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Seriously stuck quill stem(26 posts)

Seriously stuck quill stembcavalier
Oct 5, 2001 4:01 AM
Anyone have any advice on how to get a quill stem unstuck? I am trying to swap out my current stem a profile H2O, for one with a slight rise, also a profile H2O, but 90 degree.

I loosened the wedge bolt and the thing wouldn't budge. So I loosened it more ... still wouldn't budge. Finally, I took the bolt out completely, and the stem still feels like it is welded in place. I found an article on Sheldon Brown's website which suggested I tap the stem with a mallet, so I tapped it, and then whacked it a few times with my trusty rubber mallet, but to no avail. The thing is still solidly in place.

If it helps, the bike is a CAAD4 with a Slice threaded fork, and a record headset. This is the first time I've tried to actually remove the stem, but I was able to adjust the stem height without any problem two years ago when I first got the bike.

Any ideas?
YesHarry Hammer
Oct 5, 2001 4:24 AM
Take the f wheel out, place a bit of wood between the forks and the floor to take the strain, put a block of wood over the top of the stem (for protection) - then whack it till it shifts. Make sure the wood sits nicely up in the forks and doesn't spread them or anything.
Oct 5, 2001 4:39 AM
Before you break something - put the bolt back in till it just starts to grab, then back it out about 0.5 - 1 cm. Tap the bolt down to dislodge the spreader, then back the bolt out and try to dislodge the stem with your mallet by tapping sideways on the stem instead of down.
I'll try it, but I'm still a little confusedbcavalier
Oct 5, 2001 5:31 AM
Thanks for the suggestions. I will try them later today.

I'm confused as to why the stem would be stuck even after removing the wedge bolt. Do dirt and grit down get down into the steerer tube and bind the quill?

It would seem that by removing the bolt, the stem would be disconnected from the wedge and the two should no longer be pressing against one another and hence they should no longer be pressing outward on the inside of the steerer tube.

Of course, reality says it is still stuck :) so I am obviously missing something.

Just curious ...
I'll try it, but I'm still a little confusedLen J
Oct 5, 2001 5:59 AM
The wedge itself is what is stuck. The only way you have to externally move the wedge is with the bolt itself. By tapping stem with the bolt removed, alls you are doing is "wedging" the wedge in more.

Put the bolt back in till it grabs, put the allen wrench back in the bolt head & tap the allen wrench.

I'll try it, but I'm still a little confusedcyclequip
Oct 5, 2001 6:02 AM
The wedge is just that. If it is the conical type it is still wedged inside the stem and needs to be knocked out. Also those wedges are often allie and form a lip if tightened down hard - you need to knock the wedge off the lip. Most likely cause if not this, is the welding caused by water/rust. Loosening the bolt doesn't always loosen the wedge.
Forgot the obvious bit..Harry Hammer
Oct 5, 2001 8:54 AM
The thing you are whacking is the spindle nut that you have loosened, and is now standing proud of the top of the stem. That ought to force the wedge away from the bottom of the stem, and hey presto. Sorry for the confusion.
What size frame?nee Spoke Wrench
Oct 5, 2001 5:38 AM
I've had this problem on a brand new bike. If the stem is all-the-way down, the wedge can be bottomed in the fork. This is most likely to happen on a small frame bike that has a short head tube. If so, no amount of downward pounding on the stem bolt is going to break it loose. You'll have to figure a way to pound upward on the stem.

If you don't think that's the problem, try this: Turn the bike upside down and squirt some liquid wrench or similar penetrating oil into the bottom of the fork so it can get to the wedge. I don't know what the difference is, but penetrating oil seems to work better at eating through the corrosion than something designed to be a lubricant. Be sure to give the penetrating oil some time to work before you resume your struggle.

Be grateful you don't have a customer looking over your shoulder while you do all this. Good luck.
Wait a minute.vanzutas
Oct 5, 2001 5:39 AM
The thing you are supposed to be hitting is the bolt not the stem. it is very common for these to be stuck. you have to understand how they work before you can remove them. the bottom of the stem is cut at an angle and the wedge is cut at the same angle to that when you tighten it the wedge wedges itself between the inside of the steerer and the stem. to get it out the bolt has to be threaded into the wedge but not tightened. Now you can whack the top of the bolt and it will push the wedge downward away from the stem. there is never a reason to hit the stem up, down or sidways. once the wedge is loose remove all three parts as one unit (stem, wedge and bolt).

Try this.....Len J
Oct 5, 2001 5:56 AM
Put the bolt back in till it grabs.
Put your allen wrench back in the bolt head.
Use the mallet to tap the allen wrench whinch should loosen what the bolt is attached to.

More questions try

Why is it stuck? You sweat don't you?MB1
Oct 5, 2001 6:57 AM
Electrolysis. Your salty sweat acts as a conductor and helps steel bond to aluminum, aluminum will bond to aluminum too.

