I bought a 7 speed freewheel from Nashbar for my vintage bike. The freewheel works and shift great except for the extremely noisy ratchet. I tried oiling it without much success. I'm wondering if anyone ever tried taking the freewheel apart and re-packing the freewheel with grease. Any suggestion would be appreciated.
Franklin Frames Custom, Rivendell Bombadil, '83 Specialized Stumpjumper
Don't grease the freewheel, it can make the pawls stick, and you can get reverse freewheeling!
You can clean it with WD-40 if you need to , then oil it.
Did you use SAE 30 weight oil? it's like stuff you use for lawnmowers and such. kind of thick.
It might just be the freewheel characteristic noise though, which I suspect it is. I think they may be either a generic brand from Taiwan, or a Sunrace, but they don't look like Sunrace. What size was yours . . .13-24?
There are many on ebay, some sizes are harder to find though. IRD's are the best of currently made ones. $40 isn't all that much for the long term.
I've also used heavy-weight 80-95w gear-oil with good success. It's the same stuff that Honda recommends for their motorcycle chains. Also if the freewheel has seals, you'll need to remove the end-cap to get to the bearings (usually spins off clockwise).
Yeah, grease isn't a good idea because in colder weather, it thickens up and the pawls won't grip in the forward direction.
Phil used to make a grease injector for freewheels. It fell into disrepute because Phil's grease was so thick it often prevented the pawls from engaging fully, but my experience (still using mine after 25-some years) is that a light lithium grease works very nicely in freewheels and keeps them quiet for at least an entire season.
Yes, you can disassemble a freewheel to clean and lube. It's ALOT of work, but do-able. I regularly take freewheels apart and service them, as the bikes I get to flip typically have tight/grinding/seized freewheels. Or I strip them down and turn them into single speed FW's which seem to be so popular these days.
If you're into tough, miniscule projects, give it a try. Just be forewarned there's alot of tiny ball bearings ina freewheel. Finally, I OIL the ratcheting pawls - I GREASE the two sets of ball bearings. And it's a bit tough reassembling the thing correctly WITHOUT getting the two lubes mixed!
PM me if you'd like a more detailed explanation.
Dont forget the flush-with-wd40 bit. I like to flush from the big cog end, placing the freewheel over a plastic tub. Let the solvent work though and drip out then add some oil till it drips out.
Some better freewheels are sealed and cant be serviced like this but they are not made anymore.
Freehubs are quite different beasts and need different care. The Campy one has the pawls and wheel bearings in close proximity and they share the same type of lube.