Bicycle bottom bracket and BB tool

That was never 41nm!

The tool to remove the bottom bracket arrived this weekend. I had more difficulty removing it from the packaging than … actually, no. It was unreasonably difficult to remove from the packaging, but what followed was worse.

Adjustable wrench and bottom bracket tool in use
Surely this monster wrench is sufficient

The tool fit in the bottom bracket well enough, but didn’t go in deeply enough for my taste. (This was a limitation of the bottom bracket, not the tool.) When I applied increasing amounts of force via an adjustable wrench, the tool would just slip out of the splines in the bottom bracket. It took real concentration to hold the wrench perfectly perpendicular to the axle while applying enough force.

When the bracket cups didn’t start moving under force, I made a quick check via the internet: for the bottom bracket, the left side is right-hand threaded, while the right (drive) side is left-hand threaded. (This is the opposite from the pedals.) Furthermore, the left side should be removed first.

Reassured that I was working in the correct direction, I used a hammer to tap the wrench in an effort to loosen things up. This didn’t achieve a thing. Finally, it was just brute force, and more of it, that eventually got the left side moving. I soon had it off, and flipped the frame over again to attack the right side.

Adjustable wrench, bottom bracket tool, bottom bracket and bicycle frame
Solution: use a bigger wrench

The right side was even less inclined to break loose. I tried various hand grips, braced my feet against the table legs, and hammered on the wrench, all to no avail. It seemed that the tool was even more inclined to slip free of the splines, but that was probably me just getting more desperate and blindly applying more force. I stopped to consider what would happen if I wasn’t able to remove the bottom bracket. As far as I knew it was in good condition, but it would limit my choices for a replacement crankset. Could I continue with the current bottom bracket? Or would it make more sense just to throw it all away and start with a new frame? That would free up all my options. But I’d already ordered hubs and rims based on the current frame, and those are decisions that I would want to revisit if I had a free hand with frame choices.

In the end I did what I should have done from the start: I got a bigger wrench. With that, it just took a couple of tries, and a whole lot of force, and suddenly the damn thing was moving. Before I knew it the bottom bracket was out, and I was inspecting the results.

Interior of bottom bracket showing some rust
A bit rusty, but good

Bottom bracket showing specs next to frame
Check the specs

A quick look at the specs confirmed that I’d be able to replace this with the bottom bracket and crankset combo I’d chosen: very good news. But the recommended torque settings were a bit puzzling: 41nm is the same as for Kuroko’s replacement crankset, so I knew from experience it had taken a lot more torque to get this bottom bracket out. The unit had been replaced within a couple of years of my purchasing Ol’ Paint, so probably about 2011, but it hasn’t been serviced once since then. I suppose it has tightened up over time.

I’m really making progress now. I’m just going to have another go at the broken water bottle cage bolts, and then it’s time to start scraping and sanding.

It was only later, as I was boarding the train on my way home this evening, that it occurred to me I should have employed the seatpost option: put the tool in the vise and twist on the frame.







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