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Old 07-14-14, 01:01 PM   #1
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Freewheel too tight to remove?

On the 4 year old or so Trek Navigator 3, one of the spokes finally wore out. When we went to get it fixed, the shop reported that the freewheel is apparently too tight to remove, even after applying triflow and letting it sit. It was removed a few months ago by a different shop to do some maintenance. Any thoughts on whether there's any quirky tricks that might help, or do we just have to buy a new wheel?
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Old 07-14-14, 01:34 PM   #2
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my advice would be to find a new LBS.
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Old 07-14-14, 01:43 PM   #3
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Interesting. Never new spokes wore out! Didn't know freewheels were still being offered on bikes either. Thought that was a 80's when they moved to cassettes and free hubs. +1 on the new LBS as quirky trick.
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Old 07-14-14, 02:19 PM   #4
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"Triflow the snooty man's WD40."

I'm willing to bet that the MAJORITY of new, geared bikes that are sold today in the US have freewheels. Removing one is a relatively routine task. In this case, "routine" isn't necessarily a synonym for "easy". Removing a freewheel can take a prodigious amount of torque. It comes off CCW. The only real trick is to keep the freewheel remover tool engaged while you're torqueing on it.
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Old 07-14-14, 03:03 PM   #5
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Okay, well, my LBS can't get enough torque to get it off, so what should I do?
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Old 07-14-14, 03:23 PM   #6
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Okay, well, my LBS can't get enough torque to get it off, so what should I do?
Find another shop, I have removed hundreds of freewheels over the years. Unless the freewheel was installed cross threaded, it can be removed
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Old 07-14-14, 04:00 PM   #7
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So, did they break their freewheel removal tool trying?
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Old 07-14-14, 04:07 PM   #8
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Find another shop, I have removed hundreds of freewheels over the years. Unless the freewheel was installed cross threaded, it can be removed
If the shop lacks the proper tool for removal, or if the engagement slots on the freewheel body have been damaged such that they no longer hold the remover tool securely, removal can become problematic.
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Old 07-14-14, 04:08 PM   #9
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Okay, well, my LBS can't get enough torque to get it off, so what should I do?
Apply more torque. Install a freewheel removal tool, secure it with he skewer, and turn the tool with a big wrench. Better yet, install the tool in a bench vise, and turn the wheel off the freewheel. Turn harder than your wimpy LBS mechanics turned it.
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Old 07-14-14, 04:25 PM   #10
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i remove the wheel, put a 10" adjustable wrench (we used to call it a Crescent wrench) then slide on 2.5 ft. of 1.5" ID galvanized pipe over the handle. hold the wheel and a 10 year-old can remove it. what a bunch of pansies your LBS guys are. unbelievable!
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Old 07-14-14, 04:29 PM   #11
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i remove the wheel, put a 10" adjustable wrench (we used to call it a Crescent wrench) then slide on 2.5 ft. of 1.5" ID galvanized pipe over the handle. hold the wheel and a 10 year-old can remove it. what a bunch of pansies your LBS guys are. unbelievable!
I figure the bike shop guys must have the arm strength of a TDF mountain specialist
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Old 07-14-14, 04:43 PM   #12
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If the shop lacks the proper tool for removal, or if the engagement slots on the freewheel body have been damaged such that they no longer hold the remover tool securely, removal can become problematic.
On a 4 year old bike, the freewheel almost certain has the now-standard Shimano spline. So the shop will certainly have the tool, and this remover is basically impossible to strip. So it is a matter of force, something that the shop clearly did not apply enough of. Lazy. Weak. Easier to sell you a whole new wheel I guess. Time for a new shop.

I have a 15" wrench. Using this, I have never been defeated in the task of removing a freewheel. Even on 30+ year old wheels, which have had a lot more time for the freewheel to become corroded onto the hub.

