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  1. #1
    Junior Member The Aram's Avatar
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    Chain problems, English 3-speed

    I posted about this in my thread about my bike in the Classics/Vintage forum, but it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. My apologies if this is a no-no, but I thought I'd ask here, too, as this is the first time I've really done my own repairs on a bike, and I'm having some problems I can't solve on my own.

    The bike in question is a 1971 Hercules 3-speed with a Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed hub, it was a freebie that was in unrideable condition when I got it, so last night I replaced the chain after doing everything else to get it rideable.

    When I did a test ride on it, especially in 3rd gear, it will be fine for a few pedals, then will start skipping (feeling like I'm pedaling nothing, or taking a second of pedaling nothing to engage the chain). It will usually be OK in 1st or 2nd gear, but once I put it in 3rd, it's impossible to ride. I have a feeling my chain may be the wrong length. It droops a little bit at the bottom, but not too loosely. Should I adjust the rear wheel backwards so it will tighten the chain a bit? Take a link off the chain? Is it even a chain problem?

    I hope I'm describing this correctly, but I can't ride this bike until I figure out what's going wrong, and I don't know if I can take it to my local bike shop without them wanting to charge me to figure it out...

    Thanks everybody!

  2. #2
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    I suspect it is your hub skipping not your chain. The only way I can think of a chain skipping is if you used a narrow 3/16" ten speed chain and it is not seating on the sprockets teeth. If you used a standard 1/8" chain then I would look to the hub or the hub shift adjustment. Sheldon has a good article on his site on how to adjust the hub. Roger

  3. #3
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Aram View Post
    I posted about this in my thread about my bike in the Classics/Vintage forum, but it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. My apologies if this is a no-no, but I thought I'd ask here, too, as this is the first time I've really done my own repairs on a bike, and I'm having some problems I can't solve on my own.

    The bike in question is a 1971 Hercules 3-speed with a Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed hub, it was a freebie that was in unrideable condition when I got it, so last night I replaced the chain after doing everything else to get it rideable.

    When I did a test ride on it, especially in 3rd gear, it will be fine for a few pedals, then will start skipping (feeling like I'm pedaling nothing, or taking a second of pedaling nothing to engage the chain). It will usually be OK in 1st or 2nd gear, but once I put it in 3rd, it's impossible to ride. I have a feeling my chain may be the wrong length. It droops a little bit at the bottom, but not too loosely. Should I adjust the rear wheel backwards so it will tighten the chain a bit? Take a link off the chain? Is it even a chain problem?

    I hope I'm describing this correctly, but I can't ride this bike until I figure out what's going wrong, and I don't know if I can take it to my local bike shop without them wanting to charge me to figure it out...

    Thanks everybody!
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/sturmey-archer.html

    Scroll down to "3-speed cable ajdustment". The chain tension is a seperate issue that should be independent of the shifting.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  4. #4
    "Purgatory Central" Wino Ryder's Avatar
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    I just hope you got the right chain for the bike. Your bike should take the bigger 1/8" chain rather than the more readily available 3/32" chain. If your rear gear is 1/8" thick, then it takes the 1/8" chain from what I understand.

    My wife has an old Ross 3-speed womans bike with a Shimano hub and it takes the 1/8" chain.
    ~ "I like the way the brake cables come out of the top of the levers and loop around to the brake calipers!...I like those downtube shifters too!...No no no, don't take 'em off, don't take 'em off,...leave 'em on, leave 'em on! - Thats right baby!!

    ~BF - Steel Club Member #00051

  5. #5
    Junior Member The Aram's Avatar
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    I definitely got the right sized chain.

    I've read through the Sheldon Brown site a few times, but I can't really figure out how to fix my problem. If my hub is skipping, what should I do? Everything on Sheldon's short list of indicators seems to be fine for me. Could it be a problem with the shifter mechanism itself on the handlebars?

