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New freewheel spinning too freely

Old 06-10-18, 01:38 AM
  #1  
microcord
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New freewheel spinning too freely

A friend's 14-to-22 (or so) ancient six-sprocket Suntour freewheel worked fine. But as its combination with a "small" 42-tooth chainwheel really is impossible for 15% ascents and real-world thighs, we replaced it with a brand new 14-to-28 (SunRace B0526). She got a slightly longer chain, rode the bike happily for a total of perhaps 300 km -- and then suddenly, no traction.

I removed the rear wheel, rested it horizontally by holding the new (SunRace) sprockets, and whichever direction I tugged on the tyre, the wheel spun freely and silently.

I replaced the SunRace freewheel, with the old Suntour one. This still does what it's supposed to do. (Pedal backwards: clickety clickety, bike doesn't move. Pedal forwards: the bike goes forwards.)

I know almost nothing about freewheels but I really don't think I/we have made any stupid mistake in installation or use. (OTOH I have a rich history of stupid mistakes.....)

Parts eventually fail. Is this likely to be just extreme bad luck, or is SunRace now putting out junk? I'm a klutz with ball bearings and the like, and although people with their heads screwed on right can overhaul freewheels, the standard recommendation is not to bother, and I'm alarmed by this explanation (atomiczombie.com). Also, this kind of failure is said to be rare and, when it does happen, happens to beaters. Should I cut my losses and buy an IRD freewheel?
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Old 06-10-18, 02:03 AM
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Sounds like something has gummed up the spring and the pawls so that the ratchet is no longer being engaged during forward pedaling. Before you decide on taking the entire freewheel apart and overhauling it, which I highly recommend against. I have done it a couple of times myself, but I have access to a bench vice and all the tools that a bicycle shop comes with (you will need the freewheel removal tool and a punch). Plus the bearings (1/8" size), if they are not caged, are loose which is a real head ache to keep organized since there is so many of them.

My first remedial action is to flush the entire freewheel to try to flush out any old grease or oil that is causing the springs of the pawls to no longer engage the ratchet. There is no need to disassemble the freewheel for this, just spray a liberal amount of WD-40 into the gaps of the freewheel and them try to spin it. Once the freewheel is functional again, flush the freewheel with 99% rubbing alcohol to get rid of the WD-40. Let the rubbing alcohol fully evaporate and them drip some oil into the freewheel to lubricate the inside, I like to use Phil tenacious oil myself. Just work the freewheel back and forth to make sure the oil penetrates into all the areas inside the freewheel, wipe off the excess, let it sit and allow more of the extra to slowly flow out. Wipe it off again and you should be good to go. Some of my co-workers think Phil tenacious is too thick and will use tri-flow instead, but I have never experienced any issues so far using Phil.
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Old 06-10-18, 02:57 AM
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Thank you, *Scuba.

I do have the freewheel removal tools, and I even have a one-inch (!) spanner to turn the Park one for Suntour. While I lack the other tools, they don't seem to be hard to get. What worries me more is lack of skills or experience. OTOH if I rendered this new freewheel inoperable -- well, it's already inoperable, so I wouldn't lose anything.

Originally Posted by *Scuba View Post
My first remedial action is to flush the entire freewheel to try to flush out any old grease or oil that is causing the springs of the pawls to no longer engage the ratchet.
There really shouldn't be any old anything, as the dud freewheel is less than a month old!

Originally Posted by *Scuba View Post
. . . I like to use Phil tenacious oil myself.
Amazon here charges more for 4 floz (109 ml?) of this stuff than it charges for a new SunRace freewheel. Uhhh.... Though of course a replacement SunRace freewheel might crap out as quickly as its predecessor did.
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Old 06-10-18, 06:22 AM
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Hi microcord. Another option might be to consider an even trade. Your Suntour 14-22 for a Suntour 14-28, which worked perfectly when I was riding it. In addition, either of these are, in my opinion, worthy of Freewheel Spa treatment.

