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  1. #1
    Senior Member 67tony's Avatar
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    All tooled up...

    ...and don't know what to do!
    What first, and which way?

    (Bike is a '78 Super Le Tour 12.2, and I'd like to open this up for a proper clean & lube.)

    Thanks in advance,

    Basic Noobie
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  2. #2
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    I used to spray WD-40 into one while rotating it. Then drip a heavy oil into it. Wipe off the excess.

  3. #3
    Senior Member 67tony's Avatar
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    I tried that, and it is still quite bound up.
    I'd like to tear it apart, but have never done one.

    What are the steps for dismantling?
    (The RD is a Shimano 600...)

  4. #4
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Problem is, there's a million little 1/8" ball-bearings inside the freewheel. If you disassemble the cover/cap, you most likely will not be able to get all the ball-bearings back inside properly to re-assemble. The spring-loaded pawls tend to knock bearings out as you push the freewheel body in.

    Try spraying PB-Blaster into the gap between inner & outer-body. Let sit for a while and spin and spray more through. That stuff works 100x better than WD-40.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    If you really want to do it , put the freewheel back on the wheel use a hammer and a punch to turn the cone clockwise , break it lose ,but not remove the cone yet ,remove the freewheel from the wheel and finish removing the cone . There not a million 1/8 " ball bearing in there but about 80 to 90 of them , about 40 in the top and bottom races . when you remove the cone you will see the first 40 of them on top . lift the body off (gears) you will see the other 40 or so . take it apart is the easy part . putting back together is the hardest . now clean everything up with a degreaser , let dry , repack with grease it will help to hold the bearings in place as you rebuild . put the bearing back in the lower race in the grease , now come the hard part , tie a string around the spring-loaded pawls put it back in without touching or moving the bearings . once that done flip the freewheel back upright without droping anything, put the spacers back on there are 3 of them , grease the upper cone put the remaining 40 or so bearings back in , screw the cone back on counter-clockwise and you are done . put freewheel back on the wheel and test ride the bike . this should take you about a hour to do .
    bikeman715

  6. #6
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    Put it on an old cookie sheet and put it in oven on warm. All the old caked-on grease will oose out. Use a grease packer and push more grease in.

    Done.
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

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    And, after all that work you may discover a broken or damaged pawl which can't be replaced. Best approach? Buy a new freewheel. They aren't expensive.

  8. #8
    Senior Member 67tony's Avatar
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    Great advise all...I really appreciate it.
    Sounds like a total disassembly might be a bit of a stretch for me (bikeman715, my guess is that you've done that a few times!), so I will try the PB Blaster first.

    If that doesn't work what would be a good replacement match? The current setup is (14,17,20,24,28) but I think I'd like to switch to a smaller-toothed high gear, probably a 13. Any suggestions for a direct swap?
    Last edited by 67tony; 05-16-12 at 07:45 AM.

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    I'm not a pro, and I've disassembled a freewheel (it had sand in it), cleaned it, and reassembled. I used a sticky grease to hold the balls, and didn't find the pawls that hard to get back in place - I didn't need to use any of the old tricks with string, etc. It isn't necessary to get every last ball back in the assembly - you might lose one or two along the way, and the freewheel will work fine.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 67tony View Post
    If that doesn't work what would be a good replacement match? The current setup is (14,17,20,24,28) but I think I'd like to switch to a smaller low gear, probably a 13. Any suggestions for a direct swap?
    Hard to find 5-spd freewheels nowadays, but they're still available with a little searching:

    ebay - Falcon Freewheel 5 spd 14-28 Shimano compatible 5 Speed
    Electric Rider - Shimano 5 speed freewheel

    Don't sweat the taller 13t gear, you won't go any faster and may end up with more knee problems. Practice spinning your legs smoothly and faster in lower gears. A 4:1 ratio (52t front, 13t rear) was the tallest, biggest gear on the pro bikes. That's guys who ride 20,000 miles a year and race 250-miles in a single day. They didn't need anything bigger than a 52x13t and us mere mortals can get by just fine with a 52x14t top gear.

