A relatively quick tech article for today, split into two parts. I’m not going to write a comprehensive how-to on either of these topics as YouTube already has the bulk of it covered. I used Rocky Mountain’s excellent YouTube video on how to do the service of the forks and used the video Sal Soggio provide for the installation of the Ray kit. This post just provides some cost cutting tips and a little clarity where I found I needed it.
Unless you’re putting the Ray kit into a nearly new set of forks I would expect that, while you have the fork apart, you’re going to service it. In case you’re not doing the Ray Kit (you should!) and are just doing a service I will start with that part of the puzzle. As usual the focus here is how to do the job without special tools.
Servicing the fork is a matter of replacing the two bushings and the fork seals, then putting it all back together again and filling with oil. The video from Rocky Mountain, linked above, suggests the use of a fork bullet, a seal driver and a special end cap removal tool. You don’t need any of them.
For less than 10 euros I picked up a tool from Amazon to remove the end cap, they call it a “face spanner” and DS call it a “compass key”. All that really matters is that it has 5mm pins. You could rig something yourself – even two M5 screws and a metal ruler would do the job in a pinch.
The seal driver can be replaced with some electrical tape wrapped around the lower fork tube. Yep, just electrical tape. Put the bushings, metal ring and the oil seal in place in the outer tube as best as you can. Push the dust seal and the clip to the bottom of the tube. Now degrease some convenient part of the smaller tube and wrap electrical tape around it until you have a nice thick band – 3-5mm high. Try and get it as straight as possible. Now hold the dust seal and the clip out of the way and use the thinner tube as a hammer to push the oil seal into place, impacting it with the electrical tape. It doesn’t take a lot of force and worked perfectly for me – total tool cost, 5 cents. The dust seal can be hammered into place using the bottom of the fork, where you attach the front wheel.
The seal bullet can be replaced with a piece of fairly thick plastic bag. The kind parts usually come in. Wrap it around the top of the tube, covering the sharp bits that might hurt your nice new seal. Now place the seal around the end of the bag, hold the bag in place and pull the seal over the bag and onto the lower tube. Job done, no damage, no costs.
Other than that the guys at Rocky Mountain have the process covered. It’s fairly easy.
Ray Kit Installation
The first challenge I faced installing my Ray kit was removing the “pumping” from the fork tube. Maybe mine was unusually stubborn, but no matter how hard I yanked with my bare hand I couldn’t get it out. Wrapping around the spring guide with a piece of clean fabric gave me enough grip to get it out though, just keep on tugging and it will pop out.
The second challenge was removing the silver nut/spring guide from the pumping rod. I didn’t have the nice little metal clamp they have in the video to hold it in my vice; I had planned to drill a hole in two pieces of wood to make my own clamp, which nearly worked. But only nearly – no matter how hard I clamped it with the rod vertical I didn’t have enough grip. The trick was to drill into the two pieces of wood horizontally, giving a much larger camping surface area and to work on the rod with it held horizontally. To get a little extra bite I degreased the rod with brake cleaner and wrapped it in tape (yay for tape!) so that it was protected and much easier for my wooden grips to get a hold of it. Firmly held in the vice this way the nut came off easily. A little impact helps, turning the nut gently tended to turn the whole shaft in the vice. Tapping it sharply with my palm got it to move.
Once I got this far I was faced with a conundrum. My rod end didn’t look anything like the rod end in the video. Mine were shaped like mushrooms, theirs were bullets. Unscrewing it with a T27 just removed a little silver piece from the end of it. Talking to my supplier and to members of the 701 community (cheers Dominic!) cleared things up and I confirmed I was still on the right track.
Removing the rod end wasn’t possible using the same technique as in the video and the service manual suggests using another metal vice insert that I didn’t have. If like me you don’t have the right clamp piece, there is an easier way anyway. Put an Allen key, or similar, though the hole in the rod end. Now clamp the rod end in your vice, using soft grips. You don’t have to hold it particularly tight because there is an Allen key stuck in there. Now you can use a 14mm wrench to unscrew the whole rod/shim/spring assembly from the end piece.
At reassembly you can use a very similar trick. Hold the rod in your vice, using soft grips. You can use that same 14mm wrench to hold the rod in place while you fit the new bullet shaped piece onto the end of the rod.
A few other tips here. First up and probably obviously the new shim stack from the kit goes with the big shim at the bottom. Hard to see from the video.
The video tells us to be careful of tweaking our shim stacks, but being a total novice about what I might possibly tweak them on I was unsure what to watch out for. The critical thing is that the bottom shim stack, the “bypass” stack, sits on top of a spring which by it’s nature wants to push the shims up. The shims should sit on a stepped piece under the spring. Not on the “rod” above it. If they are on the rod above they’ll get tweaked and could get bent. The trick is to hold the spring down, then seat all of the shims on the stepped piece. Then push the white “shim burger” down onto the metal shims, so as to hold the spring under pressure and the shims in the right place. You can then hold it all in position with one hand and screw the new bullet on with the other hand. Do it right and with caution and you can keep everything in the right place.
My final comment here is to note that I didn’t use a torque wrench. I don’t have an open ended torque wrench and wasn’t going to buy one for this job. I used blue loctite where recommended and played it safe with a firm hand tight; no threads were stripped in the installation of this suspension upgrade. If you refuses to pays your moneys, you takes your choice – without one you could break some important shit. Don’t blame me if you do!