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  1. #1
    Devil's Advocate andychrist's Avatar
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    Rear hub binding up

    So I've got this LWB recumbent cargo bike built up with a tandem style rear wheel. After only around 11 or 12k miles, the rear hub (FH-HF05, 7-speed cassete, 145mm O.L.D.) is having trouble. Cassette sticking with each rotation, as does the wheel which also suddenly began to squeak. Don't have any of the necessary tools up here to disassemble the hub right now, but wondering what could have caused this sudden failure and what parts I can use to remedy it. Thinking that maybe the axle got bent going over some rough terrain or whatever. But the quick release skewer still slides in and out easily, would that be possible with a bent axle? Flooded the cassette as best I could with lubricant, it spins better but still seizes. Also tried forcing some oil into the hub by dribbling it over the dust cap while spinning the wheel oriented horizontally; some black goo dripped out from the cassette end but the wheel doesn't spin any better, if anything the squeak is even more pronounced now and there is an occasional clacking/cracking sound when I try to ride on it. Can't coast of course.

    The two bike shops up here would not have the proper replacement parts on hand, wondering where I could even find a new 145mm axle should that be necessary. Found a freehub body online, advertised to fit the 7 speed Shimano STX-RC and Acera-X. Not sure if that would be compatible with my FH-HF05, does anybody here know? Current cassette is a 7 speed 11-34T Shimano Megarange, guessing it is either an Ultraglide or Hyperglide, don't remember for sure.

    Thanks for any help.
    Last edited by andychrist; 08-01-12 at 09:10 AM.

  2. #2
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    Sounds like either the freehub body is worn and the pawls inside are sticking, or the wheel bearings need to be rebuilt with new grease and bearings. Maybe both. Only way to really tell is to remove the axle and inspect the bearings. You can (usually -depending on the type) remove the freehub body once the axle and bearings are removed using just an allen wrench on most Shimano hubs.
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  3. #3
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    Step one is to isolate the issue to either the wheel bearings, or the freehub ratchet mechanism. That's easy enough to do by simply spinning the wheel in your hand holding the axle and feeling for snags or torque, then putting a finger against the cassette t hold it and seeing if it's dragging against the free-spinning wheel.

    While you have it it's also easy to check the axle, by turning the axle in the stationary wheel and looking for oscillation at either ends.

    Once you've (I expect) localized the problem to the freehub, then you can continue to try and flush it clear, but otherwise it'll need replacement.
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  4. #4
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Step one is to isolate the issue to either the wheel bearings, or the freehub ratchet mechanism. That's easy enough to do by simply spinning the wheel in your hand holding the axle and feeling for snags or torque, then putting a finger against the cassette t hold it and seeing if it's dragging against the free-spinning wheel.

    While you have it it's also easy to check the axle, by turning the axle in the stationary wheel and looking for oscillation at either ends.

    Once you've (I expect) localized the problem to the freehub, then you can continue to try and flush it clear, but otherwise it'll need replacement.
    I agree that the first step would be to do a quick inspection like this but even if it looked like the FH was the issue I'd still pull the axle and dump the bearings. Just hosing the FH down with lube to maybe flush it out most probably will just flush out most any of the remaining grease in the bearings as well.

    If the initial spinning of the freehub with the wheel out of the bike shows any issue with either the FH or the axle I'd just start by yanking the axle. It could very well be that both the FH and the wheel bearings are both hosed to a greater or lesser and it might be difficult to fully identify the source of the problem without isolating them from each other.

    My advise is to find a used replacement FH out of a donor hub. FH's can be very expensive. My local coop has hubs by the hundreds sitting in tubs for about $2 each. That's much better than $40+ for a new replacement Freehub. The trick is doing the research as to what other hubs use a compatible FH as finding other matching tandem hubs might be difficult.
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  5. #5
    Devil's Advocate andychrist's Avatar
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    Well both the cassette and wheel hit snags when I spin them independently. Occasionally the cassette freezes entirely. As I said, I did manage to flush it out but that didn't solve the problem. The 7 speed freehub I found online, the one mentioned in my original post that fits the STX-RC and Acera-X, is only $17.00. I'd order that if I knew it is going to be compatible with my setup but can't find any more info about it. Emailed the vendor but haven't heard back yet.
    Last edited by andychrist; 08-01-12 at 09:52 AM.

  6. #6
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    If the wheel snags when spinning with the cassette turning with it, then you have both an axle and freehub problem. These are separate issues, and possibly the hubs bearings just need to be cleaned and lubed. But it's not a good indicator, I'd inspect the condition of the hubs bearings before buying a freehub body (new or used).

