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Decorative Fork Crown Cap on a 1952 Rudge

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Decorative Fork Crown Cap on a 1952 Rudge

Old 04-17-24, 01:44 PM
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Decorative Fork Crown Cap on a 1952 Rudge

My 1952 Rudge drop-bar bike is a little dressed up for an ol' British 3-speed. You can see there is a shiny cap on the fork. At first I thought, "Wow, did Nottingham put a chromed fork crown on in 1952??" but the answer is no, they didn't! That chromed cap is a steel stamping carefully shaped (great work in manufacturing engineering!) fit the steel cast crown pretty darned close. the crown race is pressed on over the cap, so the cap contour is actually what the crown race is set agaianst, not a machined crown race seat as was common. This model (the Rudge Aero Special) is a functional clone of the same-year Raleigh Super Lenton, with the only variations being the fork crown ornamentation, the chainset ornamentation, and ... I think the paint/decals aka liveries. All functional and structural details are the same between these two variants and several others also owned by Raleigh and built at Nottingham. I wonder what the total volume was in 1952?

My concern is to reassemble my Rudge frame/fork so I can build that up into a bicycle. I have a complete wheelset, with that the only exception being that the FM hub I want to use needs some internal intention. My problem is, how to best attach the chrome fork crown cap to the crown itself. Once I have it attached I'll set the crown race on over it, and press it into place. I see a few options for how to get it all together and secured. First, I did a full trial build several months ago to get the rolling, geared chassis on the road to road test and evaluate the head bearings - all felt good, no tightening as the fork went around, no points of tightness or play. That was all done with the the chrome cap was removed and set aside. So knowing that the head area and its bearings are in good condition and in good alignment without the chrome cap, I now want to attach the chrome cap, and then the crown race with good alignment and stability.

I don't believe the crown race seat needs to be machined. OPTIONS:
  1. I could just set the cap over the crown and press and glue the crown race over it. Then install the bearing balls and install the fork to the head tube as usual.
  2. Glue the cap onto the fork crown, then glue the crown race over that. Then install the bearing balls and install the fork to the head tube as usual.
  3. Machining the fork crown race seat, while I don't think it's necessary, may be the best choice. Then glue the decorative cap to it, then machine the top surface of the decorative cap for alignment and glue the crown race into place. Then install the bearing balls and install the fork to the head tube as usual
So first, I'm looking for advice on which course to follow. Be advised that it appears that a gentle adhesive (rubber cement?) was used well before I got the bike, but that the frame and just about all the parts are 72 years old. I think the brake pads may have been replaced - they don't all match! For those interested I bought a cheap set by Bell, sometime last year.

I would like the bike to remain serviceable as long as I have it, which could be another 20 years, since I'm also about 70. My first thought was to look at the new product seen on TV, Gorilla Glue. I thought it would stay thick, snotty, and gooey as its final state, but the label says that it can be removed with a hammer and chisel, after it is cured - no go! Similarly for "hard" epoxies like JB Weld. So I could go for rubber cement or contact cement (neoprene-based versus rubber-based). But I need to be able to take the bike apart within gthe next 20 years. I might even get the finish restored in a few years.

So to sum up I'm looking for advice on the use of glue in the various steps of assembly, and for advice on what glue to use, that will be possible to disassemble. Hope y'all are still awake!

Road Fan
head tube, fork crown cap, and nice old GB caliper. Scrub brush is a bonus!

Right after I bought it. Front mudguard missing, and I had not gotten a new chain yet, I added the old Selle Anatomica, and some Specialized 27x1 ¼ tires.

Last edited by Road Fan; 04-17-24 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 04-18-24, 08:12 AM
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More seasoned members than I will chime in but I wouldn’t use any glue/adhesive. Set stuff into place and call it good for now.

If you decide to disassemble in a few years you may regret using any adhesives.
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Old 04-18-24, 09:10 AM
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If your crown race is loose, get some Loctite 660 to adhere it, don't use epoxy or JB Weld.
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Old 04-18-24, 09:13 AM
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My 1962 Falcon Black Diamond has a metal chrome fork crown cap kind of like the OP’s also. It sits tight over the crown with no adhesive after headset and all are installed over it

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Old 04-18-24, 01:06 PM
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The last Rudge fork I repaired, the decorative trim piece slid on first, then the crown race. No glue used on either part. The trim piece is held down by the crown race being friction fit.

If the crown race is loose, I use a shim made from a strip of thin brass or aluminum sheet that is wrapped around the steerer tube at the point where the crown race attaches. I prefer thin sheet brass because it is very soft and consistent in thickness, but even something simple like a strip of beer/soda can work.
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Old 04-18-24, 06:56 PM
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As mentioned above, the crown cap is sandwiched under the lower crown race. There should be no problem with removal or installation with the right tools, unless there's an outright fitment issue (I read the post and couldn't quite make out if there is).

If it's too loose, consider the J.A. Stein knurling tool. I take it it's not too tight, seeing as it clearly has been installed before.


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