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How to keep a freewheel safe after soaking it in water.

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How to keep a freewheel safe after soaking it in water.

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Old 01-08-18, 10:33 PM
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polymorphself
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How to keep a freewheel safe after soaking it in water.

Im currently letting this freewheel soak in soap water overnight. My plan after that was to brush as much of the crud off as possible and then let it sit in evaporust all day (this stuff has been working wonders for me).

If the freewheel drys after the water soaking, do I need to spray it down with wd40 immediately to protect it from the water? How long can it sit after being soaked before any damage is done? I see a lot of people recommend letting really grimy parts soak in soap water (derailleurs, breaks etc), but I feel like something needs to be done with them outside of an air dry.

ALSO: Bonus points if you can tell me what color this Suntour Perfect freewheel is actually supposed to be? I googled it and saw a range of shades. I scrubbed a bit of the crud off but still can't tell if it's supposed to be a silver, copper or bronze color

Thanks!
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Old 01-08-18, 10:55 PM
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Soaking it in water is dumb. That's a good way to make it rust more than it already has.

You'll do a much better cleaning job with mineral spirits and a toothbrush. Flush the internals with mineral spirits (or WD40) and spin to work it through.
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Old 01-08-18, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Soaking it in water is dumb. That's a good way to make it rust more than it already has.

You'll do a much better cleaning job with mineral spirits and a toothbrush. Flush the internals with mineral spirits (or WD40) and spin to work it through.
Welp, I'm new to all of this and just saw people saying they dunk just about everything in soapy water first. It's already been soaking for a few hours and I'm about to be asleep for the night. At this point will it kill me to leave it soaking until tomorrow, dry it, and flush it with wd-40?

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Old 01-08-18, 11:28 PM
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Water = rust.

When you take it out, drain it and start spinning. Wd40 and spin. Oil/lube and spin. Do it from both sides and let that sit as a lot will leak out. Then do it all some more since soaking in water will have exposed all yhe internals to water.
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Old 01-08-18, 11:33 PM
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Odds are it won't rust in a strong soap solution. The problem is when you pull it out and rinse it, at which time you want to dry it as fast as possible. I'd shake out as much water as I can then flush with WD-40 or similar. Or after shaking it as dry as possible finish in the oven at 200 or so for 10-15 minutes.

Then you want to oil it immediately so the bare metal is protected.
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Old 01-08-18, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Water = rust.

When you take it out, drain it and start spinning. Wd40 and spin. Oil/lube and spin. Do it from both sides and let that sit as a lot will leak out. Then do it all some more since soaking in water will have exposed all yhe internals to water.
I don't have lubricant handy at the moment and it's 10:30pm, but I'll take it out of the water and spin it with wd40 and lubricate it tomorrow. Hope I haven't ruined it.
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Old 01-08-18, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
I don't have lubricant handy at the moment and it's 10:30pm, but I'll take it out of the water and spin it with wd40 and lubricate it tomorrow. Hope I haven't ruined it.
Based on what seems to have been brought back from the dead in my garage, i doubt its ruined. Seriously rusted freewheels can be fixed and spin great.
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Old 01-08-18, 11:40 PM
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Without totally disassembling it, I'm afraid you'll never get all of the water out of the internals of this freewheel. The soapy water will break down all of the internal lube and WD40 is not a lube.

If you are not comfortable doing a total teardown, send it to Pastor Bob and he will be able to do it.
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Old 01-08-18, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Odds are it won't rust in a strong soap solution. The problem is when you pull it out and rinse it, at which time you want to dry it as fast as possible. I'd shake out as much water as I can then flush with WD-40 or similar. Or after shaking it as dry as possible finish in the oven at 200 or so for 10-15 minutes.

Then you want to oil it immediately so the bare metal is protected.
Good advice except for I don't have oil handy at the moment.

I took it out of the water and brushed it down. A lot of the color is coming back but it still needs a serious cleaning. I then sprayed with wd40 and it started to spin, and now seems to be spinning well. Going to let it sit for awhile and repeat before going to bed as that's all I can do at the moment.

Next steps for tomorrow?

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Old 01-09-18, 12:40 AM
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You don't soak steel machines in soapy water. The act of drying it out is what will form rust after the soap displaces the oils that would normally prevent evaporation from turning into rust.

The best thing would probably be heat it in an oil bath to let the water settle out of the bottom, rotating the mechanism frequently to let things move around.


