Headset bearings

Twostage
Twostage Posts: 987
edited August 2011 in Workshop
(one of many headset threads today)

Decided to do something about my grinding steering. The bearings at the bottom were dry and rusty, the ones at the top were slugded up. Cleaned it all up, re-greased and re-assembled. There were a different number of bearings top and bottom - 37/32 which I assumed was normal. On re-assembly I noticed that the top set had to be squeezed into the cup and there was a big gap with the bottom set. Checked up on the park tools very helpful site and it says in the case of loose bearings there should be a gap big enough for two more bearings when you put them in.
I'm now wondering if I should take some of the bearings from the top and put them in the bottom, particularly as the steering still isn't smooth.

Comments

  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    1) they might be different sizes!

    2) once they've been allowed to go rusty they'll never be really smooth again

    3) better to get a replacement set of ball bearings for both, then they'll all be from the same batch and silky smooth. Should cost just pennies.
  • Twostage
    Twostage Posts: 987
    keef66 wrote:
    1) they might be different sizes!

    2) once they've been allowed to go rusty they'll never be really smooth again

    3) better to get a replacement set of ball bearings for both, then they'll all be from the same batch and silky smooth. Should cost just pennies.
    On my MTB they were caged and different sizes. These are all the little diddly ones that are also in pedals (1/16 ?). The caged ones for this headset (fsa aheadset) looks like they are different sizes also). I think I'll get some more details from the headset and see if different bearings and/or a caged set is more appropriate.

    Must admit I was thinking of new bearings, like you say they are not expensive and having some spare will ease the stress of trying not to loose the little beggars.
  • Twostage
    Twostage Posts: 987
    Looking at the headset didn't help. It just says 'cartridge system inside'. I think the bearings are actually 5/32, I'll need to disassemble to measure them.
    Would there be any issue if I did swap to using caged bearings of a different size i.e. 3/16 ?
  • maddog 2
    maddog 2 Posts: 8,114
    if the cups are in good nick then just buy some new loose bearings (SJS has a good selection, of good quality).

    Personally, I don't run loose bearings any more - too much faff. Cartridge ones are much easier to deal with (and perform better)
    Facts are meaningless, you can use facts to prove anything that's remotely true! - Homer
  • Twostage
    Twostage Posts: 987
    Popped a couple of bearings out of the top, turns out they are 1/8. Can't find 1/8 bearings in a race so I'd have to either move to cartridge bearings or just buy loose ones.
    All I know is that the headset is a fsa zero stack aheadset, is that enough for me to find out the exact kind of cartridge I'd need as there seem to be lots of variants and it's now a discontinued model I think ?
    The (simple) alternative is replacement loose bearings.
    Must say it's a lot smoother with two less bearings at the top, maybe I haven't tensioned it as much as before.
  • Twostage
    Twostage Posts: 987
    Put some new bearings in today. 35 top and bottom, loads smoother now. The steerer was wet when I disassembled it which was a bit disconcerting, probably due to commuting 20 miles in the rain last night. I put some grease around the steerer fork interface at the bottom to see if that will seal out the rain in future.