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  1. #1
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    What do you think about this lube advice?

    My '59? Dawn Tourist has three oil ports: rear hub, front hub, and bottom bracket (way cool). My local wrench (a 40 something guy) feels there is no need to oil the front hub and bottom bracket after doing a tear down-clean up-reassemble if one uses plenty of grease since modern day greases are so superior to those used in yesteryear. Good advice?

    TSapp

  2. #2
    thompsonpost
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    I've been building since 1966 and I'd be OK with it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mattface's Avatar
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    regularly packing with grease is much better than anything you can do with oil. that's why modern bikes do't have oil ports. Pack those bearings with plenty of fresh grease and they'll be good to go for many miles. If you put oil in there it will thin the grease and be significantly less good until you've cleaned it all out and repacked.

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    I can agree with that.I live in a hot & humid climate, & I use marine grease for about everything.

  5. #5
    gna
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    +1

    I used grease for boat trailers (is that Marine Grease?) in my Raleigh Sports front hubs and bottom brackets; it's very good. No need to oil.

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    holyrollin' FlatTop's Avatar
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    I'm convinced that oiling is better. What oiling does is renew the lubricant in a quite convenient way...contaminants are displaced and carried away, to be replaced by fresh lube.
    I believe the rear hub wheel bearings are meant to get grease, both to ensure lubrication in the absence of maintenance, and to act as an adjunct to the "maze" that excludes dust from the inner hub. Nevertheless, if I'm not rebuilding a Sturmey Archer hub, it's getting oil.

    Given that modern grease is the low-maintenance solution, needing no attention between service intervals, it is the common solution, and even newer internal gear hubs are being designed by their manufacturers (for the most part) to use special greases rather than oil for internal lubrication. Still, some customers don't trust the low-maintenance solution, and are converting such hubs to use oil. My presumption is that they do this because oil lubrication is less of a compromise, less of a convenience perhaps, but a more perfect model of what lubrication should be.

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    I use 20wt in the rear, but everything else is grease. Lots of it. The BB oil ports are tempting, but I still go to the trouble of diassembly. You never know what you may find in there. I don't see bees or earwigs getting washed out all that readily.

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    holyrollin' FlatTop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sciencemonster View Post
    I use 20wt in the rear, but everything else is grease. Lots of it. The BB oil ports are tempting, but I still go to the trouble of diassembly. You never know what you may find in there. I don't see bees or earwigs getting washed out all that readily.
    I don't see bees or earwigs as a threat to hardened bearing surfaces. Plus, if they are nesting in the seat tube, I've got a more immediate problem
    And disassembly for inspection is something that's always wise. Greasing during reassembly is easy. I should do it myself. But my Rudge does beautifully on the too-casual care it gets.

    Know what I'd love to see? A spin test, done heads-up on a front hub, first with oil, then with grease. Friction abatement is just a part of the purpose of lubrication, it's true. And grease's "sticktion" might be misleading in this context. Given a skillful bearing adjustment, I'll wager the oiled hub goes lots more revs than a greased one, especially if it's a fibered wheel bearing grease, such as that sold for auto and trailer use.

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    Gearhead old's'cool's Avatar
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    IMO that's not a realistic test, since there's no road load on the hub. Not saying the results won't be indicative of relative performance, but they won't provide quantitative comparison.
    Grease exists for a reason. That is for applications that don't enjoy an oil bath or otherwise continuous supply of oil to the bearing surfaces. For a slight increase in friction vs oil, grease provides a very low maintenance, and neglect-tolerant option. Look at any hydrodynamically or boundary lubricated bearing in a modern commercial application. Most of the time it will either have pressure fed liquid oil, continuous oil mist. or it will use grease. Grease is not the lowest friction, but is much more robust than: depending on the user to continuously replenish oil on a more-or-less total loss basis. Now if you are one to keep on top of supplying oil to a total loss system, then, yes, in theory, you will enjoy lower friction than by using grease instead of oil. Whether that provides a measurable benefit in your application, is another matter.
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  10. #10
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    I used to use 40 weight oil in both hubs and bb. I am too much of a slob and since I didn't have oil ports overhauling things was a burden. I never saw any contamination or wear that I would worry about. Now I use Phil Wood grease. I've really never had any problems with it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member randyjawa's Avatar
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    I don't see bees or earwigs as a threat to hardened bearing surfaces.
    But what about all of the other crud that can, and will, get into a bottom bracket cavity? Do you honestly think a little flush with oil will remove all of the debris? How would your oil flush work with this little guy?

