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For the love of English 3 speeds...

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For the love of English 3 speeds...

Old 01-11-24, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Ged117
For anyone interested, there's a 36h 1950 AW in good condition for sale on the auction site for a reasonable (shocker) price. 1950s hubs in 36h are rare as hen's teeth. Well, almost.
If anyone buys it, I've got a '51 dyno front hub with Bakelite cover, also in 36 holes
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Old 01-12-24, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Salubrious
My understanding was the 'patent' hubs are 1938 or 1939. At that point the type K discontinued.
Perhaps then, made while there were still K hubs inventoried in the warehouse Sturmey needed/wanted to sell off before releasing the new model.
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Old 01-12-24, 10:18 AM
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BTW, this hub (as you can see) was equipped with an aftermarket* 'flapless/capless' brass lubricator. Apparently, one jabbed the oil spout through a split rubber or leather slit. Alas, by the time I curated the hub, the slit-seal was worn out. (I retrofitted a pre-1955 metal S545/L23 Lubricator.) No big deal, really, but it was kind of a cool little feature. Anyway, has anyone successfully renewed the slit seal in these?




*I'm told these could be swaged in at the factory as an upgrade, but mine was screwed into the normal threaded hole.
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Old 01-12-24, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
Here's my undated "Patent" AW with 36 holes.




S-A mythology relates the undated Patent AW hubs were either made early, before the K hub production was ended, or assembled during the war when bomb fuse manufacture ran light.

I wish this hub could talk and tell me its history!
Years ago I had a 1970/71 Columbia as a teen that had no date stamp on the hub. The bike was new when i got it from a local bike shop.
I had always just figured it got missed somehow.
I don't think it was ever changed, right up to when I sold it 40 or so years later.
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Old 01-12-24, 08:00 PM
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tcs : My 49 AW hub was missing the oil port cap…. It was swagged so the replacement screw in types didn’t look like they would work easily. So I went to Widgetco and bought some tiny rubber stoppers, one of which I trimmed to fit the hole. Has worked well for the past few years….
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Old 01-12-24, 10:17 PM
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Some years back I rehabbed a Hercules 3-speed for my brother, an attempt to recreate his childhood bike. The S-A hub was stamped with the usual code for the year (‘65 iirc), and the month stamp was 13.
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Old 01-13-24, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by barnfind
Years ago I had a 1970/71 Columbia as a teen that had no date stamp on the hub. The bike was new when i got it from a local bike shop.
I had always just figured it got missed somehow.
I don't think it was ever changed, right up to when I sold it 40 or so years later.
Yeah, there are a few undated S-A hub around with later-in-the-run shells and features. "Missed" would be the Occam's Razor explanation.
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Old 01-15-24, 12:03 AM
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Does anyone have a bike with a Suntour 3 speed hub fitted? I am curious as they are apparently made by Sturmey Archer but I have never seen one, I do have a Shimano three speed on my Lenton which is made by Shimano and a completely different design and I have to say the gear changing is much smoother than the SA although the ratios are the same so not much difference in use.




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Old 01-15-24, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Small cog
Does anyone have a bike with a Suntour 3 speed hub fitted? I am curious as they are apparently made by Sturmey Archer but I have never seen one,
I don't have one, but I have seen them. AFAIK, Sturmey-Archer did not make the SunTour 3-speed hubs, but licensed the design to SunTour, much as they licensed the design to Steyr in Austria.

I do have a Shimano three speed on my Lenton which is made by Shimano and a completely different design and I have to say the gear changing is much smoother than the SA although the ratios are the same so not much difference in use.
My experience with the Shimano 3-speed hubs is that they were not as durable as the Sturmey-Archer AW, and small parts were harder to source. The shop I worked for got Shimano 3-speed hub innards as a unit, and when a problematic Shimano hub came in, we'd just pull out the old innards and stick in a new unit.
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Old 01-15-24, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson
I don't have one, but I have seen them. AFAIK, Sturmey-Archer did not make the SunTour 3-speed hubs, but licensed the design to SunTour, much as they licensed the design to Steyr in Austria.


