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How long ...?

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cinelli
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How long ...?

#127523

Postby cinelli » March 23rd, 2018, 1:22 pm

I have recently given my trusty old bike a thorough service, replacing the bearings and so on. The headset (chrome steel Tange Levin) had lasted for years with no problems at all. But since re-assembly with new bearings, it makes horrible grinding and clicking noises. All things wear out eventually but I wondered how long you can expect a headset to last. I popped in to the Mercian bike shop in Derby and naively asked this question of the man there. He thought for a few moments and then replied, “two years”. I wonder what others think. Obviously the Mercian man has a vested interest and would have been delighted to sell me a new headset. I would be pleased to hear others’ thoughts on why something which had worked perfectly for years should, after re-assembly, play up. Thanks.

Cinelli

redsturgeon
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Re: How long ...?

#127530

Postby redsturgeon » March 23rd, 2018, 1:48 pm

cinelli wrote:I have recently given my trusty old bike a thorough service, replacing the bearings and so on. The headset (chrome steel Tange Levin) had lasted for years with no problems at all. But since re-assembly with new bearings, it makes horrible grinding and clicking noises. All things wear out eventually but I wondered how long you can expect a headset to last. I popped in to the Mercian bike shop in Derby and naively asked this question of the man there. He thought for a few moments and then replied, “two years”. I wonder what others think. Obviously the Mercian man has a vested interest and would have been delighted to sell me a new headset. I would be pleased to hear others’ thoughts on why something which had worked perfectly for years should, after re-assembly, play up. Thanks.

Cinelli


I'm not sure I understand your question. To me the headset is the new bearings plus the cups etc and is either a sealed unit or caged or loose bearings running in the cups. If I was replacing a headset then I would tend to replace everything and then everything would be running smoothly, if done correctly. Have you just had the bearings replaced running in the old cups? It could then be the cups are worn, or the ball bearings are the wrong size or the wrong number or not properly greased.

As to how long they should last then it depends on a lot of things not just age. How many miles, what type of headset, what weather conditions, road surfaces (assuming road riding from your user name), and how they have been maintained. But two years sounds very short to me.

John

cinelli
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Re: How long ...?

#127789

Postby cinelli » March 24th, 2018, 2:47 pm

You raise some interesting questions and I can’t help thinking that these are the very ones which the man at Mercian should have asked. Like what sort of bike is it, how many miles do you cover and is it well looked after? But no – he didn’t ask me any of those things. When I did my bike service I replaced just the steel balls and put them in the old cups. They are certainly the right size because they matched the old ones. I retained the old cups and cones because they had never given any trouble and had shown no sign of wear after several thousands of miles travelled. I too think that a headset should last a good few years.

Incidentally there is a very interesting bike in pride of place in Mercian’s shop window. They make their own frames in the traditional way from steel tubing with a circular cross section. To see a new bike like this in 2018 looks odd. But the bike on show has a single chain wheel and a very wide selection of cogs on the back wheel. You can buy it for £3500.

Cinelli

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Re: How long ...?

#127836

Postby moorfield » March 24th, 2018, 6:33 pm

My first thought too was to double check your bearing sizes, even if they 1/16" or 1/8" out can do that. Otherwise your cups/cones might be too tight, ie. not allowing the bearings enough play to run freely, or you've missed some spacer ring or such like when refitting?

redsturgeon
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Re: How long ...?

#127847

Postby redsturgeon » March 24th, 2018, 7:09 pm

moorfield wrote:My first thought too was to double check your bearing sizes, even if they 1/16" or 1/8" out can do that. Otherwise your cups/cones might be too tight, ie. not allowing the bearings enough play to run freely, or you've missed some spacer ring or such like when refitting?


Yes my thought now is, did you tighten the headset just a smidge too much?


John

ten0rman
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Re: How long ...?

#127869

Postby ten0rman » March 24th, 2018, 8:58 pm

Could it be that you've got a duff ball? Or one which is a slightly different size? Or even one too many?

Anyway, why change them? I can understand wheels & botttom brackets, and possible pedals, but headsets to me don't do that much work.

But then, what do I know, I'm only a very occasional cyclist.

Regards,

ten0rman

AleisterCrowley
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Re: How long ...?

#127875

Postby AleisterCrowley » March 24th, 2018, 10:04 pm

Reminds me of a limerick.
The young man from Devizes....

cinelli
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Re: How long ...?

#128063

Postby cinelli » March 26th, 2018, 12:18 pm

Yes my thought now is, did you tighten the headset just a smidge too much?


Believe me, I have tried all sorts of adjustments. I have another trick up my sleeve which, if successful, I will report here. Otherwise I will buy a new set.

