Archive for May, 2014

a completely irrelevant pic to get your attention....

a completely irrelevant pic to get your attention….but i got there by bicycle !

I don’t have a service diagram for the 70s Shimano 3S, but as it turns out the principles are the same as the Sturmey-Archer AW. The 3S is more compact, and unlike the older Shimano 333, the pawls are held in place by snap ring wire circlips, in much the same way as a 10-speed freewheel cluster.

This makes servicing simpler than the Sturmey Archer AW too, just don’t lose or break those clips !

eeew !

Classique 3 hub — eeew !

The 333 must have been a nightmare with its pawl pins and hair springs, and has a bad reputation for reliability. In my experience the 3S is a good hub although the moving parts do look more delicate than the Sturmey Archer. As far as operation goes the Shimano uses a pushrod to move the gear train against the clutch spring via a bell-crank, whereas the Sturmey Archer uses the cable tension to pull out the indicator rod with the characteristic little chain helping to compress the clutch spring.
Both systems will default to high gear if the cable is detached.

cruddy close-up

horrors ! – a cruddy close-up

I thought it best to look inside the Classique 3’s hub, not knowing its history, and I’m glad I did so as it wasn’t too pretty.

the main assemblies

the main assemblies – planet cage, gear ring, driver and axle w/sun gear – cleaned up 

Note above – the snap ring comes off to release the 4 little cylindrical retaining pins and thus separate the planet cage from the ring gear.

I couldn’t figure out how to remove the planet gears, the sub-assembly doesn’t appear to disassemble beyond the pawls and springs so I had to flush and brush throughout thoroughly with kerosene as best I could.

the driver close-up

the driver close-up

I had a spare to compare it with in case I messed up, and after I finished I also had a quick look inside. This one I have owned since new and inside it looks like an Internal Gear Hub should i.e. no rust !

the deceiving outside ...

the deceptive exterior …

much nicer inside .. approx 40 yrs old with no service but oil ...

much nicer inside .. approx 40 yrs old with no service but oil …

If these hubs can last 30-40 years without a service then if I overhaul them now they should be able to last a riding lifetime ! Just remember that you are unlikely to find spares for them at a bike shop, unless it’s a very old long established one.

If anything breaks or is lost it will probably be necessary to scrap an old hub for spares, if you can find one. The same could apply to the trigger shifter, cable and cable adjusters too, so again take care – and don’t lose anything.

the trigger shifter

the trigger shifter



I re-assembled the hub using Tri-Flow clear teflon grease and inserted a little Pressol oil down the axle after reassembly to improve the flow

ta-daa !

ta-daa ! with bell-crank and turnbuckle adjuster

I’m now looking forward to re-building one of these hubs for my Grandfather’s old Speedwell – onto a new 27″ alloy rim.

one day this will be the ultimate speedwell roadster !

one day this may be the ultimate 3-speed speedwell roadster !

See Ya !



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out testing

out testing

No, no, it’s not really about the fine art of component weight reduction via filling everything full of holes – or at least only vaguely …

full circles

full circles

I’ve been investigating flat pedals for a couple of my bikes and have found two pairs of metal platforms of interest. I assume these are designed for technical MTB-ing down hills but they also make good commuter pedals for urban use in traffic where my regular “long distance” toe clips are too ungainly.

kinda honeycomb ...

now sort of floral …

The first is the Speedplay “Drillium”, a really neat looking and grippy pedal with concave surfaces. They feel like suction cups on your feet and even though quite costly – they are the most expensive pedals I have bought to date – they are very well made and very “different” . Not exactly old school or classic looking for your old bike, they form endlessly fascinating honeycomb patterns at different viewing angles. Too cool for words !

road king & b144s

road king & b144s

The other set is the Wellgo B144 in red to match my Road King, these are well made and grippy, though not as much as the drilliums – at around half the price. Both these pedals are equipped with tiny metal studs to hold your shoes fast.

Will the simple rubber O-ring inner bearing seals on the B144s last the distance though ? – we shall see !

The Road King has gone full circle with its bars, as I have gone back to drop bars. The upright bars I had felt strange as I am becoming more used to road bars, which is odd because I used to dislike them …

Cane Creek SCR-5 are my fave road levers for old bikes too – they are really great to grip .

I found some new cotton bar tape that I have shellacked for the bars, and rather like the look and feel, at least with a cushiony double wrap on the drops anyway.

worth a try, anyway

CL7 – worth a try, i suppose

On the Fernleigh track the 2-speed Sturmey-Archer hub shows its limitations, as you would expect. However it wasn’t planned to be a world-beater, merely a suburban tourer and it does that well. Although I don’t have a computer on it, the gearing allows around 30 ( or so ) km/h in top at a comfortable fast cadence. That’s all most people really need isn’t it ?

It’s a matter of slowing down in first sometimes or grinding out in top when your requirements are somewhere in between the two speeds. If you insist on perfection in such a gear system then you could be disappointed, but it’s still much better for my riding style than single speed !
Some more thoughts on this hub :

When coasting down hill, I kick it back to the lower gear as the high gear freewheel sound is loud and graunchy as opposed to the typical sweet Sturmey low gear sound.

