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Old 10-25-11, 07:29 AM   #1
Myosmith
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Lubricating a freewheel

I've looked all over the internet and can't find information on lubricating a freewheel. I've seen several references to it being done, but can't find a step-by-step with info on appropriate lubricant, etc. The one I currently have is a 1980s era Shimano 5-speed. It works fine but is very noisy when free wheeling, sounds dry.

Any help appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 10-25-11, 08:29 AM   #2
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Take the wheel off. Lay it flat on the floor. slowly spin the freewheel backwards, noticing the groove between the moving cogs and the non-moving body. Dribble a little oil such as 10w-30 motor oil in there. The freewheel clicking will become muted as the oil gets into the pawls. Reinstall wheel.
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Old 10-25-11, 08:36 AM   #3
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In my collection of specific bike tools there is a Free
Wheel injector ,remove freewheel clean ,grease install.A Freewheel Injector pat. pend. check out any old LBS
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Old 10-25-11, 08:40 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Take the wheel off. Lay it flat on the floor. slowly spin the freewheel backwards, noticing the groove between the moving cogs and the non-moving body. Dribble a little oil such as 10w-30 motor oil in there. The freewheel clicking will become muted as the oil gets into the pawls. Reinstall wheel.
Mixing the motor oil with some mineral spirits to thin it will help it get to where it needs to go a little quicker. Or just use some chain lube like TriFlow. I've used it on both freewheels and freehubs with success.
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Old 10-25-11, 08:49 AM   #5
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I've use Speed Skate Lube with great success. One Shimano freewheel went from the usual mild clicking sound to none whatsoever. I can't see why Bones skate lube wouldn't work either, it's intended for bearings.
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Old 10-25-11, 10:36 AM   #6
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Or just use some chain lube like TriFlow. I've used it on both freewheels and freehubs with success.
+1 on the TriFlow or similar. I have freehubs with over 50,000 miles on the ratcheting body and they've been fed a steady diet of Triflow.
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Old 10-25-11, 11:48 AM   #7
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Depending on the brand/model/age of the freewheel, most of them have holes at the back of their bodies where the pawl/springs pivot on. I usually first flush out the old grease and dirt from it by blasting it with a lot of WD40 over a basin and then soaking it a bit (Mineral psirits also work well to clean out old stiff grease). Once you think the bad stuff is out, dry it throroughly with paper towels, get a tube of your favorite water resistant grease, like Phil Wood or Park and press the opening of the tube against one of the holes on the back of the frewheel body then spin the frewheel as you push in the grease from the tube do it for all the holes in the back of the freewheel body. Do so until you see the grease starting to come out of the freewheel body seam at the back and front and continue to spin the freewheel to distribute the grease evenly inside the freewheel so it reaches all the bearings and races too. Wipe off all the excess coming out of the holes and seams and make sure that the pawls are working properly and locking the freewheel in the drive direction roatation and re-install it on you rear wheel hub.
You can also open up the freewheel to do a more extensive service/cleaning of it, but only if you feel that something might need to be replaced or adjusted inside , like bearings, pawls and springs.
I've been doing it this way for many years and it has always worked well for me You don't even have to bother to remove the cogs in most cases, so you get to also clean your cogs at the same time.

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Last edited by Chombi; 10-25-11 at 12:56 PM.
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Old 10-25-11, 12:12 PM   #8
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I flush mine in WD40 like Chombi but then drizzel normal bike oil through the gap in rotating parts.
I find it best to work with the freewheel small-cog down, balanced on top of an old margarine tub.
My Sachs/Sram freewheeled was sealed with a rubber ring so I couldn't re-oil it.
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Old 10-25-11, 06:08 PM   #9
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Chombi's grease technique is ok if (big if) you use a fairly light body grease like Phils or live where it is always warm. Heavier grease can get so thick in cold weather that it will keep the pawls from operating properly.

I always use an oil like Triflow as it works well in all temperatures.
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Old 10-25-11, 07:57 PM   #10
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I use Mobil Synthetic 1 10W-30 or 5W-20, as I always have them on hand for my cars. They work very well in lubing Shimano and Mavic FTS-L freehubs.

And they don't freeze in cold temperatures.
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Old 10-26-11, 06:37 AM   #11
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My two favorite lubes for bikes are sprays, Duralube and Valvoline Synthetic. The Valvoline Synthetic is very sticky and I use it only for spokes, possibly a freewheel but I prefer the Duralube for freewheels ande everything else.
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Old 10-27-11, 12:15 PM   #12
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+1 on the TriFlow or similar. I have freehubs with over 50,000 miles on the ratcheting body and they've been fed a steady diet of Triflow.
HillRider, do you use the Morningstar Freehub Buddy in lubing your Shimano freehubs? Or you just shoot the TriFlow into the gap between the moving cogs and the non-moving body referred to in post #2 above?
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