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STUCK STEM/POST - INTRO

SAFE REMOVAL

 

 

STUCK STEMS AND SEAT POSTS - INTRODUCTION

As often as not, a steering stem or seat post might prove to be held fast in place.  The mechanic will be tempted to twist, turn and hammer the offending component until it frees up.  This can be an incredibly dangerous time in the life of a vintage road bicycle!  Vigorous attempts to remove a stuck seat post could well result in frame damage, while fork damage could result from trying to remove a stuck steering stem.

There are two basic ways to remove a seized stem or post.  The first involves brute force, usually coupled with some penetrating solution or other, most of which have proved to be mostly ineffective on bikes I have worked on.  Generally, method one relies primarily on the brute force thing mentioned earlier.  However, applying great force to a fragile road bike frame set might prove disastrous!

Do not attempt to clamp any part of the frame set into a vice when attempting to remove a stuck post or stem.  The late sixties Viking, a lovely old bicycle that demands to be restored, suffered such treatment.  The result was a slightly crushed top tube, clearly showing the marks made by the vice.  Repairable?  Yes, but any repair will require the application of heat, followed by a paint job.  Why not just protect the frame set in the first place?  Wouldn't it be better to write off a stem or post, as opposed to a complete and possibly valuable frame set?

Heating up the seat post and seat lug might help to break a seized component free.  However, once again such a method will require repainting and possibly even further frame repair.  Too much heat can damage a frame set.  Again, why take the chance?

Of course, if the seat post is more valuable than the frame then twist, turn and heat away.  Keep in mind, however, that if the post or stem is that stuck, it will likely come out of its fit with some pretty ugly score marks etched or gouged into the metal.  Unless you choose to do what some fool did to this once gorgeous Team Raleigh Professional.  I hope whatever post was removed from that frame set was a good one.  What a mess!

On one occasion, when attempting to twist a stuck seat post from its fit, the drive side seat stay let go from the seat tube lug.  Frame kaput!  And that frame set was identical to a late eighties Torpado Luxe, which is a pretty nice old Italian mount with lovely chrome lugs.  Needless to say, the moment the seat stay parted company with the lug, I realized that I needed a safer method to remove seat posts.

And the steering stem, once stuck, creates another dangerous situation for a vintage road bicycle to find itself in.  More often than not, the mechanic working to free up the stem will grip the front wheel with his knees and then begin to attempt to twist the handlebars/stem assembly this way and that.  The result of too much force applied to a too stuck stem will be tweaked front forks.  That's right, too much force applied to the stuck stem can, and eventually will, bend the front forks out of alignment.  I should know because I have done just that, at least once.

The question is, how to safely remove a seized steering stem or seat post.  The answer is, cut it out.  This means that the offending stem or post will be destroyed, but that is certainly better that having to toss a late sixties Italian frame set into the trash.

NEXT - SAFELY REMOVING A STUCK STEERING STEM

 

 

 

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