He he! Your ancient stuff is ultra modern in my little world😀
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Old 06-10-18, 06:27 AM
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Warranty?
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Old 06-10-18, 06:33 AM
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Before attempting to reassemble a freewheel, with about a gazillion tiny bearing balls itching to escape, I would suggest that you grow a couple of extra hands, you'll need them.
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Old 06-10-18, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by microcord View Post
Thank you, *Scuba.

There really shouldn't be any old anything, as the dud freewheel is less than a month old!

Amazon here charges more for 4 floz (109 ml?) of this stuff than it charges for a new SunRace freewheel. Uhhh.... Though of course a replacement SunRace freewheel might crap out as quickly as its predecessor did.
Hi Microcord,

The SunRace freewheel might be "new" to you for a month, but unless the packaging on it came with a manufacturing date, no one knows how long it has been sitting around for. Also, depending on riding conditions there can be a lot of fine dust or grit getting into the freewheel, there are no seals after all. Even on more expensive freewheels, there are often time no rubber seals in their design, only their tolerances are tighter.

I made the assumption that you would have Phil tenacious oil sitting around on hand, sorry about that. Just use any synthetic chain lube then, do you have some Pedro syn lube or similar at hand?

Another reason that I did not bring up with regards to disassembling the freewheel only as a last recourse only if the flushing method does not work, is that freewheel bearing systems are not like any other bearing systems on a bicycle, there is no adjustments. For example, on a bottom bracket you can adjust the ball bearing pre-load by tightening or loosing the adjustable non-drive side BB cup and then keep that sweet spot in place with the lock ring. On a freewheel, the adjustment is made with very thin metal washers that are fairly large in diameter (think paper thin in some cases), unless you have a bunch of those laying around, once you disassemble your freewheel and go to reassemble it, you might find that you now have a freewheel that will have bearings that are overly tight or too loose. You can only lock down on the bearing system in a freewheel and riding will tighten it over time, hence the reverse threading on the lock plate.

The last freewheel that I took apart myself for personal use, I could not get the freewheel built back up without some play even using the original washers inside, but if I left one out (thinner than a sheet of aluminum foil), it was causing the ball bearings to bind. The tolerances for the sweet spot for buttery smooth feeling was very tiny.

But if you want to try opening up a freewheel just for the experience, I say, go for it. Sounds like you have nothing to loose. You have a non-functional freewheel already, you are not magically going to make it worst. I always learn best and have fun taking stuff apart and trying to build it back up.
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Old 06-10-18, 08:17 AM
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Build-a-long freewheel!!!! Photo heavy
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Old 06-10-18, 08:17 AM
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Microcord

Where is your location? The Amazon links you provided are Japanese and have yen prices. More than $50 Canadian for a 4oz bottle of Phil is too much. But even over $40 Canadian for a SunRace freewheel is overly expensive in my opinion. If you don't mind used, but good condition part, I can check at work to see if there is a nice 6 speed freewheel that I could ship to you. I think I paid around $18 Canadian for my bottle of tenacious oil.

Otherwise, just a quick search on Ebay, I found one seller in Taiwan selling a Shimano TZ20 6 speed freewheel for cheap. Only $13.29 USD, with free shipping to Japan.
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Old 06-10-18, 08:47 AM
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For freewheels, there is no reason to use expensive lube. When you are pedaling, the bearings do nothing but act as spacers. When coasting, they allow the inner body to rotate smoothly around the outer body (with very little load). The only reason to lube a freewheel is to prevent corrosion of the bearings and pawls, both of which would operate fine without any lube if kept dry and corrosion free. Using excessive lube may result in the pawls gumming up and sticking, causing the type of problem you now seem to have. My recommendation is to soak it in mineral spirits until the pawls are freed up, and then to use whatever light oil you have. Oil designed for sewing machines would be ideal.

Also, it is rather unusual that a month old freewheel would behave like this. There is some chance that it has a manufacture issue that won't be corrected by soaking. Perhaps there is a burr on the pawl, the pawl spring is damaged or missing. There typically are 2 pawls so for both of them to fail on a new FW is odd.

Good luck.
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Old 06-10-18, 10:21 AM
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Cogs wear out but the freewheel bodies of old ones may be fine .
look for an oldie but goodie.
IDK , Do you mean it does not engage when you push the pedal down?
freewheels in both directions ?






...

