Tuesday, December 16, 2008

DIY: Headset Press

Now that I have mastered bottom brackets after taking quite a few apart, although I haven't come across a sealed cartridge yet but when I do I'll probably needs some more tools for the Hanover Recycled Cycle Shop, the next component on the list is a headset. I like the DIY approach because it lets you experiment with different ways of doing things.

Of course, you could just cut to the chase and purchase one. You can spend anywhere from $50 for a Torx Headset press from Pricepoint to $145 for Park Tool HHP-2 Headset Press from Universal Cycles, but going the DIY route you can cut that cost in half, if not more. It might not be pretty, but it gets the job done for a fraction of the price.

Your first stop on the DIY train should be Instructables. I saw this early on but wasn't particularly thrilled with it. Digging deeper in the interwebs, I came across these versions:
  1. Improvised Headset Press
  2. This one claims it will run you about $6.
  3. Bicycle Commuters version is the one I decided to emulate, although they claim the total cost was $15. In there post they also show their own crown race tool. I have something similar only it's made from cast iron instead of PVC.
  4. Here is a Bike Hack. You'll find Bike Hacks in the Feed Tube which always has interesting DIY tips for other bike related things.
  5. This has to be the worst type of DIY headset press.
Just Google DIY Headset Press and you will find these and many more. They basically revolve around the same principle, center threaded rod, a few washers, bolts and some crescent wrenches. One of the sites had a comment that struck me as poignant:

You could visit your local bike shop and pay a pro with the right tools 10 bucks to do it right in 5 minutes while you wait. Most people will do this once or twice in the lifetime of a worthy bike (at most), and anyways, it is good to support your local economy. Save the DIY for repacking your bearings, brake adjustment, and TRUING.
I think if I were dealing with a Chris King or comparable bling, bling headset I would take it to my LBS to have it done right but at the Hanover Recycled Cycle Shop, spending $25 clams is more than sufficient for what I am doing.

As I mentioned earlier, I went with the Bicycle Commuter's version because I felt the copper reducers were perfect for fitting within the cups and ensure that it works. The only drawback to this addition is the price. These reducers were $10 a pop. Without them, the total cost would be a mere $5.

I went with the 5/8's threaded bar but I think the one I got is too long. Guess I could always cut it down to size.

Here it is on its trial run. Decided to put the cups from the Nishiki on Fuji to see how it works. I read on one of the websites/blogs that you should freeze your cups to get some shrinkage (yikes) but I just greased them up and the head tube.

On the bottom of my DIY press, I have two nuts tightended down but you still need to hold onto it to keep it from rotating when tightening the top. The reducers fit nicely into the cups.

Here is the finished product. I was quite simple. Took but a few turns and both cups slid in nicely. One thing I noticed is that the fork for Fuji was cut for the smaller headset that came with it so I couldn't get the top, lock screw on it. I thightened it down as tight as it would go. Looks like Fuji will have be used for something that doesn't require turning.


Anonymous said...

2x4 and a hammer for installation.

flat head screw driver and a hammer for removal.

use a rag in between to avoid scratching the headset if you have a Chris King like I do.

Mark said...

I was wondering if that works. Sounds like not a lot of finesse with that method but it does the same.

I use a screw driver and a hammer to remove the cups, too. I saw on another site that you could use bars, too.

29ner said...

I have used 4x4 blocks of wood and a real heavy hammer. I have also damaged parts. I did go out and but a removal tool and that has saved me big time. I like your DIYS tool. How would it work without the copper cups ?

Mark said...

Peter, you can probably get along fine without the copper reducers. I have to try it with out them to see if them make a difference or not. Without them, you could do the whole thing for less than $10 bucks.

-d said...

There's a guy on eBay that sells his own DIY headset press for $27.50 and a press/removal set for $49.99. It's basically the same DIY design that you followed, but he's out to make a profit. I commend the guy for his entrepreneurship, but he's asking way too much.

My theory is that if you are comfortable enough to install your own headset, you'll be more than capable in building your own press/remover. Nice work!

Mark said...

-d, that is why I am experimenting with the bikes that my Fairy Dump Mother leaves me.

I haven't seen anything on ebay but I will have to check it out. Could be a nice little side bidness and give this guy a little competition.

American BBs are my next challenge.

-d said...

I think the eBay guy is in the San Diego area, which may perhaps explain the higher costs.

My suggestion - headquarter your headset press business in an old ice fishing house - minimal overhead costs, maximized profits, and you could even catch your dinner.

Anonymous said...

My LBS has always done headset race removal/installation for very little. Of course they know who I am and I have everything taken apart and cleaned. It just takes them a few minutes to pop the old one out and put the new one. I then do everything else.

Weon said...

"5. This has to be the worst type of DIY headset press."

Hey, it's worked for me more than once and cost me nothing! Can't say fairer than that!

Miranda said...

Wow! This worked much better than I expected. I used lots of grease and it worked like a charm. I had previously tried the freezer method with zero success. I found the copper reducers for $3 each. I made this as well as a PVC tool to install fork crown for <$15. 15 minutes labor, tops. My LBS wanted me to wait a week for the same job. Thank you!