Expander bolt blues

Every now and then you have to do a little mechanics.

It is the way of the world.

You show your machinery love, it loves you back.

It is more than a fair trade. It is all about attention to detail after-all.

After a rare occurrence of taking a bike to a shop (yes yes I know) – it turns out my headset is loose, and the whole thing needs pressing down onto the bearings. It is showing sign of orange grease egress so it needs some extra love.

I take the whole shooting match apart, forks out, bearings out, bearing seats, spacers, stem, cap.

Cleaning it all out, removing the detritus and old grease, and re packing and assembling. Stacking back on the spacers, and the stem and the cap and …. feel the expander bolt slip away from me as I attempt to tighten down the cap onto it (Cannondale Si on an Super Six Evo Hi Mod 2013). Oh. Oh dear.

This cautious chase continues with a variety of approaches until it is just about out of reach.

The expander (no star spangled nut in carbon steerer tubes) has some kind of O ring aound it to hold it together. It is too loose now to apply allen key too – but is too tight to drop out. Fudge.

Unllike a traditional steerer – there is no other end. There is the top end, and the other end is closed in. There is no fish it out or poke it through – access is from the top only. Winning. Hope – like this bad boy – are rapidly disapearing.

Trying not to panic (outwardly) – a quick Google suggests a burrial…. in place.. new expander and hope it doesnt rattle.

Longest allen key is no longer able to reach.

The solution came from two things. A hacksaw, and an old school coat hanger.

A hacksaw I had – however – I dont know about you – but those things you used when you were small for just about everything from structure for papier mache to TV ariels are pretty much hens teeth these days. You think – oh yes… dry cleaners – probably got some from there…. really… do yourself a favour – if you have some – PUT THEM SOMEWHERE SAFE!

The solution was to file the end of a length of coat hanger straight – becoming a long thin wedge.

I had been putting off sawing off my steerer… for no reason better than it looked like it was made of plastic.  I marked off the end, clamped an old stem in a vice, clamped the steerer in that and took off the measured amount.

I now had another half an inch to work with – another sacred half an inch before it was out of reach of even my most comically long key (which begs the question why on earth do I even have on that long in the first place… and if I do – why dont I have comically long ones in other sizes also… its enough to make you believe in fate).

A three step plan now unfolded:

– A very delicately made noose was slipped over the top of the screw thread;

– The thin ended hanger was wedged into one of the gaps of the expander while tension was kept on the noose / string;

– The allen key then loosened off the expander bolt as far as we could while keeping it in place with the hanger that had wedged open the expander.

Having completed this – turn the stem upside down, and the expander fell out.

Lets not do that again ever.

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