Friday, August 10, 2007

Removing the Stem and Fork

Well, the bike is all apart now, with the exception of the stubborn bearing cups on the crank and headset, which I guess I'm just going to have to tape off when I paint, 'cause they're not going anywhere. The last things to come off were the stem and fork, which I did yesterday. I should take this opportunity to mention that I'm going largely from the book How to Restore Your Collector Bicycle by William Love (Bicycle Books, 2001). It's not perfect, by any means, but it's proving to be a good general guide.

I have to admit that as a new-comer to this, I was most confused by the headset assembly; and after taking it apart, I still don't quite get how it works. As a result, I meticulously documented every step with the digital camera just to make sure I could put it all back together in the right order. These are some of the more useful photos.

Photo 1 shows the stem after I removed it, with the expansion wedge at the bottom. To take off the stem, back out the bolt at the top of the stem about 1/2" and give it a good whack with a wooden or rubber mallet, or a regular hammer and piece of wood. This will dislodge the expansion wedge--it's very obvious when you are successful, as the stem will just slide out.

Photo 2 is probably a "well, duh" image for more experienced bike folks, but I wanted to remember the correct order for the hardware at the top of the headset once the fork was removed.

Photo 3 is looking down at the bearings at the top of the headset after removing the stem and hardware (and my feet make an appearance, as well).

Photo 4 shows the bottom bearings resting on the bottom bearing race.

Photo 5 shows the chrome plate on top of the fork removed. There is a tiny lip on the front side of the chrome plate that holds the plate to the fork. You can see where it attaches by where the metal on the fork is worn. I took this for my reference so I would remember later how to fit the plate black on.

Most of the hardware I've taken off now has been cleaned and bagged for reassembly. I took the front hub apart today, but didn't take any pictures, since it actually is pretty self-explanatory once you start it. Next, I'll take as much of the rear hub apart as I can, although I will not be venturing into the more intricate mechanics of the internal hub. I'll just be cleaning the dirt and grease off the external components and cleaning the bearings. I will take some photos of this and post them soon. Then, cleaning the frame in preparation for sanding.


  1. this was really helpful....really helpful...i was having a hard time figuring out this vintage stem setup but your photos and quick process cleared it up...I am going to have to try this..cause I have a nice cadence stem and new drop bar that i want to install on this old baby I just got...

    thanks..I really enjoyed everything on your blog thus far..

  2. Nice one, its hard to find this kinda thing with all the modern bikes coming up on most searches.


    Mr C

  3. holy crap! Thank you. The stem was beating be at first but I but the bolt back in, tap, freeeeee!!!!