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Really sticky freewheel- what to do?

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Really sticky freewheel- what to do?

Old 02-07-16, 05:24 PM
  #1  
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Really sticky freewheel- what to do?

Hello all,
I'm fixing up an old touring bike and I have run into a problem. The freewheel is really sticky.
It is both hard to turn and would not come off the wheel. I put the wheel sideways and let oil soak into it for a week, which helped, but it's still bad. On the stand, if you pedal and then stop pedaling, the pedals keep turning. It takes a noticeable force to stop them.
Should I make another effort to get it off the wheel? It is a Shimano- made Schwinn Approved skip-tooth freewheel, and I think it's kind of cool, but I'm willing to replace it if that's the best solution.
Any other ideas?
Thanks!
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Old 02-07-16, 05:32 PM
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after some 35 rebuilds, i finally ran into the same problem, a seized freewheel i couldn't remove. i tore up my removal tool in the process.

it's a build for a friend, and i asked him what he wanted to do, as my experiences are limited. he said, unlace the hub, get a new (used) hub and spokes, and rebuild the wheel. suits me.
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Old 02-07-16, 05:34 PM
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I hope it doesn't come to that, they're Campagnolo Nuovo Tipo hubs and I just put new cones in the rear one. I'd probably see if the owner can live with it before resorting to that.
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Old 02-07-16, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Seizedpost View Post
they're Campagnolo Nuovo Tipo hubs and I just put new cones in the rear one.
you replaced the axle cones with the freewheel stuck on there? sounds a little tricky. i've never been able to rebuild a rear hub without first removing the fw.

i read a bunch of threads recently about this problem, and all the solutions were outside my wheelhouse.
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Old 02-07-16, 05:47 PM
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I can't offer advice on getting the freewheel off, but if you manage to remove it, you can submerge the freewheel in a tub of full-strength simple green. Soak it overnight, and give it a few spins while submerged in the cleaner. Next morning, use a toothbrush to wash off all the loosened external grime while you're at it. Finally rinse thoroughly under hot water, while spinning the freewheel, to flush out all the cleaner. Dry it over a heat source for a good day or two (on a radiator or heat duct) to evaporate any water trapped inside. Spin it a few times during this process. Then apply fresh oil and work it in by spinning. I've done this successfully on many freewheels, including some that were also very sticky. It's worked every time.

Anton
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Old 02-07-16, 06:57 PM
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I don't know anything about skip tooths, but "if" it uses a quick release, use that to hold the removal tool on snugly/tightly, and use a big (14" should be fine) pipe wrench on the removal tool. It might be wise to have someone help hold the wheel.
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Old 02-07-16, 07:11 PM
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You can also put the freewheel remover in a bench vice and turn the wheel counter-clockwise.

I attack them with brake-clean, then re oil.
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Old 02-07-16, 07:25 PM
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As a last resort: Freewheel?Destructive Removal | Park Tool
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Old 02-07-16, 07:32 PM
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Since you already exhausted the lubrication potential for an easy fix, my guess is that the threaded outer bearing race is cinched up against the bearings too tight. The race is reverse threaded, You can use a hammer and punch to loosen it a bit. The problem is that you risk the whole thing coming apart while riding. I might be a good idea to put a few drops of lok tite on the threads after its adjusted, to prevent it from coming apart. (Assuming the adjustment works).
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Old 02-07-16, 08:04 PM
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Another approach would be to dismantle the freewheel in-situ, i.e. remove all the cogs (using chainwhips as needed, which I assume you have), and then use heat to help with removal of the freewheel body from the hub. Normally, I have only needed to use heat to disassemble a freewheel already off the hub, but heat is always your friend when trying to disassemble stuck assemblies. So get as much off the freewheel body as you can, then heat it with a torch while being ready with a removal tool to loosen it when it reaches the right temperature. You have to kind of know what you're doing; the idea is not to melt it off! The amount of heat you ultimately use depends on which parts you definitely want to salvage versus those you are willing to sacrifice, but I see no reason why everything can't be salvageable while using sufficient heat judiciously to get the job done. Don't worry about a little coked oil & grease on/inside the freewheel... you can clean it easily when you tear it down for overhaul, assuming you want to salvage it.
Caveat: if you're new to using heat to help with disassembly of stuck assemblies, assume you will destroy everything on your first attempt, and possibly set fire to your enclosure (e.g. garage/workshop/basement/house). YMMV.

