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Old 06-16-06, 02:52 PM   #1
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Sturmey-Archer AW hub... where does the oil go?

Hi folks, just acquired a bike with a SA 3spd hub.

Hub type is AW, manufacture date seems to be June 1993. It's currently missing the spindle indicator, so doesn't shift, but as I try to get the bike in working order, I'll be oiling the hub. I read up on them but can't find an oil hole on the outside of the cylinder as is pictured on so many sites. Does the oil just get dribbled into the same hole where the indicator spindle is supposed to be going into?

Also, I'm planning on ordering a new spindle to get it up and running. Is this a standard part, or does the thread/length sizing depend on model/year of the hub? I found them HERE and HERE.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 06-16-06, 06:29 PM   #2
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I would disassemble, clean, and lubricate with a light grease, not oil.

Yes, the indicator chain has different length barrels for different width axles. You sort of need the correct one, since lining up the top of the solid barrel with the end of the axle in second gear is the way you adjust the gears on this hub.
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Old 06-16-06, 09:38 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by randya
I would disassemble, clean, and lubricate with a light grease, not oil.
The Sturmey-Archer AW is meant to be lubricated with oil, not grease. I would NOT recommend following the above advice for two reasons:

1: The hub isn't meant to be lubricated with grease! It's meant to be oiled! Don't assume that you are smarter than the designer of the hub. Grease won't do a better job.
2: There's a little oil port in the hub shell. This allows you to pop the little plastic or metal cap and squirt some oil in there every once in a while. It's a 30-second operation that needs to be performed maybe every year or so - 6 months if you're really anal retentive about it. Disassembling and greasing the hub is needlessly labor intensive. You'd be wasting your time, for no benefit. Furthermore, while the AW and other three-speed hubs aren't as complicated as they are made out to be, taking them apart and putting them back together again is out of reach of the skill sets of (or "want to bother" sets) of most home mechanics. Squirting oil with an oil can, though, can be done by any moron.

The hub has a freakin' oil port! Make use of it every year or five or so, and otherwise don't worry about it.

Hrm, addendum: it may be that the newer AWs switched to grease lubrication. I don't know, I'm not an expert on these hubs. If so, my advice: don't worry about greasing it, just ride the silly thing. It'll be fine.
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Old 06-16-06, 10:12 PM   #4
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For many, many decades, the AW was designed to be used with oil. In the 1990s, however, all the SA hubs were redesigned to be lubricated with grease. This was to bring the company's practices in line with industry standards (Shimano and Sachs were using grease). Grease has become industry standard because it takes no effort on the part of the user to maintain a greased hub, supposing they take it into a competent bike shop when it's time to overhaul it.

If your AW hub was made in 1993 and has no oil spout, there's a 100% chance that it's lubricated with grease. I believe 92-93 was when the redisign occured.

Personally, I prefer sturmey-archer hubs from before the 1980s, when they started putting those stupid lines on the outside of the hub and started using plastic and stamped parts inside.
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