Kuroko maintenance continues

Loosening the crankset bolt with a socket wrench

Today, with the help of the Halfakid, I picked up where I’d left off the maintenance of Kuroko, begun more than a month ago!

At that time I decided I would replace the bottom bracket (again) as the bearings (just four or five months old at this point) were making a bit of noise, and the crank was not turning very freely.

Sad bottom bracket

I’ve had the replacement bottom bracket sitting in my den for months now, waiting for the right moment to install it. As I’ve already been through two sets of bearings from the maker of the crankset, FSA, I decided this time to give a different solution a try.

bbinfinite bottom bracket and tool
bbinfinite bottom bracket and tool

Today was cold and grey (while the last two days have been sunny and mild), and we both put on an extra layer before venturing out into the wind on the balcony. But we took the plunge. I quickly located the correct socket size and handed it to the Halfakid to loosen the crankset.

Loosening the crankset bolt with a socket wrench
Loosening the crankset

It took him a good few tries! He was obviously using more force than I’d used putting the crankset on, and it wasn’t budging. So we decided to take a break and look up the threading information to make sure we weren’t trying to turn it the wrong way. (Many threaded bottom brackets use a left-hand thread on the drive side, and I needed a sanity check to make sure the same wasn’t also true of the crankset.)

Reassured we were torquing in the proper direction, we returned to the balcony and then, with just a couple of more tries, the crank finally loosened. We had it off in a minute and then hammered the bearings out of the bottom bracket shell.

Screw in vice and grinding tool
The loud part — grinding down the screw

The new bottom bracket has a full aluminum shell, so we needed to grind down the screw that holds the cable guide to the outside of the bottom bracket shell. This took a few minutes with the help of the Dremel and a grinding wheel. It was pretty noisy, but (for a change) we didn’t bother the neighbor’s dog with our cacophony.

Bottom bracket shell showing protruding screwBottom bracket shell with screw ground down flush
Grinding down the screw until it’s flush

We were finally ready to install the new bottom bracket! We took a few minutes indoors to warm up while I went over the instructions once more, then once more again. We had all the tools and parts, and were ready to get the job done! So we thought. We got no more than a minute into the operation when we realized that my bottom bracket bearing press wasn’t long enough for the job. It’s made for bearings that are separate, and so doesn’t have the reach to go the whole way through first the integrated bearing set and then the bike’s BB shell.

Time for another break under the heater while I looked up the recommended BB tool. It’s not cheap. Amazon showed several sellers that could deliver it with a minimum wait of 10 days. Rakuten had a seller willing to take the order but without any commitment to a delivery date. I decided to check with the local bike shop before ordering.

Man in a hoodie manipulating a bicycle shift lever
Getting the cable out

With the bottom bracket fix on hold, we turned our attention to the parts we could take care today: replacing the rear derailleur and associated shift lever. We cut the cables for the existing rear derailleur and front brake and loosened the lever from the handlebars. We had a time of it trying to get the shift cable out of the lever, and in the end decided we didn’t actually need to get that done while standing in the cold wind.

The new cables threaded into the new shift lever a lot more easily than the old ones had come out, so we quickly mounted the new lever to the handlebar. Next we spent a couple of minutes trimming and adjusting the front brake. We didn’t get it perfect today, but that’s OK because I’ll check all the adjustments again once I’ve got the crankset back on.

Removing the sprocket with a sprocket tool and chain whip
Out with the old

Replacing the rear cassette was another job that turned out to be more difficult than expected. As I’d put the existing cassette on and used less than my full strength tightening it, I figured the Halfakid could remove it in a second. But, as with the crankset bolt, it turned out to be a lot more tight than expected. He finally got it turning after several tries and different positions to increase leverage.

With the old cassette off, we then fought with the packing of the new cassette. The sprockets were mounted on a plastic insert to hold them in place, and I spent some time trying to force out the insert or cut through it. Finally the Halfakid found out which way we needed to tug at the insert and then it popped out in a second. After that, the new cogs went onto the freehub in a minute, and with the application of a bit of grease, the Halfakid gave the cassette lockring a good tightening. (I doubt I’ll be able to get it off again without his help.

Bicycle wheel with shiny new cassette
In with the new

The final step for the day was mounting the new rear derailleur and attaching the shifting cable. But in the process we were in a for another shock, and this one a nasty one. While we were mounting the derailleur I noticed a loose screw on the inside of the dropout. A closer inspection showed that it was the only screw remaining of an original four meant to hold the dropout to the frame, and it was hanging by a single thread! The Halfakid tightened it up, but reported that it wouldn’t seat in and stop turning. So that might mean the frame threads are stripped. In any case, I have to figure out what size screw it is and find three replacements before I can ride the bike again. Meanwhile, the dropout certainly is loose, and this probably contributed to shifting issues I’ve had in the past.

I don’t know at what point the other screws were lost. It certainly points to a quality control issue, but I don’t know if it’s the manufacturer or the shop where I bought Kuroko — I rather suspect the former.

Between the bearing press being too short and the dropout screws missing, Kuroko is probably going to be laid up for at least another week. I’ll have to put of my first ride of the New Year for a while yet.

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