Last edited by old's'cool; 02-07-16 at 08:04 PM. Reason: ble
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Old 02-07-16, 08:10 PM
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One of these would have it off in mere seconds with a quick pull of the trigger:

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Old 02-07-16, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by old's'cool View Post
Another approach would be to dismantle the freewheel in-situ, i.e. remove all the cogs (using chainwhips as needed, which I assume you have), and then use heat to help with removal of the freewheel body from the hub. Normally, I have only needed to use heat to disassemble a freewheel already off the hub, but heat is always your friend when trying to disassemble stuck assemblies. So get as much off the freewheel body as you can, then heat it with a torch while being ready with a removal tool to loosen it when it reaches the right temperature. You have to kind of know what you're doing; the idea is not to melt it off! The amount of heat you ultimately use depends on which parts you definitely want to salvage versus those you are willing to sacrifice, but I see no reason why everything can't be salvageable while using sufficient heat judiciously to get the job done. Don't worry about a little coked oil & grease on/inside the freewheel... you can clean it easily when you tear it down for overhaul, assuming you want to salvage it.
Caveat: if you're new to using heat to help with disassembly of stuck assemblies, assume you will destroy everything on your first attempt, and possibly set fire to your enclosure (e.g. garage/workshop/basement/house). YMMV.

There's obviously some serious corrosion and neglect in play. I'd probably go straight for this method. I've used it before a couple times. Just be careful. It shouldn't take much heat, and you will need a big bench vise. Sometimes it loosens after you heat the freewheel body and then spray the hub shell with water. The freewheel needs to be taken apart and rebuilt anyway, though IMO an old cheap shimano freewheel isn't worth saving.

You mention it's a tipo hub. Part of the problem here is that it is more than likely an english threaded freewheel on an italian threaded hub. It usually works, but the italian threads are a little bit bigger, and it will go on tight.

Obviously if you cook it off, you will need to rebuild the hub again.
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Old 02-08-16, 12:04 AM
  #13  
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Careful...... I've seen pics of removed FW's with threads from the hub actually coming off with the FW.
I suspect those FW came off with a cracking sound then just fell off the hub.
After seeing such, I made sure that I always greased the threads of al my FWs every time I install on my wheelsets....
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Old 02-08-16, 09:07 AM
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An old freewheel that is seized onto a hub is a problem. The hub is going to be worth more than the freewheel, so the primary goal is to get the freewheel off of the hub without damaging the hub.

The least destructive option is to keep trying to soak it with penetrating oil. There was some mention of oil, but not a specific mention of penetrating oil... get some penetrating oil and use it. Give it a few weeks. Go back periodically and try removing it.

What method are you using to remove the freewheel? How big is the wrench? Are you using a bench vice? Details are important; please share them.

If you decide to sacrifice the freewheel in order to get it off, then the Park method is appropriate. I've done this sort of thing before on a SunTour freewheel, but only after stripping the notches out of the freewheel body. If you haven't either stripped out the notches or broken the tool, you aren't trying hard enough yet. As noted, there is the chance of ripping the threads off of the hub, so it is very important to give the penetrating oil every chance to work.

I used a large pipe wrench in lieu of a bench vice. The freewheel body is made with hardened steel, so it is very hard to grip.
This is a good time to consider the use of heat or mechanical shock as a way to help break the freewheel inner body away from the hub.

