So I'm back from my first bike tour, but not without some problems on the way:
When in low gear, my freewheel broke. It was a relatively unused NOS Shimano freewheel (dunno model, but decent at worst). I don't know how to describe better than to say the freewheel body snapped. Luckily, I found a replacement.
After installing the replacement, I noticed that when coasting the wheel (upsidedown bike), the cassette seemed to wobble. Rather, it seemed to have a non circular orbit. There was no shaking a la loose hub. So, I figured that my axle was bent.
The axle was not bent. I learned this after comparing to a replacement, installing both, and still not having a change in behavior.
My only working theory at this point is that the bearings in the hub are somehow just a little off in size, somehow allowing the axle to be slightly off in orientation when the hub is properly adjusted.
Other clues for solving the mystery:
- Adjusting the hub was not so easy. There seemed to be a friction point or catch point on each revolution, unless I traded for a slightly loose adjustment.
- I'm not using original cones - I did match the new ones to the old, and they seemed to have exactly the same shape
- I'm not using original bearings
- I've bent an axle on this hub as well, but I think that was when I pulled it out of the dropouts really cranking up a hill
All freewheels wobble a little bit. But to be safe have your hub checked by a qualified expert...I assumed that should have been done when the freewheel was bought and installed on your hub unless you did it yourself. You may want to buy a better hub, sounds like you had a lot of problems with that one.