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  1. #1
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    King Headset help needed.

    I'm posting this here because I know I'll get good advice.

    Here's my problem. I have been hearing ticking/creaking from the front end of my Spicer Ti for some time. I thought it was the fork, frame or stem, but now I think it may be my King headset.

    Last night I installed a new suspension fork, stem and bar and came across something interesting. I applied a little Phil Wood grease to the base plate and made sure it was seated properly on the fork crown. I adjusted the headset to a point where it was moving smoothly, but not loose. While holding the front brake, I applied forward and backward forces to the bar precipitating excessive creaking. I turned the headset tighter and tested, tighter and tested, so on. I was able to eliminate all creaking by tightening the headset. This makes perfect sense to me, but I believe no noise = a headset that's too tight.

    My set up is:
    - Fox F80RLT
    - King headset
    - 2 carbon spacers
    - MaxM stem and carbon bar

    Should I grease the heaset and try again? Could it be a poor interface between headset and frame? A bad King headset? Anyone else have ever have a similar problem?

    Thanks for your help,
    Keith
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    Last edited by KeithG; 04-15-2004 at 07:27 AM.

  2. #2
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    Well....

    First off, nice bike! She's a beaut!

    Second, I would take a peak at any tech docs the CK provides on their web site...
    With that being said, how old is the headset and do you ever re-grease it?

    If it is relatively new, try applying a light coating of grease on the base and top plate where it interfaces the sealed cartridge bearings.

    If it is older than 6 months (I am giving rough time estimates based on our local conditions)... re-grease the headset. I usually re-grease mine every 6 months to a year. It is really easy.

    How to:
    Leaving the cups installed on the frame, I use a small screwdriver (used to tighten glasses) to remove the spring clip over the rubber seal. There will be an angled cut through the spring clip and a groove that it fits into. Basically, the clip is trying to spring outward, so you want to pull it inward and up to remove it from the groove. Once you get a little bitout of the groove, the screwdriver can be used like a tire lever removing the remainder of the clip from the groove. Be very careful not to damage the seal. After the clip is removed, tease the rubber seal out with a toothpick or other small pointed device. This will expose the bearings. I then clean the bearing assembly out with WD-40 and compressed air. Then re-pack with grease and reverse procedure to close and seal. Be careful to thoroughly blow bearings out (while spinning them to eliminate trapped spaces) with compressed air so that the grease is placed into an inert environment. I am not sure what CK specifies for proper grease (or technique for that matter), but I use Phil Wood grease to re-pack bearings and I have several CK headsets that are going on 10+ years.

    Hope this helps. If you have further inquiries feel free to shoot me a line.

    dd..''
    .................................................. .......................

  3. #3
    glyphic bacon
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    Face to face

    It could very well be that your headstock tube (where the headset is installed) does not have perfectly squared off/flush bearing surfaces. It's not uncommon during the manufacturing process that the headstock gets warped/deformed during the welding process, or through just poor tolerencing when the tube was initially cut. I think its unlikely that the bearing is not square, Chris King makes precisely machined bearings. Although I guess it is possible if it was installed incorrectly and then ridden on, it may have been slightly bent. Also, make sure you look at the mating surfaces of the headtube and the bearings...are they clean, with no weld slag, gouges etc? And make sure the bearing really is fully seated before reassembly....clean the inside of the headtube by lightly sanding with fine emory paper and lightly grease before installing. They have a bearing press to make sure its really put in right, but I've always carefully used a plastic mallet and a piece of wood to drive the bearing in.

    Heres a pic of the headset press:



    But if everything seems ok, again its probably the headstock. Most bike shops have a facing tool that's used to correct any out of square condition with the headstock. The only catch is finding one that can machine a Ti frame, titanium can be difficult to machine so I'm not sure if they need a special cutting bit for Ti. But it can certainly be done, just shop around till you find a place able to do it.

    Heres a pic of the headtube reamer/facer:


  4. #4
    SS Chimp
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    just fixed the same problem...i had literally had 5 - 10 grains of sand on crown race and on the bearing race. i had already cleaned it once but a meticulous cleaning did the trick. funny...3 other bikes with king headsets, many for over 5 years, and this is the first time i have had this problem.