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Old 06-10-18, 05:32 PM
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Good morning (my time), all. Thank you for your messages. (Actually I replied several hours ago, but that message was stopped for moderation and then deleted -- I've no idea why.)

I am indeed in Japan. I should have made that clear earlier. Prices here can be crazy. (Incidentally, a Canadian relative tells me that Canadian postage rates can be crazy too.)

I haven't used eBay in years and years, but that Shimano freewheel in "China/Hong Kong/Taiwan" -- Don't they know? -- looks appealing. And Japan isn't in the long and strange list of places they won't sent it to. (France, OK; Monaco, no; North Korea, OK; Macau, no. Etc.) So I'll search for my eBay log-in particulars, blow the cobwebs off them, and buy one of these.
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Old 06-10-18, 05:54 PM
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New bike part fails after 1 month of normal use? Take it back to where you bought it.

They aren't terrible freewheels - but the one you got is a lemon.
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Old 06-10-18, 08:49 PM
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Hi Microcord,

I got an email about your reply from earlier in the day, it no longer appears in this thread. But to answer your question, DO NOT use Finish Line Dry (red label), that lube goes on wet but dries to a waxy consistency, it will 100% gum up your freewheel internals. You can use the Finish Line wet lube if that is what you have laying around.

I would still recommend as the first step to try the flushing method to see if it will get your freewheel working again. If that does not work, than like others have said, most likely a broken spring or pawl, which would require you to pull the freewheel apart, but even then, where are you going to source a spring or pawl for the SunRace freewheel from?

Here is a short YouTube video that shows the fix that I would do.

If you can't get your freewheel back up and running and don't mind an used freewheel that is mechanically sound, I can send one to you. I already saw a couple of good candidates, one was a no name brand 14-30T 6 speed freewheel, another was a 14-26T 6 speed freewheel. Both had hardly any wear on them, just dirty. Also saw two Shimano 14-28T 6 speed freewheel that shows some signs of wear. Before I ship them to you, I will make sure to fully refurbish and clean them up. As a staff at my local bike co-op, stuff from the used bins that aren't super fancy is basically free for me, so if you could just cover me for shipping that would be great.

Otherwise, order from that seller based in Taiwan, their post said shipping to Japan is free. You might have to wait a couple of weeks, but I think for less than $14 USD, that is hard to beat.
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Old 06-10-18, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by microcord View Post
is SunRace now putting out junk?
Haven't they always?

Even so, 300km out of a freewheel is definitely sub-par by a long shot.
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Old 06-10-18, 11:53 PM
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Yes about one in five of my messages here gets zapped; I really don't know why, as they all seem innocuous to me.

That video is very clear. (NB for anyone watching it for the first time: the volume is very HIGH.) Thank you for the link to it. I don't have WD40 but I know of the stuff, it's not at all pricey, and it would be useful for other purposes as well. So I'll go and buy some (after the current typhoon has passed).

It's very generous of you to offer a freewheel free, but let me first play with the current one and then investigate eBay. (Or, come to think of it, Yahoo Auction: Japan's equivalent.)

I'd thought that SunRace was an OK brand, but maybe I'd mixed up the name with Sunshine.
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Old 06-11-18, 01:32 AM
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Never heard of Sunshine; that sounds like another cheap and nasty brand trying to cash in on the reputation of Suntour, which used to be a good brand.

At the low end, there's Shimano and there's everyone else. Even Shimano's cheapest stuff is a bit on the nasty side.
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Old 06-11-18, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Never heard of Sunshine; that sounds like another cheap and nasty brand trying to cash in on the reputation of Suntour, which used to be a good brand.

At the low end, there's Shimano and there's everyone else. Even Shimano's cheapest stuff is a bit on the nasty side.
Sunshine was known for their high end BMX and other hubs going back to at least the early '80s. So you're wrong.



