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-   -   For the love of English 3 speeds... (https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=623699)

wahoonc 09-20-10 05:06 PM


Originally Posted by jedge76 (Post 11496153)
What kinds of maintenance items would be atop your guys' lists if you were unsure of the maintenance record of the 3-speed Raleigh you just acquired. I was thinking of looking into the repacking the bottom bracket, flushing the SA hub and refilling w/ 10W30. What about the front hub? Repack? Anything else that comes to all of you English bike owners?

A lot of what I do is visual. But at the bare minimum, I repack the BB, front hub and headset. Rear hub I dump some oil in and if it shifts okay, let it slide. I almost always replace brake pads with Kool Stop Continentals. I may oil cables or replace if they are rusty and ugly. If the bike is in really rough shape I do a complete tear down and clean up.

However...whenever I get a new to me 3 speed the first thing I do is take it for a short spin and see what works and what doesn't.

Aaron :)

noglider 09-20-10 11:37 PM


Originally Posted by wahoonc (Post 11496232)
A lot of what I do is visual. But at the bare minimum, I repack the BB, front hub and headset. Rear hub I dump some oil in and if it shifts okay, let it slide. I almost always replace brake pads with Kool Stop Continentals. I may oil cables or replace if they are rusty and ugly. If the bike is in really rough shape I do a complete tear down and clean up.

However...whenever I get a new to me 3 speed the first thing I do is take it for a short spin and see what works and what doesn't.

Aaron :)

I don't do the BB, headset, or front hub. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. You could cause more problems than you solve. You could drop oil into these bearings, and sometimes, I do. And cotter pins are such a pain.

I do oil the rear hub. I replace the cables if needed. Sometimes, they just need oil. And sometimes, I replace the brake shoes. Basically, I do as little as possible on these machines. I like to true wheels, though, so I do that if needed. They often have cotton rim strips, so be ready to replace them. Sometimes, they fall apart from age when you take the tire off.

Obviously, you'll inspect the tires and replace them if needed. The tubes are usually OK. My 1967 had old tires, not original, and they were seriously dry rotted. I rode them for a while, but they recently gave out, so I am replacing them.

mkeller234 09-20-10 11:45 PM


Originally Posted by noglider (Post 11498253)
I don't do the BB, headset, or front hub. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. You could cause more problems than you solve. You could drop oil into these bearings, and sometimes, I do. And cotter pins are such a pain.

That is surprising. It seems 99% of the old bikes I have found had bearings in very poor shape. Most of the time I find them adjusted very tight with a mixture of sand, gunk and bugs in the bearings.

noglider 09-21-10 12:02 AM

Yeah, but oil will flush all that cr@p out.:lol:

Sixty Fiver 09-21-10 12:46 AM


Originally Posted by jedge76 (Post 11496153)
What kinds of maintenance items would be atop your guys' lists if you were unsure of the maintenance record of the 3-speed Raleigh you just acquired. I was thinking of looking into the repacking the bottom bracket, flushing the SA hub and refilling w/ 10W30. What about the front hub? Repack? Anything else that comes to all of you English bike owners?

I do a complete overhaul of all the bearings as even if they are smooth I want to see what is in there... rear hubs get a little drink of oil and if they run smoothly I don't do anything else and this is the case for 99% of the three speeds I work on.

If the cables and housings are good I give them a little lube... many of these bikes have spent their lives in warm dry garages so corrosion is not an issue.

AL NZ 09-21-10 02:58 AM

I am with 65er.
Remember, all these English hubs/BBs were originally intended for oil, and the older ones have oilers on both hubs and the bottom bracket.
Having said that, modern grease is good stuff and will tend to keep the rain out of bearings.
But never grease a 3 speed hub! Strictly oil.
It is not hard to have a sneaky-peak in a 3 speed - pop off the retaining wire ring for the sprocket, take off sprocket, undo lock nuts and ease the drive side of the hub out for a look. If all clean and no rusty oil or grit, slosh in some 30W oil and put it back together. I recently did this to a 1939 AW hub, and it was pristine inside after 70 years and didn't need stripping. It changes perfectly and never slips.

I prefer a bike that is mechanically OK but perhaps looks a bit scruffy, than vice versa

noglider 09-21-10 09:28 AM

Upon reading your comment, Al, I guess I prefer scruffy bikes. Nearly all of my bikes are scruffy. I don't enjoy cleaning them. But they work extremely well. This is also a useful strategy, as it makes the bikes less of a target.

mickey85 09-21-10 06:39 PM


Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver (Post 11498346)
I do a complete overhaul of all the bearings as even if they are smooth I want to see what is in there... rear hubs get a little drink of oil and if they run smoothly I don't do anything else and this is the case for 99% of the three speeds I work on.

