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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Swap out Shimano 3-speed for Sturmey-Archer internals?

    I have an old Western Flyer-branded 3 speed bike from the 1970s, which I got for $100. I've spent another $100 fixing it up and had been using it to commute to work for a few months, until the rear hub gave out. The 3-speed hub is an old Shimano model from the 1970's, from what I can tell, and is more similar to a Sturmey-Archer than a modern Nexus hub. I believe the internal gears are damaged, and Shimano never made any replacement internals available in this country.

    Has anyone tried swapping out the internals on one of these old shimano hubs, and replacing them with readily available Sturmey-Archer internals? I looks like the diameter is the same, but I don't know if it would be compatible in any way. I would buy a new hub, but rebuilding the wheel will be expensive (or very time-consuming).

    If it can't be fixed, I may get a single-speed freewheel and hub instead. But I would love be be able to keep the original look and gearing.

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    bleak prospect .. Look for another Shimano hub to cannibalize, or rebuild the wheel with a Sturmey Hub.. brands have animosity of interchangability with their competitors ..
    I read the new Sturmey- Taiwan Internals can go in Old AW3 shells but they are decendents of the same company ,,
    only thing in agreement, the 3 spline snapring fitted sprocket.

    SJS in UK has a bunch of Sturmey parts.. United Bike parts a wholesaler to dealers in Ashland Oregon Just shipped some new bearings and cones for My AW3..
    they have a whole breakdown and list all internal parts..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-10-10 at 10:49 PM.

  3. #3
    smallwheelsonly
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    im a collector and fan of the old 3-speeds wether shimano, sturmey-archer, or sachs torpedo dreigang

    im almost sure they are not compatible, ebay is a good source for old shimano 3 speed hubs you might snag one for parts to fix yours, if you have a local bike coop they might have them laying around for small price im not sure if your willing to travel to bike oven/kitchen/bikerowave coops in LA county im almost sure you'll find one there.

    i have rebuilt many wheels myself replacing the steel rims with alloys and keeping the original 3 speed hubs and in most case using the same spokes.

    the bike coop also can help you rebuild the wheel if you ever go that route of replacing the hub they have Park TS-2 truing jigs and can assist you if you happen to venture into rebuilding your wheel with a different hub

    also have a question how did you date the bike being 70s ? as far as I know bike from the 70s use Sturmey Archer hubs and by the late 80s to early 90s they use shimano 3 speed hubs

    anyway good luck and hope you get that vintage up and running again.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Thanks for the advice, EM42 and fietsbob.
    I've called around to local bike shops, and no one has seen one of these hubs in recent memory, so spare parts are not a likely option. I haven't tried any of the bike co-ops, but they are a long trip away from me. Building a wheel by hand would be a big challenge.

    Unfortunately, I just found Sheldon Brown's page about these hubs, and he seems to think they are not worth the trouble of repairing, due to a basically flawed design:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/shimano333.html

    "Our basic recommendation is to avoid any Shimano 3-speed hubs other than the Nexus hubs. Generally, older Shimano 3-speed hubs were only ever spec'ed in low-end bikes anyway."

    Ouch.

    Would you guys recommend turning my "low-end" Western Flyer into a 1-speed cruiser (for about $40), or spending $150 or more to outfit it with a modern 3-speed hub and 26 x 1 3/8 wheel?

  5. #5
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EM42 View Post
    im almost sure they are not compatible, ebay is a good source for old shimano 3 speed hubs you might snag one for parts to fix yours, if you have a local bike coop they might have them laying around for small price im not sure if your willing to travel to bike oven/kitchen/bikerowave coops in LA county im almost sure you'll find one there.

    i have rebuilt many wheels myself replacing the steel rims with alloys and keeping the original 3 speed hubs and in most case using the same spokes.

    the bike coop also can help you rebuild the wheel if you ever go that route of replacing the hub they have Park TS-2 truing jigs and can assist you if you happen to venture into rebuilding your wheel with a different hub

    also have a question how did you date the bike being 70s ? as far as I know bike from the 70s use Sturmey Archer hubs and by the late 80s to early 90s they use shimano 3 speed hubs
    Work on enough bikes and you will find that the old "333" Shimano hubs were fitted to a lot of low end bikes in the seventies... Eastern Bloc manufacturers used a lot of Shimano 3 speeds as did BRC as these were a much lower cost option than the Sturmey Archer.

