Play in headset problems.

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mattraisin
Posts: 73
Joined: 23 Feb 2010, 6:15am

Play in headset problems.

Postby mattraisin » 7 Aug 2011, 11:36pm

I have a 50 odd year old Claud Butler racing bike. I have done a basic clean and regrease and I cant for the life of me get rid of the play in the headset. I either have it overtightened with the rotation feeling lumpy and stiff or I have it loose with clear play when rocking on the front brake. The headset is non original so not as old as the bike but the age is anyones guess. My thoughts are wear but the bearings, bearing races and cups dont have obvious signs unless the cups or bearings have worn very evenly. Any sugestions? If I need a new one I have no idea whether I could get the cups out without damaging the frame nevermind find a replacement that fits.

Any help would be great and thankfully received.

Pictures of headset are below. It is a 'Tange Seiki Levin NO.NL500 Made in japan' Apparently.

EDIT*. Realised that the Tange Levin is still available to buy but costs somewhere between 25-40 quid. Seeing as it could be not that old I am prepared to think that it just isnt comapatible with my outdated frame and forks. I this was the case is it possible to get hold of one that would be?

Image
P1050439 by mattraisin, on Flickr

Image
P1050437 by mattraisin, on Flickr
A puncture in the middle of nowhere simply gives you more time to admire the view.

WrightsW5
Posts: 751
Joined: 1 Jun 2010, 10:37pm
Location: Saddle City

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby WrightsW5 » 8 Aug 2011, 3:35am

When tightening the top section make sure the bottom section doesn't rotate with it at all.

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531colin
Posts: 12399
Joined: 4 Dec 2009, 6:56pm
Location: North Yorkshire

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby 531colin » 8 Aug 2011, 7:46am

Look at Sheldon Brown's website, and the maintenance section in Park Tools website.....there will be others!
Basics...
The 2 cups need to be tight in the top and bottom of the head tube of the frame.
The crown race needs to be tight on the fork crown. The adjusting cup and locknut need to fit the thread on the fork steerer.
If the balls are in "retainers" its possible to put these upside down so the thin metal makes contact with the bearing surface, when its the balls that need to make contact....this gives a bearing that doesn't work, as you describe.
Its better to use loose balls, you get more balls in the race, so the load is better supported....but you should be able to get balls in retainers to work!

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georgew
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Joined: 27 Jan 2007, 4:23pm

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby georgew » 8 Aug 2011, 10:40am

As the above post states, the problem may be that the ball retainers have been placed upside down and this will cause the problems described. Better to replace these with loose ball bearings as suggested.

cromo
Posts: 57
Joined: 3 Aug 2009, 9:10am

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby cromo » 8 Aug 2011, 11:07am

I had similar problems - so I thought.
It turned out there was play between the quill stem and the steerer tube which showed when I vigorously rocked the bike with the front brake on!
Another source of play is the front brakes themselves.
I would suggest ajusting the headset with the bike in a stand and the front wheel removed. Then you will be able to rotate the forks alone and hopefully get the adjustment correct.
If this fails then maybe the headset is faulty.

mattraisin
Posts: 73
Joined: 23 Feb 2010, 6:15am

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby mattraisin » 8 Aug 2011, 1:02pm

Thanks for the help, will return when I have tried out the advice. Also, which would be the correct way up for bearing retainers?
A puncture in the middle of nowhere simply gives you more time to admire the view.

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531colin
Posts: 12399
Joined: 4 Dec 2009, 6:56pm
Location: North Yorkshire

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby 531colin » 8 Aug 2011, 1:14pm

picture on sheldon...http://www.sheldonbrown.com/headsets.html#overhaul...scroll down a bit
The pointy bit (cone) of the crown race or the adjusting race go inside the retainer, contacting the balls not the retainer, so the curved cup bit of the head tube cups also gets to contact the balls, not the retainer.
Top and bottom retainers are opposite ways up...I think...I'll have to look back at sheldon now....

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CJ
Posts: 2988
Joined: 15 Jan 2007, 9:55pm

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby CJ » 8 Aug 2011, 1:29pm

Another source of play is loose fork crown race. This is reasonably common with old forks where the crown race seat has been badly cut or hand-filed rather than using the appropriate cutter. Fortunately there are two common standard sizes for the diameter of this seat: 26.4 and 27.0mm, so there's a fair chance of sorting that out by cutting down to the smaller diameter, which was usually associated with higher quality frames and headsets. However that also provides yet another reason for a loose headset, due to the wrong size crown race.

If you need the crown race cutting down, do not assume that a bike shop will do it right. When I needed this doing and asked in a local shop (that shall remain nameless) if they had a 26.4 fork crown race cutter, the disarmingly honest reply was: "We just file them down." :shock:

The answer to the problems caused by that way of working is Loctite Stud & Bearing Fix - the red stuff.
Chris Juden
One lady owner, never raced or jumped.

Mike McGeever
Posts: 70
Joined: 16 Jun 2008, 12:15pm
Location: Tyneside

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby Mike McGeever » 9 Aug 2011, 1:43am

I have, in "BACCA" tins, head sets and bits of from 60,s/70's if you are really struggling for spares.
You assure us that the races aren't worn.
If bike has been ridden with enough play in bearing then the cups could suffer damage accordingly.
Imagine you are sat on the bike facing forward.
Visualize the top cup as being divided into four sectors front = north, left = west, right =east etc.
Then with vibration when braking the motion will be fore and aft and the hammering on the bearings as the forks rock backwards and forwards will be against the "north and "south sectors.
It won't cost you anything but maybe worth a try to turn the frame cups 90degrees.
First mark radial location-two lines of TIPEXon frame and brg.cup?
I have a piece of 1" steam pipe to knock out the cups ie almost brg. diameterand thicher walled to make good contact wth the edge/lip of the race. you might use old steel seat pin.
Compare the effort needed to free the cups?
Is it the same or does the top one come away easier?
If bottom race is stuborn it might be easier to turn the race at fork crown.
Whatever happens replace the balls with new from LBS.
If top cup is flopping about then you might shim it with a strip cut from a coke tin.
Good luck

mattraisin
Posts: 73
Joined: 23 Feb 2010, 6:15am

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby mattraisin » 14 Aug 2011, 3:06am

I had the bearings the wrong way round, thanks for all the help it is perfect now. The bearings both face the same direction in that headset though.
A puncture in the middle of nowhere simply gives you more time to admire the view.

inspktr
Posts: 2
Joined: 15 Aug 2011, 8:49am

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby inspktr » 15 Aug 2011, 8:53am

Hi.

Which way did you end up installing the bearing retainers? I am having the same problem with my Tange Levin headset. I can get it to work if I install both retainers with the open side facing upwards, but everbody tells me that this is wrong.

Thanks,
Rasmus

cromo
Posts: 57
Joined: 3 Aug 2009, 9:10am

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby cromo » 15 Aug 2011, 1:42pm

I have an old levin headset and the balls in the retainer both face upwards.
I have a new one as a spare and the balls in the retainer both face downwards!
The design of the retainer appears to have changed.
Careful examination should reveal their correct orientation or just use loose balls with no retainer!

inspktr
Posts: 2
Joined: 15 Aug 2011, 8:49am

Re: Play in headset problems.

Postby inspktr » 15 Aug 2011, 1:45pm

Thanks.

I took it to my LBS who told me that I must have installed it correctly (it's a new one with the balls facing upwards!?), since the steering was smooth and without play. Now I just need to figure out why my headset/stem has started creaking/clicking after I took it apart.