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Oil or Grease--old Free Wheel Maint.

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Oil or Grease--old Free Wheel Maint.

Old 12-26-20, 08:58 PM
  #1  
Bigbus
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Oil or Grease--old Free Wheel Maint.

I am finding conflicting information on servicing an old free wheel. Some use oil and some recommend grease. It seems grease would hold the bearings in place for reassembly, but will it lube enough? And if I use oil (30W) can I just soak the whole thing after giving it a thorough cleaning in solvent without disassembling it? I like that idea. Looking for some real world experience or knowledge here. Thanks
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Old 12-26-20, 09:34 PM
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Many years ago I would remove the cogs and soak the freewheel body in solvent. I would use Phils oil to re-lube the freewheel body pawls and bearings by dripping it in.

I still use Phils for freehub and freewheel bodies.

Unless you completely disassemble the FH/FW body to get to all the ball bearings and the pawls, Im not sure how you can grease them.

John
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Old 12-26-20, 09:59 PM
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Don't disassemble, tiny little bearings will roll everywhere. Just use a heavy weight oil, triflow can be good or Phil's. 30w would probably be fine if you can drip it in.
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Old 12-26-20, 10:48 PM
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Remove the freewheel from the wheel.
Remove any seals over the bearings. (Old Schwinn Normandy freewheels have flexible seals front and back.)
Soak in kerosene to wash out old lube and drip dry.
Run a bead of heavy oil ( I prefer Phil Tenacious) while turning the cogs on the body.
Replace seals.
Reinstall freewheel on wheel.

You will be amazed. I guarantee it.
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Old 12-27-20, 09:32 AM
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Yes, just soak in Kerosene or Odorless Mineral Spirts (and save the used mineral spirits in a jar to clean your chain and greasy parts with later) and let dry or use an air hose before adding lube. I agree with the others that something such as Phil's will work well or I use Chain-L chain lube since I already have some and it's the perfect viscosity or heavy automotive gear lube. I used to mix motor oil with grease to get the right viscosity as well if you don't want to invest in other lubricants. Viscosity is the most important thing as too light and the lube will leak out through the seals over time. Too heavy such as grease can prevent the pawls from moving freely and engaging the gear. If you ride in sub-freezing temps a lighter oil would be better but that would be the only situation I can think of.

Last edited by Crankycrank; 12-28-20 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 12-27-20, 09:37 AM
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If you really want to go down the rabbit hole...

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...oto-heavy.html
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Old 12-27-20, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
If you really want to go down the rabbit hole...

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...oto-heavy.html
He made it look easy haha. But I will try the solvent method first and if no satisfaction, I will pull it apart one rainy afternoon. This is on my foul weather road bike and I think all the sea salt and sand has gotten to it. It works good, but it feels like it's dragging and sounds dry.
Thanks for the link!
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Old 12-27-20, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Crankycrank View Post
Yes, just soak in Kerosene or Odorless Mineral Spirts (and save the used mineral spirits in a jar to clean your chain and greasy parts with later) and let dry or use an air hose before adding lube. I agree with the others that something such as Phil's will work well or I use Chain-L chain lube since I already have some and it's the perfect viscosity or heavy automotive gear lube. I used to mix motor oil with grease to get the right viscosity as well if you don't want to invest in other lubricants. Viscosity if the most important thing as too light and the lube will leak out through the seals over time. Too heavy such as grease can prevent the pawls from moving freely and engaging the gear. If you ride in sub-freezing temps a lighter oil would be better but that would be the only situation I can think of.
This sounds like plan A. Thanks for the tutorial.
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Old 12-27-20, 12:45 PM
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A nice packing of grease can keep the pawls in the unengaged position in cold conditions.
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Old 12-27-20, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Pratt View Post
A nice packing of grease can keep the pawls in the unengaged position in cold conditions.
+! There used to be a tool called the Morningstar Freehub Buddy that allowed injecting grease into Shimano freehub bodies. Notice it isn't made anymore. Using grease to lube freehubs and freewheels is a good way to make them inoperative in cold weather.

I've used Tri-Flow to lube freehub bodies and freewheels for many years and they last nearly forever and run quietly.
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Old 12-27-20, 05:48 PM
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The best method for the freewheel's longevity is to disassemble and use new bearings and thick grease.

