Thou shalt not quill.

I am on the final stretch of the Dawes Fireball project. I had a custom headbadge made by a very nice and reasonably priced etsy seller. Having received it I took a few moments from staring blearily at my project write up to dissemble my bike.

It took a lot longer than I thought: wheels, cranks, saddle, seat tube and bottom bracket came out like a delight. Undoing the stem was fine, but the quill was stuck in. Frustrated by this I put the handle bars and brake to one side and removed the headset and got ready to use my new special tool, the headset cup remover. Poised with mallet in hand I inserted it into the shaft of the steerer, the steerer was too big. So I resorted to slowly working around them with a screw driver and aforementioned mallet. One set of bearings were in a polite race, the others loose and I promptly ended up scrambling on the floor finding some, and losing more. Cutting my losses I went to see if the bearings from the last time I dropped a headset on the floor were the same size, they were and with a sigh I moved onto the crown race. In all this took maybe 45 minutes of taking my time.

Back to the quill, I put the rest of the stem back in and hit it repeatedly with a hammer to no avail. WD-40’d it for gold and more hitting. I then tried to heat it up hoping the forks expand more than the quill to allow easier hitting. To no avail, not least as the quill is aluminium and expands more than the steel forks so that was stupid. As was doing it in the entire I did.

Still no good, I used some ammonia to try and dissolve the aluminium oxide and hope for the best with more hitting. If you’ve never smelt ammonia, I guess you’re lucky, as the stench quickly permeated the house from outside, I tried to reduce the problem.

This did little despite being left for over 24 hours and repeated poundings with the mallet. Getting more angry and beginning to consider that it would be easier to get a new frame set than continue with this, and wondering whether I could freeze the inside I read that in an end-game circumstance, I could just dissolve the aluminium in caustic soda.

So I did.

And so I had a nice bubbly day, stirring the sodium hydroxide solution with the forks and the stick and repeatedly trying to push the quill out with the stick and watching the gasses form and spiral out from the tube and sometimes sludgey foam would pour out the top. After a few pints at the Union, returning home and putting the bike out back I tentatively moved my feet around where I thought the bucket was but it had been moved. Bike safe and sound, I groped around for mr pokey stick and in the dark found my forks and after blindly stabbing with mr pokey, sweet release and out the quill came.

The lye worked much faster on the paint but you can now see what took me a week to remove. And I only burnt my hands once properly on the caustic soda (though my fingers got a bit soapy more than once).

Crop and zoom of the quill?

I am proud of myself, and the paint work doesn’t bother me too much as it was going to be blasted off anyway, but I do need a new stem, but for £6 I’m pretty chuffed.

Have a photo of the other nights faff of a dinner where I tried to put mushrooms larger than the bore of the pasta into cannelloni.

It was as delicious as faffy.

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