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wood inside steer tube? an old "pro" thing? TdF LeJeune

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wood inside steer tube? an old "pro" thing? TdF LeJeune

Old 01-02-11, 09:06 PM
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wood inside steer tube? an old "pro" thing? TdF LeJeune

i purchased an old lejeune on ebay from a seller in france, his english is decent but not great and doesn't answer all my questions when i message him (although i haven't asked about the steer tube).

anyway, he states in the auction ""WOOD" IN FORK TUBE AXIS (USE ON RACE BIKES ONLY, SEE PICT 4)"

PICT 4-



has anyone ever heard of this?

i'm not too worried about the condition of the frame as it seems to be in pretty darn good shape for it's age, paint excluded, although not bad either.









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Old 01-02-11, 09:11 PM
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The old guy (70+) at the bike shop I frequent told me it was for mounting a fender, and your frame seems to have brazed on fender brace mounts.
EDIT: I guess he was wrong.
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Old 01-02-11, 09:11 PM
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Yep. I believe it is to keep water and dirt out of the head tube. You will see wood plugs in Italian bikes sometimes also. My Gios has one.
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Old 01-02-11, 09:13 PM
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I had a Diamant that had one.

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Old 01-02-11, 09:28 PM
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I have a Merckx that came to me with a wooden dowel in the steerer. It's not a tight fit, but I suppose it would block some dirt. It's also drilled through for the brake.
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Old 01-02-11, 09:32 PM
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Oh, I was watching that frame, got too rich for me!

Yes, its seems the wood dowel in the steerer tube was an old European racing trick: the idea being if the steerer tube broke the wood would hold it together rather than the rider crashing and dying.
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Old 01-02-11, 09:37 PM
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^^ I heard that from oldtimers too.
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Old 01-02-11, 09:44 PM
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I believe it was more for strength than keeping out grime. My 1915 Pierce track bike has one as does my '60 Bianchi, among many other old bikes I've had come through my shop.
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Old 01-02-11, 09:50 PM
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I have a stock of corks for plugging head tubes and open seat posts for bikes that don't get fenders... the dowel would have been used for the aforementioned purpose of keeping things together if there was some grievous failure.
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Old 01-02-11, 09:50 PM
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All my LeJeune's have that feature. Leave it in.
If the bike fits, you will likely find it a favorite ride.
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Old 01-02-11, 09:53 PM
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I've had a bike that had a piece of cork in the same place, so it wasn't there for structural reasons. I'm guessing it's to keep out water and grime mainly.
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Old 01-02-11, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
All my LeJeune's have that feature. Leave it in.
If the bike fits, you will likely find it a favorite ride.
+1, except I would disagree with leaving it in if you ride it wet weather.

I had not seen marking like this on a Lejeune prior to this frame. Yet another variation.
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Old 01-02-11, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
All my LeJeune's have that feature. Leave it in.
If the bike fits, you will likely find it a favorite ride.
interesting, i guess my question has been answered. i was concerned that it might be masking some damage to the steer tube somehow, that's sounds dumb now that i type it out, lol


Originally Posted by CV-6 View Post
+1, except I would disagree with leaving it in if you ride it wet weather.

I had not seen marking like this on a Lejeune prior to this frame. Yet another variation.
southern california, although it has been raining quite a bit recently, pretty nice weather most of the time, no wet riding.

as far as the markings go, i'm no expert, but i have not been able to find one with matching decals either, except this one https://sargentandco.com/node/102.

nice site here:

https://www.classicrendezvous.com/France/lejeune.htm
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Old 01-02-11, 11:08 PM
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Well, I'd guess with those decals and shiftlevers, which I've never seen, its 60s. The LeJeune builder is actually thought to be pretty good.

"as far as the markings go, i'm no expert, but i have not been able to find one with matching decals either, except this one https://sargentandco.com/node/102."

Jeez, looks identical...
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Old 01-02-11, 11:22 PM
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I have read that it was often practice to put a tight fitting broom handle piece through the steering tube for strength. I heard that was more so for professionals and serious riders, and that the broom handle acted as a damper for vibration as well.