  11. #11
    30 YR Wrench BikeWise1's Avatar
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    Hey, I'm a big fan of keeping old stuff running, after all my only car is 27 years old and has over 300K on the clock....BUT.....

    My time is worth way more to me, and old high-quality freewheels are in such abundance (you have to know where to look). Unless a flush frees it up, and it sounds right and spins freely, it's broken! And there's no way I'm going to bother disassembling one. Even if it has a broken spring or pawl, where are you going to get one of those?

    Flush it out. If it refuses to "wake up" and work right, it may have severe internal corrosion. Cut your losses and move on.

  12. #12
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    Send it out to the FreeWheel Spa. http://www.freewheelspa.com/
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte SOLD, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

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  13. #13
    30 YR Wrench BikeWise1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
    Send it out to the FreeWheel Spa. http://www.freewheelspa.com/
    $27.50 to clean a chain!

  14. #14
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    Buy a new one. $10-$15 for a Falcon or Sunrace on Amazon, last I checked.

  15. #15
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    yes i have done it a few times.
    bikeman715

  16. #16
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    It sounds scary. Or maybe I'm just lazy. I say hunt around for new.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  17. #17
    Senior Member IthaDan's Avatar
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    All the chainwhip will do is take the cogs off, and you'd need two of them anyway. To get in there, you need to take the cover off (the ring with 3(!) pin spanner holes in the picture on the right), the cover is right threaded, heads up. From there, you'll have a gazillion bearings fall out and bounce everywhere. I have no idea how many exactly, but chances are there's an even amount on either side. So, when you reassemble, if you count up to an odd number, you're missing at least one of them.

    Do this over something like a cookie pan, and not at a desk in your house in a room with semi shag carpet like I once did.

    Shimano : Click :: Campy :: Snap :: SRAM : Bang

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim hughes View Post
    I'm not a pro, and I've disassembled a freewheel (it had sand in it), cleaned it, and reassembled.
    Quoting a rather wise poster on this forum sometime back; "there is a difference between what is possible and what is practical." Unless your time has no better use, dismantling and overhauling an old freewheel isn't worthwhile when brand new ones are so inexpensive.

  19. #19
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    What better use is there to put your time than working on bikes? -except maybe riding them, and there are limits to even that.
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

  20. #20
    Senior Member kalliergo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amesja View Post
    What better use is there to put your time than working on bikes? -except maybe riding them . . .
    Really good question. If anyone knows an answer. . . please don't tell us.
    "What if we fail to stop the erosion of cities by automobiles?. . . In that case, we Americans will hardly need to ponder a mystery that has troubled men for millennia: What is the purpose of life? For us, the answer will be clear, established and for all practical purposes indisputable: The purpose of life is to produce and consume automobiles."

    ~Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

  21. #21
    Senior Member 67tony's Avatar
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    Which would have better quality; a NOS Shimano, a Falcon, or a Sunrace?

  22. #22
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    If you search on 5 speed freewheel on Amazon, you'll find a bunch of hits in the $10 - $20 range for 14-28 tooth 5-speed freewheels. If you want to to go down to 13 teeth, I only found one:

    http://www.amazon.com/FREEWHEEL-5SP-...7272838&sr=1-7

    The bad news is that it's over $50. Would pedaling faster be an option?
    L'asino di Buridano...

  23. #23
    30 YR Wrench BikeWise1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 67tony View Post
    Which would have better quality; a NOS Shimano, a Falcon, or a Sunrace?
    Shimano. Without a doubt. The old SunTour ones from the 80's were pretty bomb-proof as well.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Might as well try it if it's broken anyway. If it doesn't work, then order your new one.

    As far as the "million-gazillion" bearings being actually 80-90, sorry, in mechanic numbers 80-90 is a million. Gazillion might be pushing it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
    As far as the "million-gazillion" bearings being actually 80-90, sorry, in mechanic numbers 80-90 is a million. Gazillion might be pushing it.

    When you crack something open and bearings starting pinging against the floor, any more than about 3 is a MILLION of them. This is universally accepted.

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