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  1. #1
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    Sturmey-Archer lubrication options?

    I've read Sheldon Brown's page which recommends Phil Wood oil. The LBS doesn't stock anything they sell although they're willing to give me a few drops when needed. But since I have the entire hub apart right now I'd rather just wipe everything clean and relube with fresh oil. Non-detergent containing motor oil has been mentioned which clearly excludes my supply of Mobil 1 5W-30. What other options are out there? Anything I can buy at CVS? Or should I just order some Phil Wood oil from Sheldon Brown?

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    The Phil oil works well but in the cold winter might be a bit thick. Your Mobil 1 will also work well: the detergents will not affect it at all. Lighter oils do tend to leak a little faster from the interlocking metal seals so you might have to top up more frequently. I made my own from a can of Mobil synthetic turbine oil with a small dose of some synthetic rear axle oil I added for EP additives. Works great, but not economically practical unless you're lubing a LOT of bikes.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    The main thing is that there is oil in there. My preference is Non Detergent, but I have used everything short of virgin olive oil, and I suspect in a pinch even that would work In colder climates the lighter the oil the better to a point. FWIW it got down in the low 20's here the other night, I run 30wt in my hub and it was noticeably stiff until I rode it a ways.

    Aaron
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  4. #4
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker1999
    I've read Sheldon Brown's page which recommends Phil Wood oil. The LBS doesn't stock anything they sell although they're willing to give me a few drops when needed. But since I have the entire hub apart right now I'd rather just wipe everything clean and relube with fresh oil. Non-detergent containing motor oil has been mentioned which clearly excludes my supply of Mobil 1 5W-30. What other options are out there? Anything I can buy at CVS? Or should I just order some Phil Wood oil from Sheldon Brown?
    Sewing machine oil. Then maintain with a drop or two every year or so.

  5. #5
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Sewing machine oil. Then maintain with a drop or two every year or so.
    Mine takes more than a drop or two a year...several things come into play, how much you ride it, where you store it and if you store it with the oil cap up or down, how tight the seals are, what weight of oil, etc. On my old Sports with 20wt oil in it, I would add a squirt of oil about once a week. On my current Superbe, which gets ridden a lot less than my Sports did I add a squirt maybe once a month. Listen to the sound of the hub, if it is noisier than normal it needs a squirt of oil. FWIW on my old beater Sports the hub was run dry for a while when my brother was riding it, I put a new oil cap on it, added about 5 squirts of oil and it quieted down and started shifting properly again. I have no idea how long he rode it without oil...

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
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  6. #6
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Sewing machine oil. Then maintain with a drop or two every year or so.
    Gotta disagree there. Sewing machine oil is too fine and runs out the threads quickly. Ok, if that's all you've got on hand, but you'll pour in lots of that stuff to keep it wet if you use the bike alot. Maybe ILTB has a tighter hub, but virtually any medium oil will work. Daily rider: 2-3 drops/week. 2tsp to start. I use Outers *** Oil because I have alot of it around...

  7. #7
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc
    Mine takes more than a drop or two a year...several things come into play, how much you ride it, where you store it and if you store it with the oil cap up or down, how tight the seals are, what weight of oil, etc. On my old Sports with 20wt oil in it, I would add a squirt of oil about once a week. On my current Superbe, which gets ridden a lot less than my Sports did I add a squirt maybe once a month. Listen to the sound of the hub, if it is noisier than normal it needs a squirt of oil. FWIW on my old beater Sports the hub was run dry for a while when my brother was riding it, I put a new oil cap on it, added about 5 squirts of oil and it quieted down and started shifting properly again. I have no idea how long he rode it without oil...
    I admit, sometimes I put in whatever oil is handy, I doubt if it makes any real difference because an AW hub will run OK even if dry; when using machine oil maybe I do add more often then every year and don't worry if it leaks out.

    In 1997 I bought a 3 speed AMF Hercules at a garage sale for $5. The AW hub was manufactured in 1960 was dry and missing the oil cap. A few drops of oil, a replacement cap from my coffee can of S-A parts, and all better. Still works fine for my wife.

