Stuck Stem
Last Post 05/11/2013 09:27 PM by Keith Jackson. 14 Replies.
Author Messages
JRH2

Posts:17

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05/10/2013 04:28 PM
I'm out of ideas and need some help. Trying to pack my wife's road bike for shipping and cannot get the bars off. The stem is stuck. I can get the expansion bolt to loosen, but cannot pull the stem out of the head tube. I put a 6 mm wrench into the head of the bolt and tapped it a few times with a hammer, but no luck.

If I remember correctly, I don't need to loosen any of the locknuts at the base of the stem, correct?

Any ideas/help? Box has to go to UPS in the am.

Thanks in advance.

JRH2
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1192

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05/10/2013 04:51 PM
Sounds like the stem is rusted in there......

Flip the bike upside down and spray a bunch of WD40 through the bottom of the fork, if possible. If not, spray around the top and let it seep down. Coke can also work well here (Yes, Coke).

Both those solutions take a bit of time however.....if you can access the steerer tube through the bottom of the fork, you can speed the process up by inserting a steel pipe and whacking the pipe with a hammer to dislodge the stem. But note that the chance of damaging something increases with that tactic.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
bobswire

Posts:303

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05/10/2013 04:57 PM
Do as CK suggested then let it sit awhile when you loosen the the threaded screw it should start to stick up , give it a good wack with a rubber mallet. If that don't work unscrew it all the way then squirt some WD in the stem hole , then screw it back in a bit before giving it another wack. Presto!
JRH2

Posts:17

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05/10/2013 05:16 PM
I'll try the WD40. Thanks for the advice. I'll let you know if that works.
pikeHillRoad

Posts:95

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05/10/2013 05:55 PM
Also, too, try windex. I used that on a stuck seat tube, which I had tried just about everything else on, and it came right out.

See: http://sheldonbrown.com/brandt/stuck-stem.html

Also, in the stuck seatpost article, he gives this advice (which worked like a charm for me):

Aluminum seatposts frequently become stuck by corrosion also, and penetrating oil is almost useless against aluminum oxide. Fortunately, aluminum oxide can be dissolved like magic by using ammonia. [Jobst Brandt doesn't think this works, because the ammonia won't penetrate -- see his comments on stuck handlebar stems. Drano drain cleaner in water also dissolves aluminum oxide. Leaving the frame upside down with the seatpost soaking in one of these liquids may possibly free the seatpost. With the frame upside down, you might also run liquid down from inside as described in additional suggestions.-- John Allen]
79pmooney

Posts:1192

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05/10/2013 06:35 PM
That nut at the bottom of the expander bolt MUST be loose or nothing is going anywhere. You need to be able to tighten the expander bolt a little so you know the nut is seated, then back off 1/8", tap firmly with a hammer and be able to feel a loose bolt and nut. If you cannot do that, the problem is right there. All the tricks above apply, but spare the twisting until you know that nut is loose. With a tight nut, nothing is going anywhere until something breaks. (And you are a lot stronger than I am if you get that far!) If you do manage to twisty the stem with a tight nut, than you may well be sawing the steerer tube from the inside (if you have a wedge style nut, something you won't know until the stem is out).

In the future, always use plenty on Phil Wood or thicker grease on the stem and nut. I use marine hub grease, the stuff for boat trailers.

I love quill stems. Yes, you can run into this issue, but the prevention is simple. And they have this handy feature that changing stem height doesn't mess with the headset adjustment. I rode Cycle Oregon last fall with two sets of handlebars, stems, levers, cables and brake calipers. Changing over took 10 minutes and gave me two completely different bikes. Rode days 1, 2 and 7 on the road bars. The middle days I used the hill climb bars.

Ben
JRH2

Posts:17

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05/10/2013 06:47 PM
Ben,

Thanks for the insights. Pretty sure that the expander bolt is seized. I'm soaking it right now with WD40. I've tapped a few times, felt if there is any play at all in the expander bolt, as you suggested, and there is not. We'll see if a few hours with WD40 helps. Could be screwed on this one. I'm certain that the bars/stem have not been off this bike in 10 years at least. Rats. Need to get it into a shipping box for my wife, who is moving back to Wyoming for a job (the rest of the family and I will follow in a few weeks). Hmmm. Hope something moves.

JRH2
79pmooney

Posts:1192

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05/10/2013 06:57 PM
It is possible that you could tap the nut down 1/8" and not free it completely, but you will know you've moved it. Go another 1/8" and repeat. I don't like to back off too far because then the nut can fall to the bottom of the steerer and get stuck. (Done that too. Not the end of the world. Get your hands on another one. If you wife complains of a rattle, good news! It's loose and now you have two.)

Good luck!

Ben
CarbonGecko

Posts:40

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05/10/2013 09:27 PM
If you are just packing it for shipping you don't really need to get the expander plug out. If worst comes to worst just completely un-screw the stem bolt, remove the stem, and leave the expander plug in place... Then just re-asemble once it is shipped.

I agree with all of the above for getting the expander bolt out... but if you can't, you can still take the stem off and ship the bike.
JRH2

Posts:17

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05/10/2013 09:49 PM
Thanks CG - The challenge I have is that I can't make the stem move at all. Soaking overnight. Hopefully it will slip right out in the am.
JRH2

Posts:17

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05/11/2013 01:24 PM
Well, no luck. Stem stuck firmly in place. Took it to the LBS and they were unable to make it budge. They are going to help us get it packed for shipping with the bars in place. We'll find someone out west who wants to take on the challenge.

Other than the inability to make the stem move for the move, is it dangerous for my wife to ride with the stem seized up? My gut says no, but you folks have more experience with this than I.

I've been trying to talk her into a new bike for a long time, perhaps this will help...

Thanks again for your ideas/suggestions.

JRH2
bobswire

Posts:303

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05/11/2013 01:55 PM
Dayum, it must be welded in. Can't believe no one can take it out. How far out west are you moving,bet I could get it out.
Anyway look no further than here for a nice frame.
Merckx MXL, man I'm tempted but I like the Corsa Extra I just picked though.

Link not working!?! Copy and paste this >  http://forums.thepaceline.net/showthread.php?t=126433
79pmooney

Posts:1192

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05/11/2013 04:53 PM
As longs a 1) the bar height is such that riding is safe and 2) you don't work too hard trying to remove is without success, riding the bike with the stem stuck is perfectly safe. In a crash, damage to the bike may be different and possibly a little higher, possibly a little less with a stuck stem, but the only way to really know is to do the exact same crash with and without. I don't recommend this test! Your wife is better off not knowing!

There are thousands of bikes that have been ridden years and decades with stuck stems, most with the owners never being the wiser.

Ben
JRH2

Posts:17

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05/11/2013 09:16 PM
I'd be psyched to give you a shot at it, Bob. We won't be out your way. Moving back to Wyoming.

Thanks, Ben. I figured as much. Appreciate your insights very much.

JRH2
Keith Richards

Posts:759

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05/11/2013 09:27 PM
We once had a stem stuck in a frame at the shop and to get it out we had to strip the frame down, turn it over, soak the stem from the bottom and then clamp the stem in a vice (upside down) and use the frame as a lever.
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.


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