Eight Tubes, Part 10: Getting My Head On Straight

I got to pull out a pretty cool tool this week: the good ol’ head tube reamer and facer. Not a tool that your average bike mechanic has in his or her tool box, but I have one.

Don’t know what a “head tube reamer and facer” does?

It is the tool that you use to prepare the frame to accept a good quality headset. It finishes off and squares up the top and bottom of the head tube and it opens up the inside of the tube to the proper size so that the headset fits inside with the appropriate level of drag.

But first, I had to trim off the bits of the head tube that were still standing proud of the top of the lugs. This was a few minutes’ work with a hacksaw. Be careful not to cut into the lug. It is okay if you don’t get it totally flush; you will fix that when you level up the tube with the facer.

Being a careful sort, i wanted to double check that the headset that I am going to install matched the fork and the cutter that I was going to use to ream the head tube. I got out the calipers to confirm that my headset (a new, in-the-box Shimano 600 cartridge-type unit…a modern classic)is in fact an “English” size and not the Japanese JIS standard. There are subtle but important differences dimensionally. No worries here; it is an “English” headset.

The facer/reamer is set up and ready to go…

It does a nice job. One key is to use “liberal” amounts of cutting oil. This keeps the cutter sharp and allows for nice, smooth finished surface. I used a hand file to put a slight chamfer on the inside lip to allow the headset to fit flush when it is pressed into place.

Press in the headset, throw on the fork, which we finished a while back, and it is starting to look like a bike.

It is enough to make a pretty girl smile…



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