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Old 07-01-09, 09:31 AM   #1
ZippyThePinhead
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Vintage Peugeot Orient Express Chain Problem; Insight Appreciated

A couple of months ago I bought a 1986-vintage Peugeot Orient Express at a garage sale. I had my local bike shop put new tires & tubes on it, and since then I've been riding it relatively trouble-free.

A week or so back, I was riding it and the freewheel stopped working properly. The pedals would spin in the forward direction, but the freewheel wasn't engaging, so the rear wheel would not spin. I got it home, lubed the freewheel, and everything seemed to be fine.

This morning, when I shifted the chain to the smallest rear cog, at first everything seemed to be fine, but all of a sudden, the chain started skipping. I don't know if that is the proper expression, but the normally smooth passage of the chain over the smallest cog became jerky and rough. This didn't happen in other gears, so I shifted to a lower gear and brought it home. The chain seems to be well-lubed; nothing looks to be bent, and when I lift up the bike (so the rear wheel can spin without any weight on it) and rotate the pedals with the chain on the small rear cog, it seems to operate smoothly and normally. Yet when I ride the bike, I get the same skip/jerky chain action. When this happens, the arm on the derailer is moving back and forth.

I don't know if the two problems are related, but I would appreciate any insight/advice.
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Old 07-01-09, 09:36 AM   #2
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I have two ideas,

one, you may need to replace the freewheel. I have a similar problem on a letour, the smallest rear cog skips under pressure.

two, if the chain has been replaced, it may be too long and the derailleur may not be able to take up all of the slack.


Anyways, those are my suggestions, but i'd wait for some more people to chime in as well

good luck!
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Old 07-01-09, 09:37 AM   #3
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one more guess... the derailleur isn't adjusted properly. Make sure the limit screws are adjusted so that the derailleur can line up with the small cog
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Old 07-01-09, 09:38 AM   #4
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+1 I would remove the freewheel first, and thoroughly flush it (many times) with WD40. Let it dry out, see if it spins freely, then lube it with some light oil.

Chain may have a kink or two in it. Inspect it.

+1 Go to the Sheldon Brown site and make sure your chain is the proper length.
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Old 07-01-09, 09:56 AM   #5
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I appreciate the replies so far.

When I look at the rear derailer from the back, it seems to be properly lined up.

Regarding the chain length, I don't know for a fact, but I believe it is the original chain. Some of the bike's parts have been changed, like the seatpost, but it had the original gum-wall tires on it when I got it, so I would think it's probable the chain is original.

Regarding the last post, from wrk101, I will research this on the 'Net, but I've never done that sort of thing before. I'm guessing it isn't rocket science, but I'm comfortable doing low-level maintenance on my cars, so I'm open to taking a shot at your suggested approach.

Would it be bad to soak the chain/freewheel in something like carburetor cleaner? I think I can get access to an auto parts cleaner or some equivalent.

Is there anything I should measure before removing the rear wheel, etc., to make sure it gets back together properly?
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Old 07-01-09, 10:03 AM   #6
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You can flush the freewheel without removing it from the wheel, I just find it more effective when I remove it (but I have all the tools, etc, so removing a freewheel for me takes about 15 seconds). So if you are lacking tools, just remove the wheel from the bike and flush it many times with the freewheel still attached. I have done this on at least 50 bikes in the last year, WD40 has worked fine. You just have to let it dry (evaporate) prior to oiling it. Go to the park tool site for details.

If you are not comfortable removing rear wheel from the bike, I would just take the bike to a shop and have them work on it. Sometimes, that is for the best. Or find a shadetree bike mechanic on Craigs List, they pop up around here from time to time.
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Old 07-01-09, 11:05 AM   #7
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Slowly pedal the pedal backwards and listen for 'click/clank' sound coming from the chain. You'll notice it as the chain winds through the jockey wheels. Sometimes the derailleur cage will pull forward. If theres a click or the cage pulls forward you have 'stiff' link in the chain.

If you do find a stiff link felx it back and forth in the direction its not supposed to move in. If your problem persists after loosening a stiff link follow wrk101's advice.
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Old 07-01-09, 11:25 AM   #8
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I am reading two separate problems. First, the freewheel pawls evidently were not engaging, and flushing and relubricating the freewheel mechanism helped. Second, someone probably overused the smallest cog, wearing it out prematurely. This is a very common problem among people too lazy or ignorant to use their gears properly -- they just throw both levers all the way forward and ride in small-small crosschain, the combination which leads to the fastest wear of the affected portions of the drivetrain.
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Old 07-01-09, 11:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E View Post
I am reading two separate problems. First, the freewheel pawls evidently were not engaging, and flushing and relubricating the freewheel mechanism helped. Second, someone probably overused the smallest cog, wearing it out prematurely. This is a very common problem among people too lazy or ignorant to use their gears properly -- they just throw both levers all the way forward and ride in small-small crosschain, the combination which leads to the fastest wear of the affected portions of the drivetrain.
I agree....
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Old 07-01-09, 12:38 PM   #10
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If the chain is as old as the bike, in all likelyhood it has stretched a good bit, and that can cause chain skip also.
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Old 07-01-09, 08:20 PM   #11
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I took a short video of the problem. I tried to simulate a load with the rear brakes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK5B80RYtr0

I took the bike to the local bike store. The mechanic was busy and didn't want to ride it, but suggested a new freewheel would fix the problem.

He checked the chain with a chain wear gauge (Park tools) and said the chain wasn't worn. I figured as much, since the bike had the original gum-walled tires when I first got it. I don't know for a fact, but I would guess the tires would tend to wear out before the chain.

Since he had a backlog, I told him I would wait a couple of days and live with it as-is.

When riding earlier, I did note that the skip seems to be rythmic, in that it seems to occur when the pedals are in roughly the same position. I tried rotating the pedals backward to see if I could locate the particular location on the chain that causes this, but I could not find it. It only seems to happen when the chain is under a real load.
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Old 07-02-09, 05:30 AM   #12
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Have you checked the crankset and chainwheels for bent teeth. By suggesting that it happens at approximately the same place in the crank revolution tells me it could be irrelevant to the chain/freewheel. Sometimes a jacked up chainwheel will appear to manifest itself as a problem in the rear.
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Old 07-02-09, 07:26 AM   #13
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I bought a NOS freewheel off eBay. I'll have it installed in a couple of days.

Regarding the bent teeth, I don't see any. I would imagine such a bend would be noticeable, would it not?
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Old 07-02-09, 12:47 PM   #14
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Should be easy to spot. Drop the chain down onto the BB, sight along the chainline, and spin the crank, looking for bent rings or teeth. If they are messed up, this will make it painfully evident.
Good luck!
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Old 07-06-09, 06:57 PM   #15
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Got my NOS freewheel in the mail today. My original is six gears, 14-32 teeth. The replacement is also Suntour (same as original), 14-34 teeth. I typically don't use the lowest gear, but I'm wondering if the chain length will be a problem?
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