    They are almost disposable as when they fail there are no readily available parts while you can buy everything you need to repair an SA AW hub... which rarely needs any repair.

    They are not compatible.

    At my shop and at the co-op bikes that are equipped with defective Shimano 3 speeds usually roll away with Sturmey Archer 3 speeds.

    Sturmey Archer also produced an AW for Suntour and it is branded as such... these are rare here and believe they were produced for the Asian market.

  6. #6
    smallwheelsonly
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    Shimano hubs were fitted to a lot of low end bikes in the seventies... Eastern Bloc manufacturers used a lot of Shimano 3 speeds as did BRC as these were a much lower cost option than the Sturmey Archer.
    tnx for the info Sixty Fiver

    the shimano are on the bottom of my list of hubs to lace into wheels. i think i actually have 3~4 of those hubs just laying around. Torpedos are my primary choice and SA next.

    plenty of parts for SA and almost none available for the F&S Torpedos[driegang or duomatics]



    Would you guys recommend turning my "low-end" Western Flyer into a 1-speed cruiser (for about $40), or spending $150 or more to outfit it with a modern 3-speed hub and 26 x 1 3/8 wheel?
    long beach is fairly flat ...Single speed should be ok where you commute although a 3 speed would be nice....I've seen plenty of 3 speed bikes in CL for much less than $150 ..you can get one for the rear wheel that you need
    too bad those coop shops are far from you i've seen 3 speed wheels[26x1.3/8]there and nobody wants them because of the rim size and the Fixed gear/SS crowd that goes to the coops aren't into internal geared hubs.

  7. #7
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    With the Shimano hub you are stuck with using Shimano innards. Old SunTour 3-speed innards could be swapped into SA shells, but I don't know of other workable IHG miscogeny.

  8. #8
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    Don't bother fixing it.

    There are so many Sturmey-Archer AW wheels/hubs out there, there is no reason to bother with fixing the crappy Shimano. Find a donor bike with a working 3-spd. I'm sure you can probably find one for under $100.
    1988 Miele Azsora

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Update:
    I decided to try to find a Shimano 3xx-series hub, so I could keep the same grips, shifter, and cables.
    Well, I checked out Lakewood Cyclery (actually in north-east Long Beach, California, on Lakewood blvd),
    where I had previously found a NOS (new, old stock) shimano shifter cable for the previous hub.

    The owner actually had two different 26 x 1 /38 (590 mm) wheels with old shimano 3-speed hubs, one with a coaster brake.
    The other appeared to be new old stock as well, though dust from years of storage made this hard to know for sure.
    The rims are steel, but have a diamond-shaped surface pattern on the braking surface; otherwise it looks the same as the old one.

    I paid $40 even and now have it installed, and it appears to be working great. The price could have been better, but compared to a new single-speed hub and wheel it was about the same, and a new 3-speed wheel would cost 4 times more.

  10. #10
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    The hub shell is not just a housing but incorporates one of the gears, a ring gear with the teeth pointing inward. I think it's pressed in and there's no guarantee that the other kind would fit if you knocked the old one out. I also think it's quite possible the bearing races are different.

    I laced a 3-speed hub to an old rim, and it ran straight and true on my first try. See the wheelbuilding section on Sheldonbrown.com. It would be easier by far to just get a new hub, new spokes if it's a different kind of hub, and lace it up than to try to replace the internals with the probably incompatible internals of another hub.

  11. #11
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeisenbe View Post
    Update:
    I decided to try to find a Shimano 3xx-series hub, so I could keep the same grips, shifter, and cables.
    Well, I checked out Lakewood Cyclery (actually in north-east Long Beach, California, on Lakewood blvd),
    where I had previously found a NOS (new, old stock) shimano shifter cable for the previous hub.

    The owner actually had two different 26 x 1 /38 (590 mm) wheels with old shimano 3-speed hubs, one with a coaster brake.
    The other appeared to be new old stock as well, though dust from years of storage made this hard to know for sure.
    The rims are steel, but have a diamond-shaped surface pattern on the braking surface; otherwise it looks the same as the old one.

    I paid $40 even and now have it installed, and it appears to be working great. The price could have been better, but compared to a new single-speed hub and wheel it was about the same, and a new 3-speed wheel would cost 4 times more.
    I think that qualifies the wheel as ancient- I don't remember seeing those rims available new when I was working in shops in Southern California... I started in 1979. If it works, don't argue with it.
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

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