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Old School Clip Headset

Old 11-28-21, 04:02 PM
  #1  
oldukbkr 
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Old School Clip Headset

Does anyone on here have experience with the old clip headsets? I'm looking for the correct procedure to install/adjust these and I have two basic questions: 1. Is the clip used to set the bearing load then locked down with the clip bolt and the top lock nut? Seems like overkill to have both clip bolt and lock nut doing the same job. I've also heard that the clip is threaded on and then the lock nut is used to pre-load the bearings before the clip bolt is tightened. Anyone know the correct process? Second question: should the handlebar stem be in place prior to the clip being tightened down. I've adjusted plenty of threaded headsets but this is my first experience with the older clip type headset and I'm having a hard time finding any documentation for them.
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Old 11-28-21, 04:29 PM
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'Clip' headset? I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Post a photo.
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Old 11-28-21, 06:19 PM
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I would suggest have the clip in place loosely while adjusting to perfection

and then tighten the clip to hold the assembly in place

best practice is to have the stem in place and tighten / torqued to final tension to load the head tube properly

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Old 11-30-21, 08:03 AM
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I think oldukbkr is referring to a top cap and star nut or compression plug.
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Old 11-30-21, 09:14 AM
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Back in the day a "clip" when talking about headsets meant the Campy "8" clip that is to keep the two 32mm headset wrenches separated while adjusting the headset. See #712/3. Andy

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Old 11-30-21, 09:36 AM
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Sorry for the confusion. I'm talking about a 1930/40s clip-style headset, widely used on road bikes in the UK back then. But replaced by the threaded headset after the war. For those not familiar, the races are built into the head tube. The ball bearings sit in floating races that, in turn, sit in the head tube races. The whole thing held in place by the head clip and a lock nut. A fair number have survived on vintage bikes. But there's not much documentation I can find about adjusting them. I think Mark Petry, above, has it right. In the end, its like any other headset, you have to get the bearings adjusted correctly and lock everything down. I was hoping some of the older more experienced members here might have come across this.

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Old 11-30-21, 09:56 AM
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Reminds me of many folding bikes that had a compression clamp which would squeeze the slotted steerer onto the stem. In their case the headset was adjusted in the usual manor (for a threaded type) and this clamp would "float" between the upper race and the lock nut (much like a washer only much larger). To remove the stem/bars for travel one would loosen the clamp and pull the stem up and out with no headset adjustment issues.

I note that the imaged headset uses the "English" (my term) bearing contact angle design. This is where the contact points that the balls have with the races are nearly in line with the steerer (much like thrust bearings are done) as opposed to the more tolerant angular contact designs (Campy NR being a well known type). The "English" type was very common on many English bikes of low to moderate grade, like the thousands of Raleighs sold during the 1970s.

Why do I mention this? Because as the bearing contact angle becomes more in line with the steerer the less tolerant it is of miss alignment (think poorly faced frames or seated races). Also these headsets were (or with the Raleigh versions were...) sensitive to the ball count. I don't know how many dozens (of dozens) of Raleighs I had to overhaul the headsets right out of the box due to too many balls (and still not suffer from a ball riding up as the correct counts would leave more than a ball's space). Back then I had the ball counts memorized, the upper stack took one ball less than the lower stack did. IIRC the upper used 22 balls and the lower 23 balls.

To relate this back to the OP's situation. If my points are valid for your headset don't be surprised if you end up tinkering with the ball counts and adjustments only to find the fork will have a tight spot and a loose sopt as it is rotated, even with the best combo of ball counts and adjustment tuning. The floating races only add one more point of slop. Like the needle bearings of the Strongligh A9s and Deltas you might find that more preload is needed to reduce/eliminate the slop then what a angular contact headset with no added layers of parts use. Andy
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