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Brinelled races

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by Brock, 4 Aug 2007.

  1. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    Location:
    Kent
    My steering has been indexing increasingly over the last few months. I've given up on my LBSs and decided to have a crack at replacing the headset myself. I've taken the thing apart and can clearly see the brinelling on both races.

    My question is am I buying the right headset?
    I thought I'd treat the old bike to this nice Stronglight headset. My stem is a 22 mm quill, so I'm assuming that's the right one to choose, but does 'stack height' matter? Or are there any other compatibility issues I'm missing?

    TIA wise ones.
     
  2. asterix

    asterix Comrade Member

    Location:
    Limoges or York
    It's a while since it was done, but I replaced a headset on a quill stem bike - or at least the LBS did it but I bought the headset, or at least I thought I had but the stack was too low for it. Being an old bike it had a low stack height - IIRC the LBS fitted a Shimano Tiagra set that worked very well (after a bit of readjustment!). Unfortunately, I believe the A9 headset has a high stack height.

    Another possible problem with roller-bearing sets is that they require the headtube faces to be precisely parallel whereas ball races are less picky. So it's possible the tube will need to be re-faced. This shouldn't be hard for a shop with the tools for the job (that an amateur is extremely unlikely to own) but it's extra hassle and cost.

    IME ball bearing headsets are very satisfactory and I wouldn't insist on roller bearings.
     
  3. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    Location:
    Kent
    Ahh ok, thanks asterix. Clearly I should consider this a bit more. :rolleyes:
     
  4. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    Location:
    S of Kendal
    If your old 'notched' headset is a ball bearing one and the balls are held in a 'cage', you can improve things very cheaply by buying a packet of loose ball bearings of the same size, discarding the cage and fitting one more ball in the loose configuration than it had originally.

    This will prevent the balls exactly lining up with the notches and it will feel smoother. It's certainly worth doing on a winter / hack type bike that has hard weather use. Put it all together with cheap car wheel bearing grease and together with a piece of inner tube covering the lower bearing, it will last quite a while.

    But only if you don't over tighten the bearings! However, not doing so is desperately hard with old quill stems. One minute there is play, a fraction more tightness and you've over-done it slightly. But you won't really know until another headset starts to feel notchy.

    A-Head stems really are one of the great improvement that have come around recently.
     
  5. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    Location:
    Kent
    Thanks Tim.
    I had considered the loose bearing fix. but this struck me as more of a make do temporary option which could be frustratingly fiddly to achieve.
    I'm not sure what you mean when you talk about a piece of inner tube covering the lower bearing?
    Oddly, having removed, inspected, and replaced the crown race in a different orientation, the notchy steering effect seems to be much alleviated. Can't see any good reason for that, but hey ho.
     
  6. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    Location:
    S of Kendal
    Cut a piece of inner tube so you have an open ended tube about 3cm long.

    Before refitting your forks, slide this up over the very lowest part of your headtube.

    Refit the forks and adjust headset.

    Roll the inner tube portion down so it covers the gap between the top of the fork crown and lower headset bearing fixed race. Or in other words, the gap where the water gets in and ruins the lower headset bearing.

    It;s very effective, especially if plenty of 'excess' grease is used. The flexibility of the rubber does not impede movement. (oh - er misses)

    You can get more elegant neoprene ones in Mtb shops with velcro fastening so they can be fitted without disturbing the forks. But the inner tube ones are more effective and cheaper.