If you cannot fully overhaul it, then you may be able to push a little grease in the freewheel's rear ring of bearings.

I used to try to flush freewheels with mineral spirits and then fake lube them with oil, but that never works for the long term.
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Old 12-27-20, 06:55 PM
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UPDATE--After a good long ride on the Fuji this morning, I got home and dear wife said I could use the kitchen island for working on the free wheel so long as I leave the bike outside and put cardboard down first. Put the old Giant on the stand and pulled the rear wheel. Knocked the lock ring loose with a punch and hammer, didn't take much, and then removed the free wheel. Since I had everything out I went ahead and pulled the hub axle and cleaned it up and repacked and pre-loaded the bearings. Never rolled so smooth. Then headed inside where it's warm and dry and proceeded to take free wheel apart. I did it over an old terry cloth towel so the bearings wouldn't roll away. (I should have let them go-they were just little brown balls of rust) There wasn't any grease left in it. I cleaned it all up outside with brake cleaner and found a bunch of bearings in a peanut butter jar in the bottom of a rubbermaid full of old parts. They were shiny and close in size (at least to the naked eye). Packed em in with some good marine grease and 30 wt on the pawls and springs. Looks like a new free wheel and now it works like a new free wheel! Threw the bike back together and fine tuned the brakes and rear derailleur and took it out for a spin. Smooth and quiet. The Giant is my foul weather bike so now I know this is going to be a regular maintenance thing. Thanks dedhed, the pics in that old link were invaluable!
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Old 12-27-20, 10:54 PM
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When I had a bike with a freewheel I would just drip light weight oil into it until it came out of the other side. The usually last a long time.
Now I ride on shimano freehubs and when they are new and it is time to overhaul the hub I take them apart and install a heavier piano wire pawl spring so I can grease the body with a freehub buddy every 5k miles.
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Old 12-28-20, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
Now I ride on shimano freehubs and when they are new and it is time to overhaul the hub I take them apart and install a heavier piano wire pawl spring so I can grease the body with a freehub buddy every 5k miles.
That seems like a lot of work. I have a pair of Shimano WH-R560 wheels (basically 105 level hubs) with 41,000 miles and a rear wheel built with a Dura Ace FH-7700 hub that has 77,000 miles. Both freehubs are in perfect running condition and neither has seen any lube but Tri-Flow.

I've had similar durability with other wheels build with Ultegra and 105 freehubs and only Tri-Flow lubed. The only freehub I've ever had a problem with was a Campy Chorus that I did lube with grease and the pawls stuck in the engaged position and had to be jarred loose for each ride.
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Old 12-29-20, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
That seems like a lot of work. I have a pair of Shimano WH-R560 wheels (basically 105 level hubs) with 41,000 miles and a rear wheel built with a Dura Ace FH-7700 hub that has 77,000 miles. Both freehubs are in perfect running condition and neither has seen any lube but Tri-Flow.

I've had similar durability with other wheels build with Ultegra and 105 freehubs and only Tri-Flow lubed. The only freehub I've ever had a problem with was a Campy Chorus that I did lube with grease and the pawls stuck in the engaged position and had to be jarred loose for each ride.
For a while I followed Zinn's advice on maintenance and started doing this. I have not had any problems with my freehubs (other than a DA 9 sp. hub)so I stuck with it. I overhaul my hubs at 2500 miles and the freehub gets new grease at 5000 miles. I haven't replaced a cone in 20 years and seldom need to replace bearings.
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Old 12-30-20, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Crankycrank View Post
I used to mix motor oil with grease to get the right viscosity as well if you don't want to invest in other lubricants. Viscosity is the most important thing as too light and the lube will leak out through the seals over time. Too heavy such as grease can prevent the pawls from moving freely and engaging the gear. If you ride in sub-freezing temps a lighter oil would be better but that would be the only situation I can think of.
I have a 20 year old Suntour freehub from a child's bike that has every sign of being jumped. At the moment I have it soaking in hypoid gear oil, mostly because it is too cold to mix oil and grease. I will probably rebuild it next autumn if it survives a jump free year on my bike.
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