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Old 09-20-08, 09:46 PM   #1
ogbigbird
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shimano "333" hub reliability?

kinda a random question, but having 6 s.a. 3speeds of my own and now having a shimano 333 3speed hub with coaster brake in it, i was wondering how well did these hubs hold up? vs s.a.? i got a 53 schwinn world that since i cannot build it up all original, i am gonna to possibly use much updated rims with the 333 hub to replace the old unmatching s.a. equipt set of wheels. i heard that they were sort of trouble some and being a 200lb rider, i don't want to do a build up with inferior hubs. and i have always had great luck with s.a. hubs and found them especially easy to rebuild. won't even try a shimano rebuild.
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Old 09-20-08, 09:49 PM   #2
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Sheldon Brown wasn't a big fan. See his critique of the hub here.
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Old 09-20-08, 11:46 PM   #3
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I've worked on several bikes over the past 6 months with the 333 hubs and so far, no issues. My wife rides one of them every work day. I also have a Raleigh 3-speed with the SA hub, so I have a good basis for comparison. So far, I've found that you simply have to add some lightweight oil to the 333 occasionally and they work very well. I use 3-in-1 Motor Oil. It's a 20 weight oil, which is perfect for either the 333's or SA's. On the 333's, you also have to have the adjuster in the bell housing set so that the "N" in centered in the view port and then the gears shift very nicely. On my wife's bike, she has the Shimano twist shifter. I took it apart initially, cleaned it up and added some grease. It's been shifting effortless ever since. I've also worked on a couple of their thumb shifters. They are OK, but not as good as the SA thumb shifter.

With all that nice stuff being said, I do have some concerns however. One - there isn't much technical info available that I've found on the inner workings of the 333 hub. I wouldn't take one apart without a diagram of the parts or some info on steps to do it. That is bad, compared to the info available for the various SA hubs. Two - Finding spare parts for the 333 hub is mission impossible, even if you know how to take apart and re-assemble. Three - I don't have real high opinions of any 3 speed hub with a built in coaster brake. My Raleigh has one and I dread the day if that coaster brake freezes up, like all the literature indicates can happen. I even have a back up SA hub (an AW), that I took apart, cleaned up and put back together. I don't have any specific info on the 333 coaster brake version, but I'd be learly about it. I would much rather have just the 3 speed hub w/o built in coaster brakes.

Hope this gives you some ideas.
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Old 09-22-08, 10:26 AM   #4
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thanks and it does. now to just find a good shifter. can my LBS still find an old 333 shifter and cable? thumb or grip.
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Old 09-22-08, 10:28 AM   #5
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They really aren't too bad. Just don't try to use a Sturmey-Archer shifter with a Shimano 333 hub.
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Old 09-22-08, 11:14 AM   #6
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The lbs around here generally have a drawer or two of old 3-speed parts, mostly SA though. It wouldn't hurt to ask to rummage through them. If not available, maybe you can find an old beater with the needed parts. I've also heard what oldroads said - SA shifters don't work very well, if at all, with Shimano hubs. Has to do with the amount of cable travel each does to shift gears at the hub.
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Old 09-22-08, 01:45 PM   #7
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Ebay is another decent source for Shimano 3 speed shifters. FWIW I have never had a 333 fail, but I never abused them like I did my S-A hubs either. Most of them were on ladies bikes that the ladies ride

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Old 05-08-14, 05:25 PM   #8
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The original 333 hub on my Huffy quit at about 7,000 miles-no 2nd Gear, kept getting a crunching noise. Fortunately I had built a spare wheel, so far so good. Found a 28H hub I plan to swaps innards-am I the Optimist. Yes, spare parts are non-existent, likewise diagrams
and disassembly/reassembly instructions, did see one video on YouTube. Sheldon Brown thought both the design and the metallurgy were not up to us USA sized riders-I am a 200 pounder. The 333 shifts much more crisply than my SA hubs.
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Old 05-08-14, 06:29 PM   #9
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Always wondered why these have such a bad reputation, especially regarding the availability of parts. I don't think I've ever worked at a shop that didn't have a full spare parts box for the 333 hubs.
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Old 05-08-14, 06:31 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by blackhawknj View Post
The original 333 hub on my Huffy quit at about 7,000 miles-no 2nd Gear, kept getting a crunching noise. Fortunately I had built a spare wheel, so far so good. Found a 28H hub I plan to swaps innards-am I the Optimist. Yes, spare parts are non-existent, likewise diagrams
and disassembly/reassembly instructions, did see one video on YouTube. Sheldon Brown thought both the design and the metallurgy were not up to us USA sized riders-I am a 200 pounder. The 333 shifts much more crisply than my SA hubs.
Whaddya mean no diagrams? I've had one on my site for 20 years:
http://oldroads.com/shim3spd.asp
You need to replace part 38 or part 38 and 39.
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Old 05-08-14, 07:13 PM   #11
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The 3.3.3. hub doesn't have as stellar a reputation as the Sturmey-Archer AW hub, but if you already have the wheel and it's working acceptably well for you, there's no reason to abandon it. The shop I worked for back in the day wouldn't service the 3.3.3. hubs; if a customer had a problem with one, we'd just slide out the innards and pop in a new set of innards (conveniently supplied in a blister pack from Shimano) and be done with it.
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Old 05-08-14, 07:47 PM   #12
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I've used mine( Shimano 333 ) in a 70-ish Sears bike down on the coast as a coffee getter, before that as my commuter for awhile with no problems.

Did many long rides and hard up hill climbs with no problems from the hub noted. Maybe I got lucky !
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Old 05-08-14, 08:11 PM   #13
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I was going to say, your 333 hub will work just fine until it breaks, so run it until it does - But since you are going to build up new rims anyway, you may as well take the plunge now and lace in that AW hub.
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Old 05-11-14, 05:04 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wesmamyke View Post
Always wondered why these have such a bad reputation, especially regarding the availability of parts. I don't think I've ever worked at a shop that didn't have a full spare parts box for the 333 hubs.
Where were those shops? Any shop I have worked in or frequented seldom had spares for the Shimano. Sturmey-Archer AW's always...

Aaron
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