My experience with the Shimano 3-speed hubs is that they were not as durable as the Sturmey-Archer AW, and small parts were harder to source. The shop I worked for got Shimano 3-speed hub innards as a unit, and when a problematic Shimano hub came in, we'd just pull out the old innards and stick in a new unit.
Those Shimano hub repair kits were cheap too, I just grabbed a couple at an old bike shop that still had a ton of stuff. They were having a retirement sale. I bought a basket of used AW hubs for $10, at least 30 hubs, all nice and greasy, and a dozen or so Shmano hubs. He threw in a half dozen Shimano 333 internal kits, which had a price tag on them for $12.50. each. (The crate full of SA hubs also had two used SW hubs as well mixed in. I also got several new complete AW internals new in a Crown by Rollfast bag.

The early Shimano hubs had brittle pawls in them, if a rider was hard on the bike your if a kid got hold of one and used it for stunts and such, the pawls could snap under hard impact. or rough use. What happened more often than not was that one pawl would break, then the other would hold and keep the bike rideable just long enough for the broken bits from the other pawl to really tear up the inside of the hub leading to an all out failure. Later models were better but not as strong as an SA AW. I remember going down the shore for a week with some family friends and I was on a bike that belonged to some girls aunt next door, an old AMF ladies three speed. I was maybe 15 or so and showing off. I was holding the front brake with the back wheel in the sand off the shoulder of the road, I'd get the back wheel spinning in the sand and let go of the brake and let it grab the pavement, or pedal like mad while holding it between first and second gear, then drop it into first and it would let out a clang or bang that sounded like a hammer hitting steel.
I didn't think anything of it till we left there and were heading down a steep hill. When I went to coast, the pedals made half a rotation and locked up like a fixed gear, when I tried to stop them it just went crunch in the back and the rear wheel locked up as it torqued to the left and hit the frame, then broke free again coating to a stop at the bottom of the hill sounding like a coffee can full of rocks rolling down the hill. I dragged it back and tried to get the wheel off but the axle was broken and the axle nuts were just spinning. After finally getting the wheel off, I went to a local bike shop and got lucky to find a complete hub internal set. When the guy slid the gut out about 50 small pieces fell out with it, and one end of the axle fell away. He blew it out, installed the new guts and charged me $8. I put the bike back together and parked it back in her garage. We told her we broke it and fixed it but when she found out how I broke it, she was pissed and gave me attitude the whole rest of the week. Her niece wasn't too happy about it all either but hey, we were kids. I don't think she ever spoke to me again either.
That was a LONG time ago but i remember it well for some reason.
I had done the same thing on an old Columbia I had with an AW hub and never broke that bike, I sort of figured a new shiny bike would have held up better, but in hind sight, it did hit so hard that it hurt my knees when I was neutral dropping it into first. I guess to be fair, I was no lightweight then at 6ft tall 240 lbs at 15. Someone later told me that the cranks were also bent on that bike, but I never got to see it again after that so that's just hearsay I suppose.
We didn't go back there after that but mostly because a relative had bought a house in another town and we spent summers there instead, but we had our own bikes to brake there.
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Old 01-15-24, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Small cog
Does anyone have a bike with a Suntour 3 speed hub fitted? I am curious as they are apparently made by Sturmey Archer but I have never seen one, I do have a Shimano three speed on my Lenton which is made by Shimano and a completely different design and I have to say the gear changing is much smoother than the SA although the ratios are the same so not much difference in use.




Suntour hubs were more common on Japanese bikes and a few muscle bikes for kids back in the day.

