I also got a paintbrush for cleaning for 80 cents. I tried to pick one with firm bristles.
I used paint thinner for solvent. It works very well for getting rid of dirt, oil and grease, but it really stinks. However, paint thinner doesn't leave any residue once it evaporates. If our local thinner is made from acetone, then it should also be a safe chemical to use, because acetone isn't harmful to health unlike things like gasoline (i.e. petrol). If it isn't, then there goes whatever's left of my brain cells.
You can also try kerosene or diesel, but please wear gloves. Some, if not most of these chemicals are carcinogenic (i.e. it causes cancer on prolonged contact).
I bought these nitrile gloves because I read that they work really well as a physical barrier against chemicals. These were a nice pair. I think they cost me around $5 a pair.
Cleaning the spring seat, spacer and bushing.
Cleaning the damper rod.
I clamped the fork to the table and put some metal polish on it.
Then I attacked it with a teeny buffing "wheel" on the end of a drill.
Here's a close up shot.
Honestly it didn't work very well. I realize that I need to get proper polishing wheels and compounds, and this just isn't going to cut it. Another project for another day I guess.
But here's some other stuff I did before the forks went back on the bike. Here're all the parts cleaned up and laid out on the table. I lube the damper rod spring with fresh fork oil before re-assembly.
Moral of the story? Get a proper torque wrench.
After spending some time messing with it, I realized that it isn't very practical for several reasons. First, physical feedback is important in a torque wrench. This one beeps, and the LED changes colour when the torque setting is neared. That means you have to pull really slowly to hear that beep before exceeding the torque setting, and you need to be able to see the readout at all times. Besides, if you're working in a noisy area, things will go wrong.
Secondly, it's tricky to set the torque settings. The increments either move too slowly, or too quickly if you hold down the button.
Third, it's bulky and it doesn't ratchet. I cannot recommend getting this if you're thinking of using it as a replacement for a torque wrench. It might work as a calibration device, but not a tool for regular use. You'll also need a vice to use it as a calibration device for your torque wrenches.
Before you do that, I highly recommend that you lube the inside of the fork lowers before you bang those seals in there. The fork oil is going to help the seals go in much easier. And they don't go in easy. On my first attempt, I spent close to 20 minutes hammering on the seal and didn't even get it to clear the retaining ring groove.
The picture below shows you where to apply the fork oil.
I didn't want to spend so much on a tool that I'm only going to be using very infrequently, so I made do with some PVC pipe. I got some 40mm PVC pipe and split it down the centre. Here's my improvised fork seal driving tool.
Introducing the "Big Kahuna."
In fact, with this pipe, I took less than 15 seconds to bang the seals in so that they sit below the retaining clip's groove. Contrast that to the 20 mins I spent with the previous tool.
Here's another view:
After I re-assembled everything, now it's time to fill it up with fresh fork oil. If I remember correctly, it calls for 472ml in each fork. I didn't want to dirty the only measuring flask I had in the house, which my wife uses for baking (I don't really fancy the taste of fork oil in cookies, do you?), so here's what I did.
I took a regular drinking water bottle, and cleaned and dried it. Then I measured 472ml of water with the measuring flask, and poured that into the bottle. Then I marked off the level of the water with a marker, and poured out the water, and let the bottle dry.
When it came time to refill the oil, I just poured the oil to the mark I made, and there should be 472ml in there. See? I didn't sleep during physics class.
So I made tihs tool instead to help me accurately measure the level of oil in there. First you need a big syringe.
With more time, I'll probably scrounge up some parts to make a better tool.
After that's done, the spring, spring seat and the spacer gets put back in.
The easiest way I've found to get the fork cap back on, is to push the fork cap down, and turn the fork tube (not the fork cap) anticlockwise, until you feel the threads engage. I found this much easier then trying to push down and screw in the fork cap at the same time.
Tighten it up, and that's one side done, and ready to go back onto the bike.
Well, that concludes our series on fork seal replacement. If you haven't already, please follow this blog.
If you have ideas or methods to do this better, please comment on the blog!
Thanks for reading, use your tools, and happy wrenching!