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Fork feels flexy...

Old 05-10-13, 09:47 AM
  #1  
RALEIGH_COMP
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Fork feels flexy...

After i changed a flat the other day i left a bit of a dirty spot on the rim i forgot to wipe. so on the next ride out, the dirty spot was smooth and it caused a brake pulsation. but as the brakes pulsated, the bike felt extra rough and bouncy feeling. I checked the headset with the front wheel against the wall etc. and there was definitely some movement, but my bars spun pretty smooth. but just to see i tightened the headset to a little on the rough side. and still it felt like there was alot of movement between the front wheel and the frame. it felt sort of springy though, as oppose to jiggling like a loose adjusted bearing. I only weigh 140lbs BTW. bike is my '78 raleigh competition 531.

how likely is it that my fork could be failing?
the bike was pretty rusty inside and out when i got it...
I'm ordering a tange headset right now any way, the old campy on here has seen better days. although i'm sure i'll have to re-use the upper anyway.
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Old 05-10-13, 09:49 AM
  #2  
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Any one have experience with the Soma forks?
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Old 05-10-13, 10:39 AM
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I can't say how likely it is, but I wouldn't tempt fate with a fork failure. When you install the new headset, make sure you give the fork a very close inspection inside & out before taking the risk. Might be worth posing on the framebuilders forum, too.
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Old 05-10-13, 11:21 AM
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Forks flex. To some degree this is normal. Before making any rash decision about the one you're worried about, I suggest you look at some other bikes and see if their forks flex as much.

When braking, does the bike pull to one side or the other? I ask because of the following train of thought:
--if the fork is compromised by internal rust, it is presumably worse in one leg than the other. I doubt both legs are badly rusted to exactly the same degree.
--if only one fork blade is so badly rusted that its strength is compromised, it will flex more than the other.
--if the right fork blade flexes more than the left, the bike will pull to the right when you hit the front brake. Does it?
If not, then I wouldn't worry about your fork.
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Old 05-10-13, 11:38 AM
  #5  
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I hope you are right rhm, i dont feel one side flexing more than the other, but when i look at the gap between the downtube and front tire, it seems to flex like almost a half inch or so. And i remember when i was assembling a while back i noticed the brazing for the steerer tube was not the prettiest. really thick on one area, then really thin on the other. but i figured i've seen worse from old raleighs. i will take some pictures when i do my headset. sucks the weekend is here and i am a bit sketched out to ride . guess i need to buy another bike!
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Old 05-10-13, 05:05 PM
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There are many different methods of inspection, and the more that are undertaken and passed, the greater the confidence there is no problem. A significant crack may well produce an audible creak when flexed.
A bare fork suspended on a string should ring like a tuning fork when rapped lightly. A dull or buzzing sound could indicate an issue. For a valuable/difficult to replace fork, it may be worthwhile getting a magnaflux or magnaglow inspection at a qualified machine shop, before condemning. Cheapest, first step is throrough visual inspection after removal & cleaning. There may be some crack inspection dyes that can be purchased through retail outlets. Such dyes might expose a crack that is not otherwise visible.
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Old 05-10-13, 05:17 PM
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Drop the fork, remove the brake and crown race and inspect closely. More than one production fork has had little or no braze between the steerer and the crown, and check the region under the crown race.
If the fork checks out, check its alignment.
The metal rarely fails, the fabrication does from time to time.

A customer came into the shop once some 40 years ago complaining of brake shudder and a "loose" feel. Removed the wheel, removed the brake and the crown and blades fell to the floor. "There is your answer!"

I would also check the front wheel or better yet, take the easy way and exchange the front wheel and observe any difference.
Long ago, I experienced some speed wobble on a bike that had never presented it before. The wheel was 30 years old and at the time I built it up it was from all used parts save the nipples.
It was time to retire it. The rear I still cannot knock off... on that one I used CAD plated spokes not that you can tell that today.
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Old 05-11-13, 05:36 AM
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Take no chances with potential fork failure.
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Old 05-11-13, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by RALEIGH_COMP

Any one have experience with the Soma forks?