If the cables and housings are good I give them a little lube... many of these bikes have spent their lives in warm dry garages so corrosion is not an issue.

+1. When I get any bike, I repack the hubs, BB and head, and replace the cables, at a minimum. I didn't do the cables on teh Phillips though, as they're the original ribbed white cables, and I like them...black would be lost on an all-black bike.

With any new 3 speed (just did this with my sister's Schwinn sporting an AW hub), I shoot WD-40 into the rear hub until it's profusely running out the sides, then ride it (not using the back brake!) for 25 miles or so (not necessarily at once). I'll then switch to ATF and do the same thing once or twice, then clean it up, drop on a teaspoon or so of ATF (I have an old "dinka dinka" style oil can for this), and off I go. The Phillips got a greased BB and head, but the hubs are both oiled - with the front, once every 6 months or so, I'll take off the wheel, loosen the nuts, and shoot liberally with the same ATF the rear hub gets. The BB will probably get regular anointing with the same after the first couple years, because I bent my cotter press trying to get out the damn cotters on my UO-8 (cutoff torch is your friend with those bastards...).

Sixty Fiver 09-21-10 10:01 PM


Originally Posted by AL NZ (Post 11498467)
I am with 65er.
Remember, all these English hubs/BBs were originally intended for oil, and the older ones have oilers on both hubs and the bottom bracket.
Having said that, modern grease is good stuff and will tend to keep the rain out of bearings.
But never grease a 3 speed hub! Strictly oil.
It is not hard to have a sneaky-peak in a 3 speed - pop off the retaining wire ring for the sprocket, take off sprocket, undo lock nuts and ease the drive side of the hub out for a look. If all clean and no rusty oil or grit, slosh in some 30W oil and put it back together. I recently did this to a 1939 AW hub, and it was pristine inside after 70 years and didn't need stripping. It changes perfectly and never slips.

I prefer a bike that is mechanically OK but perhaps looks a bit scruffy, than vice versa

Pretty is as pretty does... although it is wonderful to have both and I have a few of those I always do the mechanical work before I even think of any cosmetic re-finishing.

Sometimes a bike just gets a clear coat to protect it from the elements and preserve the original decals and patina and in other cases I might be looking at a tear down and total re-finishing job.

Just picked up a custom made mtb that was built here and the paint has seen better days so it will be going out to the shop for powder sand blasting and powder coating.

It was a three speed for about 30 minutes today too... :)

old's'cool 09-21-10 10:04 PM


Originally Posted by noglider (Post 11499588)
Upon reading your comment, Al, I guess I prefer scruffy bikes. Nearly all of my bikes are scruffy. I don't enjoy cleaning them. But they work extremely well. This is also a useful strategy, as it makes the bikes less of a target.

That is like my philosophy for my FrankenVega, the bike I take into town and leave locked up for hours at a time, i.e. "scruffy" on the outside, but clean on the inside. :thumb:

jedge76 09-22-10 10:28 PM

Thanks to everyone for the insight. My bike arrived today and it is really stellar, at least appearance wise. Seems like it's spent a lot of time sitting in a comfy spot while not acquiring many miles in it's 38 years. I still need to reassemble the front wheel, handle bars, lights, etc. Then I think I'll take a look at the bb, front hub and headset. Pour of few drops of 10W30 into the SA and see from there. I hope to have it going by early next week. It's already begging me to be ridden. I will soon abide. Thanks again.

AL NZ 09-23-10 02:32 AM

Jedge, I am no oil expert, what I know is just from car oil changes.
Californ-i-a is fairly warm no snow, yeah?
So 10W-30 is good for cold engine start up, and probably good for bicycle bearings in frozen climes, but you probably don't need it in warm ol'CA
4-stroke lawnmower oil is 30-viscosity and, I understand, almost the same as the original-spec singe-viscosity oil as specified by Sturmey Archer 'back in the day', as they say.

Having said this, I personally think we all fret way too much about what is the best oil/grease/etc, and anything is better than nothing, and regular attention and the occasional clean of the bearings probably exceeds the original design parameters.
None of us can generate the loads that a bog-standard home-handiman trailer's wheel bearings are subjected to, so even the cheapest modern grease should be ample for all cycle bearings.

Main thing is, never grease the Sturmey 3 speed (but maybe just its outer bearings to minimise water ingress)

wahoonc 09-23-10 03:00 AM


Originally Posted by AL NZ (Post 11510618)
Jedge, I am no oil expert, what I know is just from car oil changes.
Californ-i-a is fairly warm no snow, yeah?
So 10W-30 is good for cold engine start up, and probably good for bicycle bearings in frozen climes, but you probably don't need it in warm ol'CA
4-stroke lawnmower oil is 30-viscosity and, I understand, almost the same as the original-spec singe-viscosity oil as specified by Sturmey Archer 'back in the day', as they say.

