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Freewheel Lockring Too Tight

Old 05-27-16, 05:28 PM
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Roadwanderer
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Freewheel Lockring Too Tight

I picked up an old Univega Safari 10-speed. I'm doing some basic maintenance including cleaning the freewheel, which wasn't spinning right and looked like it hadn't been cleaned at all since 1986.

Because the freewheel isn't turning, this causes the chain to fall off slightly when I stop pedaling, or pedal backward.

So I took the thing apart, cleaned all the grime off, oiled and lubed it, put it back together, and put the wheel back on. When I was putting it back together, I noticed that if I tightened the locking ring significantly, the freewheel wouldn't turn relative to the wheel. If I only tightened it a little bit, the freewheel would turn just fine.

The test ride went great. Freewheel turned and the chain stayed in place. But after the first lap, it the freewheel stopped turning again. So I took the wheel off and checked the lockring. Somehow, it'd gotten too tight again. So I loosened it a tiny bit and put the wheel back on. The next test drive went just like the first.

So what am I doing wrong? Is the lockring smashing the bearings? If so, can I fix it with a few more spacers? (I already have four or five in there). Or could it be something else entirely?
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Old 05-27-16, 07:48 PM
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Most freewheel outer cones are not held with a lock ring. So what are you actually referring to? Most threaded cones are instead run down very tight against a stack od wafer thin shims, how many is the trick to having a smooth turning freewheel that isn't too loose/sloppy and not binding. Most people regard a freewheel as a not to be taken apart device but instead a drip/drain through it solvent/oil device.

The most common exception to this is a series of SunTour freewheels from the early/mid 1980s (aprox). These are truly threaded race and lock ringed designs which really want their own tools to work on. Some of us have these tools but haven't used them for a LONG time.

Since a freewheel is so inexpensive (about $15-20) these days the trouble to service one is moot to most. Andy.
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Old 05-27-16, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Most freewheel outer cones are not held with a lock ring. So what are you actually referring to?
I'm referring to whatever it is that I'm holding. Anyway, if it gets too tight, the freewheel won't turn independently of the wheel itself.

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Old 05-27-16, 09:03 PM
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Short of replacing it, I would put some thread locker (loctite) on the threads of the cone to keep it in place at the adjustment you set it.
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Old 05-27-16, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Roadwanderer View Post
I'm referring to whatever it is that I'm holding. Anyway, if it gets too tight, the freewheel won't turn independently of the wheel itself.

That's the outer cone and it needs to be tight. If everything is OK and the freewheel binds then you should add a thin spacer, tighten the cone and check the freewheel turns freely but isn't too loose.
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Old 05-27-16, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
That's the outer cone and it needs to be tight. If everything is OK and the freewheel binds then you should add a thin spacer, tighten the cone and check the freewheel turns freely but isn't too loose.
Well, everything appears to fit together like it should; it's just that when it's all tightened down the freewheel stops turning freely.
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Old 05-27-16, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Roadwanderer View Post
Well, everything appears to fit together like it should; it's just that when it's all tightened down the freewheel stops turning freely.
You need another spacer in there.
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Old 05-27-16, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Roadwanderer View Post
Well, everything appears to fit together like it should; it's just that when it's all tightened down the freewheel stops turning freely.
So add another shim.
I've cut some out of soda cans when I haven't had any "real" ones around. Curved scissors makes it easy, chisels and box cutters make it fiddly.
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Old 05-27-16, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Roadwanderer View Post
I'm referring to whatever it is that I'm holding. Anyway, if it gets too tight, the freewheel won't turn independently of the wheel itself.

As Andy said earlier, this is the cone itself and it's tightened TIGHT, using a small stack of spacers trial and error to get it right. In the normal course of events you'd remove one shim at a time as the racers wore and the freewheel developed excessive play.

Since these usually only get looser, you must have lot the shims or are doing something else wrong.
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Old 05-28-16, 12:04 PM
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If there too many bearings in the cup can cost this problem too , try removing one or two bearings and see if it still does it .
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Old 05-28-16, 12:40 PM
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Agreed with all the above. Freewheels like a couple balls less then a full compliment, and some slop which would be unacceptable with other bearing sets. The problem wit some replies suggesting "just add a shim" is from where will said shim come? FW shims are not stocked by your LBS. FW manufacturers never made them available (with a very few exceptions) and shims are specific in diameters to the same model of FW.