I have also read that wooden plugs and corks were put on vintage bikes that had oil poured into the steering tube to keep the bearings lubed. Some bikes have an oiler hole with a little plug and even a screw on the steering tube. I have seen pictures of many plugs that were oil soaked. Scroll down to the bottom of this link: https://www.43bikes.com/specialissima.html

Perhaps it also did help to keep mud and such out.

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Old 01-03-11, 12:51 AM
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From: jbrandt@hpl.hp.com (Jobst Brandt)
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.tech
Subject: Re: Very Lucky (Synchros) break
Date: 4 Aug 2000 21:18:49 GMT

Brian Lafferty writes:

> And Euro bicycle makers used to hammer a piece of wood up into the steerer
> tube to ease the failure if the steerer tube broke, as it often did, on
> ****ty Euro roads. Both of my PX10LEs had them hammered up there.

This and other urban legends abound. Roads in Europe are no worse
than elsewhere and a wooden plug only enhances the probability of
failure because moisture collects between wood and tubing. Those who
have had a bicycle where the paint shop failed to remove the paper
plug in the seat tube know how that works. The paint begins to
wrinkle, there where the clump of wet newspaper is stuck and then it
cracks.

Jobst Brandt <jbrandt@hpl.hp.com
>

I'd never seen it before I got a '70s PX-10
that has one. I don't ride it in the rain, so
have left it in place. Obviously at one time
it was a practice in the land of escargot.
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Old 01-03-11, 07:25 AM
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Assuming the fit is not too tight, riding in the rain shouldn't be a problem. If the fit is tight and you were to allow the plug to be soaked, it could expand and potentially do some damage. Unlikely, but it could happen.

I would actually have issue with totally plugging the bottom of a steerer tube with something like a cork. That's a bit like a story told on here once about a sponge being found in a seat tube that had rusted completely through. You're blocking off water from entering going up. You're also blocking water from exiting in it's natural, gravity encouraged direction of down.
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Old 01-03-11, 07:54 AM
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I was watching that auction as well. It was exciting in the final hours.

If you could please send some pictures to Velobase for info purposes or give them permission to copy yours.
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Old 01-03-11, 08:21 AM
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The plug in my PX10's steerer is too short and too loose to hold the steerer together in case of failure. I don't buy that story no matter how many times it is repeated and who is doing the repeating.
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Old 01-03-11, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by 20grit View Post
Assuming the fit is not too tight, riding in the rain shouldn't be a problem. If the fit is tight and you were to allow the plug to be soaked, it could expand and potentially do some damage. Unlikely, but it could happen.

I would actually have issue with totally plugging the bottom of a steerer tube with something like a cork. That's a bit like a story told on here once about a sponge being found in a seat tube that had rusted completely through. You're blocking off water from entering going up. You're also blocking water from exiting in it's natural, gravity encouraged direction of down.
Yes, the plug does a very nice job at holding in any rainwater that trickles in around the stem, eventually causing the expander wedge to freeze up. I just had to drill the plug out of an old PX-10 to free up the bolt so I could get the stem out. If there's a practical advantage to the plug, I can't imagine what it is. The short one in my stem would have done nothing to hold a broken steerer together.
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Old 01-03-11, 09:21 AM
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I thought they were meant as food sources for French termites.

Neal
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Old 01-03-11, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I thought they were meant as food sources for French termites.

Neal
That's more plausible than steerer reinforcement.
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Old 01-03-11, 09:53 AM
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The more I think about it, the more I like the vibration dampening theory. The golfing industry has been doing something similar for years in shafts.
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Old 01-03-11, 10:48 AM
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Ah so that explains why all of my bikes are vibrating all the time when I ride, I haven't broken off a broomstick in 'em... lol, I dunno...

I'm with Grand Bois on this, it seems like a bunch of old-timey malarkey to me. I can't see there being more than a turd's weight difference between stronger steerers and a nice oak dowel.
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Old 01-03-11, 11:20 AM
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Laugh all you want but I do know it works in golf shafts. I don't know about bike tubes though.
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