Assuming that the freewheel body can be removed, check the hub threads for damage and type of threads (don't want to install a freewheel with incompatible threads), and lube the threads with grease or anti-seize compound.
It's not a bad time to pull out the axle and bearings too, and check for damage to the right-hand cup.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 02-08-16, 09:24 AM
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Freewheels can be taken apart and overhauled, but in an oldone like that you will almost definitely be playing plinko with freewheel guts as soon as you pull it apart. New replacement freewheels of the same quality (old Shimano was pretty bottom of the barrel) are less than $10. If you can keep the freewheel removal tool properly aligned with the splines (which is very difficult on some older designs) then it can almost definitely be removed without heroic measures - put the remover in place and hold it in place with the axle nut or freewheel, then clamp the remover in a solidly mounted bench vise, then pretend you are a bus driver turning left. You may only get a quarter turn before you have to loosen the axle nut, but as soon as you have it loosened up you have little need to keep the tool clamped in place.
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Old 02-08-16, 09:35 AM
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I recently bought what appeared to be a nice clean low-mileage Sun Tour Winner freewheel on ebay for the unheard-of low price of $15. The first thing I noticed when I got it was that the bearings were a little gummy. When I oiled them, rusty oil came back out. No amount of rinsing with oil, transmission fluid, WD-40, brake cleaner spray, kerosene, or compressed air would deplete the supply of brown ick coming out of the bearings. I took it apart and found the ball bearings were rusty and their races were rust-pitted, probably from being cleaned with some water-based product and put away wet. I did get a nice clean set of low-mileage pawls and cogs out of the deal. No complaint at that price.
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Old 02-08-16, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
Yes! I did it a few times at the co-op, it works.
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Old 02-08-16, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by CroMo Mike View Post
I recently bought what appeared to be a nice clean low-mileage Sun Tour Winner freewheel on ebay for the unheard-of low price of $15. The first thing I noticed when I got it was that the bearings were a little gummy. When I oiled them, rusty oil came back out. No amount of rinsing with oil, transmission fluid, WD-40, brake cleaner spray, kerosene, or compressed air would deplete the supply of brown ick coming out of the bearings. I took it apart and found the ball bearings were rusty and their races were rust-pitted, probably from being cleaned with some water-based product and put away wet. I did get a nice clean set of low-mileage pawls and cogs out of the deal. No complaint at that price.
Freewheel bodies, Suntour or otherwise, are pretty much a dime a dozen. Good cogs, not so much. Good score!
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Old 02-08-16, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Seizedpost View Post
Hello all,
I'm fixing up an old touring bike and I have run into a problem. The freewheel is really sticky.
It is both hard to turn and would not come off the wheel. I put the wheel sideways and let oil soak into it for a week, which helped, but it's still bad. On the stand, if you pedal and then stop pedaling, the pedals keep turning. It takes a noticeable force to stop them.
Should I make another effort to get it off the wheel? It is a Shimano- made Schwinn Approved skip-tooth freewheel, and I think it's kind of cool, but I'm willing to replace it if that's the best solution.
Any other ideas?
Thanks!
If it's this freewheel, you can pry out the seal on the outside surface of the freewheel body and really clean out the innards. This will allow you to run lots of solvent and/or oil into the freewheel bearings. I agree that removing the freewheel completely will make this much more effective.

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Old 02-08-16, 11:10 PM
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What happened to the original poster? Lots of great and helpful ideas here. Was there a conclusion?
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Old 02-08-16, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by redneckwes View Post
You can also put the freewheel remover in a bench vice and turn the wheel counter-clockwise.

.
Yes...this has always worked for me. Put the removal bit in a vise. The wheel should be parallel with the floor....than hold the wheel firmly, two hands and turn.
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Old 02-09-16, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
If it's this freewheel, you can pry out the seal on the outside surface of the freewheel body and really clean out the innards. This will allow you to run lots of solvent and/or oil into the freewheel bearings. I agree that removing the freewheel completely will make this much more effective.

Hey Jeff, now that you've used my picture, I'll need to comment! I was trying my best to stay out of this one.

OP, if by chance you have removed the tire from the wheel, remount it. It provides significant grip for leverage, especially when using a long wrench or air impact wrench/hammer. I'm guessing that if you damaged your tool trying to remove the freewheel, you had the wrong tool. Although, with that said, my very thin walled Regina/ATOM tool is what fits this freewheel, and I can see that it might not be beefy enough to stand up to the needed torque. There is a Shimano tool which has about 2-3 times the wall thickness.

The "Flush and Fill" method is recommended by lots of people, but originally your freewheel came with grease. Grease protects the internals significantly better than oil and will last for a very long time, especially modern synthetic grease, which has the added benefit of being very salt and moisture resistant. If you live near an ocean or live in a northern area where winter road salt is used, you will appreciate this added protection.
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Old 02-09-16, 06:22 AM
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Thanks for all the really helpful suggestions. I have been very busy and not had time to try any of them yet, but I will soon. I think it's worth noting that the freewheel seems to bind worse in one spot, which might suggest Brian25's theory.
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Old 02-09-16, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobninh
I'm guessing that if you damaged your tool trying to remove the freewheel, you had the wrong tool.
not in my case.

using a vise along with the inflated tire on the rim always works until it doesn't.
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Old 02-09-16, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by eschlwc View Post
not in my case.

using a vise along with the inflated tire on the rim always works until it doesn't.
Then it doesn't always work! Jus' saying'.

I'm sorry, I did make a mistake. I was thinking the OP said that his/her tool was damaged. I see now that it was your tool that was damaged. My bad! So many details to keep straight in my head!
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