Thanks.

Cinelli

moorfield
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Re: How long ...?

#129209

Postby moorfield » March 31st, 2018, 5:18 pm

cinelli wrote:
Yes my thought now is, did you tighten the headset just a smidge too much?


Believe me, I have tried all sorts of adjustments. I have another trick up my sleeve which, if successful, I will report here. Otherwise I will buy a new set.

Thanks.

Cinelli


Any luck Cinelli?

I've been cleaning my station bike today. What started as a 10 min simple job ended up (as you do, long story) taking apart/cleaning/repacking both wheel axles/bearings and the headset/bearings. I've definitely noticed on mine that tightening that too much results in a grinding feeling, and the adjustment needed is quite a fine one.

cinelli
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Re: How long ...?

#129658

Postby cinelli » April 3rd, 2018, 11:33 am

Any luck Cinelli?

I've been cleaning my station bike today. What started as a 10 min simple job ended up (as you do, long story) taking apart/cleaning/repacking both wheel axles/bearings and the headset/bearings. I've definitely noticed on mine that tightening that too much results in a grinding feeling, and the adjustment needed is quite a fine one.


I am pleased to report a happy ending to my headset saga, although I don’t come out of the story very well. I know just what moorfield means when he says that a little job on a bike leads to more and more. This is probably more information that necessary, but I hope these ramblings will be useful to others. So here goes ...

I gave my workhorse bike a thorough servicing. This is a fixed wheel vintage machine and parts of the frame had shown rusty patches. I stripped everything down, removed all the metal parts and painted the frame. This included hand painting the name on the down tube. Putting all back together involved a new chain and a replacement TA chainwheel, bought off eBay. The old chainwheel wasn’t worn out but the replacement was in better nick. By the way it is remarkable how much difference a new chain makes to a bike.

So I replaced the old headset with new steel balls. If there is such a thing as a sealed unit I don’t know of it. I have never owned a modern bike. The headsets I have experience with have two cups, two cones and a locking nut. It is always difficult knowing how many balls to put in a headset – too few and it will be loose, too many and there won’t be enough room for them to move properly. I have read that you should pack them in, then remove one. Anyway I reassembled and that is when I had the grinding/clicking noises. There followed lots of adjusting and trying a different number of balls. All this made no difference. So as an alternative I tried fitting the balls in cages. Previous experiences of this hadn’t been good because a cage had disintegrated and this too is a cause of grinding. Anyway I fitted the cages, so much easier that persuading all those loose balls to stay in place. It made no difference – still horrible grinding noises however much I adjusted the tightness. It was at this stage that I made my post on the Lemon Fool.

I had an idea what might be causing the problem, and my reasoning was as follows. The bottom cup is fixed and if it is worn the wear will not be uniform. Suppose I had replaced the cup in a different orientation to its former position. I decided to remove it and turn it round 180 degrees to see if this made any difference. So I unscrewed again and - oh dear! – that’s when I discovered my error The top cage was upside down! How embarrassing! It’s a good job I can hide behind my Lemon Fool username. I reassembled again for the umpteenth time. I decided not to turn the bottom cup round. When fitting bearings like this, whether headset, bottom bracket or wheels, I follow the rule, turn the locking nut finger tight, then turn anti-clockwise a quarter or a sixth of a revolution before tightening. The aim is to have free movement but no looseness.

At last I can report success. The bike runs beautifully, the best for years. It remains a mystery why having loose balls in the headset was so problematic.

Cinelli

redsturgeon
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Re: How long ...?

#129669

Postby redsturgeon » April 3rd, 2018, 12:10 pm

Nice when a story has a happy ending. It's almost worth doing it wrong in the first place for the satisfaction of fixing it :D

I must get my toolbox out soon, I have about six bike projects to finish but the weather has been so bad. I usually like to fix my bikes on the patio in the sun...slim chance of that so far this year.

John

moorfield
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Re: How long ...?

#129732

Postby moorfield » April 3rd, 2018, 4:19 pm

cinelli wrote:At last I can report success. The bike runs beautifully, the best for years. It remains a mystery why having loose balls in the headset was so problematic.


Excellent result! I've taught myself so much over the years by trying/failing/retrying like that. Re: loose bearings, I managed to remove/clean/replace about 60 over the weekend without dropping any which I'm very happy about. Learning of course the hard way from the first time I took a wheel apart when they went awol all over the place ... :x

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Re: How long ...?

#129733

Postby moorfield » April 3rd, 2018, 4:20 pm

redsturgeon wrote:I usually like to fix my bikes on the patio in the sun...slim chance of that so far this year.


Ditto. A great way to unwind and keeps me out of Lady M's hair ... ;)


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