Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bottom Bracket Overhaul

It's Sunday evening and I've been working on my bike all day. After selling my remaining screen printing equipment Saturday morning, I ran down to my local LBS and picked up a Park Tool crank puller. The other tools I wanted weren't available so they were placed on order. Around noon on Sunday, I couldn't stand it anymore, I decided to remove the crank arms and attempt to remove the bottom bracket with whatever I had on hand.

With all my screen printing equipment gone I decided to do my wife a favor and move the bikes out to the garage. It gets a little warm in the garage but It's nice to have space to work.

I guess this is how most people remove dust caps.

The new Park Tool crank puller I bought is on the right. The old piece of garbage "Spin Doctor" crank extractor is on the left. The last time I used it, the bolt that attaches the wrench portion of the tool to the piece that does the extraction, rounded the edges of the hole allowing the wrench to spin uselessly. Notice the weld on the back of the Park Tool. It's worth spending a little more for quality tools.

The non-drive side crank came off easily. This side took some effort.

Success! Note the leaves, hair, and other junk on the spindle.

Non-drive side

I decided to use some unconventional methods to remove the bottom bracket. My pipe wrench is proving to be very useful tool. The teeth on the wrench easily grasped the knurled edges of the lockring. I had the lockring off in no time.

I used a 16mm cone wrench and a crescent wrench to remove this part.

This is what I discovered when I finally took things apart. There was no lubrication left, just lots of little black, round, granules.

I used a headset wrench to remove this part.

I dumped everything in some Simple Green and let it soak for a while. I then scrubbed everything with an old tooth brush.

Next, I soaked and cleaned the chain.

Since my hands were greasy, I didn't want to touch my camera, so I don't have any photos of the reassembly. Everythng went back easily. Things were going great until I tried installing the chain. No matter what I tried I couldn't get the pin to line up properly with the hole it belonged in. I'll deal with the chain tomorrow. At least the cranks roll smoothly now.


  1. Pretty easy, eh? Did you have any trouble getting the play out of the thing without binding the bearings?

    My crank puller has a hex end on the end of the screw so you just use your own wrench on it. Simple & avoids the "spin doctor" problem.

  2. RTP,
    Really detailed and great post!

    Park Tool stuff is great! I bought a Pedro pedal wrench first and realized it was a POJ. So, I bought The Real McCoy, the incomparable Park Tool pedal wrench. I have been happy ever since (with at least removal of pedals)!!

    Does the Green Stuff clean bearings? Wow!! I didn't know that.

    One dumb question: How do you operate two wrenches and take a photo at the same time?

    Peace :)

  3. Crank pullers are among my favourite tools, falling into the wow, so simple yet so smart category.

    Way to get into that BB!

  4. Good job! Park Tools are well worth the investment. With proper care they will last a home mechanic a couple of lifetimes.


  5. Slightly unconventional, yet perfectly acceptable.PERFECT! See we all knew you could do it.

  6. Yes, great job! I had a hex-nut crank puller like Steve above had (I don't remember which brand). But the bolt twisted in two when I was trying to remove a particularly tight crank. I bought a Park tool just like yours and have happily removed several cranks with no problems. Now I bet your Takara rides as sweet as it looks!

  7. Christopher-Yes it does. One less thing to worry about.

    Steve A-Surprisingly, I was able to get the play out and get it adjusted properly on my third try. It was easier than the adjusting the hubs.

    Chandra-The Simple Green did a good job cleaning the bearings. Plus it's cheap. I was surprised to find that the wrenches stayed attached when I let go, thus allowing me to take the photo.

    Rantwick-The crank puller has become my new favorite tool. I'm going to look for more excuses to use it.

    2whls3spds-I'm sticking with Park Tools from now on.

    frankenbiker-I couldn't have done it without your support. I like being unconventional.

    Big Oak-Yep, I'm now a Park Tool guy. I'm hoping that it's now a sweet riding bike but I don't know yet. I'll do a hub overhaul with no problem and then I mess up the simple things. I bent the plate and pin on my chain and pinched a new inner tube while repairing the flat on my front tire. What a pain.

  8. Simple Green is GREAT stuff. You can get it in a giant bottle at Costco. It's the only stuff I know that's equally adept at detailing painted parts on concours cars and cleaning bike bearings. Easy on the skin, too.

  9. See, this is why selling the Surly was a good thing. You were probably afraid to touch that thing. But this bike, well, is old. The technology is simple, and if you really mess it up you can prevail on Mike over at CC to dig up some replacement parts for you out of their old parts stock.

    Be the bike, Myles. Be the bike.

  10. Steve-I used Simple Green to clean my screens when screen printing. It's good stuff.

    Doohickie-Hey Paul, I hadn't thought about it that way. You're right, I'm more willing to take chances working on it.

    I hope your back is feeling better.

  11. Hey word of warning on the Simple Green (I use it too BTW) don't leave things to soak any longer than absolutely necessary, seems it will affect the metal and make it brittle if items are left in it to soak for long periods of time (days versus hours). I had a link to the article but now I can't find it...go figure!


  12. 2whls3spds-Thanks Aaron, I'll be sure not to leave stuff soaking for extended periods.

  13. Nicely done! Good to see some creative problem-solving. Reading stuff like this makes me want to do more work on my own bikes. However, in practice, most times when I try to fix something, I make matters worse ...