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Servicing Maillard 500 hubs?

Old 01-02-12, 10:23 PM
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Servicing Maillard 500 hubs?

I just purchased an old bike with these French hubs. If it was the typical Japanese equipped bike, I would know how to dissemble and rebuild the hubs with readily available replacement parts. Of course, the French have their own way of doing things, and my understanding is that bearings and cones are virtually nonexistent. I haven’t attempted to open them up yet, and frankly are a little intimidated to do so. Has anyone had any experience with these sealed bearing hubs?
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Old 01-02-12, 10:34 PM
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If memory serves, there aren't sealed bearing hubs, but "sealed system". Of so they're typical cup/cone loose ball hubs. If you've serviced this type of hub in the past, these are no different. As to availability of original or analog replacement parts (except balls) that may or may not be a problem, but you can cross that bridge if and when you come to it.

OTOH if they are sealed bearing hubs, the procedure isn't very unusual. On the bright side, if the bearings are toast, it won't be hard to find a replacement, but you'll need to improvise a bearing puller to remove them from the shells.
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Old 01-02-12, 11:02 PM
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If they are standard cup-and-cone hubs (which they probably are) the procedure is the same no matter what country they came from and is nicely laid out as follows: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/tooltips/hubs.html

I've never bothered replacing a cone before. Replace the balls, as long as the cones don't have any serious gouges in them they'll be fine. Just adjust the hub as best you can.

If they are cartridge bearing hubs (I don't like 'sealed' because the word causes endless confusion) then there is really no maintenance to do, just replace the whole bearing when they go bad. If you want you could probably get some oil in there to lube them.
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Old 01-02-12, 11:20 PM
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I don’t think that they are cartridge bearings. I just read some threads about them having unusual and rare sized bearing and cones, and wondering what I was up against. The wheelset seems worth trying to save. I guess I’ve always been confused about matching cups to bearings to cones.
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Old 01-02-12, 11:33 PM
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Your Op implies that you're familiar with hub service. If so why don't you open these up and deal with what you find when you find it. Odds are they only need a clean and grease, which is the same for all hubs. If the cones are OK it doesn't matter if they're totally unique since you'll reuse them anyway. As for the balls, I strongly doubt they're non-standard so you'll either reuse or replace them as you see fit.

In short, as the Nike ads say "just do it"
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Old 01-02-12, 11:52 PM
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I was going off this Yellow Jersey page, which if you scroll down to the yellow box insert you’ll see that, at least YJ, doesn’t have bearing and cones for some versions. If Yellow Jersey doesn’t have them, I figured it may be a problem. The reason I haven’t taken a look yet is because I just bought the bike and I’m in a hotel until the weekend. https://www.yellowjersey.org/helico.html
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Old 01-03-12, 12:00 AM
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I have a Maillard 500 "Sealed Mechanism" 36 hole low flange rear hub in my parts bin, waiting to be laced up to a rim for use with
a 5-speed free wheel. I've cleaned and serviced this hub, so I can tell you that is uses loose bb's (not a bb cartridge) and is serviced exactly as you would any other loose bb and cone bearing hub. It seems to me to be a decent alloy hub, using standard sized bb's.

I regularly scour LBS parts bins for hubs to use for wheel builds, especially for 120mm axle spaced 5-speed stuff, and I paid $5 for this one. With a longer axle and the proper spacers, you could use it for 126mm and 6-speed cogs.
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Old 01-03-12, 12:02 AM
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Rather than speculate you could just wait and deal with the issues as they arise.

if it's a helicomatic hub, the balls are smaller than 1/4", but not non-standard (I vaguely remember them as being 3/16" but don't hold me to that. It's the cones that you're not likely to find, so pray that yours are OK.