Having said this, I personally think we all fret way too much about what is the best oil/grease/etc, and anything is better than nothing, and regular attention and the occasional clean of the bearings probably exceeds the original design parameters.
None of us can generate the loads that a bog-standard home-handiman trailer's wheel bearings are subjected to, so even the cheapest modern grease should be ample for all cycle bearings.

Main thing is, never grease the Sturmey 3 speed (but maybe just its outer bearings to minimise water ingress)

I agree with the greasing and oil. Only odd caveat is if you do grease and use regular oil, make sure you use a compatible grease or the oil will wash it right out of the bearings. FWIW I use the cheapest brown grease I can find for my hub bearings that get oil. Otherwise I use a marine grease designed for boat trailers.

I have one Sturmey Archer AW hub that has somewhere over 30,000 miles on it. It is the best shifting of all of my hubs and is still ticking along after 35 years of pretty minimal maintenance.

Aaron :)

AL NZ 09-23-10 03:06 AM

interesting, your use of the phrase 'ticking along'.

Its origins are probably obscure, but it is the perfect description of a good Sturmey Archer hub, and maybe that is the source..

Andrew F 09-23-10 06:42 AM


I have one Sturmey Archer AW hub that has somewhere over 30,000 miles on it. It is the best shifting of all of my hubs and is still ticking along after 35 years of pretty minimal maintenance.
Got one over 60 years old that ticks like a fine watch, they are amazing!

noglider 09-23-10 09:09 AM

jedge76, I hope you've ridden it at least a bit before taking it apart. It's safe to do so, and you deserve some riding fun before you deprive yourself for a while.

And yes, the AW is pretty simple, but when you think about its longevity and reliability, it can boggle your mind. I have some old ones, too, and the work as good as new.

I agree that any oil (unless it's entirely inappropriate) is better than the perfect oil, which doesn't exist. 30w is probably best but 10w30 is close enough, especially if it's already on hand.

Sixty Fiver 09-23-10 11:52 AM


Originally Posted by Andrew F (Post 11510960)
Got one over 60 years old that ticks like a fine watch, they are amazing!

The best AW hubs I have used have been from the 40's and 50's... these were made at SA's peak when the QC was exceptionally high and their performance is consistently good.

60's hubs are decent and 70's hubs are hit and miss in that they still work but do seem to have more problems and there is quite a variance in how smooth one hub is to the next.

I see a lot of low mileage three speeds at the co-op from the 60's and 70's and after tuning them up would take the 60's hubs everytime and it would be hard to get me to part with my older AW's.

noglider 09-23-10 04:40 PM

I agree. I don't have much (or any) experience with 1940's hubs, but yes, those from the 50's and 60's are better than those from the 70's and later. There was a lot of worker discontent and other major problems in industrial England in the 70's and later. Plus John S Allen said that Sturmey Archer stopped using Cyanide Hardening in their hubs at around 1970 (IIRC). To me, that sounds like they had to make things less toxic, at the cost of parts being not as hard as before. Harder is better in things like this, of course.

jedge76 09-23-10 04:50 PM


Originally Posted by AL NZ (Post 11510618)
Jedge, I am no oil expert, what I know is just from car oil changes.
Californ-i-a is fairly warm no snow, yeah?
So 10W-30 is good for cold engine start up, and probably good for bicycle bearings in frozen climes, but you probably don't need it in warm ol'CA
4-stroke lawnmower oil is 30-viscosity and, I understand, almost the same as the original-spec singe-viscosity oil as specified by Sturmey Archer 'back in the day', as they say.

Having said this, I personally think we all fret way too much about what is the best oil/grease/etc, and anything is better than nothing, and regular attention and the occasional clean of the bearings probably exceeds the original design parameters.
None of us can generate the loads that a bog-standard home-handiman trailer's wheel bearings are subjected to, so even the cheapest modern grease should be ample for all cycle bearings.

Main thing is, never grease the Sturmey 3 speed (but maybe just its outer bearings to minimise water ingress)

Good point AL. That would probably be overkill and a little too heavy in the climate I live in. Yes, we have a dry climate w/ pretty mild winters (no snow at all). You're right on and I appreciate you making that point.

jedge76 09-23-10 04:59 PM


Originally Posted by noglider (Post 11511647)
jedge76, I hope you've ridden it at least a bit before taking it apart. It's safe to do so, and you deserve some riding fun before you deprive yourself for a while.

And yes, the AW is pretty simple, but when you think about its longevity and reliability, it can boggle your mind. I have some old ones, too, and the work as good as new.

I agree that any oil (unless it's entirely inappropriate) is better than the perfect oil, which doesn't exist. 30w is probably best but 10w30 is close enough, especially if it's already on hand.

