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Old 05-20-09, 01:44 AM   #1
Mr_Wrench
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SunTour Freewheel Service Story/Tips

I came. I saw. I Conquered.

Today I opened up my Suntour 5SPD freewheel to see truly how difficult they are to service. I share here my story hopefully to encourage other tinkerer's to go bravely into the depths of the pawls! Firstoff, I took cues straight from Sheldon Brown's blurb on freewheel service. I spent an hour hammering the spanner hole in the wrong direction(lol), because I was convinced the threads were opposite of the spinning mechanism. Hush...I was working on my freewheel off the hub. Learn from my mistake, place it on the wheel! From there with my hammer and punch it was really easy to remove the bearing cone. I recommend taking these apart just for tinkerer's kicks, because there are 36 1/8' bearings in the top row alone! Ohhhh! Ahhhh! I placed a large sheet below me to catch all the loose bearings. Definitely a must if you're removing the cluster. From there I removed the 3 washers, took off the body revealing the 40 additional 1/8' bearings. After collecting all of them from the floor, cleaning them thoroughly I generously applied grease to the bottom row and placed the bearings back in, added a little oil to the pawls and placed the clustere carefully over the two pawls, finger holding down one, sliding easily back on. Not difficult at all, I found no need for a rubber band, but I can't testify for the 3 pawl freewheels. From there I reassembled everything. The bearing cone(cover) was a little stubborn at first, but I applied pressure and used my punch to turn it counter-clockwise and back to normal, new and improved it was!

All in all, I'd give it a 7 on the difficulty scale. If you're a confident tinkerer this is should be an easy repair

Bonus: After resassembly I spun the freewheel and that annoying clicking sound was quite dampened. Next project I'm going to service my shimano uniglide cassette it has a really loud click! It makes it hard to cycle stalk people

Bicycle Freewheels: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/freewheels.html#replace

Last edited by Mr_Wrench; 05-20-09 at 02:13 AM.
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Old 05-20-09, 07:05 AM   #2
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Another triumph of enthusiasm and persistence over common sense!

As to the Uniglide freehub body, try dribbling a bit of light oil (Tri-Flow or similar) into the gap between the core and the rotating shell. That may quiet it down without disassembly. Of course if you WANT to take it apart.....
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Old 05-20-09, 08:18 AM   #3
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i do this all the time and it not as hard or scary as some people think or say. once you get the hang of it ,it only takes less than half hour.
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Old 05-20-09, 09:42 AM   #4
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Sheesh, I am still finding the occasional bearing on the floor from a freewheel I had to destructively remove last year!

I just soak them in degreaser until they are clean, then oil them up really good and work them until they are smooth. Never had to take one apart to fix it yet.
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Old 05-20-09, 10:41 AM   #5
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Funny that this should be on the front page, I was just going to post my freewheel story in my own thread...anyways here it is.

I was biking home from a weekend at my gf's which is about 60km away, and the shifting on the rear was just getting worse and worse but, I was on a 1985 Raleigh I had just bought a couple weeks ago so I just figured the roughness was due to age. Well at about 25km into the ride my pedalling felt really rough so I decided to stop. What I found was that my freewheel had completely come off I stopped, unloaded my bike and removed the rear wheel to discover I had lost all of the bearings in the top row and thankfully only about 3/4 of the bearings from the bottom row which were sticking to various places with old dirty sticky grease.
I wiped off all the old grease and figured I could make it the rest of the way by putting about 1/3 of the bearings in the top row and the remaining 2/3 in the bottom row. But, the closest thing I had to grease was hair gel in one of my panniers so, I greased up the free wheel with hair gel, put it back together and finished off my ride. It held up great, the only problem being when in a really high or low gear there is alot of play in the sprocket so it causes the chain to jump and skip around alot more frequently. I have since rebuilt it with proper grease...haven't bothered buying new bearings yet and I've been commutting on it all week.

Moral of the story: always carry hair gel with you

...Real moral of the story: thoroughly inspect and tune up new bikes when you get em, especially if its from 1985 and been sitting outside for a long time.
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Old 05-20-09, 11:17 AM   #6
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Every bike I've gotten, I just clean the freewheel with WD-40 then oil it from the outside. So far no problems (including the mid-80s Raleigh I pulled out of a dumpster )
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Old 05-20-09, 01:24 PM   #7
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I've taken apart a few of those freewheels. Yeah, it ain't fun. But yeah, if you're patient, you can do it.

Hair gel. Not sure if I would have thought of that, but it's very clever. I have seen a few of those freewheels come apart spontaneously. Not many, but a few.
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Old 05-20-09, 08:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_aug18 View Post
...Real moral of the story: thoroughly inspect and tune up new bikes when you get em, especially if its from 1985 and been sitting outside for a long time.
If the original oil/grease had been sitting around for the past 24 years I expect it had dried to rubber and provided no lubrication whatsoever.

I once rebuilt an '86 Bridgestone that had sat unused until 1998 or "only" 12 years. The grease in the hubs, bottom bracket and headset had solidified to the consistency of solid rubber and ANY riding prior to an overhaul would have destroyed every bearing in it.
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Old 05-21-09, 11:57 AM   #9
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I've never had luck with the WD40 flush. It's only made slightly gritty freewheels very gritty, in my experience.
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Old 05-21-09, 02:32 PM   #10
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I've never had luck with the WD40 flush. It's only made slightly gritty freewheels very gritty, in my experience.
You didn't use enough WD-40, and you didn't take enough time.

I can't remember why I've overhauled these freewheels. There was a reason.

It turned out not to be cost-effective for me, though, because I did it as a paid bike mechanic, and the value of my labor exceeded the value of the freewheel. I would do it to my own freewheel, though, because working for myself should be valued much lower, I believe.
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Old 05-21-09, 09:50 PM   #11
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You can try to quiet down that Shimano by using Speed Skate Lube by Tiodize; I did that with my Shimano after the clicking drove me crazy because I was use to the dead quiet of my old Suntour; and now the Shimano is dead quiet!

http://www.tiodize.com/scproducts.html
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