Microcord, you can spray stuff into the freewheel, but chances are it is broken, not gummed up. Please return it.
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Old 06-11-18, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by microcord View Post
I'd thought that SunRace was an OK brand...
I think it is, and their freewheels are often recommended as good value parts. They're not Campy quality, but they're also not expensive, and they generally work well for their intended use. I've had a SunRace freewheel and a SunRace cassette, and both worked fine for me. The only freewheel that I've had fail was a DNP Epoch. It was OEM on my daughter's Raleigh bike, and it would fail to freewheel sometimes (it would keep spinning with a spinning wheel, and move the chain forward with it). The bike shop warrantied that out and installed a Shimano, which has worked fine since. Even cheap Falcon and Venturas that I've come into contact with on cheap fixer bikes usually work well.
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Old 06-11-18, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Never heard of Sunshine; that sounds like another cheap and nasty brand...
Sunshine made good stuff: Sansin/Sunshine hub models

Sunshine/Sansin/Sanshin actually produced the Suntour Superbe hubs under contract, as I understand it.

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Old 06-11-18, 11:37 AM
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I have a freewheel that had stuck prawls, nos suntour, I decided to put a little heat on it. Not a ton just enough to be considered a good hand warmer temp. My freewheel was frozen, the heat got it unstuck, but it slipped, a second round of heat got the prawls actuating correctly.
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Old 06-11-18, 03:43 PM
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Are you certain the freewheel was new and not NOS (new old stock)? New in the case of NOS doesn't mean new at all. Just means it's supposed to be unused. So the lube in the freewheel may well be just old and hardened. Eventually it got into enough stuff to jam it after riding a while.

I'd use WD-40 and keep spraying in the cracks till it loosened up. I've done it to many an old freewheel. Mineral spirits is just as good or better choice, though it is pretty much all solvent. So it might be good to spray or drip some very light lube into it after you get it working if you use just mineral spirits or some other solvent. Though the freehwheel internals don't do much work. So the lube is only really needed to prevent rusting IMO. Unless of course coasting is the majority of the ride, then maybe lube has a use in them.

Of course if it's returnable for refund or exchange, then do that first if it isn't going to cost you. If possible, get a real new one. They still make them, but the model numbers have changed.
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Old 06-11-18, 04:07 PM
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Morning (my time), everyone! Thank you for your continuing ideas and tips ... not to mention your polite tussling over the reputation of SunRace. (Incidentally, my example really is new, as far as I can see.)

The typhoon has moved off somewhere, so I can go and buy some WD40 (etc) without getting utterly drenched -- but only after what promises to be a long day at work. Back to you later.
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Old 06-11-18, 04:27 PM
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Sunshine was (or is) the Anglicised name that the Japanese company Sansin used as a brand name. Sort of like Nisson used to be Datsun, after it was Nisson, of course. Lots of Sansin/Sunshine hubs and other components were on decent quality bikes -- probably mostly Asian made bikes. They made some really nice high flange hubs. Sheldon Brown's site has a brief discussion.

Sunrace is a Taiwanese company that makes some cheap stuff and some good stuff too. They famously bought Sturmey Archer when the Raleigh empire disintegrated. Story told is that they moved the SA machinery to Taiwan but couldn't use it because it was all worn out. Under sunrace, SA seems to have had it's ups and downs, but it appears that Sunrace is making an honest effort with the brand.
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Old 06-11-18, 06:12 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Hoopdriver View Post
For freewheels, there is no reason to use expensive lube. When you are pedaling, the bearings do nothing but act as spacers. When coasting, they allow the inner body to rotate smoothly around the outer body (with very little load). The only reason to lube a freewheel is to prevent corrosion of the bearings and pawls, both of which would operate fine without any lube if kept dry and corrosion free. Using excessive lube may result in the pawls gumming up and sticking, causing the type of problem you now seem to have. My recommendation is to soak it in mineral spirits until the pawls are freed up, and then to use whatever light oil you have. Oil designed for sewing machines would be ideal.
I 100% agree with this. Freewheel bearings are like no other on the bike, because they only move when they have no load. So there's no need for grease or even heavy oils, they risk doing more harm than good. Light oil is perfect.
I've worked on more than a few free-freewheels, and in pretty much every case I can remember, they pawls were just gummy. The assembly lube probably just got dry. If a pawl breaks and/or a spring fails, it doesn't usually fall silent. You can usually hear what's left of it crunching around inside until it jams and turns your bike into a fixed gear.
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