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Sturmey Archer Elite VT Drum Brake Service

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Sturmey Archer Elite VT Drum Brake Service

Old 07-28-20, 12:16 PM
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Sturmey Archer Elite VT Drum Brake Service

Hi folks,

I just got a cheap 1980's Raleigh bike for around town. It has the above named drum brakes (front brake anyway, couldn't see a name on the rear but looks very similar) however, which are causing an issue.

They kind of work, but emit some horrifically loud squeals as the bike comes to a juddering halt.

The bike has evidentially been in the back of a shed for however long, so I'll be giving it a full service. I've restored bikes before and am happy to do my own work, but drum brakes are new to me.

Any tips on servicing them? I'm going to open them up and give everything a good clean, and grease the bits that are supposed to be greased (obviously not the braking surface!).

I imagine though that the brake shoes will need replacing. Is it still possible to buy brake shoes for this particular model of brake?

I found this: http s://www.sjscycles.co.uk/hub-spares/sturmey-archer-brake-shoe-service-kit-70-mm-hsb356/ but they expressly say that they do not know if it will work on the Elite VT.

I'd post pics but I can't until I have 10 posts, but hopefully more poor explanation is enough for you to understand what I'm on about! Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 07-28-20, 01:25 PM
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Elite was from the UK company before they filed for bankruptcy, and were bought by Sun Race Corp..

ready to rebuild the wheels around the current Taiwan made hubs?
2 National Offices (NL & US) don't handle parts, but leave that to various importing wholesalers..

Sturmey-Archer | Contact
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Old 07-28-20, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Elite was from the UK company before they filed for bankruptcy, and were bought by Sun Race Corp..

ready to rebuild the wheels around the current Taiwan made hubs?
2 National Offices (NL & US) don't handle parts, but leave that to various importing wholesalers..
This is the hub here as far as I can make out: www. sturmey-archerheritage.com/index.php?page=history-detail&id=136 (remove spaces)

Would rather avoid rebuilding wheels and buying new hubs, this is for a cheap town bike that I won't cry if it gets robbed.

If I have to go down the road of buying new hubs and building a wheel I'll just put rim brakes on it as is, would be easier and cheaper.

Won't object to buying new shoes for it (if needed, haven't opened it yet, but can't imagine new ones won't be needed!) as they should be cheap enough and last ages.
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Old 07-28-20, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Elite was from the UK company before they filed for bankruptcy, and were bought by Sun Race Corp..

ready to rebuild the wheels around the current Taiwan made hubs?
2 National Offices (NL & US) don't handle parts, but leave that to various importing wholesalers..
This is the hub here as far as I can make out: sturmey-archerheritage.com/index.php?page=history-detail&id=136

Would rather avoid rebuilding wheels and buying new hubs, this is for a cheap town bike that I won't cry if it gets robbed.

If I have to go down the road of buying new hubs and building a wheel I'll just put rim brakes on it as is, would be easier and cheaper.

Won't object to buying new shoes for it (if needed, haven't opened it yet, but can't imagine new ones won't be needed!) as they should be cheap enough and last ages, so Iwant to explore fixing the current hubs first.
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Old 07-28-20, 02:53 PM
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Cant help you I'm not a warehouse with that stuff,., ask @ bike shops several wholesalers sold their products..

FWIW I have been using that same hub set (6 speed freewheel rear) I built them up in wheels with studded tires on them
bike has stayed parked the last few years not icy was just 27 when it was clear, at night.

Old bike ?maybe you can find their more basic steelight hubs.. [Auction search]


















..
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Old 07-28-20, 09:49 PM
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I would remove the brake shoes and clean the surface with 180 grit sandpaper. I would then clean the inside of the drums with 400 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper followed by alcohol. I bet the mating surfaces have gotten glazed with age.
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Old 07-28-20, 10:36 PM
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My guess is the inside is rusted. Very unlikely the shoe needs replacing. Just needs plenty of cleaning.
My home power has been off 4 hours, so I won,t try to look around with my IPad.
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Old 07-29-20, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
I would remove the brake shoes and clean the surface with 180 grit sandpaper. I would then clean the inside of the drums with 400 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper followed by alcohol. I bet the mating surfaces have gotten glazed with age.
Thank you that's really helpful, I'll give that a go. Unfortunately I don't have any alcohol, I have Bartoline "Clean Spirit" which would the closest (trying to avoid going to buy things due to covid). The few other things I've used it for I found it average, but didn't appear to leave an oily residue like White Spirits, I might give that a go and see how it works.
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Old 07-29-20, 04:21 AM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
My guess is the inside is rusted. Very unlikely the shoe needs replacing. Just needs plenty of cleaning.
My home power has been off 4 hours, so I won,t try to look around with my IPad.
Hopefully this is the case, I don't mind elbow grease! You would recommend rubbing alcohol too? Hoping the Bartoline Clean Spirit I have will do the job.

Once I get to ten posts I'll share some pictures, might be helpful for others in the same position as me.
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Old 07-29-20, 07:38 AM
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I agree with the recommendation to deglaze the drum and shoes. If you don't have any oil or grease contamination you could probably skip the solvent clean. Perhaps use soapy water instead. If you need new shoes, here is a possible source: https://www.oldbiketrader.co.uk/disp...ternalhubparts

I usually buy my Sturmey stuff from SJS; however they don't have the shoe kit for a hub this old. You might call them to discuss.

