Monday, December 8, 2008

Huffy/Raleigh: Day 4

I'm thinking of starting a new series on the OBB called "What's Wrong With the Huffy This Week." My main problem right now is that the stem bolt is stuck fast. The problem, I think, is that someone a long time ago pulled the stem up too far, exposing the slot on the stem steerer tube. Normally, the expander wedge and stem bolt would have been protected by being fully enclosed within the head tube, but exposing that slot in the steerer tube allowed moisture in there, and I think the wedge has rusted to the bolt. I've been soaking the whole works in penetrating oil, including turning the bike over and pouring oil down (up?) from the opening at the bottom of the fork tube (which actually gets oil on the expander wedge where it is attached to the stem bolt), but no luck so far. To make matters worse, at some point after it seized-up, someone apparently tried to get the bolt out and rounded off the corners, so I can't even get a good grip with the wrench. I, like my stem bolt, am stuck. Any suggestions?

More problems, er, "challenges" to come, including a fun little bit of jagged metal wedged between one of the crank cotters and the crank axle, which has chewed up the latter. Someone really did a number on this poor guy at some point.


  1. You "should" be able to pick up a spare stem bolt and wedge easily enough so I would just use vice-grips on the head of the bolt to remove it and then use a hammer and a long piece of steel rod as a drift to bash out the wedge. Job done.

    Alternatively, if the stem and handlebars are in a poor condition, look for a replacement and just cut through the old stem with a hacksaw and bash out the jammed bit...

  2. I'm having a hard time picturing exactly what's frozen to what, here.. but maybe you can try picking up the frame and somehow securing the bolt with a table-mounted vice. With the bolt securely held in place, try rotating the frame. That should give you a little more leverage than just trying to rotate the bolt.

    If that doesn't work, I've been told (but never tried it..) that sticking a torch on the bolt will loosen it up. If that fails... grind it?

  3. @ R::B--That's about what I'm considering, actually.

    @ Reuben--It's the expander wedge that's frozen to the bolt, I believe, which is preventing the bolt from turning, but there's also the possibility that the stem tube is stuck in the fork tube. Or both! Unfortunately, I have neither bench nor vise--nor torch, nor grinder, for that matter. It looks like either hacksaw or bike shop for me!

  4. I know WD-40 is verbotten for lubing up bikes, but as a first step in cleaning and loosening pieces that are stuck due to rust and totally crudded up oil I've found it invaluable. Instead of pouring oil in there, I'd try WD-40 first. It can always be cleaned up later.

  5. @ ianchowmiller--WD-40 is mainly bad for chains, gears, and geared hubs, but I wouldn't have any reluctance to use it on a stuck stem bolt, or any other stuck nut/bolt if I thought it would work. In theory, the penetrating oil should be doing much more work that WD-40 is capable of. That being said, I haven't tried it yet, and at this point, I'm ready to throw just about anything at it.

  6. This summer, I toiled with a stuck seatpost. I eventually took it to my local shop to use their bench vise and twist it out. That didn't work, so they fired up a cheap propane torch and heated the area without burning the paint. Then we put it back in the bench vise and it broke loose.

    Before that, I soaked it for literally months with penetrating oil, with no success.

  7. Got a 69 Raleigh Sport with the handle bar post suck in it. I was able to twist the bolt (only after letting it soak in WD-40) and hit it with a hammer.

    Your blog helps me out a lot in my restoration!