Headset Bearings question

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by John Owen, May 10, 2011.

  1. John Owen

    John Owen New Member

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    Hi forums

    I've just been given a bike to get to and from work but the headset has seized, well makes a crunching noise and won't turn more than a few degrees. With only having a few markings on said headset I'm not sure what size bearings to buy and was wondering if by some miracal somebody here knew. Its a Tange Levin - MTB 225, the only other markings is the word Japan. I thought I'd ask here saving hauling it into town. Hope somebody can help

    John
     
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  2. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    from your problem description it looks that you need a complete new headset, something looks broken in there, typical sizes are 1 inch or
    1 1/8 inches, they could also be threaded or threadless,
     
  3. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    While you may need a new headset, it is possible that you may simply need new grease AND possibly new bearings ...

    SO, you may be able to get away with simply cleaning out the RUST which has probably formed-and-accumulated through neglect ...

    And then, simply repacking the headset with new grease may get your bike back on the road ...

    • Although most "loose" bearings are often caged, I recommend that you disassemble the headset with the bike upside-down.

    To TEST whether-or-not simply regreasing and/or replacing the bearings will suffice, turn the bike upside down with the handlebars on top of some newspaper or newspaper-in-a-tray ... try to make the headtube as vertical as possible ... drip some 3-in-1 or lighter oil to the headset cups ... wipe the excess oil from the cups ... come back in 24 hours & check ...

    Repeat ...

    After three days (perhaps, sooner ... perhaps, never!?!), the headset should (hopefully) move freely ...

    If so, then you know that new grease (e.g., White Lithium ... for headsets, that heavy-duty RED grease which you can buy at an automotive supply store may be better) is the immediate solution until you have time to go to your LBS to buy some new ball bearings (the actual bearings & cups may be "okay" and it may simply be the cage which disintegrated -- the cage is mostly a convenience to facilitate assembly) ...

    • Figure on about 10¢ per bearing (maybe more, possibly less) ... different headsets use different size bearings, so the total number you will need will vary.

    Presuming that the oil will free the headset AND although you could probably theoretically flush most of the rust out of the headset without disassembling it, you won't be able to repack it with fresh grease unless you disassemble it ...

    Transmission oil could be dripped into the headset & used in lieu of grease, but it will quickly leak out & need to be replaced after a very short period (hours) of time.

    BTW. This is may be a little dodgy, but it is a tools-free-but-tedious option IF you can see the bearings (OR, there is a gap between the race & cup) when the bike is inverted ...

    Then, IF you can flush ALL of the rust out (the oil will run "clear"), then you can just pack some (as much as possible!) grease directly onto the bearings & into the cups through the gap.
     
  4. ProdigalCyclist

    ProdigalCyclist New Member

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    Gotta agree with vspa on this.

    There's definately something bad wrong with your headset if it doesn't even what to turn. And don't try and do a Headset removal and installation without the right tools. This is definately a repair that is going to need to go to a shop. A headset removal without the proper tools is a PITA not to mention you can jack things up as you go... and then you'd make things even worse trying to press the cups in with out the right tools.

    Fortunately headsets like what you describe you have are relatively cheap... you'll probably pay more in labor for taking the old one out and installing a new one than you'll pay for the actual headset.


    If you get a chance... Follow a riders return to the bike after a 15+ year "offseason" http://theprodigalcyclistca.blogspot.com/
     
  5. davereo

    davereo Well-Known Member

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    You can remove a 1" threaded headset with a 12" adjustable wrench. All you need for a 1 1/8" is a set of allen wrenches. When assembling the 1 1/8" you will need a torque wrench to torque the stem clamping bolts to the manufacturers torque rating marked on the stem.

    I second Alfengs method. When growing up we had no indoor storage for any of our bikes. We freed up many of seized headsets and cranks on our bikes with Marvel Mystery oil using a crude method resembling his advice.

    Check on you tube you can find videos on how to disassemble and reassemble your headset.

    Good Luck
    Dave
     
  6. ProdigalCyclist

    ProdigalCyclist New Member

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    Uh..... davereo...... Tell me, exactly, how a 12 inch adjustable wrench is going to get the cups, that are pressed into the Head tube of the frame, and the race, that is pressed on to the crown of the forks, off.... that would be a trick I've never seen before.

    To REMOVE and REPLACE a headset you need a whole lot more than a 12 inch adjustable wrench, some allen wrenches, and some marvel mystery oil.

    For removal you would need tools like the
    Park RT-1.... like this http://www.parktool.com/product/head-cup-remover-RT-1
    Park CRP-1 like this http://www.parktool.com/product/universal-crown-race-puller-crp-1

    For installation you would need tools like the
    Park HHP-2 like this http://www.parktool.com/product/bearing-cup-press-hhp-2
    And at the very least a slide hammer to seat the race that sits on the top of the fork.

    Then you can use your 12 adjustable wrench to tighten the headset.... unless it's a low profile headset, where you would need a Headset wrench like the HCW-9 (or similar) like this http://www.parktool.com/product/headset-wrench-hcw-9 because a 12 in adustable wrench wont fit because it's too thick to just hold the bottom nut while you tighten the top one.


    If you get a chance.... Follow a riders return to the bike after a 15+ year "offseason" http://theprodigalcyclistca.blogspot.com/
     
  7. davereo

    davereo Well-Known Member

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    He shouldnt have to remove the cups. The caged ball bearings are must likely just jammed with rust from the cage. If the cups themself are a little pitted he can just hit the bearing races with light emery cloth or steel wool while they are still mounted in the frame. Should be plenty good enough to get the OP's headset operating freely. His wrenches are all that is needed to get to this point.

    The OP can also replace the ball bearings with out a cage if he cant find a direct replacement. Just buy the balls the same diameter as the ones in the cage (or reuse the originals) and carefully place them into the cup with a lot of grease holding them in place. Just make sure that they dont fall out as you are reassembling the cone. Just like reinstalling wheel bearings.

    Lets not overcomplicate this matter try the oil and you most likely will fix the problem.
     
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