Join Date: Jul 2000
Bikes: 1959 Capo; 1980 Peugeot PKN-10; 1981 Bianchi; 1988 Schwinn KOM-10;
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You can sometimes repair a SLIGHTLY bent axle by clamping its unthreaded center section in a vise, placing a sleeve over the threaded end, and applying a bit of leveraged torque to it. However, many steel axles will break if cold-worked twice (bent, then straightened).
Rear wheels with 6- or 7-speed freewheels (as opposed to modern freehubs) are somewhat prone to axle breakage or bending at the right side bearing cone.