Cracked headtube

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Kurt Fankhauser, Feb 10, 2003.

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  1. I took my Raleigh R-300 aluminum bike into my LBS to have the headset replaced. When I got it home I
    noticed a bubble in the paint. Upon closer inspection I found that the top of the headtube had about
    a 1/2 inch long crack where the top bearing was pressed in. My understanding is that the frame,
    being aluminum, is basically toast.

    Is it at all common to have a failure like this when replacing a headset? Is the totally the bike
    shop's fault or could the tubing have been fatigued? This was my rain bike and although not
    glamorous it was a good worker. How would a reliable bike shop handle this situation?
     
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  2. Garry N

    Garry N Guest

    "Kurt Fankhauser" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I took my Raleigh R-300 aluminum bike into my LBS to have the headset replaced. When I got it home
    > I noticed a bubble in the paint. Upon closer inspection I found that the top of the headtube had
    > about a 1/2 inch long crack where the top bearing was pressed in. My understanding is that the
    > frame, being aluminum, is basically toast.
    >
    > Is it at all common to have a failure like this when replacing a headset? Is the totally the bike
    > shop's fault or could the tubing have been fatigued? This was my rain bike and although not
    > glamorous it was a good worker. How would a reliable bike shop handle this situation?

    If this happened at my shop, I would be on the phone to Raliegh and see if they would cover it as a
    warranty. It normally would not happen just changing a headset, if you rode the bike for a while
    with a loose headset that could cause it. It is always a good idea to get with the manufacturer when
    there is a question like this. Hope this helps, Garry
     
  3. S. Anderson

    S. Anderson Guest

    Not trying to insult your intelligence, but are you sure it's the aluminum that's cracked? It could
    "just" be paint, in which case it's simply cosmetic. Generally, head tubes on alu. frames are mighty
    thick and will not crack as a result of putting a headset in, unles they seriously tried! It's a
    tricky thing. Maybe the crack was pre-existing and they just didnt' notice. A loose headset causing
    long-term back and forth forces could cause it to crack and maybe they just made it more noticeable
    with a tight headset. It might be helpful to know where the crack is around the circum. of the head
    tube. Really, it's hard to know who's in the right here. Our shop would have tried to get a
    replacement from Raleigh first (we would never have cracked it by forcing the wrong headset in
    there..) and failing that, would try to get you an equivalent frame at a discount. You can get some
    nice frames relatively cheap if you're in the business.

    Cheers,

    Scott..
    --
    Scott Anderson

    "Kurt Fankhauser" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I took my Raleigh R-300 aluminum bike into my LBS to have the headset replaced. When I got it home
    > I noticed a bubble in the paint. Upon closer inspection I found that the top of the headtube had
    > about a 1/2 inch long crack where the top bearing was pressed in. My understanding is that the
    > frame, being aluminum, is basically toast.
    >
    > Is it at all common to have a failure like this when replacing a headset? Is the totally the bike
    > shop's fault or could the tubing have been fatigued? This was my rain bike and although not
    > glamorous it was a good worker. How would a reliable bike shop handle this situation?
     
  4. Indeed the tube is cracked with the crack parallel to the tube on the left side (90 degrees from
    front) as you sit on bike. I had been having problems with the original headset working loose and
    took it to the shop after discovering that the threads on the top bearing race were stripped. Sounds
    like this may have fatigued the frame. :-(

    Unfortunately, I bought this bike used so I doubt Raleigh will extend their warranty to me.

    S. Anderson <[email protected]> wrote: : Not trying to insult your intelligence, but
    are you sure it's the aluminum : that's cracked? It could "just" be paint, in which case it's
    simply : cosmetic. Generally, head tubes on alu. frames are mighty thick and will : not crack as
    a result of putting a headset in, unles they seriously tried! : It's a tricky thing. Maybe the
    crack was pre-existing and they just didnt' : notice. A loose headset causing long-term back and
    forth forces could cause : it to crack and maybe they just made it more noticeable with a tight :
    headset. It might be helpful to know where the crack is around the circum. : of the head tube.
    Really, it's hard to know who's in the right here. Our : shop would have tried to get a
    replacement from Raleigh first (we would : never have cracked it by forcing the wrong headset in
    there..) and failing : that, would try to get you an equivalent frame at a discount. You can get
    : some nice frames relatively cheap if you're in the business.