Once you get the stem out check your seatpost too. Then never go more than 6 months without pulling your stem and post and regreasing them and all the internal parts of your stem.
Like a PIG...Roxy
Oct 5, 2001 7:20 AM
My husband has this problem, and his stems been stuck for a year.
The LBS guy said to try turning the bike over and pouring a bit of anti-freeze on the underside. Let it sit for a bit, then try the mallet.

We've also heard people using coke. (what's that do to your gut?)
Haven't tried either method yet.
Good luck-
Better get it fixed, the sooner the better.MB1
Oct 5, 2001 7:36 AM
The longer you wait the worse it is going to be.

Coke and Anti-Freeze have a bit of acid in them and may break the bond. Probably won't. The usual fix is brute force or a hacksaw.
Got that right.dzrider
Oct 5, 2001 9:07 AM
It will not get better unless you're lifting weights and getting stronger. I sweat a lot and have dealt with this problem. First get the stem to turn in the head tube by any means necessary. Several good ones are described elsewhere in the thread. Then take the bars off and turn the bike over, supporting the fork crown, wrapped in something to protect it, in a vice. You may need a friend or child who thinks hammers are cool to help hold the bike up. Hit the stem with your rubber mallet. Pounding on the stem before breaking the galvanic corrosion by turning the stem hasn't worked for me.
Just checked the seatpostbcavalier
Oct 5, 2001 9:19 AM
and it was ok. I hadn't thought about having to check/regrease them every so often, but now I will. Thanks for the tip
Grease is a must-use to prevent this and other parts stickingTig
Oct 5, 2001 9:34 AM
All of you experienced riders and shop mechanics already know this, but to those newer riders out there, you should remember this. There are 3 places that you should use a thin coat of grease on when reassembling a bike:
The stem (quill type) and expander wedge should have a thin coat around the outside surface. I like to coat the slanted wedge surfaces as well.
The seat tube (except carbon fiber) should have a thin coat around the surface that is in the frame.
Pedal threads should be coated before inserting into the crank arms.
I'm sure I forgot something, but we always remind each other when that happens in here!
I also do bottle cages and bolts that attach f. der. nmdzrider
Oct 5, 2001 9:51 AM
Oct 5, 2001 9:44 AM
I didn't know about needed to regrease these. Question, is there a site out there that lists standard maintenance needed on a bike? This stuff isn't in the Zinn book.

Question #2...don't some stems need to be taped to disingage the headset always. Mine never comes free on its own and the bikes brand new.
Try thisMB1
Oct 5, 2001 11:24 AM

That is the Park Tools site. There is some pretty good info there. Sheldon Brown is another good site although pretty large.

As far as your stem needing to be tapped to disengage-that is how it should be.
re: Seriously stuck quill stemjacques
Oct 5, 2001 8:17 AM
If you have an aluminum stem stuck in a steel fork steerer, try cooling down the stem. Aluminum contracts twice as much as steel per degree of temperature drop. Blow an entire CO2 cartridge into it.

A very old and very brutal way to get the stem unstuck is this: squirt some ammonia into the corroded area. Clamp the stem into an immovable object. Remove the front wheel. Stick a strong piece of wood through the fork blades NEAR the FORK CROWN and start twisting the fork. This worked with steel forks in the 60's, but I can't really recommend it for your Slice fork. Don't know why I even wrote this - consider it one of those stories old furts like to tell again and again.
here's what I would do ..bianchi boy
Oct 5, 2001 9:04 AM
After reading all of these solutions ... I would take my bike down to my local bike shop and let them fix it. Might cost $15-20, but it sounds like money well spent. Call me a wimp, but I've found that it can cost a lot more money in the long run trying to fix things like this.
Oct 5, 2001 9:26 AM
It seems the most popular suggestion is to loosen the bolt slightly and tap it down to loosen the wedge, possibly first applying antifreeze to help loosen any welding/corrosion.

I'll give it a go after work today. If I can't manage to loosen it tonight, heeding the advice to take it to my LBS will be plan B.

Thanks again.

re: Seriously stuck quill stemgrzy
Oct 5, 2001 10:01 AM
Ultimately if all your efforts fail take it to a good LBS. A wily wrench has a bunch of tricks that can free it up and the experience to do it safely. At worst you can have it cut and machined out. I was really stuck when I bought a used bike and the guy who owned it was a serious sweat-hog and raced. It ried everything all to no avail. Install the new one with some quality grease or even some anti-sieeze compound.
Careful with anti-seize.MB1
Oct 5, 2001 10:33 AM
Some/many of those compounds have copper in them. That only work for titanium frames. They are insta-seize for steel or aluminum frames.
Are you sure about this?GregJ
Oct 5, 2001 12:39 PM
I bought some copper anti-seize from NAPA to use on my car's spark plugs. It is clearly made for cars and there ain't no titanium on my Hyndai. Steel plugs, Aluminum head. Of course I have not tried to pull the plugs.
Oh yes, Waterfords and Gunnars even come with a warning.MB1
Oct 5, 2001 3:39 PM
Of course now your engine is going to get hot enough to evaporate any moisture buildup.