Or throw it out.


OP, why don't you ask questions before doing any more "restoration".
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Old 01-09-18, 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
You don't soak steel machines in soapy water. The act of drying it out is what will form rust after the soap displaces the oils that would normally prevent evaporation from turning into rust.

The best thing would probably be heat it in an oil bath to let the water settle out of the bottom, rotating the mechanism frequently to let things move around.


Or throw it out.


OP, why don't you ask questions before doing any more "restoration".
Eh, I'm almost 100% of the way through this bike at this point relying on youtube videos (mostly RJ the bike guy) and a little help from the LBS. I've found that a lot of the trouble with asking questions here is that everyone has very specific ways of doing things, and often think their procedures are the best. If I ask and read too much I'll really get hung up on details and opinions. Like anyone else I'll have to go through some trial and error to learn and discover what works for me, even if it means making amateur mistakes and ruining a freewheel. For what it's worth, I have done research or asked here or elsewhere before most of what I have done, this was just an absent minded mistake that I made in a rush.

At the moment I'm debating sending it to Pastor Bob as his service is very inexpensive and appears to be top notch, or purchasing another one on eBay as they don't cost very much.

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Old 01-09-18, 01:42 AM
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I would encourage you to soak it in an oil bath stat. It should be ok if it was ok before, just might not last several more decades like they normally can. My 2c which I have been called out on here before is no WD-40, as @Kactus pointed out it is not a lube and I never use it on bearings.


Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
Eh, I'm almost 100% of the way through this bike at this point relying on youtube videos (mostly RJ the bike guy) and a little help from the LBS. I've found that a lot of the trouble with asking questions here is that everyone has very specific ways of doing things, and often think their procedures are the best. If I ask and read too much I'll really get hung up on details and opinions. Like anyone else I'll have to go through some trial and error to learn and discover what works for me, even if it means making amateur mistakes and ruining a freewheel. For what it's worth, I have done research or asked here or elsewhere before most of what I have done, this was just an absent minded mistake that I made in a rush.

At the moment I'm debating sending it to Pastor Bob as his service is very inexpensive and appears to be top notch, or purchasing another one on eBay as they don't cost very much.
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Old 01-09-18, 03:44 AM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
Eh, I'm almost 100% of the way through this bike at this point relying on youtube videos (mostly RJ the bike guy) and a little help from the LBS. I've found that a lot of the trouble with asking questions here is that everyone has very specific ways of doing things, and often think their procedures are the best. If I ask and read too much I'll really get hung up on details and opinions. Like anyone else I'll have to go through some trial and error to learn and discover what works for me, even if it means making amateur mistakes and ruining a freewheel. For what it's worth, I have done research or asked here or elsewhere before most of what I have done, this was just an absent minded mistake that I made in a rush.

At the moment I'm debating sending it to Pastor Bob as his service is very inexpensive and appears to be top notch, or purchasing another one on eBay as they don't cost very much.
Congratulations on Taking your mechanical needs into your own hands that is so very Awesome!
You're on the right track. Although I wouldn't have soaked my freewheel in water, soaking it in mineral spirits, paint thinner, gasoline, would have been worse, unless you plan on rebuilding it. But then you would want to use those chemicals after youve torn down your freewheel anyway. Btw rebuilding your freewheel is not a big deal either. The toughest part is NOT losing those tiny ball bearings.
The easiest way to get the desired affect I think your looking for would/still be to clean with WD 40 and toothbrush. Then when you've got it as clean as possible turn it over and dribble some light weight oil the consistency of Phils tenacious oil into the back. Otherwise rebuild it , I think rj the bike guy has a video on it too.
Keep it going, your tenacity is so Cool.
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Old 01-09-18, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by texaspandj View Post
Congratulations on Taking your mechanical needs into your own hands that is so very Awesome!
You're on the right track. Although I wouldn't have soaked my freewheel in water, soaking it in mineral spirits, paint thinner, gasoline, would have been worse, unless you plan on rebuilding it. But then you would want to use those chemicals after youve torn down your freewheel anyway. Btw rebuilding your freewheel is not a big deal either. The toughest part is NOT losing those tiny ball bearings.
The easiest way to get the desired affect I think your looking for would/still be to clean with WD 40 and toothbrush. Then when you've got it as clean as possible turn it over and dribble some light weight oil the consistency of Phils tenacious oil into the back. Otherwise rebuild it , I think rj the bike guy has a video on it too.
Keep it going, your tenacity is so Cool.
Why would mineral spirits be worse? That's the standard bicycle cleaning solvent because it leaves an oily film and otherwise evaporates while dissolving lube. So it doesn't cause rust and doesn't leave pockets of trapped residue behind. The oil can run in easily after mineral spirits cleaning.