    : Cheers,

    : Scott..
    : --
    : Scott Anderson

    : "Kurt Fankhauser" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    : news:[email protected]...
    :> I took my Raleigh R-300 aluminum bike into my LBS to have the headset replaced. When I got it
    :> home I noticed a bubble in the paint. Upon closer inspection I found that the top of the headtube
    :> had about a 1/2 inch long crack where the top bearing was pressed in. My understanding is that
    :> the frame, being aluminum, is basically toast.
    :>
    :> Is it at all common to have a failure like this when replacing a headset? Is the totally the bike
    :> shop's fault or could the tubing have been fatigued? This was my rain bike and although not
    :> glamorous it was a good worker. How would a reliable bike shop handle this situation?
    :>

    --
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Kurt Fankhauser <[email protected]> 815 S.E. Brittany Lane Sherwood, OR 97140
    (503)625-5260
     
  5. Garry N

    Garry N Guest

    "Kurt Fankhauser" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Indeed the tube is cracked with the crack parallel to the tube on the left side (90 degrees from
    > front) as you sit on bike. I had been having problems with the original headset working loose and
    > took it to the shop after discovering that the threads on the top bearing race were stripped.
    > Sounds like this may have fatigued the frame. :-(

    You have answered your own question

    >
    > Unfortunately, I bought this bike used so I doubt Raleigh will extend their warranty to me.

    It is always worth a phone call, they may offer you a killer deal on a new frame.

    Garry
     
  6. S. Anderson

    S. Anderson Guest

    You know, even though it's a bit shadey on your part, some companies will warranty almost anything.
    You can try to get a replacement through a Raleigh dealer, although I don't know anything about
    their rep. as a company for doing this type of thing. You might see if the installer of the headset
    can get you something. I know we've gotten frames from different distributors that were lying around
    for some nice sums..Giant alu mtb frames for $50..they strip parts off for something and are left
    with the frame lying around. A shop with some contacts might be able to help you out, especially if
    they is some question about how the frame was cracked. Can't hurt.

    Cheers,

    Scott..
    --
    Scott Anderson

    "Kurt Fankhauser" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Indeed the tube is cracked with the crack parallel to the tube on the left side (90 degrees from
    > front) as you sit on bike. I had been having problems with the original headset working loose and
    > took it to the shop after discovering that the threads on the top bearing race were stripped.
    > Sounds like this may have fatigued the frame. :-(
    >
    > Unfortunately, I bought this bike used so I doubt Raleigh will extend their warranty to me.
     
  7. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    "Kurt Fankhauser" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I took my Raleigh R-300 aluminum bike into my LBS to have the headset replaced. When I got it home
    > I noticed a bubble in the paint. Upon closer inspection I found that the top of the headtube had
    > about a 1/2 inch long crack where the top bearing was pressed in. My understanding is that the
    > frame, being aluminum, is basically toast.
    >
    > Is it at all common to have a failure like this when replacing a headset? Is the totally the bike
    > shop's fault or could the tubing have been fatigued? This was my rain bike and although not
    > glamorous it was a good worker. How would a reliable bike shop handle this situation?
    >

    You should calmly discuss with the owner the color of the new frame they are buying for you and when
    they can promptly arrange the parts transfer.

    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  8. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    > "Kurt Fankhauser" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    > > I took my Raleigh R-300 aluminum bike into my LBS to have the headset replaced. When I got it
    > > home I noticed a bubble in the paint. Upon closer inspection I found that the top of the
    > > headtube had about a 1/2 inch long crack where the top bearing was pressed in. My understanding
    > > is that the frame, being aluminum, is basically toast.
    > >
    > > Is it at all common to have a failure like this when replacing a
    headset?
    > > Is the totally the bike shop's fault or could the tubing have been fatigued? This was my rain
    > > bike and although not glamorous it was a good worker. How would a reliable bike shop handle this
    > > situation?

    "garry n" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > If this happened at my shop, I would be on the phone to Raliegh and see if they would cover it as
    > a warranty. It normally would not happen just changing a headset, if you rode the bike for a while
    > with a loose headset that could cause it. It is always a good idea to get with the manufacturer
    > when there is a question like this.

    OK I agree about calling the vendor. OTOH the customer dropped off an intact frame and returned to a
    broken one. That makes it the shop's repsonsibility whether Raleigh pays or not.( and that shouldn't
    concern the customer).

    I also agree that this is not usual or "normal".

    Explain how you feel a poor headset _adjustment_ can crack a frame exactly??

    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  9. S. Anderson

    S. Anderson Guest

    Well, we don't know the frame was intact exactly. The crack could have been pre-existing and just
    not noticed. The shop guy should have noticed the crack and reported it to the owner before he
    installed the new headset though. But we don't know for sure that the crack wasn't already there. I
    think you'd be hard pressed to crack a head tube installing a headset without resorting to extreme
    measures. It's possible, but any reputable shop wouldn't do that. And if it's not a reputable shop,
    what chance is there that they're going to pony up for a new frame?

