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  1. #1
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    Oiling a Sturmey-Archer hub

    On a newly purchased 70's English 3-speed with S-A rear hub, I have flushed out the old oil and gunk. My question now is, how much oil should one place into the empty hub? Is this like an oil change on a car? (I'm planning on using Phil, Wood and Company Tenacious Oil.)

    TSapp

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    Senior Member King of Kadence's Avatar
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    A couple of squirts. Any excess will leak out onto your rims and tires.

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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    We always used ATF* in our 3-spd. hubs. Cost $1 a quart back then.


    * - Automatic Transmission Fluid - the pink stuff.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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    I think you want to oil and spin it so the oil coats the parts before it can just find the shortest path to the ends of the hubs where it will run out.

    The oil that stays in the hub is the oil that's wetting the parts.

    If you use atf or automotive oil, get a synthetic. It's about four times more tenacious than regular oil.

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    From a 1970s "Raleigh Bicycle Owner's Manual" on lubricating Sturmey-Archer hubs:

    "The ideal rule for lubrication should be two or three drops of oil every month, which will maintain the hub in first class running order. USE ONLY STURMEY-ARCHER OIL (OR SAE 20 GRADE). DO NOT use thick oil or grease."

    Neal

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    gna
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    Quote Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
    From a 1970s "Raleigh Bicycle Owner's Manual" on lubricating Sturmey-Archer hubs:

    "The ideal rule for lubrication should be two or three drops of oil every month, which will maintain the hub in first class running order. USE ONLY STURMEY-ARCHER OIL (OR SAE 20 GRADE). DO NOT use thick oil or grease."

    Neal
    I've read here not to use 3 in 1 oil, but would these oils be acceptable?

    http://www.3inone.com/products/motor-oil/
    http://www.zoomspoutoiler.com/

    They are referred to as "turbine oil" and I have both from HVAC/appliance repair. The blue 3 in 1 is SAE 20 oil; the zoom oil is a synthetic blend (Unocal 76 turbine oil) which can be used for electric motors, gear cases, bearings, etc.

    If the zoom oil is ok I'd prefer to use that, as the spout would make it easy to get to the oil port on the SA hub.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    holyrollin' FlatTop's Avatar
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    I think the objection to 3-In-One is that it's bio-derived and not petroleum, and can cause deposits to collect, but I am unable to verify.
    I've used sewing machine oil without any trouble. The ATF may contain enough detergency to actually have a cleaning effect on a non-coaster Sturmey hub. Not sure I'd use it on a coaster.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Fibber's Avatar
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    The 3-IN-ONE oil used for the bearing caps on electric motors is (IIRC) a non-detergent straight 20 weight oil, and should be exactly what the factory called for at the time that the hub was built.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsappenfield View Post
    On a newly purchased 70's English 3-speed with S-A rear hub, I have flushed out the old oil and gunk. My question now is, how much oil should one place into the empty hub? Is this like an oil change on a car? (I'm planning on using Phil, Wood and Company Tenacious Oil.)

    TSapp
    how did you flush out all the oil and gunk? did you open it and give it a once over?

  10. #10
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    We always used ATF* in our 3-spd. hubs. Cost $1 a quart back then.


    * - Automatic Transmission Fluid - the pink stuff.
    We used hypoid gear oil. Costs about the same, but doesn't run out of the hub as quickly.

  11. #11
    stringbreaker stringbreaker's Avatar
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    I used mineral spirits in the one I just used on an old Schwinn. I filled it up almost all the way and ran it a bit let it sit then opened up the little plug and let it drain for a few days then used some Boelube, just enough so it doesn't clack like its dry but has that nice tick tick tick like a fine watch. Seemed to do the trick
    (Life is too short to play crappy guitars) 2006 Raleigh Cadent 3.0, 1977 Schwinn Volare, 2010 Windsor tourist. ( I didn't fall , I attacked the floor)

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    Quote Originally Posted by gna View Post
    http://www.zoomspoutoiler.com/

    They are referred to as "turbine oil" and I have both from HVAC/appliance repair. The blue 3 in 1 is SAE 20 oil; the zoom oil is a synthetic blend (Unocal 76 turbine oil) which can be used for electric motors, gear cases, bearings, etc.