Yes, a shim can be cut fro a spent beer can or proper shim stock sheets but who here has actually tried this (besides me and Francis and maybe a couple others) for a FW shim (which is a very narrow ID/OD spec)? Getting a donor FW is really the best hope, again of the same model. Or use the LokTite suggestion. Just be sure to clean the threads well and drip lube through only after the LT has set up. Andy.
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Old 05-28-16, 12:58 PM
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Yes, adding a new shim is uncalled for.

The freewheel bearings don't magically get tighter, any more than you can cut a rope longer. They only get looser as the races wear, so if you've reassembled one and it's now tight, something changed, ie too many balls, larger than original balls or shims lost someplace.

The problem is whatever changed, and there lies the solution.

BTW - Just as fictional detectives say "cherchez la femme", the watch phrase of experienced mechanics is "what changed". Learn to ask that early in the process and most repairs will go faster.
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Old 05-28-16, 04:33 PM
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^ ^^I assumed the freewheel was already too tight when the OP disassembled it, so someone must have done something wrong previously.
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Old 05-28-16, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
^ ^^I assumed the freewheel was already too tight when the OP disassembled it, so someone must have done something wrong previously.
That might be the case. In which the OP might try my Hail Mary No.19.

Assemble the freewheel normally and improvise a shim by winding a turn or two of dental floss under the cone before tightening it down. As you tighten it'll crush the floss, but not completely and he'll have his shim. Or he can use an Exacto knife to cut a shim from high quality paper. Mount it and soak it in oil before tightening the race. Oil soaked paper makes very reliable shim material where there's no movement.
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Old 05-28-16, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
That might be the case. In which the OP might try my Hail Mary No.19.

Assemble the freewheel normally and improvise a shim by winding a turn or two of dental floss under the cone before tightening it down. As you tighten it'll crush the floss, but not completely and he'll have his shim. Or he can use an Exacto knife to cut a shim from high quality paper. Mount it and soak it in oil before tightening the race. Oil soaked paper makes very reliable shim material where there's no movement.
+1! I really like this kind of old school tips.
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Old 05-28-16, 04:57 PM
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So what changed? here's my data points from long ago. I thought that a silent FW ratchet was the height of cool. So I would overhaul the core, adding grease to the ball tracks and a thin layer on the ratchets (professional bike guys, don't do this at home). Mostly SunTour Perfects and ProComps with occasional Winners, Reginas, Atoms, Cyclos and Shimanos too.

Most of the time all was good on the reassembly excepting an early rebuild that had it's threaded race unthread on the road one winter night. But a few times (after the on road blow up) I found the core to bind up after setting the threaded race tight.

So what changed? In my cases I had been careful to keep a couple of balls' space open on the tracks. So no over filled ball count. All the same number of shims that came out went back in. So what changed in my speculation is that the shims distorted during the race tightening process. I say this because a few times I took the cores back apart and looked at the shim's conditions. These shims while are very thin steel are also a very narrow and flat ring. Maybe only 2 or 3 MMs of difference between the OD and ID. I found shims that were mushed, distorted, pushed out of the stack. So even with all the shims that came out going back in one can have issues. While I grew to take care in my reassembly process I still had a too tight core years after starting this un needed overhauling.

What was also interesting was the few times that I removed shims to tighten up a core. Since I did a lot (relatively speaking) Sun Tour perfects and ProComps (the same but for finish/color) I stashed a lot of spares. A few times I got cores with a lot of slop (and sometimes the core would get a "knock knock" twice a revolution as the core shifted on the ratchet pawls when in the small cogs) and on their rebuilding with less shim stack the core would function much better.

All this went away for a few reasons. My getting bored with the minutia of this level of set up, the invention of the Stein FW grease injector tool and moving onto Sachs FWs and indexing. Andy.
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Old 05-29-16, 04:51 PM
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Thanks for all the advice.

I will try removing one or two bearings as well. I didn't realize a full compliment could be too many.

However, it seems some sore of paper or string spacer used to be in there. Along with the spacers came some debris that actually reminded me of a dry-rotted rubber band. I'm guessing it disintegrated at some point which allowed the thing to become too tight.

I made my own spacer as suggested and that has mostly solved the problem, though every 75-100 spins, there's some resistance.

* * *

Ok, removed one bearing from the top and one from the bottom and put everything back together. Seems to be running perfectly as to the freewheel/chain situation. Of course, now my gear cables seem to be out of adjustment...

Learning a lot about my bike though. Next I might take apart and clean the crankset since it's probably just as dirty.

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