Monday, March 23, 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Rebuild Series #6

Grips, shifter, and brakes on.

But nothing is attached yet. The cork grips still need to be varnished (not shellacked, 'cause I don't have any shellac, but I do have spar varnish, which is even more water-resistant), which will darken them significantly, and I still need to order a new shifter cable, cable wheel, indicator spindle, and some missing axle hardware for the rear hub. I'll be out of town next weekend, so I'm probably still looking at about two weeks before it's finished. It's really starting to look good, though, if I do say so.

BTW, the tires are Michelin World Tours, which are a great match for old British three-speeds. They look great, but they were a real bugger to get on. I don't think I've ever had such a hard time coaxing tires onto wheels.


  1. Gosh, he IS a handsome fellow. (Not more than the gentleman upon the bike, however.)

  2. Hello Thom!

    Well, you made me do it. I signed up for a blog; and sending a couple of thoughts on vintage cycling to you was what pushed me into doing it!

    Basic stuff you need to know about good old Sturmey Archer AW 3-Speed rear hubs...

    They are made for oil, not grease.

    Contrast this with most coaster-brake hubs that are made for grease, not oil.

    So, what does this mean?

    It means life just got easier!

    A Sturmey Archer hub is meant to be oiled. There is no need to worry about how to get grease in there!

    The oil will leak out, always.

    This is both bad, and also very good!

    The oil leaking out is not particularly good for tires. If enough oil runs down the spokes, it can adversely affect the rear tire (or tyre). Mostly this just means a dark stain. Although, it is possible for exposure to oil to shorten the life of a tire.

    But the GOOD qualities are so terrific!

    A nice amount of oil in there will distribute itself to each and every part needing lubrication.

    The oil comes in at the middle, where the oil-filler-cap is.

    The oil rinses any dirt, grit, or other contamination, out to the sides, where it can escape!

    The clean oil carries the dirt out for you!

    Leaks CAN be your friends!

    So, you want to lube with a light oil.

    But before you do that, with an old and dry and gummy and dirty hub... maybe you want to start with a gentle solvent first???

    What to do???

    There has been soooooo much discussion on exactly WHAT genuine vintage "Sturmey Archer Oil" really is, or was...

    We can all agree, whatever it was, when Sturmey Archer sold those fine looking little cans of oil, back in the good old days...

    Today, they make oils that are even better.

    Good old 10W-30 is obviously just a little thicker than what Sturmey Archer sold in those little cans.

    Use something thinner than 10W-30 .

    The most modern of oils come in much thinner grades. Why? Because extremely thin oils save fuel, in modern high-speed engines! Great! Use some modern oil with some number like 0W or 5W followed by some small number like 10 .

    And to clean out a gummy and grimy old hub? The first time?

    Modern Automatic-Transmission-Fluid is PERFECT!!!

    Automatic Transmission Fluid, or ATF, is super thin. It is an extremely good solvent for old gummy residue. It is a great cleaner. But, even though it is very thin, it is still a lubricant!

    So, go buy one quart (or one liter) of ATF.

    Not too long ago I overhauled a 1916 Sturmey Archer model A hub.

    I bought a quart of "Ford-type" ATF. The Ford stuff is a very pretty red color. Bonus, it had NO odor!

    I bought a cheap plastic syringe, from a pet-shop-supply place. I simply told them I need a cheap plastic syringe to squirt oil into an old bicycle hub. They were instantly supportive! Ask around at any vet's office, any vet supply house, or any farm & ranch store. Don't be shy about telling them you do NOT want a needle. You just want a little oil squirter!

    So, I took a sharp knife and shaved down the end of the plastic syringe, a little, until it just fit the oil hole in the hub.

    It took maybe 20cc or 30cc of ATF before horrible looking glop started comming out the sides of the hub. Yuck.

    So, take your rear wheel off of your bicycle.

    Take your tire and tube and rim strip, off of your wheel.

    Use a cleaner like ATF if you'd like.

    Or just use an overdose of good thin modern oil.

    Over-fill that hub!

    Work that rear cog around with your hands! Engage-Coast-Engage-Coast... Work the guts of that hub, while excess oil is coming out the sides.

    Over-fill it a couple more times, if you feel it could use it!

    Let the wheel stand in some corner. It will leak.

    The next day, work things around a little. Do NOT add more oil. Put it back into its corner. It will probably leak a little more.

    Wipe it all down. Wipe it down some more.

    Install rim strip, tube, and tire.

    Don't forget the baby-powder! (You do use baby-powder inside your tires?)

    Mount the rear wheel in the machine!

    Paranoid? Maybe? Stick a paper towel or two in the spokes, on the lower side of the wheel, to catch any ooze.

    One old saying, for Sturmey Archer hubs... "Three drops of oil, every fortnight."


  3. @ R-leigh: Thanks for the tips. Glad to have you as a reader!

    This (the Huffeigh) is my second AW hub, and the Schwinn makes three. So far, I've gotten away with simply oiling regularly, and haven't specifically needed to do any cleaning as you very helpfully outline here. 'Course, I haven't ridden this one yet!

    Since the oil cap is missing on the new? Schwinn, I'm very interested to see what has worked its way down inside there over the years. The hub *sounds* fine, but I have yet to open it up. I think the transmission fluid idea might be in order on that one.

  4. Hi Thom,

    It's me again.

    I won't go on so looong again.

    And I'll try to do better on spelling!

    I was obviously awake too early!

    Forgot to mention...

    Harris Cyclery sells replacement "Oilers" for Sturmey Archer hubs. They are the modern plastic kind.

    Sheldon Brown's hint, for how to install a new plastic oiler? Grab a pencil. Break off the end of the graphite tip, so it has just a blunt wooden tip. Stick the new oiler on the end of the pencil. Use the whole thing to stick the oiler into the hole in the hub! Thanks Sheldon!

    And hey, I'll get busy posting photos of my latest Schwinn project.

    Plus maybe my Rudge (made by Raleigh) project.

    Thanks Thom!


  5. Thom,
    I've got some amber shellac if you want for the cork grips. You mentioned you didn't have any. I live up in University Heights (il Pirati on SDbikecommuter). Hit me up if you like the shellac.


  6. @ Andrew: Sweet, thanks. I like the varnish for cork, but I might be wrapping some bars soon on another project, and I think I'd like to shellac them instead of varnish, so maybe I'll hit you up for some then.

    I'm in North Park, we should meet up sometime.