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Old 09-18-2023, 03:58 PM
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Look585 Look585 is offline
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Steel Fork Alignment: Shop or Framebuilder?

Hey PL, I have a steel fork that needs re-alignment. The rim sits off-center in the crown. Will a good shop be able to sort this out, or do I need to take it to a builder?

This old thread with wisdom from Old Potatoe and Doug Fattic seems to indicate that a shop could likely align the dropouts but a full jig is a better option.
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Old 09-18-2023, 04:17 PM
Mark McM Mark McM is online now
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To get past the obvious, can we assume that you have determined that it is the fork that is out of alignment, and not the wheel? (Reversing the wheel should do the trick here - if the rim alignment remains the same with the wheel in both ways, then it must be the fork.)

There are two ways for the rim be off-center in the fork - either the fork blades are misaligned laterally (i.e the blades pushed to the side), or the dropout slots are different depths (so that the wheel is sits "cocked" sideways in the fork). The best bet to ascertain the cause (and correct it) is using a fork jig. As your average shop (and many good shops) are unlikely to have fork jigs, you'll either have to find the uncommon shop that has the necessary equipment (and the skills to use it), or go to a frame/fork builder.
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Old 09-18-2023, 05:27 PM
Peter P. Peter P. is offline
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Park Tool sold a fork jig. The shop I worked at had one. I see it's no longer available so I would only expect a long-in-business shop to possibly have one.

It's the only way to accurately align a fork, without getting creative.
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Old 09-18-2023, 05:43 PM
Ralph Ralph is offline
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Sometimes paint builds up there. I have fixed that problem before with a few strokes of a rat tail file.

Last edited by Ralph; 09-18-2023 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 09-18-2023, 05:49 PM
robt57 robt57 is offline
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And sometime just filing one drop out deeper is enough to correct if your lucky.
This foot tastes terrible!
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Old 09-18-2023, 06:04 PM
shrimp123 shrimp123 is offline
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did u check Dale Saso in San Jose? he fixed the steel fork on my Faggin back to life.

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Old 09-18-2023, 07:36 PM
bikinchris bikinchris is offline
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Newer shops probably don't know how to align a fork and probably don't have the tools needed.
I sold my fork alignment tool. The first shop I worked at part time when I closed my own shop had an Electra come in with a badly bent fork. I brought my jig in and had the fork straight in 15 minutes to avoid having to box the bike for return or wait the several weeks it would take to hopefully get a new fork.
Forgive me for posting dumb stuff.
Little Rock, AR
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Old 09-18-2023, 10:17 PM
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Look585 Look585 is offline
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Thanks everyone!

1) yes, it is the fork. Wheel is properly dished and the “problem” remains when I mount the wheel the other way around.
2) it is not a paint issue. The drop out is bare stainless steel at this point.

It is probably only a 2-3mm issue, but with a big tire in a narrowish crown, I’d rather have it aligned properly.

Historically I would take it to A Bicycle Odyssey and have Tony (RIP) sort it out, he had every tool known to man. Lee at FullMetalCycles is an ABO alumni so I’ll stop in there and get his take. Dale Saso will be next; he is about 500yds from where I grew up in San Jose.
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Old 09-18-2023, 10:20 PM
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Nessism Nessism is offline
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An old school high-end bike shop could likely align the fork, but those are almost non-existent these days. Given that, I'd find a framebuilder.
Bikes? Homebuilt lugged steel
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Old 09-18-2023, 10:29 PM
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AngryScientist AngryScientist is offline
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I don’t know where in the bay you are, but I would go see Mike Varley at BMC. I’m certain he could sort you out.
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Old 09-19-2023, 09:48 AM
bigbill bigbill is offline
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In 2012, the movers bent the Waterford fork on my Gunnar Crosshairs. The blade was bent. I took it to Dave Cheakas, an old school frame builder, who had the correct tool to bend it back. He then aligned the dropouts. Good to go. If a builder makes steel frames and forks, they'll likely have the tools. The tool to straighten the blades looks like a medieval weapon made by Park.
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Old 09-19-2023, 10:41 AM
elvisthehorse elvisthehorse is offline
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Thumbs up diy

can you check the wheel in another good fork first. I have reference wheels. I never ride, just a tip

you might be able to do it your self
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Old 09-19-2023, 10:57 AM
MikeD MikeD is offline
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Long ago, Livermore Cyclery had a jig and they aligned my steel fork. The shop was sold to Trek, but might be worth a call there if they kept their old tools and employees.
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Old 09-19-2023, 11:26 AM
Doug Fattic Doug Fattic is offline
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The most sensible approach is to take it to a steel frame builder that makes steel forks. They will have all the right tools and knowledge and experience to do the job right. Correct alignment involves 4 factors. The fork's dropouts need to be equaldistant from the steerer at exactly the right distance. For the greatest accuracy this requires the kind of fixture used in making a fork. I doubt 1 in a hundred local bike shops have one of these. Once the side to side is fixed then the next job is to work on the fore aft to get the exact same rake. The 3rd issue is to get the dropouts to be parallel to each other. This should not be done earlier in the checking sequence. The park fork alignment gauges are not accurate enough for me because there is some slop in the threads that determine their width. These are the ones a bike store is most likely to have. And finally after the other 3 factors are corrected, then a true wheel can be used to see if the fork blades are the same length. If they aren't this is where a round file can be used to bring the distant back to spec. I would not under any circumstances want someone not very familiar with using a file do this job. It is way too easy to get the slot too wide or too narrow or crooked.

Framebuilders develop a feel for how much force to use when straightening steel. Someone doing it for the 1st time can pull way too much and then have to bend it back. There is no way in this world I would let someone not experienced do this job. I suppose it depends on how valuable and/or important the frame is to you.
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Old 09-19-2023, 11:32 AM
mhespenheide mhespenheide is offline
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If you don't want to head all the way down to San Jose, maybe Ed Litton in Alameda or Billings Cycle Works in Oakland?
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