    With respect to the headset, I've seen head tubes flared out and cracked like a hollow tube that's
    been used as a drift. It certainly wasn't aliens that caused it!! ;-) There was significant play in
    the headset that was never corrected and constant abuse in that state lead to ovalization of the
    head tube. I'm not saying this happens in every case, but it does happen.

    Cheers,

    Scott..
    --
    Scott Anderson

    "A Muzi" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    >
    > OK I agree about calling the vendor. OTOH the customer dropped off an
    intact
    > frame and returned to a broken one. That makes it the shop's
    repsonsibility
    > whether Raleigh pays or not.( and that shouldn't concern the customer).
    >
    > I also agree that this is not usual or "normal".
    >
    > Explain how you feel a poor headset _adjustment_ can crack a frame
    exactly??
    >
    >
    > --
    > Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  10. Robin Hubert

    Robin Hubert Guest

    "A Muzi" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > "Kurt Fankhauser" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > > news:[email protected]...
    > > > I took my Raleigh R-300 aluminum bike into my LBS to have the headset replaced. When I got it
    > > > home I noticed a bubble in the paint. Upon closer inspection I found that the top of the
    > > > headtube had about a 1/2 inch long crack where the top bearing was pressed in. My
    understanding
    > > > is that the frame, being aluminum, is basically toast.
    > > >
    > > > Is it at all common to have a failure like this when replacing a
    > headset?
    > > > Is the totally the bike shop's fault or could the tubing have been fatigued? This was my rain
    > > > bike and although not glamorous it was a good worker. How would a reliable bike shop handle
    > > > this situation?
    >
    >
    >
    > "garry n" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > If this happened at my shop, I would be on the phone to Raliegh and see
    if
    > > they would cover it as a warranty. It normally would not happen just changing a headset, if you
    > > rode the bike for a while with a loose
    headset
    > > that could cause it. It is always a good idea to get with the
    manufacturer
    > > when there is a question like this.
    >
    > OK I agree about calling the vendor. OTOH the customer dropped off an
    intact
    > frame and returned to a broken one. That makes it the shop's
    repsonsibility
    > whether Raleigh pays or not.( and that shouldn't concern the customer).
    >
    > I also agree that this is not usual or "normal".
    >
    > Explain how you feel a poor headset _adjustment_ can crack a frame
    exactly??
    >
    >

    Could be that some shop monkey didn't check for proper prep and just forced the thing in?

    Robin Hubert
     
  11. Garry N

    Garry N Guest

    > Could be that some shop monkey didn't check for proper prep and just
    forced
    > the thing in?

    Extremely unlikely. Chances are good that the bike took a good front collision. Possably at the bars
    or the head tube. I have seen a head tube split this way from the bike impacting a garage door while
    on top of the car. I have also seen head tubes split after they have been riden with a loose headset
    over a while. Lots of BMX bikes do this, the youngsters still jump them even when the headset is so
    loose it rattles around. I have also seen some aluminium frames have their head tubes get egg shape.
    I suspect that these were not heat treated properly after they were welded. I don't think it's the
    shop's fault. They should call Raleigh for you though.

    Garry
     
  12. Garry N

    Garry N Guest

    I should also add that not being able to keep the old headset adjusted was a sympton of the split
    head tube.

    Garry
     
  13. In article <[email protected]>, Kurt Fankhauser <[email protected]> wrote:
    >I took my Raleigh R-300 aluminum bike into my LBS to have the headset replaced. When I got it home
    >I noticed a bubble in the paint. Upon closer inspection I found that the top of the headtube had
    >about a 1/2 inch long crack where the top bearing was pressed in. My understanding is that the
    >frame, being aluminum, is basically toast.

    For practical purposes yes.

    >Is it at all common to have a failure like this when replacing a headset?

    No.

    >Is the totally the bike shop's fault or could the tubing have been fatigued?

    Well it's hard to say if it's their fault. Bike shops force headsets into improperly prepped frames
    every day and don't split the head tube. But with the right materials and enough force it is
    clearly possible.

    > This was my rain bike and although not glamorous it was a good worker. How would a reliable bike
    > shop handle this situation?

    A good shop would be trying to figure out how to make you happy, generally that means trying to keep
    you on the road. If the store is a Raleigh dealer than they should be trying to scare up a new frame
    for you from Raleigh first, and failing that they should think real hard about whether they owe you
    one anyway. Maybe they do.

    --Paul
     
  14. Jon Isaacs

    Jon Isaacs Guest

    Paul S. wrote:

    >
    >Well it's hard to say if it's their fault. Bike shops force headsets into improperly prepped frames
    >every day and don't split the head tube. But with the right materials and enough force it is
    >clearly possible.

    ...