I had a Fuji Avalon that I bought for a girlfriend to ride back in the day that had one, and a Columbia 3 with one.
All parts interchange with the SA AW hubs.
I do seem to remember having to change a lot of axles or sun gears in those back then but they were mostly 'kid' used bikes that likely got well abused.
The first one I remember having to fix was locked up, but it turned out that it was full of water and frozen. The kid had run his mom's three speed off a boat dock then just parked the bike, when they got it out to ride in Dec. the wheel wouldn't even turn. By that point the internals had rusted solid and the saltwater had eaten away at the bearing races. I think I re-laced it all to a new AW off the shelf.
Most are also 36 hole or less as generally only the English and some Dutch bikes used 32/40 wheels.
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Old 01-17-24, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by nlerner
Some years back I rehabbed a Hercules 3-speed for my brother, an attempt to recreate his childhood bike. The S-A hub was stamped with the usual code for the year (‘65 iirc), and the month stamp was 13.
I've had a few oddities like that over the years, the most recent was a later model stamped '24' and '24'
I had another stamped only with a lone 17, off a late 70's Columbia.
I sold three new in the box SA AW hubs about four years ago that had no date at all, they were boxed as Crown replacement hubs from a local dealer's inventory.
He said they were likely late 60's to early 70's, they were two 36h and one 28h.
I'm sure if I dug through my loose barrel of spare hub shells in the trailer I'd find more with bad or missing dates. It seemed to be fairly common. There's two 55 gallon barrels out there full of just shells, most are lower spoke count hubs that I used for parts over the years, mixed in with any that were pitted or had badly worn chrome.
(That reminds me, I need to dehead another barrel since they're sort of spilling over out there).
One of my personal bikes, a super clean 1964 Robin Hood Sports which has been in my family since new, has a hub where neither stamped number is legible
The first number is half of a zero, so likely the latter half of a '10', the second number is the exact opposite, likely the front side of a '6 in '63'.
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Old 01-19-24, 12:22 PM
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Hi folks,

I know this has been brought up before - apologies. I found this 32h Raleigh stainless rim I'm going to build up using a '50s front Raleigh hub for my Rustomod Raleigh project. Reading around the forums confirms 284mm for the spoke length on a 3x build with the original hub and period rim. Does that sound right? I understand that I'll need to find some washers to run at the flange.

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Old 01-19-24, 02:02 PM
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Ged117 : ooooh - jealous. Nice looking rim!

Cant confirm from personal experience but did you try a spoke length calculator as a double check?

Sapim Spoke length calculator
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Old 01-19-24, 02:09 PM
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For a standard Sports front hub, 32 spoke, cross 3 pattern, to a Raleigh pattern rim, the spoke chart from Raleigh says 11-7/32 inches, which is between 284mm and 285mm. On that account 284mm should be fine. The last front wheel I built used 11-1/8" spokes, which is closer to 283mm, and again 284mm should work.

If you're using modern spokes, you'll need brass spoke washers at the flange. I also recommend using bent oval "zipp" nipple washers at the rim. They drop right into the ridge on the rim and add strength at the eyelet.

Interlacing the spokes is your preference, I've done it both ways and either is fine.
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Old 01-19-24, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by markk900
Ged117 : ooooh - jealous. Nice looking rim!

Cant confirm from personal experience but did you try a spoke length calculator as a double check?

Sapim Spoke length calculator
Thanks Mark! It is a nice looking rim. I've got a '56 FG hub laced to a stainless 40h rim with stainless spokes, so I searched hard for this rim and it appeared. Whereabouts, generally speaking are you in Ontario?

Originally Posted by SirMike1983
For a standard Sports front hub, 32 spoke, cross 3 pattern, to a Raleigh pattern rim, the spoke chart from Raleigh says 11-7/32 inches, which is between 284mm and 285mm. On that account 284mm should be fine. The last front wheel I built used 11-1/8" spokes, which is closer to 283mm, and again 284mm should work.

If you're using modern spokes, you'll need brass spoke washers at the flange. I also recommend using bent oval "zipp" nipple washers at the rim. They drop right into the ridge on the rim and add strength at the eyelet.

Interlacing the spokes is your preference, I've done it both ways and either is fine.
Cheers Mike, thanks for this information. Speaking of C&V spokes, do you use spokes from the past for builds? Spokes of yesteryear I am not as familiar with. For stainless, do you have a go-to for building these kinds of wheelsets? I was just going to buy some Sapim or Pillar stainless spokes, and spoke washers. Thanks for the nipple washer tip. These wheels are going to serve a very long time...
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Old 01-19-24, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Ged117
Thanks Mark! It is a nice looking rim. I've got a '56 FG hub laced to a stainless 40h rim with stainless spokes, so I searched hard for this rim and it appeared. Whereabouts, generally speaking are you in Ontario?



