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Old 05-15-12, 02:06 PM   #1
67tony
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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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Old 05-15-12, 03:38 PM   #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.
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Old 05-15-12, 04:05 PM   #3
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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...)
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Old 05-15-12, 04:21 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 05-15-12, 04:49 PM   #5
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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 .
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Old 05-15-12, 04:53 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 05-15-12, 04:56 PM   #7
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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.
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Old 05-15-12, 06:46 PM   #8
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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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Old 05-15-12, 07:02 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 05-16-12, 06:54 AM   #10
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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.
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Old 05-16-12, 07:11 AM   #11
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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.
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Old 05-16-12, 08:45 AM   #12
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Send it out to the FreeWheel Spa. http://www.freewheelspa.com/
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Old 05-16-12, 08:52 AM   #13
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Send it out to the FreeWheel Spa. http://www.freewheelspa.com/
$27.50 to clean a chain!
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Old 05-16-12, 09:02 AM   #14
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Buy a new one. $10-$15 for a Falcon or Sunrace on Amazon, last I checked.
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Old 05-16-12, 01:17 PM   #15
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yes i have done it a few times.
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Old 05-16-12, 01:38 PM   #16
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It sounds scary. Or maybe I'm just lazy. I say hunt around for new.
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Old 05-16-12, 02:11 PM   #17
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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.
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Old 05-16-12, 07:15 PM   #18
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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.
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Old 05-16-12, 07:19 PM   #19
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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.
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Old 05-17-12, 12:09 AM   #20
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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.
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Old 05-17-12, 10:12 AM   #21
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Which would have better quality; a NOS Shimano, a Falcon, or a Sunrace?
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Old 05-17-12, 10:44 AM   #22
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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?
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Old 05-17-12, 10:49 AM   #23
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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.
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Old 05-17-12, 11:07 AM   #24
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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.
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Old 05-17-12, 01:27 PM   #25
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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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