    If this needs lots of dough, you might want to pass entirely, especially if the rim and spokes (the wheel) aren't otherwise in near perfect condition.
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  7. #7
    Devil's Advocate andychrist's Avatar
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    Yeah I am assuming the axle, or at least the bearings and cones, are FUBAR. But the Mavic T 520 Rim and DT spokes are still fine. Can't find another 700C wheel on the market that takes a 7 speed freehub. To change over to 9 speed now I'd have to buy a new tandem wheel, 9X shifter and recumbent length chain, and probably a new derailleur. (My current crankset is already 9 speed compatible, you can run a 7 speed chain on them fine.) The total would be around $400 after taxes and shipping. So am hoping to rebuild the hub for a bit less than that... Anyway I am basically stranded here upstate right now, my bike is my car. D'oh!

  8. #8
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    You should be able to throw a 7-speed cassette onto an 8/9/10 hub with a spacer. You might have to readjust your indexing a little bit but that isn't hard.

    Bigger issue is finding a wheel spaced for 145mm cheaply. Tandem wheels are usually not nearly as low-cost or plentiful as 130 or 135mm wheels.

    Incidentally -did you respace your dropouts to fit the 145mm OLD of the tandem hub or just spring-fit by spreading them? If you opened them that much without setting and aligning the dropouts to match that may be the issue that caused this problem in the first place. Dropouts that crooked would cause wheel bearing and freehub issues due to the bending torque on the axle.
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  9. #9
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    The good news is the right axle bearing cup is part of the freehub body, so your hub is toast only if the left axle cup is trashed.

    Although I wouldn't be surprised if your cups, cones and balls are still okay and just a bit tight... depends how nasty that 'snag' feels.

    Doesn't look so good for your freehub body though. Although it might respond to an overhaul if you're lucky.

  10. #10
    Devil's Advocate andychrist's Avatar
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    Well if I have to spring for a whole new wheel just for the hub, then at today's prices, I'd go for the 9X and convert the rest of the bike. My 'bent was custom built for a 145mm rear wheel, don't have any other option as far as that goes now. Wish I could find a source for 145mm axles but so far no dice. Can't even find a tandem dealer listed in NYC, just hoping I can schlepp the wheel down there and have the LBS repair it.

  11. #11
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    Your old axle is probably fine. I've never seen a bent freehub axle.

    ...Although the other day I saw a bent front axle, so I guess it's possible...

  12. #12
    Devil's Advocate andychrist's Avatar
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    Well I'm guessing that since both the wheel bearings and cassette went south at the same time the problem is just freehub side. Ordered the 7X replacement for STX-RC/Acera-X and crossing my fingers it will be compatible with my current setup.

  13. #13
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    You should be right. Not much chance of an odd 7spd... AFAIK it's only the stuff with oversized axles you have to look out for.

  14. #14
    Devil's Advocate andychrist's Avatar
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    Well I just found out the freehub body I ordered is not compatible with my current setup. I've got a 11-34T Megarange cassette on there now, which required the Hyperglide-C freehub to accommodate the 11T cog (the C is for "compact.") None are available anymore either, and the only new 7-speed Megarange cassette available now that would fit the new body is garbage, just black painted steel. I am so screwed.
    Last edited by andychrist; 08-05-12 at 09:30 AM.

  15. #15
    Devil's Advocate andychrist's Avatar
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    Well I took the wheel to my upstate LBS and the guy there got the new freehub body on along with my old 11-34T cassette, only little problem he told me was he damaged the dust cap under the cassette and had to file off a little burr. So now with the new body, the cassette binds up so that I cannot peddle backwards, and the wheel won't spin freely... just like before. Grrr....

    Ended up ordering a new 9-speed tandem style wheel by Handspun, three Shimano Ultegra 9-speed chains (to complete one recumbent length chain) and KMC Missing Link, a Deore 12-36T cassette and matching dérailleur, 9-speed SRAM Attack twist shifters (Shimano compatible), a new Conti Touring Plus 700-47c and Avenir Thorn Resistant tube. Should probably get some new chainrings too, as I've also got about 12,000 miles on the current ones. Already replaced the Hollowtech BB (for the third time), so at least that should be alright. Lost track of how many hundreds of bucks this has all cost, must be like five or six so far. D'oh! Oh well, on the bright side I've saved about $1500 over the past three years on auto insurance/registration, so it isn't a total wash. But that's the subject for a whole new thread in a different sub forum entirely... Living car-free recumbent cargo mountain biking. I'm sure everyone here subscribes to that...

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