Good luck.
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Old 07-29-20, 08:53 AM
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I really doubt anything has changed with the design of the shoe cap, including the shell diameter. Why would they??
I looked at that part diagram, looks just the same. Just a different SS and no dyno shell.
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Old 07-30-20, 05:57 AM
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Opening it up today to take a look at it all. Once I hit ten posts I'll post some pictures.
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Old 07-30-20, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
I really doubt anything has changed with the design of the shoe cap, including the shell diameter. Why would they??
I looked at that part diagram, looks just the same. Just a different SS and no dyno shell.
It does look very similar. If cleaning and deglazing doesn't work I'll go ahead and buy one and see if it works... will answer the question for future people in my shoes - very little online about it.
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Old 07-30-20, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Antiquarian View Post
It does look very similar. If cleaning and deglazing doesn't work I'll go ahead and buy one and see if it works... will answer the question for future people in my shoes - very little online about it.
If you want, I can open up my modern hub and take measurements for you. I have the 70mm version.
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Old 07-30-20, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
If you want, I can open up my modern hub and take measurements for you. I have the 70mm version.
I opened up the front brake tonight (haven't touched the rear yet) and there is still some shoe left, but it looks identical (pretty much) to the newer version so I don't see why it wouldn't work. It was a bit dirty, but nothing excessive. No rust in sight!

So I gave it a good clean and sanded the brake shoes. Put it all back together and tried it out... horrific screeching is gone, but the stopping power is not all that great. I don't know how much stopping power drum brakes normally have, but this wasn't great, even after adjustments. It's manageable, but not ideal.

Just reading over this thread again and it strikes me that I only sanded the brake shoes, should I have sanded the metal interior of the drum too?
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Old 07-30-20, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
If you want, I can open up my modern hub and take measurements for you. I have the 70mm version.
Oh, and thank you for your offer, I think I should be ok with the shoes I have, many thanks for your offer though, I might take you up on it later, depending on how I get on with the rear hub!
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Old 07-30-20, 05:58 PM
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Some pictures! (Finally)

Should I sand the interior "drum wall" too? I just cleaned it, it is rather shiny.





There seems to be a decent amount of shoe left
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Old 07-30-20, 08:55 PM
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Keep cleaning till it's spotless, then grease those pivots. Yes I would sand the shell with 480 or so. I give it a few angle scratches with 150 to give it some bite for a while.They seem to work better if you brake hard once in a while.
The pad thickness is like new. It'll last till you lap the whole planet. LOL
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Old 07-30-20, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Antiquarian View Post
Should I sand the interior "drum wall" too? I just cleaned it, it is rather shiny.
Yes. The drums look a bit glazed, possibly from contamination or simply being old. A fresh surface will allow the shoes to bite harder.

FWIW: I did not find Sturmey drum brakes to be all that powerful. Their advantage is weather resistance and durability. I doubt you'll ever need to replace the brake shoes.
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Old 07-31-20, 05:24 PM
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Thanks for the pictures. I can readily see that these shoes are a much different design than the newer ones. Most obvious is that the pivot points overlap and fully capture the post. On the newer ones, the pivot points are semi-circular and rest on the posts with no overlap. The cam is a bit different as well. I'd say, though, that if the diameter of the center hole in the shoe plate is the same as the newer ones, a whole new assembly may just plug right in. I'm assuming that there is a sleeve that fits over the axle and butts against the bearing, right?

About performance: My experience was that it took a few hundred miles for the shoes to bed well, but after that, braking was good. Not excellent, but good. In wet weather they are much better than rim brakes. You need to sand all the rust and glaze from the drum, as others have described. The shoes look ok, assuming that all of that muck is not oily muck. If you think that the shoes may be contaminated with oil you can try spraying them with a commercial brake cleaning compound.
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Old 08-01-20, 03:16 PM
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An update!

So I scrubbed, cursed, sanded and scrubbed some more. Put everything back together. Braking is much improved, but still not fantastic. Hopefully this will improve with time. Squealing is not totally gone, but much improved.

Going to cycle on a bit as it is now and see if things improve any more.
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Old 08-03-20, 05:43 AM
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Here is my 85 Gazelle, the original drum brake worked quite well. it now is changed to front and rear 70mm SA drum brakes; the front has a dyno and the rear is a 5 speed.


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Old 08-25-20, 09:32 AM
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Well folks, my braking problems have not been solved, I very nearly crashed the other day because of it. The front brake in particular has begun squealing like hell again and has very little stopping power.

I'm now very tempted to take some implement to the drum surface itself to make it very very rough, I can't think of anything else to do before giving up.

Here's the bike:


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Old 08-25-20, 09:50 AM
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I have been using the same brake , bought in the 80's .. they , I have freewheel drum rear too .. They still work fine..
it does not work like a putting a stick in your front wheel.. I built wheels for my studded tire bike around those hubs..
locking up my wheel, slidding on black ice is not desirable.

Maybe you need a better brake lever? (I never used the one like that, which was packaged with the hub)

or just buy a new X-FDD or XL-FDD rebuild the wheel ,
and have power for your headlight that won't slip on a wet tire like the bottle generator does..






....
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Old 08-27-20, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Antiquarian View Post
Well folks, my braking problems have not been solved, I very nearly crashed the other day because of it. The front brake in particular has begun squealing like hell again and has very little stopping power.

I'm now very tempted to take some implement to the drum surface itself to make it very very rough, I can't think of anything else to do before giving up.
How much time have you spent adjusting the cable tension between the brakes and the levers? When I first converted my touring bike to use a Sturmey Archer XL-FDD up front, it took me about a week to get the lever-pull dialed in just right. Now, it feels extremely powerful and never gives me any trouble stopping the bike.

After all of the cleaning & re-greasing you did, I would suspect that the issue could be somewhere in the cable run between the brakes and levers. The only other thing I would check inside the brakes is to make sure you used the correct type of grease on the pivots. Those drum brakes use a different type of grease than the rest of the bike.
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