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Old 10-20-08, 12:28 PM   #1
The Aram
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3-speed shifting problem

I posted a while back about the 1971 Hercules 3-speed I salvaged out of the trash earlier this fall. Well, I'm still working on it to get it up and running for a commuter bike.

The problem I'm having is with shifting. It doesn't engage when trying to shift, and when pedaling, it will "skip," for lack of a better term. It will feel as if there's no resistance to pedaling, then it'll sort of pop into gear, and then come in and out over and over again. When shifting the gears when it's standing still, it appears to shift well between 1st to 2nd to 3rd, but when i downshift from 3rd to 2nd, it kind of hesitates before popping in, and then does something similar from 2nd to 1st.

I'm thinking it might be the shifting trigger, but I'm not overly confident about that. I've put oil in the hub, but I'm trying to do whatever I can to not have to take the hub apart... This is the first bike I've really worked on, so I'm definitely a newbie.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 10-20-08, 12:57 PM   #2
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Start here:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/english-3.html
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Old 10-20-08, 03:06 PM   #3
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Shoota half can of WD 40 in there, slosh it around for a good long while, then drain it for a good long while. Repeat a couple times. Then add a tablespoon of 30 weight. Adjust the cable as per instructions in the link above.

Like new.
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Old 10-20-08, 05:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by sciencemonster View Post
Shoota half can of WD 40 in there, slosh it around for a good long while, then drain it for a good long while. Repeat a couple times. Then add a tablespoon of 30 weight. Adjust the cable as per instructions in the link above.

Like new.
This procedure put the hub in my just-purchased Raleigh back into shape. I got the bike in good overall condition, but it hadn't been ridden in years, and the third speed just freewheeled.

The WD-40 flush has it shifting perfectly. I guess the WD is solvent enough to cut through the gummy deposits and free the pawls so they can engage.

Draining the hub and then adding oil is a necessary step. Leaving the WD-40 in the hub likely wouldn't harm it, but it is too light a "lubricant" to protect the mechanism of the Sturmey-Archer hub. It can't cling to surfaces well enough to use in place of oil.
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Old 10-20-08, 05:48 PM   #5
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I recall hearing that line, title of thread, alot when I worked at a bike shop many years ago. And the solution already stated is about what we would do to make 3 speeds work again. And that pesky adjusting cable that needed just the right amount of slack in it. Memories.........
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Old 10-20-08, 07:35 PM   #6
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Thanks everybody! Now giving it another run of the WD40, we'll see how it works. Seems to be shifting better after the 1st soak.
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Old 10-20-08, 09:33 PM   #7
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OK, the problem is -almost- alleviated, but now the problems are almost exclusively in 3rd gear. It still freewheels a little bit when pedaling, and won't shift cleanly from 2nd to 3rd all the time. should i keep tinkering around with the adjuster cable, or is this another, bigger problem with the shifting mechanism?
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Old 10-20-08, 09:48 PM   #8
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keep adjusting........

edit: and flushing..........
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Old 10-21-08, 12:07 AM   #9
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My second bike to fix was a 58 Norman 3 speed. I had a similar problem as you, my hub was an SW though and had the springless pawls. The cable adjustment was a large part of the problem, the slightest adjustment seemed to make big changes. I followed Sheldon's instructions on how to take the hub apart and rebuild it. I also made tried to learn as much as I could about how the 3 speed shifts, I think understanding what is going on inside really helped. Sheldon Browns site helped me a great deal, I found chipped up pawls inside my hub and that was my problem. Seeing that yours is a 71 I assume you have an AW, which is much better. I am no expert, but Sheldon is (or was unfortunately). Just don't be too afraid to take it apart as scary as it is, one word of caution, be very organized if you do.

Last edited by mkeller234; 10-21-08 at 12:08 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 10-21-08, 12:17 AM   #10
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Make sure that the indicator spindle is threaded in all the way and that the links in its chain aren't seized or sticky... after that follow the setting instructions you can find from Sheldon Brown.

After the flushing the act of riding will also improve the function of the hub and you may want to tighten the cable a tiny bit to alleviate the 2nd to 3rd shifting problem.

The SW hub is a pain (and a production failure) and you should be lucky enough to have an AW on your bike...this is not to say that I don't plan on using an SW hub I have stashed away at some future point but as a mechanic I can handle any work it needs..
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Old 10-21-08, 12:31 AM   #11
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I can only think of one positive thing about starting with an SW hub - anything else has got to be better. Seriously, I got it to shift properly, but I do not trust it, and would not ride an SW in any kind of traffic. Sorry to get off track. Aram, I read some of your other posts, nice looking bike by the way. One thing I learned the hard way on, don't use a hose to wash your bike. I did on my first bike and all the soapy water found it's way into the bottom bracket. Also, I tried Oxalic acid and some chrome that I had, I got it at Sherwin Williams for $7.50, it came as crystals that you mix with water. It is great for parts like handle bars, crank arms and mounting hardware, I think it's easier to use brass wool on the rims and other larger parts though. Ok, I am waaayy off topic, Nice bike, great to learn on, good luck from a fellow begginer.

Matt
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Old 10-21-08, 08:20 AM   #12
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all these guys are on the right track and all i can add is to tell you about the "in between gear", the neutral between 2ns and third. once your hub is cleaned out, you can easily find the neutral by holding the shifter between 2nd and 3rd. good adjustment reference.
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Old 10-21-08, 01:49 PM   #13
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yep, the advice about wd-40 is spot on. i fill mine with it, ride it some, shift and eventually put oil back in. it's worked well on my half dozen three-speeds... SA's are the best!
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