Cheers Mike, thanks for this information. Speaking of C&V spokes, do you use spokes from the past for builds? Spokes of yesteryear I am not as familiar with. For stainless, do you have a go-to for building these kinds of wheelsets? I was just going to buy some Sapim or Pillar stainless spokes, and spoke washers. Thanks for the nipple washer tip. These wheels are going to serve a very long time...
For Raleighs - if I have good condition old Raleigh spokes on hand, I'll use those. I don't mind re-using if they're in good shape. If I don't have enough of those, then I use new old stock Union galvanized, or else brand new Sapim straight gauge stainless. Of those three, the old Raleighs and the new Sapims are the better picks. After my stock of old Union spokes runs out, I'm just going to use Sapims thereafter.

For Schwinns - I have a stock of unused original Torrington double-butted spokes on hand. Those are what originally would have been on the stuff from the early 1960s and before. But I've also used brand new Sapim double-butted stainless spokes in the past without any issue.

I will say that, in my experience, brand new Sapim stainless spokes do a better job of pulling an otherwise marginal old rim into shape than old Raleigh or Union spokes. But ideally you have a good rim and don't need to compensate for it using the spokes. And obviously with stainless Sapim spokes, corrosion is not much of a worry.
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Old 01-20-24, 03:35 PM
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Anybody tried the Kenda (Sunlite-branded) 26 x 1 3/8" whitewalls? Wow. What a struggle they are to get on. Wow.
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Old 01-21-24, 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by 1989Pre
Anybody tried the Kenda (Sunlite-branded) 26 x 1 3/8" whitewalls? Wow. What a struggle they are to get on. Wow.
No, I haven't. But I've used the gumwall Kendas usually branded as Sunlite “Nimbus” on both old steel Raleigh rims and new alloy SunLite rims, and don't recall having any issues.
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Old 01-21-24, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by SirMike1983
The bike is quite old, but whether it goes all the way back to the 1920s, you'd have to look at the bike more closely to see. On early bikes, there should be nickel rather than chrome plating. Bikes pre-dating the traffic safety acts also may not have the white tipped rear fender or a reflector. Drum brake hubs often have date codes on them, so they may be of help as well. You're more likely to find a very old Raleigh in Canada than the USA though. If in doubt, go have a look.
White mudguard flash UK.
Does this help? 1942 to 1954 it was a legal requirement
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Old 01-21-24, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Ged117
This well-used Raleigh is posted locally, the transfer is one I don't think I've seen before. I'm always on the lookout for green frames in tatty shape, so posted for info. Could this be a Lenton Sports?


No.
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Old 01-21-24, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclespanner
No.
Thanks, I bought this bike last year (see post date). It's a 1959 Raleigh Canadian, a Sports in all but name. Rough paint-wise, but with a little work and clear coat it'll be serviceable.
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Old 01-21-24, 09:53 AM
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Yes that's a nice relic with patina!
What do you folks recommend for clear-coat?

BTW I've just completed reading this entire subject/blog, which I began last July! Now what am I going to do?

Learned an awful lot and 'met' a wide variety characters contributing to this fascinating trove of information.

Fortunately, I've made many notes along the way. A shame there isn't a search index; though I've found Googling problems and issues often brings me back here to relevant posts.

Meantime I'm accumulating a heap of spares and useful items in anticipation of finer weather, come spring.
(Brooks saddles, saddlebags and supports, tyres, chains and sprockets, cables, brake blocks, 3/4 speed trigger, ESGE kickstands.....)

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Old 01-21-24, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by adventurepdx
No, I haven't. But I've used the gumwall Kendas usually branded as Sunlite “Nimbus” on both old steel Raleigh rims and new alloy SunLite rims, and don't recall having any issues.
Well., at least I didn't break any spoons on them (wipes sweat off brow). Maybe they fit a little better in summer.
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Old 01-21-24, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclespanner
Yes that's a nice relic with patina!
What do you folks recommend for clear-coat?
For touch-up, I use a no-name brush-on clear from my favorite online auction house. For entire frame-set, Rustoleum UV resistant. I've found it works well even over new vinyl decals, although some advise against doing that. Don't expect it to protect like a factory finish, though.
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