The Holdsworth gets a new Headset

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Being a mechanically inclined person and having Dayna gone for the evening, I decided to remove the old headset and install a new one on the Holdsworth. When I received the bike, there was some rust on the headset and for some reason I decided to replace it. My Velo-Orange order came in earlier this week, and I ordered up a Grand Cru high polish headset, the sealed bearings are what piqued my interest.

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Buying the tools for this job can be expensive. The cup removal tool is $30 and the installation tool can be had for $70 (“home mechanic” version). I called my LBS and asked how much this would be and I was told it would be $15-$20. Translation: There is a small chance it will be $20, more than likely, it will be over $20. Well, I did a little internet research and viola! What do you know, there is DIY way to do this. I took a little trip to Home Depot to pick up some parts.

Here is what I came up with.

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Removal
To remove the race from the fork crown, I lightly tapped a flat head on the outside of the race and it easily came off. I was able to easily get the bottom race out with inserting a screwdriver inside the headtube and lightly tapping again with a hammer all around. It eventually gave way. I was having a difficult time with the removal of the top cup using just the screwdriver. So at HD, I picked up a 2 foot piece of copper piping (by far the most expensive thing I bought at HD). My original intent was to make a tool like this by using a hacksaw, but I just put the piece of copper pipe inside the headtube and the purchase was excellent. I decided to give it a go. A couple “light” whacks all around and the old cup came out.

Installation
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With the old headset removed, I started by installing the bottom cup first. I used my jig shown above to wrench the cup in place. As the bottom cup came out easy, so did the installation.  The image above shows the bottom cup partially installed.  All it takes is a good wrench (which I don’t have) and a little elbow grease to tighten down the jig.

The top cup was more problematic.  I had two goes and each time the cup was going in crooked.  The solution?  I removed the copper fitting you see in the image above and inserted into the top cup.  I then very lightly tapped the copper fitting with a hammer to get the race started going in straight.  This took a couple minutes of just lightly tapping around.  Then it was back to my DIY install tool.  From here, it was again just about eblow grease with the wrench.

The Grand Cru headset comes with a split fork crown race. While many people have a piece of PVC the slides over the steerer they use to tap it on, I just used a flat head to open up the race a bit and slid it on with my hands. I should point out the split ring is possible because of the sealed bearings.

Cost
I spent a total of $13.82 with tax at HD. The most expensive items were anything that had copper in them. The pipe was $7.30 and the fitting was $3.37. And with having my new Circle A coming, I will undoubtedly save money.

And in a fit of excitement, I put the old wheels on, installed the handlebars and the new seat that came in my VO order. More on all this later, just a teaser pic. Still to come: fenders with a special surprise, a new back rim and brake cables…hopefully that is all.

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