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    Useful tip:
    When building wheels for SA hubs, always align the tire valve with the oil filler. Then you can see if the filler is up or down from 20 feet away. Useful tip #2; Write usefu1 tip #1 on a tag and tie it to your truing stand so you don't forget

    Phil Tecacious oil is a great, high film strength lube, and I'm sure it's fine in a hub. But it's quite a bit thicker than Sturmy Archer oil. I use 10w-30 motor oil and thick brown automotive wheel bearing grease in the channels for a seal. The number of dried up old hubs I've OH'd that showed no ill effects, suggests they aren't all that fussy about lube.

    Don't use grease inside! Oil will migrate to everywhere in, and out of, the hub, but grease doesn't. I recently OH'd a hub that was filled with a light grease. Took an hour to clean up the mess. Yet the low gear pawls had rusted onto their pins, as they'd gotten no lube.

  9. #9
    Gone, but not forgotten Sheldon Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker1999
    I've read Sheldon Brown's page which recommends Phil Wood oil. The LBS doesn't stock anything they sell although they're willing to give me a few drops when needed....
    Isn't that interesting...the mechanics know and use the best, but for some reason the sales department doesn't choose to carry it.

    I ran into the same thing when visiting my daughter in Santa Cruz in June. I went into the top local bike shop to get some oil so I could oil her bike. They too didn't have any to sell, but one of the mechanics offered to let me use some of his private stash!

    It's not as if it's difficult to get. Quality Bicycle Products sells it, part # LU1022

    It's also easy enough for a shop to order direct from Phil Wood.

    I don't understand why Phil stuff isn't more widely available. In my experience, every Phil Wood product is the very best of its type, and their customer service is unequalled.

    Sheldon "Phil-o-phile" Brown
    [COLOR=blue][CENTER][b]Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts[/b]
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  10. #10
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Phil products are fantastic, even if their freehub pawls seem extremely robust in their resistance.

    if you can't find Tenacious oil and can't get a shop to order you some (?), a bottle of Finish Line Cross Country (wet) lube is pretty thick and would work well in a SA hub.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  11. #11
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    I have always used Sturmey Archer's own brand of oil. Seems like since they built the hubs they should know what to put in them. Roger

  12. #12
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Isn't that interesting...the mechanics know and use the best, but for some reason the sales department doesn't choose to carry it.

    I ran into the same thing when visiting my daughter in Santa Cruz in June. I went into the top local bike shop to get some oil so I could oil her bike. They too didn't have any to sell, but one of the mechanics offered to let me use some of his private stash!

    It's not as if it's difficult to get. Quality Bicycle Products sells it, part # LU1022

    It's also easy enough for a shop to order direct from Phil Wood.

    I don't understand why Phil stuff isn't more widely available. In my experience, every Phil Wood product is the very best of its type, and their customer service is unequalled.

    Sheldon "Phil-o-phile" Brown
    Tell me about it! I bought another tube of Phil's grease the other day and asked for the oil, I was told "we don't stock that old stuff anymore, you need to get some 21st century stuff" I pointed out the fact the most of my bikes were built in the 20th century So I guess the next time I find some Phil oil I will buy a couple of bottles

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  13. #13
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhenning
    I have always used Sturmey Archer's own brand of oil. Seems like since they built the hubs they should know what to put in them. Roger
    I agree that would be the stuff to use...but it is scarcer than the Phil Wood oil

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  14. #14
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Just happen to have the remains of a can of SA Cycle Oil dating back to 25+ years ago when my wife and I had a couple of thrift shop Hercules bikes. "This specially blended oil is ideal for lubricating any mechanism which requires a high quality light oil, such as sewing machines, motor car windscreen wipers, hinges and many other appliances in the home, garage and office." Doesn't say what wt. it is. "A small drop of oil at regular intervals will keep your bicycle in excellent running order."

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