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Old 07-01-09, 09:05 PM   #1
ricohman
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How do you keep a SA hub clean?

The rear hub on my Twenty is an oily mess.....
Tonight I cleaned the rim, removed the chain to soak and start cleaning the rear hub which has become totally encased in grease.
I know the oil added to the hub can fling out onto the rim/spokes and eventually coat the entire hub.
So how do you keep something like this clean?
Or should I just embrace the greasy mess?
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Old 07-01-09, 09:11 PM   #2
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Don't add so much oil. You only need enough to wet the internal parts.

I just thought up a harebrained scheme which I never tested on my oil-port-equipped Shimano 333s. You could add a few drops every few months, then gently turn the cranks in each gear, then leave the bike tilted 45 degrees toward its right side with a rag wrapped between the sprocket and spokes and another between the sprocket and frame. And promptly wipe it down after its first ride after oiling.

Last edited by garage sale GT; 07-03-09 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 07-02-09, 02:23 AM   #3
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Sounds like over oiling to me too. Also possible lack of cleaning the hub regularly. How long since last cleaned? Give the exterior a quick wipe down each time the chain is oiled. Any oil and dirt accumulation on the exterior should be minimal if the hub is being oiled properly and it is given a regular quick wipe down.
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Old 07-02-09, 04:16 AM   #4
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Go old school and get a hub shiner. I see NOS ones for SA hubs on ebay.
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Old 07-02-09, 05:00 AM   #5
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I used to use a DIY hub shiner on my bike as a kid..small leather strip loosely tied around hub...
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Old 07-02-09, 06:53 AM   #6
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I never thought of a hub shiner. Good idea!
I only oil it twice a season or so but I give it two good squirts from the oil can. To much maybe?
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Old 07-02-09, 08:23 AM   #7
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Home made hub shiners worked great on coaster brake hubs, but I never got them to do a good job on gear hubs because of the oil cap.
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Old 07-02-09, 09:41 AM   #8
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I use a good quality spray on degreaser and a low pressure hosing off with water. I then follow up with a ride to dry off. Try not to use too much water pressure so you don't force water into the bearings. Just enough to rinse the gunk off. Cleans the entire wheel, spokes and hub 1-2-3.
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Old 07-02-09, 09:47 AM   #9
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Speaking of hub shiners, when I worked in a bike shop, I would put a rubber band around the hub before building a wheel. People would scratch their heads when they saw rubber bands on their hubs, because it looks impossible to put it on until you realize how I did it. And it's not as effective at shining as a leather strap, but it works.
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Old 07-02-09, 09:54 AM   #10
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SA hubs really don't need as much oil as people put into them and the excess does run out or get flung all over the rim and spokes which makes things dirty and has a pretty negative effect on braking.

After topping up I stick a shop rag directly under the hub on the rim to pick up any drips... this can be done when the bike is hanging too.

They always fling a little oil so I just make sure to keep things clean.. the older steel caps have a poorer seal than the plastic caps so when I park or hang the bike I make sure those are pointed up.
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Old 07-02-09, 04:52 PM   #11
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Oil covered SA hubs is what keeps them purdy when they are cleaned up It is easy to over oil them. When I build my wheels I always line the oil cap up with the valve stem on the wheel, that way I can tell at a glance if it is dumping oil on the floor or not. Also if you do a rebuild, use the old style brown grease in the bearings, IIRC it is an oil and soap base and will not deteriorate and seep as bad as some of the newer stuff.

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Old 07-02-09, 08:54 PM   #12
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...use the old style brown grease in the bearings, IIRC it is an oil and soap base and will not deteriorate and seep as bad as some of the newer stuff.
How about oil? Isn't oil enough?
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Old 07-02-09, 09:18 PM   #13
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Perhaps, but it's easier to use grease to hold the balls in while you're putting things together.

A couple of weeks ago, I overhauled a Brampton hub, which is a clone of the Sturmey Archer AW hub. The cones (on both hubs) have labyrinth seals, which are simple but highly effective. Why don't modern hubs have these? They keep the grease fresh, sometimes for decades!
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Old 07-02-09, 09:34 PM   #14
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I tried rubber cement once, because the c/b mechanism kept knocking the balls out of their race while I was assembling it. The hub still works.
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Old 07-02-09, 09:41 PM   #15
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I have a new Sturmey-Archer AW 3-spd. hub (which I'll soon be groveling for help with soon...), and it says it's been packed with grease and not to put oil in it or it'll eat the grease. BUT says to take it in for re-greasing to my authorized S-A dealer - when it goes dry.

