Quill stem doesn't fit
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  1. #1
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    Quill stem doesn't fit

    I am in the process of building up a SS/fixie and was working on the front end last night. The bike is an old 70's steel frame from Japan with a 1" threaded headset. I bought a 1" NOS 3T quill stem that I thought would fit. WRONG! The outside diameter of the steerer tube is 1", but the quill doesn't fit. I measured the inside diameter of the steerer tube and it's 21mm. After some reading in Zinn's book, I found that the standard inside diameter of a 1" steerer tube is 22.2mm. Obviously I have a problem. I figure my options are as follows:

    1. Try and find a quill stem that will fit (highly unlikely)
    2. Get a new fork and headset (the top headset nut is too small too)
    3. Machine out the inside of the steerer tube until it fits

    Am I missing something here? Every time I turn around, this frame is throwing another problem at me. It's driving me insane, but at least I'm learning something new.

    Maybe I should just dump the whole frame and get one built.

  2. #2

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    Lemme see how much I remember...

    Some, or possibly all, of this could be wrong, so if somebody else tells you different, he's probably right. As I remember, though, there were three stem diameters in that period. One was 22.2mm, which (to confuse things further) was called "one inch" even though it was actually .874 or so. One was French, which was 22.0mm or .866 inch. The third was a weird American size that I think was .833 inches. They weren't interchangeable, of course, and finding a .833 stem (if that's what you have, though I can't think why you would) is an absolute nightmare now (you can still find some French stems).
    You might check www.sheldonbrown.com to verify this stuff and maybe look for parts, because I'm working from 30-year-old memory. But I don't think I'd machine out the steerer tube...they're not all that thick to begin with.

  3. #3

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    According to Sheldon's website you might need a BMX size stem.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_h.html#headset

    But then I don't know how that translates to handlebar size.

  4. #4
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    An unorthodox solution...

    I had the same problem with a seat post for my commuter. The frame wanted a 27.0 and all I had was a 27.2. After 20 minutes with an emory cloth (also called plumbers sanding cloth) and I had a 27.0 seat post--with a "brushed alloy" look to boot!
    Obviously I wouldn't do this on a bike that I really cared how it looked, or I guess you could always polish the stem afterwards. Anyway, you're only talking about a fraction of a milimeter--as long as the stem is too big and not too small.

  5. #5
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    That's an interesting idea

    Quote Originally Posted by crestlinefarm
    I had the same problem with a seat post for my commuter. The frame wanted a 27.0 and all I had was a 27.2. After 20 minutes with an emory cloth (also called plumbers sanding cloth) and I had a 27.0 seat post--with a "brushed alloy" look to boot!
    Obviously I wouldn't do this on a bike that I really cared how it looked, or I guess you could always polish the stem afterwards. Anyway, you're only talking about a fraction of a milimeter--as long as the stem is too big and not too small.
    How well is the modified seatpost holding up? I'd be a little concerned about compromising the strength of the sanded part, but it may be my only option short of replaceing the whole front end.

    After some more research, a BMX stem is what I need. Unfortunately, there are not a wide range of sizes available. I need something like a 120mm reach, and I can only find a 60 or so. I've also looked for one of those adaptors that will allow you to convert to a threadless stem, but they are all sized for 22.2mm diameter steerer tubes. Lovely.

  6. #6
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    Thumbs up Never given it a second thought...

    Quote Originally Posted by innergel
    How well is the modified seatpost holding up? I'd be a little concerned about compromising the strength of the sanded part, but it may be my only option short of replaceing the whole front end.
    When you look at the thickness of the metal (approx 2-3mm thick) and how much I sanded off (0.1mm all the way around to equal 0.2mm off the diameter) it's really negligible. Since I sanded the shaft and not the joint, I can't imagine it would ever fail.

  7. #7
    i like whiskey
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    Quote Originally Posted by crestlinefarm
    When you look at the thickness of the metal (approx 2-3mm thick) and how much I sanded off (0.1mm all the way around to equal 0.2mm off the diameter) it's really negligible. Since I sanded the shaft and not the joint, I can't imagine it would ever fail.
    From what I can tell, I'd have to take off 0.7mm to get there. I'll have to check the thickness of the stem shaft, but maybe it could work.

  8. #8
    Ya, what ATP said...!
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    Milling?

    I worked at a shop in my teens and twenties back in the stone age and it was fairly common to mill out steer and seat tubes to "round" them to accept their respective counterparts. The mill consists of about 6 high carbon blades, each about 4 to 5 inches long that sit lengthwise down a threaded spindle. The spindle attaches to a regular tap and dye T handle. The blades can be retracted or expanded with a crescent wrench depending on which tube you're working. The blades are doused with cutting oil, you typically take the lock ring off the headset and have someone hold the fork, unless it's out of the frame, in which case you would use a fork vise locked in a bench vise, and ream away. If you're dealing with a CroMo steer tube, there is still plenty of strenth left after shaving what little metal off that you'll need. Most shops should be able to do this in about a half hour for $10 or $15. Hopefully you have a LBS with a few good mechanics since you're dealing with a frame and not not a derailleur pulley. I would avoid the chain bike shops since all the mechanics/riders I've met working in them don't know what they're talking about.
    Good luck with your project.

  9. #9
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    innergel logo

    Quote Originally Posted by innergel
    From what I can tell, I'd have to take off 0.7mm to get there. I'll have to check the thickness of the stem shaft, but maybe it could work.
    Your logo looks familiar. Any chance it's from cameltoe.org????

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up Guilty!

    Quote Originally Posted by Thommy
    Your logo looks familiar. Any chance it's from cameltoe.org????
    I was wondering how long it would take for someone to notice it :-)

  11. #11
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    No luck at my LBS re: milling

    They told me that it presented to much of a risk factor for them to do it. They said they'd also be concered about the safety of the part when it was finished. I'll have to find a machine shop that could do it for me. Either that, or find someone to custom build me a stem adaptor that would fit. At this point, I wouldn't care how heavy the part it, as long as it fit the steerer tube. I've been looking at new frames today, but that's at least a $700 tab to get one built that would fit. I ride a 63cm frame adn there aren't a lot of old steel frames with horizontal dropouts and the proper rear spacing around to be had on the cheap.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by innergel
    They told me that it presented to much of a risk factor for them to do it. They said they'd also be concered about the safety of the part when it was finished. I'll have to find a machine shop that could do it for me. Either that, or find someone to custom build me a stem adaptor that would fit. At this point, I wouldn't care how heavy the part it, as long as it fit the steerer tube. I've been looking at new frames today, but that's at least a $700 tab to get one built that would fit. I ride a 63cm frame adn there aren't a lot of old steel frames with horizontal dropouts and the proper rear spacing around to be had on the cheap.
    you could take it ot a builder and fit a new fornt end: new head tube and fork steerer. maybe it could be done and for much less than $700
    www.flaviocolker.com.br
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  13. #13
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    I think the head tube diameter is OK

    Quote Originally Posted by colker1
    you could take it ot a builder and fit a new fornt end: new head tube and fork steerer. maybe it could be done and for much less than $700
    It's just the inside diameter that is causing me problems. If they could just replace the fork steerer, I could snap a new 1" threaded headset in there and I'd be golden. That's a great option I didn't consider!

    Now, to find a local frame builder in Dallas (anyone?)

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