I have the tarted-up chrome crown version on my Stanyan, nice solid fork (and frame).

Mine is 1 1/8" and threadless, Soma does have a threaded "track" fork for 1" threaded which is the spec on your GS.
Brake reach, rake etc. best taken up w/ the folk at Soma.

https://www.somafab.com/archives/prod...ded-track-fork

Fork failure is not something to mess about with, a very thorough examination is in order for your Raleigh.
Replace if in any doubt.

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Old 05-11-13, 09:27 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by repechage

A customer came into the shop once some 40 years ago complaining of brake shudder and a "loose" feel. Removed the wheel, removed the brake and the crown and blades fell to the floor. "There is your answer!"


So the brake bolt was the only thing holding the fork crown etc to the steerer? That is not good.
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Old 05-11-13, 11:22 AM
  #11  
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got home last night and pulled the fork right away. felt much more solid when by itself, but i guess i have no leverage to sheck in the same way as on the bike. but i did the tap test and it rang out very clear and even sounding. I've grabbed the bottom of each blade and squeezed them together slightly, no creaks or noises.

here's some pics of the steerer brazing, and the area under the crown race. doesnt look too alarming i guess, i think i remembered the brazing to be a lot worse than it was. but its still not thaaaat good... and i also notice right above the brazing there is a groove from the bearings, i'm guessing it was all kinds of sloppy at some point and the fork was so low the balls were no longer riding on the lower race. probably the most concerning due to its location, its not deep really, but it does go all the way around the steerer. what do you guys think?

this is the bad spot!:

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Old 05-11-13, 03:18 PM
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R_C,

I have never seen that before, and it does not look good.

I can't imagine how it would have been rideable w/ the lower headset bearings running above the crown race and it would take some effort to groove the steerer tube like that.

-Bandera
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Old 05-11-13, 05:46 PM
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I went down to the LBS and picked up a headset, slapped it all back together and it feels much more solid now. I'm not too crazy about the steerer either, but i think i'll just stick a broom handle in there for now and prey.
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Old 05-11-13, 07:28 PM
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I don't get it.....How could the bearings run that high above the fork crown?? I never encountered a lower race that would be that thick. Was the lower race properly installed? did it sit right on top of the crown or was there a gap between the top of the fork crown and the bottom of the lower race? I'm also wondering whether someone at one time installed too many bearings at the lower race that made one or a couple of the bearings ride above and outside of the bearing race, causing that groove after some time.
Thing is, what ever caused that groove has now developed a weak spot on the steerer tube with that groove. It could act like a stress riser and eventually crack where that groove is. Prayers might be a good idea, if you plan to continue using this fork....

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Old 05-11-13, 07:55 PM
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I'm with Chombi, I don't see how bearing balls could have possibly ridden that high without a huge gap below the head tube that would certainly be visible.
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Old 05-11-13, 08:19 PM
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I do remember after a long ride a while back the head set felt really sloppy, i just tightened it till it was smooth and thought nothing of it. i'm guessing i didnt seat the crown race all the way, and the ride made it push down and cause all the slop. Must have been that ride that jacked up the steerer. I got a broom handle and turned the bottom inch and a half to fit snug in the very bottom. drilled it for the brake bolt too. i know this is in no way a fix, or even a REAL safety measure. but i sort of need my bike and i'm in a pinch. I will definitely place an order for a replacement fork soon, any one got something that i could buy off em? or is the Soma fork probably the most balanced choice?
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Old 05-11-13, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by RALEIGH_COMP
I do remember after a long ride a while back the head set felt really sloppy, i just tightened it till it was smooth and thought nothing of it. i'm guessing i didnt seat the crown race all the way, and the ride made it push down and cause all the slop. Must have been that ride that jacked up the steerer. I got a broom handle and turned the bottom inch and a half to fit snug in the very bottom. drilled it for the brake bolt too. i know this is in no way a fix, or even a REAL safety measure. but i sort of need my bike and i'm in a pinch. I will definitely place an order for a replacement fork soon, any one got something that i could buy off em? or is the Soma fork probably the most balanced choice?
I see....... I guess what might have happened was, a couple of ball bearings might have fallen out of the top race when things went very loose with the headset and jammed against the steerer tube and the head tube, just above the lower race and after you retightened the top race locknut and started riding the bike withose bearings jammed in down there, they started wearing in that groove. I suspect then that the missing bearings at the top race contributed to the flexy feeling at the front end...

