Fork’s on

A sure sign of Fall:  I nearly flattened a squirrel on my ride in to work this morning.  Squirrels have this infuriating habit of darting in front of you and suddenly reversing direction just when you least expect it.  I also had to brake for some deer in the park.  Good times.

Did some more work on the Rockhopper yesterday evening.  I cut the fork steerer down to size, installed the star nut, and put the headset together.  To cut the steerer, I started the cut with a tubing cutter, and finished it with a hacksaw.  The notch left by the tubing cutter helped guide the saw, and I also put a couple of hose clamps on either side of the cut.  The result was a pretty straight cut, which is saying something, because I’m really, really bad at making good cuts with a hand saw.  After cutting, I used a file to clean up the rough edges, and proceeded to attempt to install the star nut.  The first attempt went badly.  I threaded the bolt in a few turns, and used a mallet to bang the nut into the steerer.  It went in really crooked, and I couldn’t get it straightened out, so I decided to start over.  I scrounged up a 15″ length of old ground rod, and used it to bang the nut the rest of the way through the steerer until it came out the bottom of the fork crown.  Then I hit the Internet for ideas for how I might do this without a special tool.  I came up with the following, adapted from an old post I found on mtbr.com:

Start with a 11/16″ socket, or whatever size will fit inside the steerer tube with a little bit of clearance.  The longer the socket, the better.  Drop a small washer through the end of the socket, so it sits against the square hole where the driver normally goes.  Then, drop the star nut’s bolt through the washer so that it sticks out the square hole.  Add a few washers as spacers, and then thread the star nut tightly onto the bolt.  You want enough washers to keep the star nut’s prongs from touching the socket.  Then, drive the star nut into the steerer tube by tapping on the socket with a rubber mallet.  Hold the socket securely to keep the nut straight until the socket enters the tube.  Drive the nut into the tube around 1″ (2cm).

Using this method, I was able to get the nut into the steerer tube perfectly straight.  With that done, I was able to install the fork and stem.  Now I just need a new chain and some tubes, and I can put the bike together and see how it rides.

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