Author Topic: quill stem removal  (Read 1068 times)

quill stem removal
« on: September 27, 2019, 11:25:43 pm »
I have bought a gitane TdF from 1975 to try and restore.

The quill stem bolt is absolutely solid and I cannot move it at all.

Can i confirm it does unscrew anti-clockwise?

If correct and it does not come out do I have any non-destructive options?

On the basis that a new stem might be quite nice and polished can I just take a hacksaw to it just above the locknuts?


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Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2019, 11:29:03 pm »
Undo about 1cm (max) then hit with a hammer to push the expander bolt down to release the stem.

If it won't unscrew then one option would be to cut the stem and try to 'hammer' the expander bolt down and out of the stem.


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Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2019, 07:06:45 am »
Unless it's a special thing of beauty cut it off - BUT I would leave about an inch above the lock nuts so you a) have something to get hold off, or b) are clear of the locknuts if you need to use the Birmingham spanner a.k.a. a hammer.    You should be able to punch the centre bolt down and release the wedge.

... and you'll find an angle grinder rather easier than a hacksaw to do the cutting


Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2019, 07:30:27 am »
Thank you

Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2019, 07:40:49 am »
It might be worth getting some Plusgas down the outside of the stem.
If it hasn't been anodised, over the years, the alloy of the stem will have oxidised nicely to form a bond with the steel of the steerer.

Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2019, 07:54:52 am »
If you do saw off the stem, you can then unscrew the headset and remove the fork for "special treatment".  Caustic soda is easier to use on a stem than on a seatpost, with no risk of paint damage if you're careful, and will dissolve out the stem.
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Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2019, 08:59:28 am »
there are two things that may help you to shift the bolt and therefore save the stem.

1) penetrating oil
2) percussion

if you remove the front brake/wheel etc and use a (soft) drift on the bottom of the wedge/wedge bolt you may shock it enough that it will unscrew. Of course you can give the bolt a bit of a smack at the top and use heat on it too.  Yes the bolt is meant to unscrew ACW.

Note that French stems on Peugeots/Gitanes/Motobecanes etc of that period were mostly pretty dodgy (e.g. ATAX)  things which should be regarded with suspicion anyway (they break) but it often isn't quite as simple as just buying a new one. The bike will very probably be made to an assortment of French-spec dimensions which can include;

- a 28.0 mmOD (vs 1-1/8") seat tube
- an odd size seat pin
- (if not band-on) weird gear lever braze ons (eg M5 x 1mm threaded, plus no flats), i.e. for Simplex gear levers only
- 25x1mm threaded headset
- 35x1mm (both sides RH threaded) bottom bracket
- 22.0mm (vs 7/8") quill stem

the last of these is the concern here; it is something of a PITA to machine a 7/8"(22.2mm) quill to 22.0mm.

In general terms you have a choice between keeping it original or upgrading parts on the bike. Both have pros and cons.


Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2019, 10:17:09 am »
I nearly bought a really nice Lejeune frameset but remembered to ask about the threading.  It was late 80s but everything was still French-threaded.  No thanks.
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Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2019, 02:18:44 pm »
Thanks for all the replies.  It was cheap enough that i could afford to dispense with it if it is a complete dogs dinner.  Even if I get it dismantled and the painter says it is too corroded I will still have learnt a load and will have had fun.


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Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2019, 01:59:45 pm »
1. As others have said, using penetrating oil - GT85 can dissolve rust well enough that you may get the bolt turning. You may want to turn the bike upside to shoot some GT85 into he underneath of the steerer. Leave the oil to soak in to the corroded surface of the metal for a few hours, then apply a bit more. Clean up the drips with a rag. Place another rag on the floor to catch any drips.

2. Find a properly fitting spanner, not an adjustable one, with a nice long handle. You might be able to use a six sided socket head with suitable handle, which is less likely to deform the bolt head. It can help to have the wheels (with tyres) installed when working on the bolt. You grip the front wheel between your knees as you turn the spanner. Anti-clockwise to unscrew the bolt (when viewed from above).

3. As explained above, once you get half an inch of elevation on that bolt, apply the hammer to it, directly downwards. A few strikes with increasing force. This may be enough to release the corroded expander cone inside. If it's worked, the bolt will suddenly come loose. Keep fingers away from the bolt head when using the hammer.

4. The stem body may still be stuck in place. If so. apply a little more penetrating oil (which might get to the stem body now that the expander cone is dislodged). Mount as long a handlebar as you have in the stem. Hold the wheel between your knees and turn the handlebar abruptly, left and right repeatedly. This may loosen the stem body a few degrees. Carry on turning the handlebar while pulling it upwards, to wiggle the stem up and out. This final part requires strength, control and patience. Take a break and have another go later, if you get tired. Keep your face away from the stem while pulling it up so the stem doesn't hit your face when it comes free.

5. If the expander cone is still lodged in the steerer, knock it up and out from beneath using a suitable drift / steel tube / centre punch or similar tool. You'll insert the drift into the bottom of the steerer until you locate the expander cone. Then tap the end of the drift with your hammer. The expander should rise up the inside of the steerer little by little.

6. The inside of the steerer will be rusty. You'll want to clean it before inserting another stem. This may be possible with a tough cloth such as a piece of denim, with GT85 on it.

Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2019, 10:50:31 pm »
Thank you. I managed to loosen the bolt.  Your reassurance gave me confidence.

Now working on loosening the stem with loosening agent. Tomorrow night will try and loosen it.


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Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2019, 08:31:03 pm »

I have a similar issue (I think). 

I have a 1999 Bob Jackson with Reynolds 631 tubes and a 3ttt Synthesis quill stem refusing to move.  It's not a massive issue as the set up is acceptable but I'd like to have the option to move it.

Do the jury think I should 'leave well alone' or would any of the below/above work in this instance?

Thanks in advance


Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2019, 08:45:30 pm »
the thing I always try before anything else is simply brute force. However there is a trick to this, and the trick is to hold the fork crown directly as otherwise the fork may be badly damaged by twisting it.

My preferred method for holding an external  fork crown (and some internal types too)  is to find a metalworking vice that overhangs the edge of the workbench and has a throat that is small enough that it fits between the fork blades.  A 3-1/2" vice is normally the right size for this. With the main part of the frame turned at right angles, the fork crown can then be held securely in the vice ( between wooden packing pieces) and you should be able to haul on the handlebars almost as hard as you like.



Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2019, 07:42:10 am »
 Bruce’s. Thank you. I used a large Stilson instead of a vice.

3-4days of loosening agent dripped around the top. Then stilson applied to fork crown and rotate handlebars. Initial moment when it felt as if handlebars were going to bend then it all came free.


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Re: quill stem removal
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2019, 10:17:43 am »
Thanks Brucey,

I'm pretty terrified of taking any action directly so would be looking to have a reputable third party do something on my behalf.  Mainly due to a combination of confidence, competence, tools, space and time.  The BJ is having a strip down service ATM but the initial feedback is the stem is not budging after having some lubricant applied and left to soak so I'll chat options through with the mechanic when I collect the bike.

Given it was a custom build, I also checked with BJ directly and the advice came back as follows:

"Ok so if it won’t move the only way to do this is cut the stem off, Remove forks from frame & then heat up column to pull stem out.  You will loose the stem and paint around top of forks may get damaged with heat."

Thanks again