Steering Head Nut Adjustment & Adding Zerk Fitting to Grease Steering Bearings:

Gadget's web site has great instructions on both steering head nut adjustment and adding a zerk fitting to grease the steering bearings without having to take the front end apart.  I tried to follow the instructions for adding a zerk fitting but broke thru with the drill bit and decided, rather than risk any shavings getting into the bearings, to take the steering stem apart, clean all parts, and adjust the stem nut at the same time.  Below are some pictures and a few things I noted while doing this.

I used 1/4" - 28NF zerk fittings (I got one for the swing arm too while I was there) at Ace hardware (~$1.45).  Get the longer threaded one shown here for the steering stem.  On the Nomad, you have to drill thru a neck reinforcing plate and the steering stem or about 3/8" of metal and the shorter fitting will be too short.  Depending on where you drill, there may be a gap between the plate and stem pipe and with the shorter fitting you'll end up filling up the neck with grease and not the inside of the steering stem.  Also, don't by the tap at Ace.  They are too expensive ($6.99) and they want the same again for the #3 drill bit.  Sears sells both for about $5.00 in a set.  If you think you won't need to take apart the steering stem and can drill and tap the hole as outlined on Gadget's web site, I would get a bottoming tap like the one in the picture.  You'll probably have go to a tool shop for those.  I got mine for $4.35 just in case but ended up taking the steering stem apart and didn't really need it.  The tap in Sears set is an intermediate tap and won't thread the hole all the way to the bottom and Sears didn't sell the bottoming tap.  Also, use a #3 bit.  It's diameter is 14.68/64".  I did a test with a 15/64" bit figuring it was close enough but it didn't really leave enough metal to cut a decent thread.

I drilled into the right side of the steering stem. 

Since I punched thru with the drill bit and was afraid of shavings getting into the bearings, I took the front end apart.  You don't have to drain the brake line if you do it right.  If you have risers, move the brake reservoir and left switch housing as far forward on the handlebars as possible to give enough slack in the brake line and electrical wires to remove the upper tree.  I removed tree, risers and handlebars are one unit and hung it from hooks in the ceiling.  The brake line passes thru the lower tree but you have enough slack so that you can remove the lower tree and steering stem but you'll have to support it on a chair and paint can or similar....:).

Remove the upper shiny chrome nut (36 mm socket).  Note the washer and there's an O-ring below the washer.  Tap the underside of the upper tree and wiggle the handle bars to remove the upper tree and support it.


My jury-rigged support system.... 

When you get the upper tree off, you'll see this.  Don't lose the claw washer.  The steering head nut is below it with the four notches.


Remove the steering head nut and dust seal.  Note the O-ring and it's position when you take things apart.


Upper bearing.  

You can see the hole for the grease fitting on the right.

A good shot of the zerk fitting installed.  You can see it's just the right length.


After you get it all back together, pump 'er full of grease until it squeezes out of the bearings. 

One issue I came across on Gadget's site is the torque of the steering head nut (the one with the 4 notches) which sets the tightness of the steering.  The torque given on Gadget's site is 33 ft-lbs which seemed awfully high to me for such an assembly.  I check my '06 Nomad manual and it stated that torque to be 33 INCH-lbs or about 3.6 ft-lbs, quite a difference.  I checked with the dealer and he gave me the same torque number.  I also found manuals for a 2003 VN1600 and VN2000 and they gave the same torque numbers for this nut.  

When I took the nut off, it came relatively easily, ie. with little torque and as I had not had any looseness in the steering, confirmed my suspicion. During assembly, I made a tool (not pretty but it works) and tightened it to 33 in-lbs and everything seems to be fine.  Maybe there's a difference in the various years and bikes.


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