I'm not recommending doing so, but I have done it before and the results after lubrication were satisfactory.
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Old 01-09-18, 04:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Why would mineral spirits be worse? That's the standard bicycle cleaning solvent because it leaves an oily film and otherwise evaporates while dissolving lube. So it doesn't cause rust and doesn't leave pockets of trapped residue behind. The oil can run in easily after mineral spirits cleaning.


I'm not recommending doing so, but I have done it before and the results after lubrication were satisfactory.
Youre right,not worse but better. Better at cleaning.
Soaking it in those solvents is going to remove all of the manufacturers original internal grease. Its only worse if you dont replenish grease. Soaking it in soapy water will not remove all the manufacturers grease.
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Old 01-09-18, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by texaspandj View Post
Youre right,not worse but better. Better at cleaning.
Soaking it in those solvents is going to remove all of the manufacturers original internal grease. Its only worse if you dont replenish grease. Soaking it in soapy water will not remove all the manufacturers grease.
Soup is the original grease remover, and works equally well on axle grease, crude oil and fried chicken. A freewheel soaked in soapy water might not come out clean on the inside like a real solvent, but the chunks of grease that remain are unlikely to be where they should be anymore.

Heavy oil - especially Phil Wood Tenacious - is a very effective lubricant for freewheels. Freewheel bearings have the advantage of never being under a lot of friction since they are only used for coasting. So if you end up solvent soaking a freewheel, let it dry and run as much oil as you can get into it, and remember to do so periodically.
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Old 01-09-18, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Soup is the original grease remover
Which results in less rust, chicken noodle or cream of potato?

Freewheel bearings have the advantage of never being under a lot of friction since they are only used for coasting.
I had a couple of SunRace freewheels with an exciting feature, insufficient bearing preload allowed the outer body to clank during pedaling... they started falling apart after a few hundred miles.
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Old 01-09-18, 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post

I had a couple of SunRace freewheels with an exciting feature, insufficient bearing preload allowed the outer body to clank during pedaling... they started falling apart after a few hundred miles.
That doesn't have anything to do with lubrication, does it?
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Old 01-09-18, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Soup is the original grease remover, and works equally well on axle grease, crude oil and fried chicken. A freewheel soaked in soapy water might not come out clean on the inside like a real solvent, but the chunks of grease that remain are unlikely to be where they should be anymore.

Heavy oil - especially Phil Wood Tenacious - is a very effective lubricant for freewheels. Freewheel bearings have the advantage of never being under a lot of friction since they are only used for coasting. So if you end up solvent soaking a freewheel, let it dry and run as much oil as you can get into it, and remember to do so periodically.
I Soaked my freewheel in paint thinner or mineral spirits is why i wouldn't recommend it. It cleaned it out so well. Afterwards I dribbled oil into the back However, the freewheel was So loud. I tried different oil but it didn't help. Thats when i did my first freewheel overhaul. Then it was too quiet. So i overhauled again, not so much grease this time and it was perfect. Ive done it to several other freewheels since.
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Old 01-09-18, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Which results in less rust, chicken noodle or cream of potato?


I had a couple of SunRace freewheels with an exciting feature, insufficient bearing preload allowed the outer body to clank during pedaling... they started falling apart after a few hundred miles.
Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
That doesn't have anything to do with lubrication, does it?
My guess would be that the SunRace freewheels didn't contain enough bearings, but the only way to know would be to open them up and take a look.

Drying in an oven (I use a small toaster oven) at about 200F (as @FBinNY mentions above) is how I dry every metal part I clean in my ultrasonic cleaner. I use a commercial grade degreaser mixed with the water. I usually let the parts of a freewheel stay in about 20-30 minutes, however, the freewheel is completely disassembled, and thus dries better. I'd leave an assembled freewheel in for at least an hour.

There are many challenges when only using the "dribble-drain-spin-dribble-drain-spin, etc." method of servicing a freewheel.

First, you will never know what contaminants or old grease which has turned into "plaster" or "peanut butter" has been left behind since there is no way to visually inspect the interior.