  6. #6
    "Purgatory Central" Wino Ryder's Avatar
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    Your bike should have a cable adjuster in-line of the cable leading to the shifting mechanism on the hub. You may have to tweak that adjuster in small increments either way until the chain shifts straight on all three gears. On my wife's bike I had to shift it into 2nd gear, then make sure the red indicator on the hub's shifting mechanism was lined up straight on the mark. It may be different on yours, but yours should at least have a straight dash or red line or something to indicate the midway point on the shifting mechanism. From there (with the bike in 2nd gear) you should be able to adjust the cable adjuster to get it right.
    ~ "I like the way the brake cables come out of the top of the levers and loop around to the brake calipers!...I like those downtube shifters too!...No no no, don't take 'em off, don't take 'em off,...leave 'em on, leave 'em on! - Thats right baby!!

    ~BF - Steel Club Member #00051

  7. #7
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    I love these bikes but they had their querks. One is that they are very sensitive to a bent gear change cable or housing. Check that the cable and housing are next to excellent before adjusting. If they are in pristine condition then perform the adjustment as carefully as possible.

  8. #8
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    Just throwing this out there... but if everything is in order with the hub it might be a worn cog. If it was ridden a while with an old and stretched chain the teeth could have worn to the new spacing >.5" when you put a new chain on =.5" the spacing wouldn't line up. The skipping would be worse in 3rd gear because presumably you are pedaling harder and applying more force in high gear. This problem is more common with modern materials (aluminum cogs) than steel, so I'd check the hub first but its always a possibility.

  9. #9
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Aram View Post
    I posted about this in my thread about my bike in the Classics/Vintage forum, but it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. My apologies if this is a no-no, but I thought I'd ask here, too, as this is the first time I've really done my own repairs on a bike, and I'm having some problems I can't solve on my own.

    The bike in question is a 1971 Hercules 3-speed with a Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed hub, it was a freebie that was in unrideable condition when I got it, so last night I replaced the chain after doing everything else to get it rideable.

    When I did a test ride on it, especially in 3rd gear, it will be fine for a few pedals, then will start skipping (feeling like I'm pedaling nothing, or taking a second of pedaling nothing to engage the chain). It will usually be OK in 1st or 2nd gear, but once I put it in 3rd, it's impossible to ride. I have a feeling my chain may be the wrong length. It droops a little bit at the bottom, but not too loosely. Should I adjust the rear wheel backwards so it will tighten the chain a bit? Take a link off the chain? Is it even a chain problem?


    I hope I'm describing this correctly, but I can't ride this bike until I figure out what's going wrong, and I don't know if I can take it to my local bike shop without them wanting to charge me to figure it out...

    Thanks everybody!
    If it's only skipping in third gear, it's most likely loosing engagement inside the hub, not skipping on the sprocket. Check your cable adjustment. the indicator chain should be completely slack in third gear,and in first gear, you should just be able to pull the indicator chain just a hair further than the shifter pulls it.
    If the cable has any tension with the shifter in third, it may not be allowing the star clutch to firmly engage the pins.
    If it's not the cable adjustment, you may need to replace the star clutch. Since it's an AW model, parts are still available.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. Elbert Hubbard.

  10. #10
    Junior Member The Aram's Avatar
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    So I've been messing around with it a lot this afternoon, and I've found that when it's stationary and i'm checking the shifting on the indicator chain, it shifts really well from 3rd to 2nd to 1st, but from 1st to 2nd, you kind of have to jiggle the shifter to get it to pop in. This happens no matter what I do to adjust the cable tension. Then when I think I have it right, I go to ride it, and sometimes it will shift nicely, and other times, especially in 3rd, it will pop completely out of gear and it will feel like i'm pedaling air. Then it will pop back in, but then skip in and out with every pedal. Anybody have any ideas? I appreciate the help so far!

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    sounds like the pawls in the hub are rusty and sticking.
    Its a bit fiddly getting the hub guts out.
    there diamond shaped wedges that are in metal rings on the edges of the hub.
    theyve got tiny springs in there

    might try very thin oil in the hub

  12. #12
    Old Fogy
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    When the cable is properly adjusted, there will be a "neutral" between 2nd and 3rd gear. About 5 drops of light oil in the oil cup every month will keep the hub working freely. The oil will mostly end up on the rim and tire a day or so later, but it will clean and oil the internals on the way through. The hub will likely outlast you!

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