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Frustrated with stem bolts!!

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Frustrated with stem bolts!!

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Old 11-25-09, 01:24 AM
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banjo_mole 
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Frustrated with stem bolts!!

I've never had any problems in my last year of wrenching, with stem bolts. However, all my stem bolts have been wedge-style stem bolts.

In the last month, I acquired two low-end road bikes of dept. store quality, and have successfully stripped both of their expansion-nut style stem bolts. In the process of a week, two of my bikes are unrideable and unflippable.

My questions are these:

1. Is it mechanical error? These are very low end deptartment store quality bikes that haven't seen maintainence. Are the bolts stripping because they're cheap?

2. Is it user error? I doubt I'm doing anything wrong here, but in retrospect, both times I thought, "I really should grease these threads," and didn't. "Ahh, whatever, not like they'll fail cause of that..." and they failed.

3. Does anyone have any stem bolt/expander nut combos they could send me? I'd like to get these bikes moving again.


Grrrr... How frustrating my relaxing, easy wrench work has been today.

-Nick
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Old 11-25-09, 07:52 AM
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High Fist Shin
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You have the type on the left, correct?



Is the expander aluminum? All of the stems I've seen of that type are and could easily strip if over tightened.
As for replacements, I'm sorry, I'm out of 1" stems at the moment.

Shin.
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Old 11-25-09, 08:16 AM
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I don't believe I've ever seen an aluminum expander. Maybe because I don't work on cheap bikes.
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Old 11-25-09, 08:21 AM
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What exactly was the failure? You should be able to get used stems for almost free at the closest bike co op, and not much more than free at a bike shop catering to commuters (like under $10)
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Old 11-25-09, 08:22 AM
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Mine have always been steel as well. Now sometimes they just spin in place when you're trying to tighten - a little bit of anything non-slip usually fixes that issue.
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Old 11-25-09, 08:52 AM
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if they are stripping during reassembly I would say user error. if you thought about greasing it you should have greased it.

I have seen a few aluminium expanders but usually on better road and MTB stems (usually the round ones)
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Old 11-25-09, 09:03 AM
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This 3T has the aluminum expander cone. It was likely used as a weight savings measure. The Nitto made Dura-Ace stem also used the same alloy expander cone.





Now, I believe most of the wedge type stems are steel. I think maybe I might have seem an aluminum wedge at some point though I'm not sure.

Borrowed from Peter White's website:

"The difference is in the expander wedge. The Dura Ace had an aluminum cone, the Ultegra has a steel wedge, so it's a bit heavier. "
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Old 11-25-09, 09:39 AM
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Cheap bikes are not likely to have aluminum parts.

Just replace the stem with another cheap stem. A donor bike here and there can save you a lot of $$.
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Old 11-25-09, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
cheap bikes are not likely to have aluminum parts.

Just replace the stem with another cheap stem. A donor bike here and there can save you a lot of $$.
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Old 11-25-09, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Cheap bikes are not likely to have aluminum parts.

Just replace the stem with another cheap stem. A donor bike here and there can save you a lot of $$.

I think banjo is out of organ donors right now LOL
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Old 11-25-09, 11:08 AM
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how sure are we that it's actually stripped? is it the bolt head, or the threads? If the bolt is indeed damaged i've seen cheap replacement ones on ebay.

I find that sometimes these expander style stems sometimes will just spin, because there isn't much for them to catch on (the expander part). If the bolt is ok you might try angling your hex key a bit so that it grabs onto the bolt and lifting up while you turn. just to provide some friction on the expander.

good luck!
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Old 11-25-09, 01:50 PM
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Aren't they made of cheap pot metal or cast iron or some sort of soft metal? I was just looking of a bolt/wedge set last night. The ones I had all looked like unfinished cast metal.
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Old 11-25-09, 02:16 PM
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the steel ones are usually cast steel, tho some of the super cheap Chinese junk could be cast iron. I have seen plenty of aluminum wedges and even a couple aluminum bolts (not the best place to save weight, but there were some made) and as always: where there is dis-similar metal contact add grease. A few of the round-taper cone style I've seen had 2 ridges that correspond with the 2 slots in the quill, this is a help to avoid the spinning-not-gripping issue, as noted above.
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Old 11-25-09, 02:46 PM
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The ITM /Vitus engraved stem that I just freed from my 979 Vitus fork has an aluminum alloy expander cone. I think it's the slanted wedge style expander that comes more commonly in steel.

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Old 11-26-09, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Machin Shin View Post
You have the type on the left, correct?


Is the expander aluminum? All of the stems I've seen of that type are and could easily strip if over tightened.
As for replacements, I'm sorry, I'm out of 1" stems at the moment.

Shin.
Hey dan, thanks for the intended offer, but all I need is a new bolt/nut. The expander is either alloy or steel, I can't tell, but yeah, it's the kind on the left. Pieces 'o junk... Definitely stripped easily. I much prefer the "wedge style" now.


Originally Posted by Dirtdrop View Post
I don't believe I've ever seen an aluminum expander. Maybe because I don't work on cheap bikes.
It must be a luxury to afford expensive bikes to work on. Us meager proletarians drivel by on what we can get.

Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
I think banjo is out of organ donors right now LOL
I've got some donor bikes kickin' around, but they're all BMX parts. I've pretty much exhausted my supply of extra parts fixing other people's bikes, you nailed it Bianchigirl!
But I'm going to keep hunting for "parts bikes."

Anyways...

Either way, the thing is junk and I'm probably going to replace the stem, AND I'm going to start greasing old bolts every time, from now on..

I conclude...

1. Cheap bolts are stripping.
2. This is enhanced by user error.
3. I'm gonna hunt down bolts/parts.

-Nick
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