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Old 05-11-12, 01:51 PM   #1
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Freewheel won't engage: removal + reinstall = engage perfectly. Safe?

I was stumped by this one.

I was planning on replacing a freewheel for a friend's bike because it would not engage. I tried lubricating it and spinning forwards or backwards in all sorts of gear combinations; nothing seemed to work. However, when I removed the freewheel (6 speed Suntour four prong type), I noticed that it engaged perfectly in my hand. So, I reinstalled it on the bike, and it's engaged perfectly ever since then.

Is there any reason to believe the freewheel might spontaneously stop engaging again? It wasn't screwed on unbearably tight to begin with, nor did it appear to be cross threaded or mounted incorrectly.
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Old 05-11-12, 01:56 PM   #2
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Voo Doo.. what can I do? just type ..
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Old 05-11-12, 02:35 PM   #3
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Maybe the lockring for the FW body was loose (the ring inside the middle with 2 pin spanner holes). I think this is usually left-hand threaded and designed so when moderately tight, the freewheeling will self-tighten to the right compression on the inner bearings. It might have been loose, and once you took it off, and then got it to freewheel okay, it tightened just a bit and engaged and now as long as the rider coasts on this bike every once in a while, he should be fine.
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Old 05-11-12, 02:56 PM   #4
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Except moving the pawls axially relative to the body by loosening or tightening the lockring won't affect the functionality of the engagement pawls in any way. You'd have to loosen the lockrings so much that it comes off and all the bearings fall out before you move the pawls the necessary 1/4" to disengage from the body.

Most likely it took some time for the lube to loosen the dried gunk on the inside. Faster to use a dunk-tank and really soak the freewheel with solvent. PB-Blaster works really well for freeing up a stuck freewheel. Then drip heavy-oil through it afterwards. Some freewheels have seals at each end, so you'll need to take the lockring off in order to get solvent & oils into the innards.
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Old 05-11-12, 06:14 PM   #5
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The freewheel was probably gummed up causing the pawls to stick. When you removed the freewheel you probably jarred it and along with the lubrication needing some time in dissolving some of the crud, the pawls came loose. Best to flush it out and re-lubricate. As DannoXYZ said best to submerge it in solvent, but that is usually not necessary. I just encountered a similar problem and I flushed it with WD-40 (it washed out a lot of junk) then I sat it out side in the sun to dry. After a couple of hours I pushed some Phil's grease into the freewheel (you'll notice the bearings will be a little sticky until the capillary action sucks the grease in and distributes it. You can also use oil, and it will spin freely from the beginning, but oil is a poor barrier against moister.
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