunately, if destroying neither the frame nor the stem is an option, you'll need to be very patient.

I've personally had good luck with PB Blaster and Liquid Wrench, and I also see Kroil recommended often.
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Old 08-19-22, 04:04 PM
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Steel to steel stuck is simple rust. Dip the front end in Evaporust or a solution of oxalic acid for a day or two. Should do the job.

Also, the shape of the stem and that it is on a Bianchi says Ambrosio, not Cinelli.
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Old 08-19-22, 04:10 PM
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Heres my best. Soak as much PB Blaster as you can and use a big vise. I don't know if you have a bar or clamps to get a better grip on the stem.

True the stem is alloy but it's still the same procedures.
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Old 08-19-22, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Steel to steel stuck is simple rust. Dip the front end in Evaporust or a solution of oxalic acid for a day or two. Should do the job.

Also, the shape of the stem and that it is on a Bianchi says Ambrosio, not Cinelli.
I agree with this approach with a small caveat. What material is the headset made of? If it's alu, I might be cautious of the oxalic acid for a long period of time.
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Old 08-19-22, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Cynikal View Post
I agree with this approach with a small caveat. What material is the headset made of? If it's alu, I might be cautious of the oxalic acid for a long period of time.
If the headset is aluminum, it is not original to the bike. It could be sacrificed, a decision to be made.
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Old 08-19-22, 05:00 PM
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The headset is steel, and has Bianchi 38 engraving on it. All the parts in the bicycle are steel. No aluminum.
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Old 08-19-22, 05:03 PM
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Also, get a rubber mallet or dead-blow hammer to help preserve old parts from damage whilst whacking on them.
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Old 08-19-22, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by dantonvb View Post
The headset is steel, and has Bianchi 38 engraving on it. All the parts in the bicycle are steel. No aluminum.
Then OA is going to be your friend.
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Old 08-19-22, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. 66 View Post
Heres my best. Soak as much PB Blaster as you can and use a big vise. I don't know if you have a bar or clamps to get a better grip on the stem.

True the stem is alloy but it's still the same procedures.
Originally Posted by etherhuffer View Post
Also, get a rubber mallet or dead-blow hammer to help preserve old parts from damage whilst whacking on them.

These approaches have ALWAYS worked for me.....WD40 in my estimation is not for use on heavily rusted part....it may also seem counter intuitive, but tapping/hitting down on the part a few times will often help dislodge the parts and allow for better penetration of the mixture.
I have never used the mix of acetone and T.O. but other have had success with it so if you like mixing your own brew, give it a try.
After that O.A. will remove the rest of the rust and you will need less of it.
Let us know how it turns out.
Best, Ben
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Old 08-19-22, 06:09 PM
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@dantonvb

Originally Posted by Cynikal View Post
Then OA is going to be your friend.
OA and HUGE amounts of patience, then a lot more, maybe several mountains more.

A large amount of elbow grease will also likely be on the agenda.

Glad I'm not the OP and very jealous all at the same time, what a fantastic challenge to have.

Last edited by merziac; 08-19-22 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 08-19-22, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by dantonvb View Post

I recently bought a 1938 Bianchi frame. It came with a stuck steel stem (pictured), which I think may be a Cinelli. It appears to be original. The stem is already without the screw, and the conical nut is free inside the fork steerer, at the bottom.

I tried to remove the stem, after overnight soaking with vinegar, and after that with WD40. I searched the forums but all the posts I found are about stuck aluminum stems.

Any ideias about removing this steel stem, without major damage to stem or fork ? Thanks!
AND more pics plz, what a fantastic challenge to have.
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Old 08-19-22, 06:14 PM
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Here is another approach. I have a compressor and an air hammer. Too violent to use on bike parts per se. The Eastwood video shows that vibratory action really helps. Cool tool for screw removal

On stuck seat posts or stems, again you could pad or protect the part with a block of wood or similar and use an air hammer to light buzz the part. I had a stuck brake disc on my truck, it was rusted onto the hub. I put a block of wood on the disc and then air hammered the wood and popped off the disc.
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Old 08-19-22, 06:19 PM
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What? You post about a 1938 Bianchi, but won't take a pic of the whole frame for us? 😋😁 Sorry, someone had to say it. 😉

I agree with the soaking everyone recomends, but I'll give you a different approach, for holding the fork still. Just get a large piece of PVC pipe, or maybe wood, to sit the forks over, by straddling the 2 legs over the pipe or wood. If you get a good long section, you can brace it, like against a wall or something. You'll get way better leverage, if trying to twist it. 👍
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Old 08-19-22, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
AND more pics plz, what a fantastic challenge to have.
Ha ya beat me to it. 😁
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Old 08-19-22, 06:45 PM
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Iím in the Evaporust camp. Tip fork upside down, stuff with rag and douse it with Evaporust. Add Evaporust as necessary. A plastic mallet and a strong wood dowel are your friends.
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Old 08-19-22, 07:14 PM
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Some pictures of the 1938 Bianchi frame and parts that came with it