Second, you will never know if you have corroded bearings which need replacing, or damaged pawls & spring(s), or internal rusting which needs to be addressed.

Third, dripping oil into the freewheel is only a very temporary lube at best and can never seal the internals from future external contaminates, especially water, salt, and dust/grit.

Fourth, oil can be messy as centrifugal force spins the oil out between the gaps it was dribbled in, thus making a bigger mess of your sprockets, chain, frame, etc.

Hope my 2 cents worth of experience is helpful. OP, if I can be helpful, please feel free to be in touch.
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Old 01-09-18, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
..........even if it means making amateur mistakes and ruining a freewheel.

At the moment I'm debating sending it to Pastor Bob as his service is very inexpensive and appears to be top notch, or purchasing another one on eBay as they don't cost very much.
Poly, it does not appear that folks are explaining why the water soak is such a problem, other than the rust concern. The internals of a FW are relatively complex and there are numerous "nooks and crannies" where water can be trapped, where it then can do serious damage. You cannot just drain or shake out all that water. It's in the crevices, the threads, the springs, etc. Even drooling oil or WD40 though the ends will not flush out the water. Too complex, too many places to trap water. You could bake out the FW in the oven but you'll then need either a divorce lawyer or a new oven. If you do get it dry, drooling oil back in cannot ensure that the internals are fully protected.

I open and overhaul my FWs and find it to be easy but I tread very carefully and take my time. Sending yours to Pastor Bob is a very good idea. If you buy another FW, please send your old one to Pastor Bob anyway. He can take it apart and salvage parts to help other members with their FWs.
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Old 01-09-18, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
I've found that a lot of the trouble with asking questions here is that everyone has very specific ways of doing things, and often think their procedures are the best. If I ask and read too much I'll really get hung up on details and opinions. fo.

IMHO it doesn't take too long to figure out which people's advice you can ALWAYS follow here at Bike Forums
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Old 01-09-18, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
There are many challenges when only using the "dribble-drain-spin-dribble-drain-spin, etc." method of servicing a freewheel.

First, you will never know what contaminants or old grease which has turned into "plaster" or "peanut butter" has been left behind since there is no way to visually inspect the interior.

Second, you will never know if you have corroded bearings which need replacing, or damaged pawls & spring(s), or internal rusting which needs to be addressed.
These are true, but it has never mattered to me. Not overhauling a freewheel hasn't caused it to die on me.


Third, dripping oil into the freewheel is only a very temporary lube at best and can never seal the internals from future external contaminates, especially water, salt, and dust/grit.

Fourth, oil can be messy as centrifugal force spins the oil out between the gaps it was dribbled in, thus making a bigger mess of your sprockets, chain, frame, etc.
Are there freewheels which can be permanently sealed against contaminants? Periodic lubrication seems to work out dirt for me.

And yes, excess oil can get on the bike, and I see that as normal and expected in the life of a bike.

Clearly, my standards are lower. Pastor Bob's methods are best if you want to do the best job possible. I've had lots of freewheels but only overhauled a few. In fact, I'm not sure I've overhauled more than one of my own. The others were customers' while I worked in bike shops. And even there, I very rarely needed to do it. If my boss had found out, he might have been annoyed and told me just to replace it.
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Old 01-09-18, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
I would encourage you to soak it in an oil bath stat. It should be ok if it was ok before, just might not last several more decades like they normally can. My 2c which I have been called out on here before is no WD-40, as @Kactus pointed out it is not a lube and I never use it on bearings.
Yes, it is NOT a lubricant, but here it's recommended for flushing out water. I agree with that, but ... it REALLY needs to be in oil. I THINK I've seen versions of WD40 that contain lubricants, so there is the possibility for confusion here. Even so, if motor oil is not recommended as a bicycle bearing lube, I can't imagine a WD40 spray with lubricant added can be recommended. What is recommended whenever possible is grease, not oil or spray lubes.

Plus, I imagine a lot of WD40 might be needed.

Not everyone on YouTube knows what they're doing.

Bicycle technology has in most cases not changed since before 1900. One does not have to learn it all again by trial and error.
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Old 01-09-18, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
Not everyone on YouTube knows what they're doing.
You said a mouthful there.

I like FB's idea of baking it in the oven to help dry out the internals.
Before dousing it with WD-40 might be best.

Then, if it were me, I'd soak it in a bucket-O-oil. Light machine oil.
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