I really does boggle the mind when you look at other bikes from the past and present. The SA "clicks" right along and I don't hear any abnormal noises, at least that I can tell. I'm probably over thinking the "perfect oil", as you say.

I'm slowly putting it together, just doing some Windex and a soft wash pad on the chrome today....just for kicks. I need to wait for the weekend, preceded by a decent night's rest, before I get it together. I will ride it 1st to at least listen and feel for any problems. I have some expert help on the rest of the stuff, so that should expedite things a bit after that. I can't wait...it's like cabin fever!

I'm really impressed w/ the looks of everything from the paint to the SA clicking and right down to the top-notch shape of the chain. Even the tires seem original and still have the nipples on the rubber. They're dry rotted to some degree, but I think that says a lot. We'll see. Hopefully, soon. Real soon.

curbtender 09-23-10 07:19 PM

half a can...
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/h...r/DSC00452.jpg

gbalke 09-24-10 07:23 AM

4 Attachment(s)
I received this Google alert this morning; anyone looking for a green Sports in a 23" frame?

http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hn...969266179.html


Green RALEIGH SPORTS vintage mens English 3 speed bike. 23" seat tube length. 32 1/2" stand over height of top tube. Made in Nottingham, England it features full fenders, Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub, 26 x 1 3/8 rims and tires, newer seat and handlebars. Phone number - 612-202-2900. Price is $125.


http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=171110
http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=171111
http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=171112
http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=171113

•Location: Minneapolis
•it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests



PostingID: 1969266179

rudypyatt 09-26-10 06:09 PM

Close enough?
 
Not English, but it is an old school three-speed. There's one like it (condition notwithstanding), even the same color, that's been locked to the rack in front of my apartment building for more than a year. I've never seen it ridden, tires a flat etc. If I can find out who owns it, I may try to buy it. Thoughts?

http://johnsvintagebikes.com/sold/74..._02/index.html

noglider 09-26-10 09:12 PM

Buy it. It probably rides very much like the Raleigh. It might be a bit heavier, but what the heck.

jedge76 09-26-10 11:22 PM


Originally Posted by noglider (Post 11528292)
Buy it. It probably rides very much like the Raleigh. It might be a bit heavier, but what the heck.

I think they're about the same weight...doesn't matter anymore once it gets to 40 lbs.! lol I love the old Chicago Racers and this one looks to have a lot of potential.

wahoonc 09-27-10 05:26 AM


Originally Posted by AL NZ (Post 11510635)
interesting, your use of the phrase 'ticking along'.

Its origins are probably obscure, but it is the perfect description of a good Sturmey Archer hub, and maybe that is the source..

May well be; being the owner of more AW hubs than anything else, it is the sound that I listen for when I hop on a bike. Current collection of bikes is around 30 with over half of them using the AW, AG or FG hubs. I have one with a Shimano Nexus 7 but it isn't the same sound.

Aaron :)

kingfish254 09-27-10 10:31 PM

Hey Tom (noglider), Did you see this Raleigh Twenty in your neck of the woods?
http://cnj.craigslist.org/bik/1971468824.html

noglider 09-27-10 10:41 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Thanks for the heads up, but I have a 1973 Twenty. Still don't know what to do with it. It's nice, I guess, but I am not enamored of small wheel bikes, at least not yet.

It's good to see ads like that, to clarify the bike's value. $150 is what I would think.

I used my Twenty as a lesson: My friend has a 9 year old daughter. Little girl was struggling with her 24" Huffy mountain bike. It was a real heap o junk. My friend asked what I had that was better. I had a nice bike with 20" wheels. I was afraid that Sylvia (the girl) wouldn't want to take a step down in wheel size and possibly be teased by her friends. I showed her my Twenty and said it's MY bike, and it has 20" wheels.

I'm not sure if that made a difference, but when she got on the bike I had for her, she grinned really big.

Sorry about the underexposed picture. This bike has aluminum rims, cantilever brakes, a rear derailleur, and six speeds. It's a really sensible bike, and I think she could ride it for a long time with a big seatpost and stem. I don't like 24" wheel-bikes. I'd like to find more bikes like this.

http://www.bikeforums.net/attachment...4&d=1285648844

ColonelJLloyd 09-28-10 11:33 AM


Originally Posted by gbalke (Post 11516868)
I received this Google alert this morning; anyone looking for a green Sports in a 23" frame?

http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hn...969266179.html

I just finished restoring my 1973 Sports in Ivory Glaze (I'll post pics this week). Still, if that was on my local CL, I'd buy it and own two!

AngryScientist 09-28-10 11:44 AM

cool thread, just picked up one myself, i can tell i'm going to like the 3-speed ride!


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