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Old 08-19-22, 07:24 PM
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Lovey bike. Good luck with the project.
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Old 08-19-22, 08:51 PM
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ok, then try this and build a "tank" so you don't have to fill up a kiddie pool. Information courtesy of
jonwvara ...there may be other ways to immerse the frame that will minimize material....
Best, Ben
Immersing a 63 cm frame in 1 1/2 gallons of Evaporust
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Old 08-20-22, 02:12 AM
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This might sound dumb, but I haven't seen anyone (including the OP) mention this yet: have you tried unscrewing the top nut on the headset to facilitate stem removal?

If so and it's still stuck, I agree that OA or similar is the route to success.

Cool project - good luck!

DD
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Old 08-20-22, 03:46 AM
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Water is something that the old bike guys do to un-freeze entire bikes. Horse trough full of water, come back in a week.
Probably not viable here though. The OA and patience deal is probably the best bet.
This would be a VERY unusual Bianchi using box pins and fishtail lugs. Perhaps it merely has a few French parts on it. Considering the frames attributes I would tend to agree with the downtube transfer. It looks like an English frame. Considering the drop-outs, it would be a higher level for sure, but English by its construction. Four cup headsets are also usually Clip stem types but the clip can be easily replaced with a standard top. It looks like that is what has been done by the ring in the middle.
No doubt, a nice frame. Once you get it apart, considering the rounded cup flare of the head, one the head cups will probably be stamped, I'd guess Brown & Wilkes.

Considering the fork also has a fishtail crown I'd think it may be original to the frame. Then, Considering that it may actually be a Clip style head steerer tube, that means there may be a "T" cut into the threaded area of the steerer tube to be compressed by the now gone head clip to hold the stem. This "T" area is another bugaboo that will hold up the removal if it is corroded bad.
As mentioned above by Drillium dude, unscrew the headset completely. Do it over a catch pan, there are 60 loose balls in the headset. Then take the stems long bolt that has been removed and re install it several threads and make sure the wedge or barrel is knocked down by smacking the top of the bolt head. Once the headset is all loose and the wedge/barrel is out of the way, things will be easier to asses if you still can't get it out.

Last edited by macstuff; 08-20-22 at 04:18 AM.
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Old 08-20-22, 04:49 AM
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I always wondered why most bikes from the 1930's and earlier do not seem to retain their finishes. They always look like they were pulled out from a shipwreck, finish-wise. Was paint and chrome just that bad back then? Or where there grand old bikes just left out on the porch for many years and negldcted.
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Old 08-20-22, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
This might sound dumb, but I haven't seen anyone (including the OP) mention this yet: have you tried unscrewing the top nut on the headset to facilitate stem removal?

If so and it's still stuck, I agree that OA or similar is the route to success.

Cool project - good luck!

DD
Yes the top nut was unscrewed.
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Old 08-20-22, 05:25 AM
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macstuff the headset upper cup and the bottom bracket right cup have "Bianchi 38" engraving. The crank arms have "Superba" engraving.

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Old 08-20-22, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by macstuff View Post
Water is something that the old bike guys do to un-freeze entire bikes. Horse trough full of water, come back in a week.
Probably not viable here though. The OA and patience deal is probably the best bet.
This would be a VERY unusual Bianchi using box pins and fishtail lugs. Perhaps it merely has a few French parts on it. Considering the frames attributes I would tend to agree with the downtube transfer. It looks like an English frame. Considering the drop-outs, it would be a higher level for sure, but English by its construction. Four cup headsets are also usually Clip stem types but the clip can be easily replaced with a standard top. It looks like that is what has been done by the ring in the middle.
No doubt, a nice frame. Once you get it apart, considering the rounded cup flare of the head, one the head cups will probably be stamped, I'd guess Brown & Wilkes.

Considering the fork also has a fishtail crown I'd think it may be original to the frame. Then, Considering that it may actually be a Clip style head steerer tube, that means there may be a "T" cut into the threaded area of the steerer tube to be compressed by the now gone head clip to hold the stem. This "T" area is another bugaboo that will hold up the removal if it is corroded bad.
As mentioned above by Drillium dude, unscrew the headset completely. Do it over a catch pan, there are 60 loose balls in the headset. Then take the stems long bolt that has been removed and re install it several threads and make sure the wedge or barrel is knocked down by smacking the top of the bolt head. Once the headset is all loose and the wedge/barrel is out of the way, things will be easier to asses if you still can't get it out.
I'll entirely disagree. While being a Bianchi is questionable, but not impossible, the seat lug, rear dropouts, dropout treatments and most importantly the seat tube chain oiler all scream 1930s Italian. I have never seen any of those features on anything but a 1930s Italian bike.
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