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Old 08-22-11, 10:40 PM   #1
Gyro_T
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Free Hub, Spindle and Cup Servicing Question

I have several bikes with various vintages of Shimano free hubs. Having come from the era of the freewheel cluster, free hubs and cassette are not new, I know, but I have not had the occasion to completely tear one apart. I have cog and lock ring removal tools, but I noticed whild repacking the bearings on a rear Tiagra hub the cup has slots for a tool. I looked on biketoolsetc and found a tool called a "saint" cup remover. Is this the standard tool for taking those cups out and taking the spindle that holds the cassette off? I expect to find some nice little pawls and springs, perhaps some little ball bearings under that spindle. It must get contamination in that thing sometimes. Is it so difficult to service? I always thought taking freewheels apart was a pain, but we did it, and usually put too much and too viscous grease back inside before reassembly. That was the early 70's. Thanks in advance for input on this kind of servicing. I don't want to purchase the wrong tool, or have to buy five tools for every generation of Shimano hub since 2000.
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Old 08-23-11, 02:59 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Gyro_T View Post
I have several bikes with various vintages of Shimano free hubs. .. have not had the occasion to completely tear one apart. I have cog and lock ring removal tools, but I noticed ..the cup has slots for a tool. I looked on biketoolsetc and found a tool called a "saint" cup remover. Is this the standard tool for taking those cups out and taking the spindle that holds the cassette off?
What you're referring to as "the spindle" is probably what's more commonly known as the "freehub body". The body is held against the hub with a hollow bolt that the axle runs through. To get the body off you first remove the axle, then insert a fairly big Allen key. Undo counter-clockwise, then pull body axially off hub.

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I ... found a tool called a "saint" cup remover. Is this the standard tool for taking those cups out ... I expect to find some nice little pawls and springs, perhaps some little ball bearings under that spindle.
Don't know really, I've never bothered with a special tool for that. Those I've met haven't been that viciously torqued. A file held in a vise worked fine for me. You will indeed find a lot of bearing balls, a circlip that acts as pawl retainer/spring and the pawls themselves.

Here: is a link that may be helpful. It's in Swedish, so you'll have to make do with the pics. Most critical info is: Loosen the hollow bolt a few turns before trying to loosen the cup. Cup comes off clockwise.

It's not that servicing is that difficult really. More a question of the freehub body being so well sealed, and the bearings sort of delicate, that by the time you notice somethings wrong it's usually beyond repair anyhow. One service task that does make sense though is to clean and repack with a lighter oil for winter use.
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Old 08-23-11, 07:10 AM   #3
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To service, I'll take the Freehub off the wheel, dunk in some mineral spirits, let dry, then lube with some medium weight oil. I've never bothered disassembling a freewheel or Freehub body. It's probably the least important bearing on a bicycle, and as dabac says, once it gets that bad there's probably not much you can do anyway.

But yes, they can be disassembled and rebuilt. If one ever fails me I'll probably just weld it together and make a fixed gear wheel.
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Old 08-23-11, 10:23 AM   #4
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Thanks dabac, and fastjake. Didn't see the hex key inside the "free hub body" I will take an old one apart to see it, just for my edification.
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Old 08-24-11, 02:13 AM   #5
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Didn't see the hex key inside the "free hub body"
It's deep down there, usually well gunked up. Visibility isn't its strong point. Remove axle and poke a big Allen key (10 mm?) down there. The body will come off in one piece, so you won't risk anything by pulling it off. If you're trying to do this on a bare hub you may encounter some difficulties. Not as bad as trying to pull a freewheel of a bare hub, but not entirely straightforward either.
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