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Why I hate cottered cranksets...

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Why I hate cottered cranksets...

Old 12-03-22, 05:15 PM
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jdawginsc 
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Why I hate cottered cranksets...

Shifting against the threads so they do not slide easily out.



Exhibit A #*%!?%*

Exhibit B #%=€£¥?!*#
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Old 12-03-22, 05:29 PM
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Are you looking for pointers on how to remove them? There have been long threads on the subject so I won't repeat it all, but if I may offer just one word, it'd be "heat". Heat the area with whatever ya got, heat gun is best but a propane torch works, or even a blow dryer. Whatever your method of extraction, it'll go easier with heat.

I learned in the '60s and early '70s, when we didn't have the luxury of "hating" cotters, you just had to work on them, to be a bike mechanic, because most bikes had 'em. Well, Schwinn/Huffy/Murray/Columbia had one-piece, but those people never brought their bike to a bike shop for repair. A few fancy race bikes had cotterless (and were a joy to work on), but most of the bikes that came in for repair where I worked had cotters. We had a half-price winter overhaul deal, to keep the doors open in the off-season, so sometimes I'd be taking cotters out multiple times per day.

We only fired up the propane torch for super stubborn ones, but now that I have a heat gun, I'd go for the heat as a "first resort", not only as a last resort. Heat 'til the grease starts smoking, then a little more. Strike while the iron is hot!

Mark B
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Old 12-03-22, 05:35 PM
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I can relate having just removed cottered cranks from a 1973 gas pipe Jeunet. Used penetrating oil and the pipe method with a 16lb sledge. Easy peasy but I will never, no never install cottered cranks on any of my bikes period correctness be damned.
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Old 12-03-22, 05:48 PM
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There is (was?) a tool made for that purpose. Never met a cotter pin that it would not remove. Go to an older established shop with a wise old mechanic and I bet he will have the tool. Let them do the pin removal and you will be a happy camper once again.
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Old 12-03-22, 05:54 PM
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Cottered cranks are much maligned IMO. Come on, it's just a tiny 9 or 9.5mm cotter! As a last resort I use a BIG bench vise, they always come out that way (but that needs an assistant though).
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Old 12-03-22, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie View Post
Are you looking for pointers on how to remove them? There have been long threads on the subject so I won't repeat it all, but if I may offer just one word, it'd be "heat". Heat the area with whatever ya got, heat gun is best but a propane torch works, or even a blow dryer. Whatever your method of extraction, it'll go easier with heat.

I learned in the '60s and early '70s, when we didn't have the luxury of "hating" cotters, you just had to work on them, to be a bike mechanic, because most bikes had 'em. Well, Schwinn/Huffy/Murray/Columbia had one-piece, but those people never brought their bike to a bike shop for repair. A few fancy race bikes had cotterless (and were a joy to work on), but most of the bikes that came in for repair where I worked had cotters. We had a half-price winter overhaul deal, to keep the doors open in the off-season, so sometimes I'd be taking cotters out multiple times per day.

We only fired up the propane torch for super stubborn ones, but now that I have a heat gun, I'd go for the heat as a "first resort", not only as a last resort. Heat 'til the grease starts smoking, then a little more. Strike while the iron is hot!

Mark B
So heat, then a rubber mallet? Or a hammer with a block of wood?
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Old 12-03-22, 06:06 PM
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Block-o-hardwood with medium-big peen hammer.
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Old 12-03-22, 06:37 PM
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well dog,
Looks like you are in need of the press I have. Shipping will be a pita, but yer gonna love the results. Smiles, MH
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Old 12-03-22, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc View Post
So heat, then a rubber mallet? Or a hammer with a block of wood?
Two main ways,
  1. a cotter pin remover, that is, a dedicated tool such as a VAR #07 lever-type, or a BikeSmith or Park screw-type.
  2. BFH ("big hammer", the F is silent)
I have a Var #07...


...but I still reach for the hammer, myself. But I am very used to it. Most beginner/intermediate cotter mechanics should purchase a BikeSmith screw type, well worth the money.

If you want to use a hammer, a punch is recommended, for reasons.

Rubber mallet is no good. You want as much impulse as possible, a sharp impact. Even wood will dissipate some of the hammer impact, so I use a steel punch. My punch has a concave end that keeps it centered on the cotter. OK my punch is actually an old cottered spindle, that has divots on both ends. The divot is the concavity. I have used this same spindle as my cotter punch since 1972. If I didn't have it and couldn't find another, I'd grind a concavity in some available drift punch.

The punch isn't too important though, backing up the crank is the important bit. The back side of the crank should be propped up somehow. Two methods have been mentioned in this thread already, the pipe method and a vise. I like the pipe (don't quote me out of context). Any random piece of pipe you have, preferably with a "floor flange" threaded on the end that sits on the floor. Cut to a convenient length to fit between the crank and the floor. This transmits the force of your hammer blow directly to the floor. Without it, say if the bike is sitting on its tires, the force goes through the crank spindle to the frame, to the wheels, and the to the floor through the squishy-AF tires — the opposite of a sharp impact. Hammering on a bike in the repair stand is even worse, way too floppy.