  5. #5
    try driving your car less
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    Quote Originally Posted by KeithG
    I'm posting this here because I know I'll get good advice.,
    Keith
    just a couple of things to try: when you hear the creaking while rocking the bike back and forth, turn the handlebars 90 degrees left or right, and then if you still hear the creaking, its likely the headset (sounds like its the headset anyway).

    like the other guy said, if you havent already, get the headtube faced by a SKILLED mechanic. I had a 'shot' headset, but the local mechanic removed the headset, faced the headtube and then reinstalled, and it was fine. you can tell if it's not faced properly also if it gets tight when you steer one way, and loose when you steer the other (i think that's what the guy told me).

    i had the same problem (but not a king headset), and i just removed the headset, rotated it 90 degrees, and reinstalled it and the noise and play went away. i dont know if i just reinstalled more correctly, or the rotation did something, but it might be worth a try.

    i only see one pedal in that picture... did you resolve your issues?
    Only boring people get bored.

  6. #6
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    another option

    I had a King hs that I had removed from one frame and moved to another. In the process, a seal had popped loose and a few of the small bearings had fallen out without me knowing. I know that King hs's are sealed bearings, but the seals can come off and bearings can fall out. I reinstalled the hs in the new faced frame and it popped a little. After some investigation, I found the missing bearings out of the bottom cup and I took it to a shop that had some of the same size bearings and I had my wife (skinny fingers) drop the new bearings into the hs and that cured the popping.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by qtip
    ...I found the missing bearings out of the bottom cup...
    How'd the bearings fall out of the cage without losing the lower race??? Are you sure it is a King?

    http://www.chrisking.com/pdfs/Int%20...0Explained.pdf

    dd..''

  8. #8
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    Definitely check the head tube for alignment, and face (& ream) if necessary. CK headsets are very sensitive to slightly out of parrallel faces. The Ti products out of china are not faced and reamed out of the factory.

    Tom

  9. #9
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    I spoke to Gene today and...

    Quote Originally Posted by itsdoable
    Definitely check the head tube for alignment, and face (& ream) if necessary. CK headsets are very sensitive to slightly out of parrallel faces. The Ti products out of china are not faced and reamed out of the factory.

    Tom
    ...he checks the head tube for square before shipping the frames. It's still possible that this is the cause of the problem, but would tightening the headset eliminate the creaks if the head tube was off?

  10. #10
    mtbr member
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    Thanks Jason.

    Quote Originally Posted by jh_on_the_cape
    just a couple of things to try: when you hear the creaking while rocking the bike back and forth, turn the handlebars 90 degrees left or right, and then if you still hear the creaking, its likely the headset (sounds like its the headset anyway).

    like the other guy said, if you havent already, get the headtube faced by a SKILLED mechanic. I had a 'shot' headset, but the local mechanic removed the headset, faced the headtube and then reinstalled, and it was fine. you can tell if it's not faced properly also if it gets tight when you steer one way, and loose when you steer the other (i think that's what the guy told me).

    i had the same problem (but not a king headset), and i just removed the headset, rotated it 90 degrees, and reinstalled it and the noise and play went away. i dont know if i just reinstalled more correctly, or the rotation did something, but it might be worth a try.

    i only see one pedal in that picture... did you resolve your issues?
    I've got a few things to investigate.
    The pedal(s) you see are my new stainless eggs. Crank Bros are sending me a new set of 04 stainless eggs for $25 under a warranty replacement program. Good stuff.

  11. #11
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    Thank to all for the input.

    I should be able to fix this problem and once again ride creak free.