    If the zoom oil is ok I'd prefer to use that, as the spout would make it easy to get to the oil port on the SA hub.
    The Zoom Spout oil is a 10W oil, I believe. I use it for just about everything with no problems - and I thin it with an additive! I would oil my hub with it. But, the manual says 20W, so.....
    I'm wondering if those "super lubes" for cars would work in these older hubs? Like Dura-Lube - supposedly "sticks" to the metal surfaces after the oil drains overnight so things don't start up dry in the morning. Then, even if the lube runs out, there's still a layer of protection.

  13. #13
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I was wondering about Dura Lube but have not tried it... I use 10-30 semi synthetic and that little bit of oil that runs out also carries contaminants with it.

    A stickier lube will suspend particles.

  14. #14
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    I just started using the Phil Wood stuff and it seems great so far. ATF could be a good alternative...I do use it on chains and stuff with good results.

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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    I think the ATF wasn't nearly as thick as Phil Wood Tenacious Oil - and it's great in those hubs, too. Me thinks Sturmey-Archer just wants you to buy their $5/little can.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Empty SA oil cans fetch at least $5 plus shipping on eBay. I'm watching a couple of them now.

  17. #17
    tcs
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    "3-in-One" debuted during the first great bike boom in 1894, making it one of the oldest cycling products you can still buy. The oil was originally intended for bicycle chains, and the name indicated it "1) cleaned, 2) lubrcated and 3) rust proofed", hence, 3-in-One. After 115 years, it's still not a bad choice for chain lubration.

    3-in-One contains a vegetable based component, citronella oil (ever notice the way 3-in-One smells?), which will go rancid, break down and turn into very much a non-lubricant. This residue would get cleaned off a chain in the next application, but when enclosed in a small metal shell it has no where to go. Probably more American Sturmeys have been rendered inoperable by 3-in-One residue than for any other reason. The 3-in-One folks themselves do not list hub gears as a potential use for their product.

    Fun fact: In the 1920s, pioneer American Birth control advocate Margaret Sanger was married to then president of the 3-in-One Oil company, J. Noah Slee. She smuggled illegal European-made diaphragms into the USA in secretly coded barrels of the citronella oil imported by 3-in-One.

    Current manufacturer's recomended IGH greases:

    Shimano: hub, Y-041 20600

    SRAM: gear, 0369 135 200/...201
    bearing, 0369.001.015
    pinions, "quality cycle oil"

    Sturmey: gear, SA103A
    bearing, SA103B

    How about oil? I've seen the following recomended, all of which seem reasonable:
    20wt motor oil
    30wt motor oil
    10W-30wt synthetic motor oil
    automatic transmission fluid
    75W-90 gear oil (note: the viscosity of gear oils is measured differently - this is NOT "three times as thick" as 30wt motor oil)
    75W-90 synthetic gear oil
    sewing machine oil

    Of these I'm personally attracted to the 75W-90 synthetic gear oil. It's locally available in quarts, it's not terribly expensive, it has extremely long shelf and service lives, it's designed for use in non-pressurized lubrication systems and as a purpose designed gear lubricant it has anti-sheer additives.

    Some feel that Phil's oil is too heavy for the pawl springs, especially in colder weather.

    HTH,
    tcs
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  18. #18
    gna
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    "3-in-One" debuted during the first great bike boom in 1894, making it one of the oldest cycling products you can still buy. The oil was originally intended for bicycle chains, and the name indicated it "1) cleaned, 2) lubrcated and 3) rust proofed", hence, 3-in-One. After 115 years, it's still not a bad choice for chain lubration.