The real issue if it's helicomatic is the lack of freewheel bodies, and if you don't have a freewheel I suggest you start by seeing if the hub's internals are OK, then start trying to source a freewheel before putting any dough into an unusable wheel.
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Old 01-03-12, 12:26 AM
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Thanks, I guess I’ll have to get back to you after I take it apart. The wheelset is original to the ’86 Trek 400T Elance I just bought FWIW, and I have a bit of a phobia about French bike stuff.
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Old 01-03-12, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by rothenfield1
Thanks, I guess I’ll have to get back to you after I take it apart. The wheelset is original to the ’86 Trek 400T Elance I just bought FWIW, and I have a bit of a phobia about French bike stuff.
I had an '85 Trek 560 that came with Maillard hubs with the rear a 126 mm OLD freewheel hub. Both hubs used conventional cup-and-cone bearings and, IIRC, the usual 10x3/16" per side in front and 9x1/4" per side for the rear. Nothing unusual or difficult about them.
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Old 01-03-12, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by rothenfield1
I don’t think that they are cartridge bearings. I just read some threads about them having unusual and rare sized bearing and cones, and wondering what I was up against. The wheelset seems worth trying to save. I guess I’ve always been confused about matching cups to bearings to cones.
The only common French hubs that are problematic are the "Helicomatic" rear hubs. Otherwise, they use the same size bearings and axle threading as everyone else -- except Campy with their weird, mutant 10mm x 26tpi thread.
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Old 01-03-12, 06:42 PM
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I replaced a front cone on a 88 Trek with the same hub. Looked pretty close at the LBS. after about 100miles I found out not close enough and put the old cone back in.
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Old 01-03-12, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson
The only common French hubs that are problematic are the "Helicomatic" rear hubs. Otherwise, they use the same size bearings and axle threading as everyone else -- except Campy with their weird, mutant 10mm x 26tpi thread.
What is problematic about "Helicomatic" rear hubs JD? According to the Yellow Jersey page I referenced above, this set may be.
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Old 01-03-12, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
I replaced a front cone on a 88 Trek with the same hub. Looked pretty close at the LBS. after about 100miles I found out not close enough and put the old cone back in.
I'm ignorant of how you match cup to bearing to cone. The best I've been able to come up with is to take the bearings and cones into the LBS and scour their parts bin for a match. It doesn't seem like a very sound solution for such a critical part as the hub.
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Old 01-03-12, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by rothenfield1
I'm ignorant of how you match cup to bearing to cone. The best I've been able to come up with is to take the bearings and cones into the LBS and scour their parts bin for a match. It doesn't seem like a very sound solution for such a critical part as the hub.
I brought it into the LBS they measured OD, length. Called cone supplier and they said XXX cone. XXX cone matched OD & length, bearing taper looked pretty close - it apparently wasn't. A few days later rim was wobbly, pulled the partially chewed up new cone out and put the mildly rough old one back in. Bike is on the road to this day with the old one. Went to 6 different shops and didn't find a correct replacement.
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Old 01-04-12, 08:16 AM
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Helicomatic hubs are a little like a modern freehub and cassette, except the freehub splines are spiraled so that forward pressure on the pedals snugs the cassette inwards against the hub flange. They're a little weird to work on but as I recall everything goes together alright.

I would take a moment when it's apart to inspect the bearing races and the hub body in general, and I would not advise riding it hard. I had a helicomatic rear hub implode on me many years ago. The hub internals disintegrated in a long descent and the wheel cocked sideways, jamming against the stay and brake. Good times.

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Originally Posted by rothenfield1
What is problematic about "Helicomatic" rear hubs JD? According to the Yellow Jersey page I referenced above, this set may be.
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Old 01-04-12, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by rothenfield1
What is problematic about "Helicomatic" rear hubs JD? According to the Yellow Jersey page I referenced above, this set may be.
Most rear hubs use 10 or 11 1/4" balls; the Helicomatic used 13 5/32" balls. The smaller balls were needed to move the drive side bearing outboard, like modern cassette hubs, because the Helicomatic freewheel takes up more room than a freehub. The problem with using smaller balls is that they wear more quickly, and often were not maintained as frequently as they ought to have been. While the balls are not hard to find, cones ground for 5/32" balls are a different matter. If your cones are still in good shape, and the freewheel still works, repack and enjoy, but remember frequent maintenance to keep it running!
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Old 01-05-12, 11:05 AM
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Maillard 500 hubs are not Helicomatic, they are standard freewheel hubs.
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Old 01-05-12, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson
Most rear hubs use 10 or 11 1/4" balls.....
Small point but all of the cup-and-cone rear hubs I've worked on (except recent Campy Chorus) use 9x1/4" balls per side. Front hubs typically use 10 or 11 3/16" balls per side.

My Chorus hubs require (IIRC) 15x 5/32" balls per side held in a plastic retainer for both front and rear.
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Old 01-06-12, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider
Small point but all of the cup-and-cone rear hubs I've worked on (except recent Campy Chorus) use 9x1/4" balls per side. Front hubs typically use 10 or 11 3/16" balls per side.

My Chorus hubs require (IIRC) 15x 5/32" balls per side held in a plastic retainer for both front and rear.
Yeah, that's what I thought, too.
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Old 09-27-14, 07:25 AM
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Hello all! I know this is an old topic, so hopefully some knowledgeable guy or gal will see this and be able to offer some insight. Here is my issue. I have an '87 Trek 400 Elance that my dad gave me about 6 years ago. I love this bike! Not only for sentimental value, but because it is truly a beautiful bicycle. My dad gave it to me with a Maillard Helicomatic 5-speed freewheel with a 14t small cog. My big ring is a 50t, and that setup is just not enough gear for me on this bike. (Note, this is not my main ride, but I still use it for training rides because of its heavier weight than my CF Trek 5500) I have a Maillard 500 hub with a 6 speed freewheel which has a 13t small cog that I am attempting to swap out with the Helicomatic. I unlaced the hub from the rim without any issues. No broken or stipped spokes, so I was able to reuse them all. The rim is a standard aluminum 36 hole rim. The problem I am running into is with lacing up the 500 hub to the rim. Using a standard lacing pattern, I end up with the drive side spokes seeming to be too long and the non-drive side spokes being too short. In other words, the drive side spokes put no tension on the rim, but the non drive side spokes do. From sight, both hub flanges seem to be the same diameter, so I shouldn't think that spokes need to be different lengths for each side. Please correct me if I am wrong though.
Any thoughts on what I need to do here? Use a different lacing pattern? Different length spokes? To hell with the 500, just put the Helicomatic back on since I have had no issues with it other than the 14t cog?
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Old 09-29-14, 03:46 PM
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Nevermind. I figured it out. I took all the spokes back off and realized that they were different lengths. Got the hub laced, wheel trued and put back on the bike.
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