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Headset cup removal... any tips?(16 posts)

Headset cup removal... any tips?bigdave
Feb 27, 2002 9:05 AM
I'm looking to go from threaded to threadless... any tips on removing headset cups?

The crummy screwdriverSpoke Wrench
Feb 27, 2002 9:29 AM
Park makes a "right" tool for this job. That's my first choice. How are you going to install the new headset? If you're planning to take it to a shop, let them remove the old one. Takes less than a minute by a slow mechanic.

An actual punch would be my second choice.

If you don't have either of the above, it's time for your crummiest screwdriver. Just go down from the opposite end of the head tube and tap the cups alternately from side to side, they'll gradually come out.
Punch, I guessbigdave
Feb 27, 2002 9:45 AM
Well, I was going to have the LBS do the new one, so I may have them remove the old one... but I neglected to say that in between the removal and install of the headset, I'd be refinishing the frame, too. So there will be a bit of a delay between the removal and install of the new.

But I do have a variety of punches (for auto applications) so I may just go that route.


It may be crummy, but it worksKerry Irons
Feb 27, 2002 4:31 PM
I've removed probably 20 headsets with a screwdriver and a hammer, and not damaged either the cups, the frames, or the screwdriver. I did come across one that wouldn't budge (removed the top race, but couldn't remove the bottom) and so took it to the LBS. I assumed they would have a HS cup removal tool, but they just whipped out a punch and had a few whacks. Out it came. The reason this cup was a tough one was that it was a cheap HS - the thin cup wall meant that the edge of the cup was so thin I couldn't get at it with the screw driver blade.
Roll your own headset remover!czardonic
Feb 27, 2002 5:22 PM
As has been said, you can buy the proper tool for this job (I think Park sells one for about $25).

But if you are stubborn like me and you must do everything yourself, you can make make your own tool. The real tool consists of a metal tube with slots cut up four sides so that one end can be splayed out. You pull it through the frame, and when the splayed ends get past the inner collar of the cup, they spread out into the head tube. By this time the other end of the tool should be protruding from the other end of the head tube, allowing you to use a mallot or hammer to drive out the cup. Using a proper tool reduces the risk of scoring the indside of the frame, and it pushes on all sides equally so you don't jam the cup or ovalize the tube.

After getting an idea of what the tool should look like from Park's site, I made my own with a 1 x 10 inch piece of platic plumbing pipe I bought for about $1.50 at the hardware store. I cut up the length of the pipe about 4 - 6 inches so that one end could be spread apart. (The real tool spreads four ways, but i found that that configuration left the plastic arms too weak.) I put the pipe into place, and then jammed a nickle into the splayed end to keep it spread. Then I drove out the cup using a mallot.

Using this method, I was able to remove the original cups from a 20+ year old frame. It takes a pretty solid hit to drive out the cup (Point it at the floor, padded if you intend to keep the cup).

I also broke or other wise ruined a couple pieces of pipe while experimenting, so have a couple extra on hand. Of course, a couple lengths of pipe are a lot more economical than a real tool for a one time job. Also, since plastic is softer than your frame, there less chance of damage than using a metal screwdriver.

Good Luck!
Roll your own headset remover!JaeP
Feb 27, 2002 7:32 PM
Has anyone come up with a homemade tool to remove the steel race from a 1" threaded fork?
Crown race removalczardonic
Feb 27, 2002 11:10 PM
Zinn actually suggests using a plain old screwdriver to gradually tap off the crown race.
YeahSpoke Wrench
Feb 28, 2002 5:45 AM
I'm actually surprised at this much discussion regarding removing the cups from the head tube. That's actually pretty easy to do.

Removing the crown race from the fork can be WAY more difficult. Especially if the fork isn't shaped to leave a flat surface on the front and rear of the crown race to tap against.
Yeah, just haven't done it yet...bigdave
Feb 28, 2002 6:58 AM
I'm not intimidated by any of the mechanical stuff... ok, except maybe the whole tapping and facing thing... don't have those tools. I've worked on race cars for more than a decade, so I understand how to work on things, and more importantly know that more force does not = better results. I also know that if I can't get a tool, or make one, to do the job right, I should let the pros do it. Those philosophies have kept me from sheepishly going to the LBS saying, "can you fix what I've buggered beyond belief?"

But, I just hadn't done a headset yet, and wondered about gotchas.

So thanks to the fine folks here for offering their helpful advice. :-)

Feb 28, 2002 9:17 AM
Yes, there's usually more than one way to do most everything. You can drive a wood screw with a screwdriver, hammer, or a rock. A crescent wrench will turn a bolt.

Ultimately it comes down to a matter of philosophy. On one extreme you can get all esoteric and have special tools washed in holy water and at the other end you can hack your way through it. Sometimes the results are pretty much the same, but often they are not. Bikes being the light weight devices that they are don't take too well to rough and indifferent handling - really not too different from a race car. Having knocked out headset cups many different ways I'm a big fan of using the correct tool for the job - especially as the price of the components and mistakes increases. Steel cups in steel frames are pretty robust, but one you have an aluminum alloy headset (e.g. Shimano 600) or an aluminum frame things get touchy. If you bugger up some cups you can just buy another headset, but buggering up the frame is a different story.

If you swing the disassembeld frame by a decent shop they'll knock the cups out for you in seconds - it's that easy with the right tool. It would also be worth you while to have them reinstal using a headset press to ensure that the two sets of bearings really are parallel. Making a headset remover as suggested above is a great idea for the do-it-yourselfer. I'm forutnate in that between my buddy and myself we have virtually all of the tools that we need. We stop short on the facing and tapping tools since they're quite expensive and rarely get used on decent bikes. There's really not much wrong having the LBS perform the operations that you're not comfortable or equiped to handle. They've also done all their learning way before you showed up.
A good Philosophybigdave
Mar 1, 2002 2:37 PM
Yeah, those should be words to live by. I can certainly do most maintenence by myself, but you are right, once you see how easy the correct tools make the job, it's worth doing. I've got a good LBS nearby, so swinging by would be easy and won't cost me much, if anything. Thanks for the philosophy.

Hmm.. sounds interesting. 1 ?bigdave
Feb 27, 2002 8:14 PM
I've seen the Park tool... doing the same with PVC should do the trick! So you just had the piece spread into halves? Just a single cut? (not quarters like the Park).

I'm stubborn too, so that's the route I'm gonna try. :-)


Hmm.. sounds interesting. 1 ?czardonic
Feb 27, 2002 11:06 PM
I tried quarters first and the pipe cracked while I was driving out the first cup. Halves did the trick, but the key was using something relatively solid to keep the halves apart. It's kind of delicate balance cutting the slot long enough so that the halves can be seperated, but not so long that they are too flimsy.
One last step. . .czardonic
Feb 27, 2002 11:17 PM
After cutting the slot and spreading the halves, I carefully cut the spread end again so that the edges pressed flat against the top edge of the cups when in place.
socket & extenderdzrider
Feb 28, 2002 6:45 AM
I find a socket that fits snugly inside the head tube, put it on an extender, drive it through the head tube and take the socket off.
makes sense!bigdave
Mar 1, 2002 2:49 PM
Hmm, I said earlier I'm all for the right tools, but this sounds like it could really work well, and safely (for the HS). Worth looking into...