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Need help: headset for 1940s track bike

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Need help: headset for 1940s track bike

Old 07-07-07, 11:03 PM
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MT_marshall
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Need help: headset for 1940s track bike

I recently got a 1940s Swiss track frame for a fixed project, and to my dismay, the headtube is an unconventional size. It came with only the top headset race. The headtube is only about 1/2mm diameter too large to accomodate a standard 1" headset. There's just enough wiggle so that it won't press in, and not enough room, it seems, to insert a shim. I've thought about doing something rash and impatient like JB-Welding a standard headset in, but I think this frame deserves better, given its history. I checked out Sheldon Brown's list of vintage headset sizes, and it doesn't seem to match any period or make.

So, does anyone:

1) know where I might be able to get a matching headset?
2) have a savvy solution for fitting a standard 1" headset?

Thanks, Marshall
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Old 07-07-07, 11:59 PM
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Sounds like a standard headtube that's a bit worn or a bad cup. Have you tried a few different cups to make sure that's not the problem?

If the cup pushes in by hand but is snug (loose but no play), there's no reason not to install it with some red Loctite. First clean all the surfaces really well with acetone or brake-clean. Install the cup with Loctite and clamp in place with a headset press or C-clamp and some wood cauls. Let it set-up at least a few hours or overnight before assembling and riding.

I've done this on a few bikes and the cups have never moved in use, and they come out without issue when you want to remove them.

Again, this is only a good fix for a cup that fits loose but without any play.
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Old 07-08-07, 09:37 AM
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"Again, this is only a good fix for a cup that fits loose but without any play"

Unfortunately, there's definitely some play with the standard headset I tried. I'll try your suggestion of trying some different headsets (the one I tried came off an 80s Schwinn. . .), but I did take the frame to the bike shop and they seemed to think, after a few measurements with a micrometer, that it's definitely bigger than the standard size.

Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old 07-08-07, 10:00 AM
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Otis
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Originally Posted by MT_marshall
"Again, this is only a good fix for a cup that fits loose but without any play"

Unfortunately, there's definitely some play with the standard headset I tried. I'll try your suggestion of trying some different headsets (the one I tried came off an 80s Schwinn. . .), but I did take the frame to the bike shop and they seemed to think, after a few measurements with a micrometer, that it's definitely bigger than the standard size.

Thanks for your suggestions.
You don't want to be using a used cup, as it will already have lost some it's interfernece fit.

Another option is having the cup sprayed with metal. A good machine shop can usually do this or send it out to have it done for you. I'm not sure what the actual process is but they can spray on a thin layer of metal around the cup to enlarge it a bit. When I worked as an engine builder we would do this to the back of cam bearings once in a while.
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Old 07-08-07, 10:04 AM
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The threading on the steerer will probably be Swiss or French also so before you loctite the cup from the Schwinn into the headtube I would check the threading.

vjp
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Old 07-08-07, 10:25 AM
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Wait didn't Schwinn use smaller than standard headsets?
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Old 07-09-07, 08:59 PM
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I'm not sure about Schwinn headsets being smaller, but I think this one's standard.

I'll look into that metal spraying, sounds like a reasonable way to go. It would be nice though to find an original headset--does anyone have any suggestions about where to find that type of thing? It's just a beefy old frame with the Swiss Victorianox symbol on the front, apparently from the 40s.
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