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Old 05-11-13, 09:11 PM
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OP; I have never seen a fork steerer look like that. Seriously abused somewhere along the line. I wouldn't ride it. Replacement forks are so cheap that you could get a couple of them for the price of having a builder replace the steerer. Look on ebay for a nice chromoly replacement fork of the same dimensions and just keep this one back for the bikes later "wall hanger" days.
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Old 05-11-13, 09:34 PM
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^ sounds also very possible.^ man i feel a bit embarrassed to be honest, for things to get that bad and i'm just pedaling on my merry way.

thanks for the help tho guys, I truly appreciate it. I will ride very cautiously. i hope that my broom stick handle should buy me atleast a moment if the steerer does snap. but it does really feel waay more solid now, no weird flexy anything.

can you guys recommend me a fork?(link?) or better yet does anyone have a replacement i could buy? I will rush delivery either way!

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Old 05-12-13, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by RALEIGH_COMP
I will ride very cautiously. i hope
can you guys recommend me a fork?(link?) or better yet does anyone have a replacement i could buy?
Park it until you get a replacement, magical thinking will not prevent mechanical failure and a chunk of broom stick is not a repair.

Your previous inquiry about Soma forks is reasonable, inquire regarding rake, brake reach & steerer length.

https://www.somafab.com/archives/prod...ded-track-fork

It may not be OEM or period correct but you can be sure that a new replacement fork is of good modern quality, not crashed, rusted or abused.

-Bandera
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Old 05-12-13, 07:55 AM
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Really looks like a ball bearing or two got caught where it should not have been. I am not that fearful of it. I would dress it with some emery cloth to smooth it a bit.
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Old 05-12-13, 08:18 AM
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I tend to agree. As a Machinist, I feel that what you are observing with regard to the groove is a combination of displaced metal and paint, which worsens the defects visual condition.

The base metal (tube) is of lesser damage that it appears IMO, thus not compromised. If currently all tightened up with the inclusion of a new headset and bearings, I'd ride it as is.

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Old 05-13-13, 03:47 PM
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so I rode to work today, everything felt like it should have. It's good to know that someone who worked at a bike shop and a machinist don't think that i'm putting my life in too much danger by riding this fork. lol unless you were being sarcastic and bustin my balls. in which case is also fine, i deserve it!


but i still dont know what fork to go with. I would love a replacement 531 sloping crown fork with some chrome socks. but obviously that may not be available. but other than that, the main thing i see that is reasonably priced is the Soma. oh that and a few CARBON forks .. hehe
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Old 05-13-13, 06:54 PM
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I don't know about that fork, good or bad, cannot speculate. But this I will say: uncertainty is no fun.

Electra has some nice forks, recently on sale.
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Old 05-13-13, 09:51 PM
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I agree with the comments to replace the fork or steerer ASAP. We had the fork fail on our tandem many years ago and examination afterwards showed a similar groove in the steerer although on ours it wasn't as smooth. Ours looked like a ball bearing may have fractured and only part of it was riding above the bearing race. When the steerer broke the front wheel separated from the frame and the bottom of the head tube smashed into the pavement. I ended up with scars on both hands and on my chin - definitely not a crash that I'd want to risk repeating. Fortunately my wife was uninjured (her half of the bike stayed up).

The tandem got a new steerer tube and had the bottom of the head tube rebuilt. It's still working ok 36 years after the crash.
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