    The point is, engineers determine bearing loads, revolutions and a host of other stresses, before selecting a lubricant. Grease stays in place and you do not need lots of it. Just enough to do the job. Lots of grease will actually ****** rolling action, believe it or not. Bearing cavities are rarely filled completely with grease.

    But for me, the big thing is I like to know how my bottom bracket is holding up. Or my wheel bearings, or head set bearings. The point is you have to look inside to clean properly, check condition carefully, add uncontaminated lubricant and then adjust to recommended specs. You cannot do that with a oil drip, in my opinion.

    As for your wheel rotation test, oil drip as opposed to proper bearing maintenance, my guess is that the oiled wheel will rotate just a little better than a properly greased bearing. On the stand! But, on the road, the oil will not safely carry the same load as will grease. In other words, your bearings and bearing surfaces will wear out faster.

    Just an opinion, based on close to forty years experience working with mechanics, mechanical engineers and lubrication specialist.

  12. #12
    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    I pour oil in the holes when the bike arrives in my shop to soften the crud but rebuild with fresh clean grease and don't use the ports after that point.

  13. #13
    Senior Member randyjawa's Avatar
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    But what about all of the other crud that can, and will, get into a bottom bracket cavity? Do you honestly think a little flush with oil will remove all of the debris? How would your oil flush work with this little guy?
    Sorry, I forgot to include the picture of not all that uncommon form of bottom bracket contamination. If this guy, and his lunch, can get into the bearing cavity, what else can get in there? An oil flush just won't do work as well as we might hope it will.

    NishikiRallyFF_57_HouseMouse..jpg

  14. #14
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
    Sorry, I forgot to include the picture of not all that uncommon form of bottom bracket contamination. If this guy, and his lunch, can get into the bearing cavity, what else can get in there? An oil flush just won't do work as well as we might hope it will.

    NishikiRallyFF_57_HouseMouse..jpg
    I wonder if the BB had oil in it if it would have stayed out?

    FWIW I will oil my rear hubs with oilers until hell freezes over. Front hubs...maybe. I agree that the grease quality has gotten a lot better and is probably a better choice than dripping oil where ever you go.

    I think the dripping oil does a good job of protecting the chrome though.

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  15. #15
    perpetually frazzled mickey85's Avatar
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    The BB wouldn't have enough oil in it to have prevented this dude from getting in...

    I've also noticed on my Lenton that it has a sleeve in the BB to keep most of the oil out of the frame, and just in the BB shell...kinda nifty. I think that little dude would have a REALLY hard time getting into it.

    With the 3 speeds, I go one of two routes - the Phillips, being that nothing has oil ports (except the rear hub) gets a heavy pack of grease in the BB (well, got - 5 or so more years it'll be ready for a change) and the front hub monthly gets loosened and oiled with ATF, along with the AW in back.

    The Lenton, I used a very light coating of axle-bearing grease to put the BB back together (to hold onto the bearings), but have already started liberally flushing it with ATF. Front and rear hubs are strictly ATF.

    That said, I see no reason why you COULDN'T grease everything - it's not that the bearings have changed in any significant way in the past 50 years.
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  16. #16
    holyrollin' FlatTop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
    Sorry, I forgot to include the picture of not all that uncommon form of bottom bracket contamination. If this guy, and his lunch, can get into the bearing cavity, what else can get in there? An oil flush just won't do work as well as we might hope it will.

    NishikiRallyFF_57_HouseMouse..jpg
    Those damned tribbles get into everything! And what is that quadrotriticale doing in there?

    My guess is that an oiled bottom bracket is susceptible to rodentia where a greased BB is not.

    All other points mentioned in subsequent posts are no doubt true. I thought I'd CYA'd sufficiently in my first two posts: The necessity of periodic overhaul and inspection, superiority of grease as far as minimizing service, the expansion of grease applications even to becoming the speced lube for IGHs, and finally a disclaimer on the spin test idea, with concessions that the test wouldn't be real-world accurate. I will further state that it is risky to make blanket statements based on one's personal experience.
    And yet...thousands of fiddling, tinkering, fettling bicycle owners used oil for decades, and arguably their bicycles didn't suffer. We are restoring them now, noting the obvious quality of their construction, and the uncannily preserved condition of their finish and mechanisms.

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