    >A good shop would be trying to figure out how to make you happy, generally that means trying to
    >keep you on the road. If the store is a Raleigh dealer than they should be trying to scare up a new
    >frame for you from Raleigh first, and failing that they should think real hard about whether they
    >owe you one anyway. Maybe they do.
    >
    >--Paul

    To the original poster:

    Been following this thread. Not much experience here as I don't fool too much with Al frames.

    However it does seem to me that either they cracked the frame installing the head set or that they
    should have noticed the crack in the frame when installing the headset. I think it is more likely
    that they just missed it.

    It is pretty clear that at the very least, they ought to refund all the cost associated with
    replacing the headset.

    And as many have suggested, if they probably ought to be finding you a frame. Both of you are lucky
    are lucky that you found it before the head tube failed, that can be pretty serious and people get
    hurt big time.

    A replacement frame would be a good way of saying, "We're sorry we messed this one up, we don't
    think we damaged the frame but we should have been smart enough to check over the region for signs
    of damage. Glad you caught our mistake before anything serious happened. Won't happen again."

    Jon Isaacs
     
  15. Jon Isaacs <[email protected]> wrote:

    : To the original poster:

    : Been following this thread. Not much experience here as I don't fool too much with Al frames.

    : However it does seem to me that either they cracked the frame installing the head set or that they
    : should have noticed the crack in the frame when installing the headset. I think it is more likely
    : that they just missed it.

    : It is pretty clear that at the very least, they ought to refund all the cost associated with
    : replacing the headset.

    : And as many have suggested, if they probably ought to be finding you a frame. Both of you are
    : lucky are lucky that you found it before the head tube failed, that can be pretty serious and
    : people get hurt big time. A replacement frame would be a good way of saying, "We're sorry we
    messed this
    : one up, we don't think we damaged the frame but we should have been smart enough to check over the
    : region for signs of damage. Glad you caught our mistake before anything serious happened. Won't
    : happen again."

    : Jon Isaacs

    Thanks everyone for all the feedback. The shop owner left on vacation right after I picked up the
    bike so I'll talk with him next week.

    Kurt
     
  16. Jim Adney

    Jim Adney Guest

    On Mon, 10 Feb 2003 19:29:00 -0600 "A Muzi" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >You should calmly discuss with the owner the color of the new frame they are buying for you and
    >when they can promptly arrange the parts transfer.

    It's not at all clear to me that anyone knows for sure whether this crack was there before the
    headset replacement or not.

    -
    -----------------------------------------------
    Jim Adney [email protected] Madison, WI 53711 USA
    -----------------------------------------------
     
  17. Jim Adney wrote:

    > It's not at all clear to me that anyone knows for sure whether this crack was there before the
    > headset replacement or not.

    Indeed. I have no clear idea of where the fault lies, but here's an option if recourse to the dealer
    and manufacturer is unavailaing:

    I had a customer come in with some kind of high-end Italian aluminum MTB, can't recall which famous
    brand (one that is much better known for road bikes.) This bike had the same problem, a crack in the
    aluminum head tube.

    I located the end of the crack and drilled a small hole just past it. Don't recall the drill size,
    probably 1/8", maybe 3/16" This stopped the end of the crack from acting as a stress riser.

    I made it clear to her that this could not be a guaranteed repair, and, indeed, I did not charge for
    it. I advised her strongly to check regularly to see if the crack progressed past the hole. It has
    been soemthing over a year, and its still OK.

    Sheldon "This Is Only A Drill" Brown +-------------------------------------------+
    | If Stupidity got us into this mess, | then why can't it get us out? | -- Will Rogers |
    +-------------------------------------------+ Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts Phone
    617-244-9772 FAX 617-244-1041 http://harriscyclery.com Hard-to-find parts shipped Worldwide
    http://captainbike.com http://sheldonbrown.com
     
  18. Epilogue...

    After considering all the responses and knowing that this bike has been crashed, and further knowing
    that I have had problems with the headset staying tight I have concluded that either the headtube
    was already cracked (and the LBS missed it) or the metal was fatigued to the point that it cracked
    when the headset was pressed in.

    The LBS did not carry Raleigh but checked on frames from Trek and Redline. Neither were within my
    price range so he refunded my money.

    In the mean time I located another shop with a Raleigh frame in stock at a reasonable cost which I
    will probably go for.

    Kurt Fankhauser <[email protected]> wrote:
    : I took my Raleigh R-300 aluminum bike into my LBS to have the headset replaced. When I got it home
    : I noticed a bubble in the paint. Upon closer inspection I found that the top of the headtube had
    : about a 1/2 inch long crack where the top bearing was pressed in. My understanding is that the
    : frame, being aluminum, is basically toast.

    : Is it at all common to have a failure like this when replacing a headset? Is the totally the bike
    : shop's fault or could the tubing have been fatigued? This was my rain bike and although not
    : glamorous it was a good worker. How would a reliable bike shop handle this situation?
     
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