    3-in-One contains a vegetable based component, citronella oil (ever notice the way 3-in-One smells?), which will go rancid, break down and turn into very much a non-lubricant. This residue would get cleaned off a chain in the next application, but when enclosed in a small metal shell it has no where to go. Probably more American Sturmeys have been rendered inoperable by 3-in-One residue than for any other reason. The 3-in-One folks themselves do not list hub gears as a potential use for their product.

    Fun fact: In the 1920s, pioneer American Birth control advocate Margaret Sanger was married to then president of the 3-in-One Oil company, J. Noah Slee. She smuggled illegal European-made diaphragms into the USA in secretly coded barrels of the citronella oil imported by 3-in-One.
    The blue can of 3-in-1 I linked to is 3-in-1's motor oil or turbine oil, which is supposed to be different from regular 3-in-1. I don't think it has citronella in it. I was taught to never use regular 3-in-1 in motor bearings, gears, pump impellers, or rollers because it would gum up, which would seem to be from the citronella.
    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post

    How about oil? I've seen the following recomended, all of which seem reasonable:
    20wt motor oil
    30wt motor oil
    10W-30wt synthetic motor oil
    automatic transmission fluid
    75W-90 gear oil (note: the viscosity of gear oils is measured differently - this is NOT "three times as thick" as 30wt motor oil)
    75W-90 synthetic gear oil
    sewing machine oil

    Of these I'm personally attracted to the 75W-90 synthetic gear oil. It's locally available in quarts, it's not terribly expensive, it has extremely long shelf and service lives, it's designed for use in non-pressurized lubrication systems and as a purpose designed gear lubricant it has anti-sheer additives.
    I have gear oil, too. Just not sure how to get it into the hub. The zoom oil is very similar to sewing machine oil.

  19. #19
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I've never worried about overlubricating a Sturmey Archer hub.

    tcs, what is an American Sturmey Archer hub? You mean an SA hub used here? Because none was ever made here, as far as I know.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  20. #20
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by gna View Post
    The blue can of 3-in-1 I linked to is 3-in-1's motor oil or turbine oil, which is supposed to be different from regular 3-in-1. I don't think it has citronella in it.
    You are correct. The 3-in-One company makes a number of products these days, and I was refering to the original cleaner-lubricant-rust proofer. Sorry for any confusion, and everybody check the label if you have any doubts.

    Best,
    tcs
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  21. #21
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    tcs, what is an American Sturmey Archer hub? You mean an SA hub used here?
    Yes, used in N.A. and lubricated with that handy little oil can in so many American garages: 3-in-One.

    tcs
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  22. #22
    holyrollin' FlatTop's Avatar
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    Thank you for the illumination, tcs. The history of 3-In-One is surprising.

  23. #23
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I was able to use the advice from this thread tonight. I'm fixing up an old three speed. It looks English, but it's not. It's called a West End, and it's American made. Mostly, it's a high quality bike. The rear hub is sticky inside. It doesn't freewheel readily, i.e. it pushes the sprocket forward unless you hold it back by putting your feet on the pedals.

    It wouldn't shift until I flushed it with WD-40 and then ATF. Now it shifts.

    I think I'll overhaul it tomorrow, though. I don't like the way it's reluctant to freewheel.

    It looks like a Sturmey Archer, but it's a clone, made by Brampton in England. I hope that doesn't pose problems!
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
    From a 1970s "Raleigh Bicycle Owner's Manual" on lubricating Sturmey-Archer hubs:

    "The ideal rule for lubrication should be two or three drops of oil every month, which will maintain the hub in first class running order. USE ONLY STURMEY-ARCHER OIL (OR SAE 20 GRADE). DO NOT use thick oil or grease."

    Neal
    Gear oil is thick oil. Although, the big drawback is probabaly just some extra drag.

  25. #25
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage sale GT View Post
    Gear oil is thick oil. Although, the big drawback is probabaly just some extra drag.
    'pends on where you live I live in the Deep South and 28*F is friggin' COLD, I can get away with the heavier weights of oil. Move north to somewhere like Minneapolis and my hubs would probably seize solid.

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