Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Stem Hell Research

Yeah, I mean "stem hell", not stem cell.

I ran into one of my worst bike-mechanicing nightmares, once again, this week. I had a 58cm Centurion frame which I was trading to a buddy of mine for his too-small 56cm. The plan was for both of us to strip the parts off of our respective frames (save the headset, seat post and brakes), and then swap them out.

No problem.

Then, I put the Centurion in the stand and starting removing parts. Cranks: off. Bottom bracket: out. Derailleurs: in the box. Everything was going so smoothly...Until I went to pull the stem out of the fork.

To say that it was stuck is to do the word an injustice.

So, I went to the old standby, Liquid Wrench. I put a few drops on, gently tapped the stem a bit, and left it overnight. I repeated these steps over the course of three days with the usual Liquid Wrench results: the freaking stem was still stuck tight!

I often wonder why I even buy Liquid Wrench. I've never actually had any success getting stuck parts loose with it, and this time was par for the course. (Your results, of course, may vary.)

Anyway, I ended up having to saw the stem, then use a drill, hacksaw blade, hammer, 18" pipe wrench and chisel to get the quill out of the steertube.
It only took about an hour and a half of sweating and swearing to get the dang thing out!

The end result of "getting medieval" on it.

I broke the axle and quick-release skewer on the junk wheel I stuck in the fork so that I could try to twist the stem out. But, no other damage was inflicted on the frame or fork, and it's ready to go.

First, you drill the stem to thin out the wall of the quill. Then, you hacksaw a notch in it, and chisel the mutha' out!

It's been a few years since I've had to do this. I must say, I hope it is many more years before I have to do it again.


At 12:44 AM , Blogger Cory G. said...

I'm amazed I just read your post. I got a Gios frame and fork off of eBay last week and the stem was stuck in the fork as well. Liquid Wrench couldn't get it to budge, so I sawed off the top of the stem and used a different fork on the bike. I still haven't got the drill and chisel out yet, but its in my near future.

At 6:33 AM , Blogger Tuco said...

Holy cow - that must have been an annoying couple of days. Doing bike repair at the best of times is annoying, when things are screwed you just want to say the hell with it and go buy a brand new Bianchi or something!

At 8:07 PM , Blogger Jon said...

Yeah, there are times when i just want to chuck the bike in the bin and forget about it. Had it been a bike for my own use, I would probably have ditched the fork. But, Matt wanted the matching fork and frame, so I felt obliged to get the stem out.


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