My pipe-with-floor-flange was cut to length to match the height of a crank when the bike is held in a repair stand. Adjust the bike in the stand until the pipe is held firmly against the back side of the crank you're hitting. Do it right and the cotter will shoot out of the crank and end up inside the pipe. I almost never need to hit it twice, one good whack is all it takes. But that's after having done it literally a hundred times (conservative estimate).

I'll admit I haven't done one in a while though, so my skilz might be rusty. Probably done it about twice in this millennium.

Mark B

Last edited by bulgie; 12-03-22 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 12-03-22, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie View Post
BFH ("big hammer", the F is silent)
Not in the manufacturing environments I've worked in. And I'm hard of hearing.
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Old 12-03-22, 07:01 PM
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What's not to like about the ones which preserve a bit of history?

From an very early 1950s ladies Schwinn Superior, now mounted on a '75 Schwinn Voyageur II, and mated to a '51 Sturmey Archer AM 3-speed IGH.
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Old 12-03-22, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M View Post
Not in the manufacturing environments I've worked in. And I'm hard of hearing.
Well, BF is a family-friendly forum so let's say BFH stands for "bike forum hammer"
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Old 12-03-22, 07:12 PM
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I have had very good luck with the Bikesmith press. It's too expensive if you are only going to remove one crank, but I am kind of the designated guy at the co-op for dealing with cotters, so it has been well worth it. Especially with continental bikes that use small cotters you can't get replacements for.

I also have a pipe setup like Bulgie described (aka Sheldon Brown Anvil) for driving out cotters with a hammer, but I haven't had to use it since I got the Bikesmith press.
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Old 12-03-22, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
<snip> mated to a '51 Sturmey Archer AM 3-speed IGH.
Lemme guess, the Sturmey IGH is because you're tired of working on freewheels?
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Old 12-03-22, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by albrt View Post
I have had very good luck with the Bikesmith press. It's too expensive if you are only going to remove one crank, but I am kind of the designated guy at the co-op for dealing with cotters, so it has been well worth it.
Yeah, but ever since the National League went to that lineup things just haven't been the same.
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Old 12-03-22, 07:34 PM
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I have found this to work on Raleigh sports/superbe/tourist for example but only on those. If you try on other cranks it does not have enough reach , will bend the cotter , and then you will have lots of fun drilling it out without damaging the crank.

$16 Cotter Press
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Old 12-03-22, 07:34 PM
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My technique (discovered in the early '70s) is simple: thread on the cotter nut several turns (but don't tighten down fully) after placing one or two washers on the threaded portion of the cotter. The objective is to leave about 1/8" of space (maximum, about 1/4") for the movement of the cotter. That way, when you hammer it, you can't mushroom the threaded end and it can't bend sideways. All of the force goes straight down.

Then, hammer on the cotter nut. Best to support the underside of the crank around the unthreaded end of the cotter. I used to stand the bike on the floor and place a piece of wood under the crank that had a V cut into it that left space for movement of the cotter, with the other end of the piece of wood on the ground. I also put a sheet of cardboard between the crank and the bike's frame, so I wouldn't have to worry about gouging the frame and could therefore smack the cotter with the full force needed.
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Old 12-03-22, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie View Post
Lemme guess, the Sturmey IGH is because you're tired of working on freewheels?
No. Still working on freewheels.

Now that I live on a very flat coastal island, IGHs are now practical for me to use.
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Old 12-03-22, 08:26 PM
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Nothing prettier than a cottered crank.

Chapman Crank 01 by iabisdb, on Flickr

Frejus 40 by iabisdb, on Flickr
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Old 12-03-22, 08:35 PM
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As TiHabarnarno says, deal with an old mechanic like me and use my tool. I will send it out on Monday. Smiles, MH
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Old 12-03-22, 08:36 PM
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Old 12-03-22, 08:39 PM
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I submit that it ain't the cotter that makes those cranks pretty.
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Old 12-03-22, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
<snip> stand the bike on the floor and place a piece of wood under the crank that had a V cut into it that left space for movement of the cotter, with the other end of the piece of wood on the ground
Just make sure the floor is strong enough before hammering.

Here's another bracing method, from a '60s publication:
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Old 12-04-22, 01:13 AM
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Surprised nobody has mentioned a cotter press until now.

Another vote for Mark's cotter press tool. These do the job for both removal and installation without any wayward hammers smashing cotters into oblivion, they're better than the old Park presses, and significantly cheaper than the impressive and "I-want-one" VAR tool.

https://www.bikesmithdesign.com/CotterPress/




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Old 12-04-22, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Surprised nobody has mentioned a cotter press until now.
Not to toot my own horn, uh no scratch that, YES to toot my own horn... I mentioned three different presses in post #9. Including the awesome Bikesmith, which I mentioned twice (with links both times) and which I recommended people buy.

What do I win? Is there an award for "Most Thirsty"?
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