There go the best laid plans of mice and mechanics. No more pink ATF? Darn it!
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Old 07-02-09, 09:46 PM   #16
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I tried rubber cement once, because the c/b mechanism kept knocking the balls out of their race while I was assembling it. The hub still works.
You're NUTS! I hope you dissolved it later with oil. Then again, it's really hard to get oil into the races, because of the labyrinth seals I mentioned.
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Old 07-03-09, 10:57 AM   #17
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I have a new Sturmey-Archer AW 3-spd. hub (which I'll soon be groveling for help with soon...), and it says it's been packed with grease and not to put oil in it or it'll eat the grease. BUT says to take it in for re-greasing to my authorized S-A dealer - when it goes dry.

There go the best laid plans of mice and mechanics. No more pink ATF? Darn it!
My biggest gripe with the new IGH hubs is that they are all sealed and greased which makes them less user friendly than the venerable SA hubs and from experience know that the grease Shimano uses is not well suited for the extreme conditions we experience here in the winter.
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Old 07-03-09, 12:06 PM   #18
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It could be that you are using too thin of an oil try 30w. I only put a few drops maybe four or five once a month.
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Old 07-03-09, 01:28 PM   #19
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My biggest gripe with the new IGH hubs is that they are all sealed and greased which makes them less user friendly than the venerable SA hubs and from experience know that the grease Shimano uses is not well suited for the extreme conditions we experience here in the winter.
I agree, one of the reasons I like the Rohloff design which is the only oil lubed hub still made and the only one that has oil seals to keep it in. A true oilbath design. I know Shimano makes am oiling kit for their gear hubs but without an oiling port on the hub oiling them is not particularly convenient or easy. Per an email from SRAM their hubs can be oiled too.
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Old 07-04-09, 02:08 PM   #20
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How about oil? Isn't oil enough?
Actually the grease helps act as an oil seal and helps keep the grit from getting in. If you use it in the outer bearing only the oil will keep it soft for years. I have one SA hub that is approaching 40 years old, has well over 25,000 miles on it and has never been overhauled. God only knows the last time I redid the bearings (probably around 1987). I dug that bike out of the pile a year or so ago, it was missing the oil cap and the hub sounded dry, I found a cap, added some oil and took it for a spin. I did finally do a tear down on it a few months ago, the only thing that could stand to be replaced were the pawl springs, but I didn't have enough to replace all of them so I put the old ones back in. Hub runs a decent bit smoother and shifts like new. Newer is not always better and maintenance free is an oxymoron.

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Old 07-04-09, 02:38 PM   #21
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Go old school and get a hub shiner. I see NOS ones for SA hubs on ebay.
I have one of these on my SA. The 2/3 of the hub to one side of the oil port is shiny and beautiful. The other 1/3 is a greasy mess.
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Old 07-06-09, 05:59 PM   #22
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I put just a touch of grease in the outside bearings. A little goes a long way in helping to make a light seal. When storing I wrap a rag around the outer ends of the hub where the cones screw in (between the frame and the outer edge of the hub). The rag soaks up any oil on the verge of escaping so it won't get out next time I ride.

A few drops every once in awhile work fine for me, though I do tend to err on the oil rather than the dry side. There will always be a little escaping now and then-- it's the nature of oil lubrication. It will never be perfectly clean, though I've found a mess can be prevented by taking the steps I described.

They remind me a little of the early airplane rotary engines that used to run on castor oil for lubricant-- those sprayed in spinning by their nature.

While you can do a pretty good job at keeping it clean, it will never be perfectly so. My New Departure D hub does lose a little oil now and then too.
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Old 07-06-09, 06:56 PM   #23
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the amount of oil the SA hubs need is amazingly little. the official SA literature of yore stated that when rebuilding the hub after a thorough tear down and cleaning, to "add a couple of teaspoons" of oil (which would translate into a whopping 15 mL). in my experience that is WAY TOO MUCH and will end up oozing out rather quickly. i found that after a complete dismantling and cleaning, no more than about 5 mL is necessary to completely coat the internals. after that, add a couple of drops every few months...
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Old 07-06-09, 10:05 PM   #24
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According to old SA manuals (and corroborated by my experience cleaning - though not rebuilding - SA hubs), grease on the axle bearings only, and light oil for the hub itself, and that includes those rows of tiny bearings. I use 3 in 1 oil but NOT the 3 in 1 penetrating/cleaning oil. Get the detergent-free stuff (3 in 1 does make this!).
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Old 07-07-09, 11:09 AM   #25
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The 3 in 1 in the black and white can is the one to avoid- it has vegetable oil products in it. I've cleaned several hubs that had seen that oil, and I will attest it leaves gunk.

There is a 3 in 1 "Motor Oil" that is fit for small gas engines and the like that has no such vegetable products in it.
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