ahh, nostalgia !
My first attempt at a Sturmey Archer AW hub rebuild has begun – with a spirit of adventure I’ve started stripping down the Elswick Cosmopolitan rear hub. Why ? Because first gear wasn’t working and the hub seemed very noisy on its maiden voyage. Since then I haven’t had time to look at it or use it.
The other reason is – ” because it’s there ! “.
Upon taking the hub apart I found it to be full of rusty oil and the low gear pawls were rusted and seized, otherwise the AW is in reasonable condition. Worth experimenting with at the very least.
The AW 3-speed has been around for nearly 80 years and there is quite a lot of info on the web about it, from Sheldon Brown to the forums. There are also parts available for it, if you search a bit …
classic 70s !
I also used a wonderful book called “Fix Your Bicycle”, a Clymer publication from 1972 – this is the upgraded 1975 version. It’s the only book I have seen with comprehensive overhaul instructions for period Shimano ( 333, 3SC ) and Sturmey Archer AW, S3C coaster, FW four speed and S5 five speed all with exploded and labelled diagrams … outstanding !
Forget the web – you can’t beat a classic bike repair book for sheer recycling involvement …
inter-planetary poetry !
Therefore, there’s not much point me going into too much technical detail about it here, but I would briefly say that the main things I’ve noted from opening this 1984 model are :
1) The hubs are not as complicated as might seem from the diagrams as long as you are methodical about keeping related parts aligned and together. Perhaps the hardest part is dealing with all the crud in so many nooks and crannies. There’s a lot of cleaning involved – in a neglected hub like this, anyway.
cleaned up – the sub-assembly shells – driver, gear ring and planet cage
2) The bearings are pretty well protected with double metal labyrinth seals each side, but as also applies to most coaster hubs, the right hand outer driver bearings seem the most vulnerable to water and wear.
axle & clutch assy. with fixed sun gear
3) The 4 R-shaped pawl springs are incredibly fine and easily lost – if you need them, buy more than you need !
ye gods they’re tiny springs ! — low gear pawls, pins and springs – stored in oil
4) Most sources advise greasing the caged ball bearings only, and using 20W machine oil everywhere else inside. This means lower internal friction and no sticking of the pawls each end of the hub. I used a light white grease and Pressol oil for re-assembly.
the planet pinions and pinion pins
5) The re-cyclical (!) nature of the hub means that cleanliness is required at all stages to stop abrasive bits grinding around and around inside after the rebuild – with obvious consequences. The upside is low maintenance – if regular oil top-ups are done as the hubs are pretty bulletproof otherwise.
r.h. ball ring and hub shell
This steel hub has the traditional lubricator hole, unlike later models, and the spoke count is 28 holes for the 20 x 1 & 3/8 Elswick rim ( 451mm BSD, not 406mm ). Oil can be applied to later hubs via the indicator rod hole through the right side of the axle, if needed.
Although I am also a fan of coaster hubs they do have more internal resistance because of the grease required for the brake. The earlier non-coaster S-A hubs like this that are oil lubricated tend to spin much more freely. They also have a lovely click sound on the freewheels.
There was a fair amount of surface rust inside the hub, and that’s never a good sign. I had to soak some parts in phosphoric rust converter which I quickly washed off with water after bathing ( this was to avoid the black residue that appears in air sometimes if the converter is left to dry on the part ). Also, to do a thorough job, I thought it best to remove the hub shell from the rim in order to clean the whole wheel up properly this time.
After visiting a few bike shops in Newcastle, I decided it wasn’t worth pursuing S-A parts locally. Abbotsford Cycles in Victoria stocks a range of small parts at reasonable prices – just another example of the advantages of online shopping, provided one knows what one needs. In this case I replaced the driver bearings and cone, the clutch spring, and the low gear pawl springs. Everything else was serviceable.
I may end up using this hub on another bike, as the rim braking is poor on the Elswick because of the deteriorated condition of the rims …
success – i hope !
A lot of the younger salespeople in the local bike shops have never even heard of Sturmey-Archer. Well, I suppose Australia is more a Shimano kind of place these days, though even Nexus hubs are reasonably rare here.
We are still an under-developed country as far as broader cycling sophistication and understanding goes …. except perhaps for all that pertains to modern sports bikes – sigh …
lost & found
Happy Re-cycling !
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