Written by Wally Wallace Monday, 12 September 2005 00:00
Alpha Q Carbon forks require a special installation proceedure. With carefull attention to detail you can install your own fork. In the following slideshow you will see step by step how to prep, cut, and install a carbon steered fork. The only special tool that we used during this installation was a Park SG-6 Threadless Fork Guide. This tool ensures a clean, straight cut. Otherwise you will need a hacksaw and some duct-tape.
The epoxy, sand-paper and stiring stick comes with the Alpha Q Carbon fork. As always if you are unsure about doing this at home bring it to your LBS for a professional installation.
For this project you will need a hacksaw, Park cutting guide, Duct-Tape, and some Alcohol swabs. The rest of the items are provided with the fork including epoxy, sandpaper and a stiring stick.
Alpha Q recommends a maximum of 80mm of steerer tube extension above the headset top cap. This will ensure that the wedge holding the star nut will extend into the headset. When measuring for this be sure to include your cable hanger and all the spacers you would like. Lightly scribe the fork at the top spacer.
When cutting carbon, Bikeman likes to first wrap the fork in duct-tape over the area he will be cutting. This helps prevent carbon splinters at the end of the cut. Lay your first strip of duct-tape next to your scribe and use a Sharpie to mark the tape where the scribe is.
Wrap the duct-tape around the fork and complete your line around the fork with your Sharpie.
Clamp the fork to hold it steady during the cut. We are using our repair stand with a clean rag over the clamp to hold the fork. Use only enough pressure to prevent the fork from sliping when clamping, extra clamp pressure can possibly damage the carbon steerer. This step can be done in several ways as long as you can old the fork securely when cutting.
A cutting guide is a valuable tool to have in your quiver. Bikeman likes the Park SG-6 Guide. We install the guide with the clamping facing the inside of the fork. Looking through the cutting slot line the guide up with the mark and then move it 2mm inside of the mark. This will allow the steerer tube to sit below the height of the top spacer.
When you are sure of your measurements and all the prep work is done it is time to make the first incision. Using a sharp hacksaw blade begin smoothly cutting the fork. The carbon will cut easily and you won't need much pressure on the blade. Just let the saw do the work.
Remove the duct-tape and take a minute to look over your work. You will notice that the surface of the cut is not perfectly smooth and there may be some fibers around the edge that need to be cleaned up.
It is now time to break out the sandpaper supplied by Alpha Q. It is a fine grade of sandpaper that is just enough to polish up the face of the steerer and clean up your edeges. Don't forget to clean up the inside edges of the steerer as well.
For the upcoming bonding process we need to make sure that the inside of the steerer is perfectly clean. No dust, dirt, carbon debris or finger prints should be present in the first 80mm of the steerer as the wedge will need to be epoxyed in place.
The disposable alcohol swabs or towels seem to work the best. They are lint free and when you are done you just throw them away.
Alpha Q uses a wedge system containing a starnut that must be glued in place. The epoxy supplied by Alpha Q will need to be emptied onto a clean sheet of cardboard or something that you can throw away when you are finished.
The epoxy will need to be mixed before use. A simple stiring stick will do and Alpha Q even provides one for you.
Remove the wedge from it's plastic enclosure. Be care to not touch the surface of the wedge that will be glued into the fork. Holding the raised edge of the wedge spread the epoxy over the entire surface with your stiring stick.
Still holding the raised edge of the wedge begin inserting it into the forks steerer tube. This should be done with a smooth twisting motion to make sure the epoxy covers the entire inside of the fork.
You will end up with some extra epoxy that will squeeze out. Use a clean rag to remove all the extra epoxy from the top edge of the fork. Be carefull not to get any epoxy on the fork or yourself!
Now you can sit back and watch the glue dry! Alpha Q recommends a 12-hour waiting period before installing the fork. This will allow the epoxy to set up entirely. Now you just need to install your crown race and slide the fork into your frame.
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