BTW: a spoke replacement is a 15 minutes job, including the freewheel removal.
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Old 07-14-14, 06:16 PM   #13
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I have a 15" wrench. Using this, I have never been defeated in the task of removing a freewheel..
I have the same size adjustable wrench and have also never met a freewheel it wouldn't remove. I always clamp the remover tool to the hub using the qr skewer or axle nut so it can't pop off. This was essential with the old Sun Tour 2 and 4-prong removers but useful with splined tools too.
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Old 07-14-14, 06:52 PM   #14
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Well, they haven't tried to charge me or sell me a new wheel, so I don't blame greed. I'll stop in in the morning and see what tools they were trying to use.
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Old 07-15-14, 07:04 AM   #15
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noglider +1
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Old 07-15-14, 07:05 AM   #16
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Also the suggestion you find a different bike shop is probably the best idea. Apparently the one you are dealing with has a wimpy mechanic with very little strength or experience.
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Old 07-15-14, 08:09 AM   #17
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Keep in mind that it doesn't matter how long the wrench is, you cannot get more leverage than the radius of the wheel you're holding back.

So the key to getting more leverage is to hold either the wheel or remover rigidly. There are various tricks to bracing a wheel, but far and away the simplest approach is to hold the remover in a vise and turn the wheel to the left. Channel the spirit of Ralph Cramden making a hard left turn before the advent of power steering, and use both hands and body English to free it.

BTW- if it doesn't pop free, and you haven't heard spokes pinging and creaking, get a truck driver to turn it for you.
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Old 07-15-14, 08:18 AM   #18
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We put the freewheel removal tool in the bench vise , then unscrew the wheel from the freewheel
which is fixed in the vise by the removal tool .. if too tough for 1 to turn, its a 2 man job.

NOLA was that bike submerged in the Flooding?
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Old 07-15-14, 08:24 AM   #19
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We put the freewheel removal tool in the bench vise , then unscrew the wheel from the freewheel
which is fixed in the vise by the removal tool .. if too tough for 1 to turn, its a 2 man job.
I work on a lot of tandems... sometimes it is a one man and one woman job and even after applying penetrants those freewheels can take an immense amount of torque to remove since so much torque gets put into tightening them up.
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Old 07-15-14, 08:25 AM   #20
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Apply more torque. Install a freewheel removal tool, secure it with he skewer, and turn the tool with a big wrench. Better yet, install the tool in a bench vise, and turn the wheel off the freewheel. Turn harder than your wimpy LBS mechanics turned it.
This method should do it.
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Old 07-15-14, 08:40 AM   #21
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To the OP

This may be an age/generational thing. The staff at the shop may have been raised in the age of the cassette, and not that familiar with freewheels. Being used to cassettes they may have no idea of the amount of torque freewheel removal can involve. Instead of getting help within the shop, they simply said too tight and handed it back.

If the shop is at all decent (or at least convenient) this may be a teachable moment. See a senior staffer, and let him teach his people how it's done.
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Old 07-15-14, 08:41 AM   #22
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I borrowed a Big Wrench , in a town I was Passing through, when I needed to remove my freewheel

to replace the broken spoke, On a Bike tour , in England ,,

went to the Pub with the wrench owner, and had a few Pints, afterwards
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Old 07-15-14, 09:37 AM   #23
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According to the Trek website, this bike has a cassette not a freewheel. At least the Trek archives for the 2009-2011 Navigator 3.0 indicate a Sram 8-speed cassette.
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Old 07-15-14, 09:58 AM   #24
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There is also the option of destructive removal :-). Never done it but have removed lots of OTHER things with a careful application of a makita grinder :-)......

The guys at the auto salvage yard are artists with the oxy acetylene hot wrench but that probably not work out well here :-).

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Old 07-15-14, 11:51 AM   #25
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Another vote for putting the removal tool in a vice, then as FBinNY siad, play bus driver. you may also have to jerk it a few times. It will come off.
Iv'e taken them off after; the vice moved, tigntened the vice with a pipe. Then he workbench the vice was attached to moved, had three guys hold the bench. Then my feet slid on the floor, had another guy help turn the wheel. It came off, it took 5 guys, but it came off.
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