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 Post subject: aheadset gone stiff?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:11 pm 
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i re-assembled one of my bikes today & have a headset issue.

the forks, headset etc are all the same as before (when it was faultless) but despite how tight I do the stem / topcap or arrange the spacers the forks turn, but they are very stiff.

what are the likely problems?

mal-aligned cups?
seized bearing or two in one of the cages?

the only other thing I noticed is on the top race, there is a wedge shaped washer than drops down into it (last bit of the headset assembly). This will not sit flush with the top of the top race anymore - what could be causing this?

to be honest, i've never really dealt with aheads before, only threaded units so not too sure how to go about rectifying the issue.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:19 pm 
Gold Trader / rb Rider / Special
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Is the race flush?

Have you jammed a rubber seal in somewhere?

Maybe you have just tightened it at the wrong angle?

Missing a part? What headset is it?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:28 pm 
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as far as i can tell, the crown race, bottom cup, top cup & top race are all sitting flush.

only rubber seal sits between the top cup & crown race and it is reamed so it sits perfectly in position

tried to re-fit 2 or 3 times (when taking apart to check things) & its been the same each time so doubtful the angle would be an issue but worth checking.

no missing part, when it was taken off i stacked everything on the steerer tube in order, put the top cap on then cling filmed the whole thing to keep the grease off the other stuff in the cupboard.

unsure of brand, its potentially a low end fsa, token or similar. its on caged bearings & no markings on the cups to give a maker. the lbs who fitted it were always good at getting stacks of oem parts from sources unknown & knocked them out at stupidly cheap prices!

2 thoughts have entered my head.

1 - could something have fallen against one of the cups & knocked it slightly out of true?

2 - when i gave it a little smear of fresh grease before re-assembly could the old & new have reacted against each other causing the stiffness?

option 2 wouldn't explain the top wedge not sitting flush but option 1 would probably have other symptoms.

i'll rip it apart again tomorrow & see how it sits without the bearings in it. & i'll also put the verniers around the cups to see if there are any flat spots. failing that i'm stumped!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:05 pm 
Old School Grand Master

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:55 pm
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My bet is that one of the caged bearings is in upside down so the bearing is dragging on the cage not the balls.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:41 pm 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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I'd think bearings too. Headsets can be a pain, I've had a few trip me up over the years. Cartridge bearings are definitely the way forward!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:17 pm 
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from memory, the flat of the cage is sitting against the crown race & the flat is pointing upwards on the top set towards the top race. is this right?

i'll degrease the bearings when i get chance & see if there is anything noticeable wrong, if i'm in any doubt i'll chuck them & fit fresh ones.

a new headset is on the list for this build but I have zero budget so need to use the parts I already have to get it up and running.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:27 am 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Lose the cages and pack the bearings in loose. Made my impact headset smooth as silk.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:27 pm 
Old School Grand Master

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:55 pm
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Location: New Forest, UK
I think the lower cage is fitted upside down. The inside of the cage should be the bearing surface.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:06 pm 
MacRetro rider
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Sound just like a topcap issue I had that took me days to resolve - same style of headset too. My topcap had an shaped underside that caught the inner edge of the steerer.

Have you changed the stem?? the new one might be slightly lower and is catching the topcap slightly (not just at the edges check centre too)

star washer might be squint, perhaps by a knock in the cupboard

Have the forks changed? slightly longer steerer snagging top cap - or the star washer could be higher and catching the topcap that way.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:36 pm 
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i might be sorted...

dropped the fork out, took the top section off the steerer
re-fitted the fork, refitted top section of headset, spacers, stem, tightened stem to a point where things were nice & loose on the steering but no play, fitted top spacers & a different top cap (steerer needs cutting down but i need to play around with spacer heights first)

not perfect but a damn site better than it was. i'll have a proper play around when everything else is fitted & setup.


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