  12. #12
    semi-evolved simian
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    Quote Originally Posted by dodjy
    How to:
    Leaving the cups installed on the frame, I use a small screwdriver (used to tighten glasses) to remove the spring clip over the rubber seal. There will be an angled cut through the spring clip and a groove that it fits into. Basically, the clip is trying to spring outward, so you want to pull it inward and up to remove it from the groove. Once you get a little bitout of the groove, the screwdriver can be used like a tire lever removing the remainder of the clip from the groove. Be very careful not to damage the seal. After the clip is removed, tease the rubber seal out with a toothpick or other small pointed device. This will expose the bearings. I then clean the bearing assembly out with WD-40 and compressed air. Then re-pack with grease and reverse procedure to close and seal. Be careful to thoroughly blow bearings out (while spinning them to eliminate trapped spaces) with compressed air so that the grease is placed into an inert environment. I am not sure what CK specifies for proper grease (or technique for that matter), but I use Phil Wood grease to re-pack bearings and I have several CK headsets that are going on 10+ years.
    Nice instructions, thanks! It makes me think it's something I could easily do at home.

    Previously I'd found this description of how NOT to overhaul a CK headset
    http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=e...d.net.tw#link1 Even without knowing the right way to do it, this is clearly the wrong way!!

  13. #13
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    I had the same mystery creak coming from my King when it was installed on my Ellsworth. I had the headtube faced and the headset reinstalled and the problem went away for a few rides, but then it came back. Long story short, the King is now on my singlespeed and my Cane Creek c2 is on the Ellsworth. I think the problem may have been an ever-so-slightly undersized King headset or an ever-so-slightly oversized headtube on the Ellsworth. Now both headsets work just fine with no creaks at all.
    --- FeelsGood

  14. #14
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    friend of mine had a creaking King problem, and it was due to lack of the little pastic washer. it looks like you have that, though...correct?

  15. #15
    mtbr member
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    Yep, got the plastic washer.

    Quote Originally Posted by the Inbred
    friend of mine had a creaking King problem, and it was due to lack of the little pastic washer. it looks like you have that, though...correct?
    The headset is about a year old. Assuming the head tube is faced properly, here's what could be wrong.
    - maybe it needs to be cleaned and regreased?
    - maybe the fork crown, new stem or carbon spacers are not square?
    - maybe the base plate has been compromised?
    - maybe the star nut is creaking?
    - maybe the sandblasting grit that keeps finding it's way into the head tube is the problem?
    - maybe the headset is damaged goods and I should just put a cheap headset on and call it day?
    - maybe I should take up bowling instead before the creaking drives me insane?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by KeithG
    ...he checks the head tube for square before shipping the frames. It's still possible that this is the cause of the problem, but would tightening the headset eliminate the creaks if the head tube was off?
    Yes, I'd expect Gene to check that, he's very good. However, if there is some out of square, tighting it will not make it go away, it make make it creak less (or take more force to creak). Removing the cups, greasing the seats and replacing them in the head tube will sometimes make it go away, until the grease dries up - then it'll creak again - if the problem is the seat. Could also be a few other difficult to track down problems. In anycase, it doesn't hurt to have the headtube re-faced if you have a friendly lbs nearby - if that does it, great, if not, then you've ruled out a likely souce.

    Cheers,

    Tom

  17. #17
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    I'm sure it was a King. Not sure exactly how it happened, but it did.


  18. #18
    from the east
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    probably the last thing you want to do, but...

    I should share my story.

    Same problem...creaking from the front end, TI frame, King headset, year old...very intermittent - a "PING"-ish creak every once in a while, and then another one a while later. And so on. Eventually I isolated the cause - I'd get one sound when I nose wheelied, or hit the brake hard, etc., and I'd get the other one when I landed some air, or hit a bump, etc.

    It turned out the lower cup was rocking back and forth EVER so slightly in the frame. When viewed from the side, there'd be a paper-thin gap at the front, then if I muscled the fork forwards, a paper thin gap at the back. Bottom line...the frame needed facing.

    Unfortunately, NONE of the dipstick LBSs within 45 min. driving would touch the frame. "It's Titanium? Uhhmm...we uh, don't do that kind of work here." I got fed up and impatient with this kind of drivel, so....Long story short - My cup is epoxied in now. And it's lasted for 4 years. I'm gambling on the King reputation that I'll never have to take it out again.

    So, sounds like a facing issue to me as well. But hey, glue is one way around that!

    eric.

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