Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Townie Update: Part 2

Judging by the patina, I'd say it's been a very long time since this was cracked open!
 Okay, the last time I posted about the townie bike I mentioned that it felt as though the head set needed attention. I felt a bit of indexing, which usually indicates that the crown race on the fork is damaged. Basically, it happens when a ball bearing type head set sees a lot of rough roads and the ball bearings, which usually sit in one place most of the time while riding, get driven into the crown race repeatedly and hard enough that they indent or 'index' . This makes it so that when the head set is rotated, the ball bearings are momentarily displaced from their indentations and when they return, (you straighten the bars back up), you might feel a bit of a detent. If this gets bad enough it can impede a rider's ability to navigate while riding and can cause accidents when the condition is severe enough. By the way, this condition can also be caused by improperly adjusted head sets. 

So, yesterday I dug into this head set to see what was up. This appears for all the world to be the stock Tange', "Micro-Adjust" head set that was spec'ed on complete Treks in 1978. Back then Trek was mainly a purveyor of frame sets, not complete bikes, and only complete bikes were sold in the Mid-West at the time. This makes sense with the one I have as it sports a World of Bikes sticker from Iowa City. 

You might note that this head set has the 'limited slip' style bearing adjustment where saw-tooth looking machined teeth integrate with each other- one set on the knurled bit you can see here, and another set on the mating ring that sits above it. Adjustments to this style head set are made by loosening the lock nut on top and gripping the knurled bit and making the adjustment. Then you tighten the lock nut. Yes- it's hard to make fine adjustments with this sort of head set. But, it is what it is. Apparently, travelers like this sort of head set, but I'm not into taking the fork off for transport, so that's a bit lost on me. Anyway.....

My first peek inside. Note the machined teeth on top of the bearing race.

The crown race after fork removal.
Well, I was a bit surprised by what I found. The grease, obviously, is far beyond its service life. That will all need to be cleaned up and then I will apply new grease. I didn't really note any indentations in the races, so I feel that it may be that the grease was actually the issue, as it is pretty much like a hardened shellac at this point. 

Spotlight on the upper bearing race. (Yes- it really is that dim in my shop!)

Wiping away a bit of the goo revealed a pretty decent looking bearing race. 

I feel that just a solid servicing of the parts will result in a smooth, good operating head set. No need for tricks or a full-on replacement here. Not for a townie bike, at any rate. So, I will be doing that and after this I think it will end up that I am done doing any major maintenance or changes here. I think I'm going to skip the powder coating idea as well. Minimal money in, maximum benefit to me as a bike. 

While Ishiwata tubing is not a CrMo that 'the cool kids' would be excited about, it is good stuff.

So, I decided to weigh the fork, for grins. Keep in mind that the crown race is still on there, and that is a good bit of metal too. Gunk and grease still attached add a bit, but what do you think this steel fork with a 'forged semi-sloping Cinelli type'* crown weighs? Okay.....the answer is......

820 grams!

That's pretty light, and it shows what the protocol testing of frames and forks have done to steel bikes over the years. There is no way a road bike fork in steel would ever come out of a major factory over seas now and weigh anything close to that. I know my Raleigh Reynolds 631 uni-crown steel disc fork weighs well over 1000 grams, as a for instance. Not apples to apples, but it gives you an idea of how much things have changed over the years. While an 820 gram fork, (with chunky steel crown race!) sounds great, it also points up that factories are being overly-cautious with regard to durability and safety. Probably not a bad idea in our litigious world. 

Stay tuned for more updates on the townie rig.

*Much of the spec information I gathered on this Trek TX502 was garnered from the website "Vintage Trek"


baric said...

I noticed from your last post on this you wanted to perhaps raise the stem a bit. If you're interested, I have a used Nitto Technomic tall stem, 145mm above the insert, 120mm out, 26mm handlebar insert complete with pop can shim, needs a good polish and a new home. I believe I originally got it from Velo Orange. If you think you could use it I'll be happy to send it along to Andy's or wherever.

Guitar Ted said...

@baric - Thank you for that kind offer. I think I am going to try this the way that it is for now though. If anything, I think I am now considering a mustache bar, but again- No hurry and I want to let the current set up be tried first before jumping to conclusions.

Actually, my main priority for this bike would be to add a rack next, so that will precede anything I do to the cockpit of the bike.

Again- thanks so much for the kind offer, I really appreciate that.

baric said...

When I moved on from the Nitto stem for the sake of comfort and my bad back I purchased a Soma High Rider quill for a couple of old bikes. It's really long and looks a bit goofy but I was able to use any stem and handlebar combo until I found a height and combination that worked. I "high"ly recommend this quill; they were cheaply priced and versatile but like everything else they seem to be sold out for now or maybe ever.

Chris said...

Ishiwata. I had completely forgotten an old time trial road bike I bought third hand - made of the lightest tubing I had ever felt, and that was in the late 80s. Still reckon it may be the lightest I've owned.

Like a coke can, you could squish it in your hands.

Didn't last long under my 85kgs, but was fun while it lasted. Seem to remember the seat stay and the BB parted company mid ride. Not the tubings fault. Maybe to many sugary drinks! ;-)