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kfm 01-09-10 10:19 AM

Cork in your fork

"... The corks were also used to plug the bottom of the fork crown. Dirt and moisture were kept out. Light, inexpensive and effective."

NateRod 01-09-10 10:31 AM

reminds me of this

ismellfish2 01-09-10 10:56 AM

Originally Posted by kfm (Post 10246687)

"... The corks were also used to plug the bottom of the fork crown. Dirt and moisture were kept out. Light, inexpensive and effective."

Didn't really make sense. For one, track racing was on clean boards, no dirt or moisture. Also, if it does get in the fork, who cares? I've never heard of one rusting out.

bionnaki 01-09-10 01:04 PM

you've never heard of steel rusting?

as for using cork, that seems silly since there are better solutions to rust prevention and sealed headsets these days.

letsgetsandy 01-09-10 02:25 PM

this is all old tech from the 1920s and such

LesterOfPuppets 01-09-10 02:32 PM

Cork in the steerer tube has nothing to do with headsets. It does help in keeping your stem wedge and steerer tube from sticking (corroding) together, however. I used to run cork in my MTB fork back in the day of quill stems on MTBs. If my road bike didn't have a brake bolt in the way, I'd jam some cork up in there, but as it is I just make sure I pull the stem out and lube it every other year or so - good enough to keep the stem from sticking.

If your bottom headset bearing grease seems to get fouled too quickly, there's a light and cheap solution to that as well. Cut about a 1" length of old tube and slip it up onto the bottom of your headtube next time you're repacking your headset bearings. After you've got the fork back in, slide it down over the headset and up against the fork crown. Keeps the water out of unsealed headset bearings. Acts as a slight steering damper, too.

Sixty Fiver 01-09-10 02:42 PM

Hanging the cork from the saddle rails is an old racing tradition while putting a cork in the fork has a practical purpose as it keeps water from entering and contaminating the lower race of the headset.

Washout is the number one reason for failure in the lower race... and keeping water out of the steerer is also a great way to prevent corrosion in steel frames.

I have a big box of corks at my shop for this purpose... older bikes with tubular seat posts can also benefit from this as this is another entry point for water.

If you don't run fenders this is a virtually free and invisible way to protect your bike from water getting into places it shouldn't.

kfm 01-09-10 02:45 PM


I believe it's also considered good luck.

NateRod 01-09-10 02:59 PM

from the practical standpoint, the cork in the fork is actually a great goddamn idea. I'd never thought of that.

Retro Grouch 01-09-10 03:22 PM

We used to stick a cork in the top of seat posts that had a separate clamp to keep water out.

I'm not so sure about the bottom of the fork thing. For one thing, the part that you're sealing up is already totally separated from the headset. Also, if you have a quill stem, water is going to get into the steerer tube. If you seal up the bottom with a cork, the water can't get out. I'm also a believer in having a drain hole in the bottom bracket shell.

mander 01-09-10 03:42 PM

I'm with Retro Grouch. The bottom of a fork is self draining---if water gets in up the hole, it can get right back out again the way it came. Just spray in some framesaver and forget it. On the other hand, if you plug it with a cork and any water gets in by other means (around the quill stem, under the headset cap, or whatever), then that's where it'll stay, and that's not good.

Sixty Fiver 01-09-10 04:03 PM

In practice... not a lot of water gets into the steerer via the stem or stem bolt but the front wheel throws a lot of dirty water up the steerer which will find it's way into the bottom race and washout will occur.

The ideal is to run fenders on any bike that is going to see a good deal of wet weather riding.

Retro Grouch 01-09-10 05:01 PM

Uh - could you diagram for me the path water takes from the inside of the steerer tube to the headset bearings? I'm not seeing it.

TejanoTrackie 01-09-10 05:05 PM

Originally Posted by Retro Grouch (Post 10248008)
Uh - could you diagram for me the path water takes from the inside of the steerer tube to the headset bearings? I'm not seeing it.


ismellfish2 01-09-10 05:08 PM

The point that it may help keep quill stems from seizing has some merit. The inside of the steerer and the headset are on opposite sides of a steel tube, so this has nothing to do with the headset.

I thought the quill stem seizing thing had more to do with the space between the stem and the steerer above the wedge, since there has to be clearance there.

In general, I'd rather have the inside of the steerer and the inside of the seat tube get wet, then be able to dry out than seal them up. I don't think either would rust to the point of failure ever, at least not before other parts of the frame made it a moot point. Even if it were a concern, on cars the rusty spots are always where trim attached, or where something was bolted to the sheet metal such that dirt and moisture get trapped up in there. It doesn't really matter, but since we're discussing it... I'm against it.

hairnet 01-09-10 05:11 PM

I corked my bar ends when I lost my bar plugs due to a bad spill. :)

elTwitcho 01-09-10 05:21 PM

The cork from the saddle is super cool, I think I may do that on my race bike

kfm 01-09-10 06:18 PM

steel + water = oxidation.
fork + cork = dry.

(though it's obviously debatable)

JohnDThompson 01-09-10 07:28 PM

Ted Ernst (the author of the Velo-cult article) is the real thing and was racing on the track back in the 40s and 50s in both Europe and North America.

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