It is difficult to tell which gear you are in at traffic lights when you backpedal for the restart of motion, as the sound is the main clue. Another good reason to not gear it too high – bogging down !

In spite of this it’s a great hub, and you can’t beat the feeling of a fast back pedalling upchange when accelerating.

Big mistakes department — the Dunlop CL7 Narrow classic 50s saddle I tried on the Road King looks cool, but it left a big black rubber stain on my jeans after I tried to revitalise it — it’s back to the trusty B17, I guess !

it doesn't seem like nearly winter ...

it doesn’t seem like nearly winter …

Happy Re-cycling !

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a genuine user, complete

a genuine user, complete


Say “Hi” to the Speedwell Classique 3.

We’re into the 1970s again and the days of Australian made Speedwells are over – but this one is a throwback to the days of the classic ladies’ 3-speed roadster. It’s a basic design that will never die, though in this case is influenced by the 70s era ten-speed boom in its frame design and angles, and with typical period 27″ wheels.

There are even modern 700c equivalents still being made, like the 3-speed versions of the Giant “Via” step-through, not to mention the many new ‘retro’ step-through bikes that are available these days.

This one was appealing to me because it’s in reasonable condition and complete with the original “Speedwell” sprung saddle, painted and lined mudguards, and matching painted chainguard.

shimano click-trigger

shimano click-trigger

It’s Taiwanese made, and the Shimano 3S hub with trigger shifter is the same that I bought new to “upgrade” my old Speedwell coaster braked roadster so many years ago.

shimano bellcrank and pushrod design

shimano 3S bellcrank and pushrod shift assy.

saddle in good nick is a big bonus - but there's lots of rust on the saddle frame

original saddle top in good nick is a big bonus – but there’s lots of rust on the saddle frame

There is an art to pre-visualising – or imagining in the mind’s eye how an old bike will look when refurbished and this one’s looking pretty good to me !

accessory lights even - lol

accessory lights even – lol

It does need a complete overhaul with special attention to the wheels and bottom bracket, and so hopefully will be interesting to follow as a project, especially if you are restoring something similar yourself . There will be decisions here on what to retain and what to replace, depending on condition, looks and performance.

Does it have to be strictly original or a modern (sometimes!) improvement ? Your choice.

In my case I would never consider repainting this frame – “it’s only original once” !

eek !

eek – omg !

Above is the butcher’s method to cotter pin removal, drilling into the pin’s head – but with care it works well. I use it when all other methods fail. I don’t have a pin press but use a hammer and punch and releasing agent first.

It’s very important to avoid damaging the crank or axle with the drill if you want to re-use them, and to support the crank on a notched block of wood while banging away at the pin, or the bearing surfaces may be ruined.

If you’re sure you are going to scrap them then it doesn’t matter, I guess.

success !

success !

In this case the heat of drilling must have loosened the rust bond as the pin tapped out without going all the way with the drill. I knew the bearings were no good from the initial feel of the rotation but it’s always better to be gentle in case they can be saved.

This job would have been much harder on the drive side as the chain wheel tends to foul the drill – but it tapped out OK.

ready for rust conversion

ready for rust conversion treatment

And this is what your complete overhaul ‘parts box’ might look like after the bike has been fully dismantled.

some cleaning and sorting jobs

some cleaning and sorting jobs ahead …

don't lose these parts, or the pushrod inside the axle either

don’t lose these parts, or the pushrod inside the axle either

And remember to take some time off between dirty jobs …

now relaxxxx ...

now relaxxxx …

See Ya !


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ahh, nostalgia !

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 !

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 !

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.

sub assemblies

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

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 theyre tiny ! --- the pawls and springs -stored in oil

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

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

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.

dust seal spacer, sprocket, snap ring

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 !

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

lost & found

Happy Re-cycling !



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not the road king - i just polished the brass bell !!

not the road king – i just polished the brass bell !!

I hadn’t ridden this bike for some time due to a wonky rear wheel, and was thinking of fixing and selling it, but of course as it was one of my favourite early rides, I had a feeling my thinking would come around !

The frame is a nice size( 58-59cm ) and the original 1984 model bike was only little used and straight framed, but the old SunRace derailleurs were clunky and have a splined freewheel in an old size that I can never find a tool for.

two-in-one - and no cables !

two-in-one – no cables !    and an 120mm O.L.D.

Then along came a new Sturmey Archer S2 Duomatic 2-speed hub laced to a 700c Vee-style rim at a price too good to overlook. These hubs have been available for a few years in their modern version and I had seen them fitted to some new cruiser bikes too.

The hub has a normal ( direct ) gear and one that is an 1.4x ( or 40% higher ) overdrive. My take on this is not to have ” high and higher ” but to have a useful low gear and a normal gear. To that end I used the inner 42T ring on the double chain set and adjusted the chain line in this case by using a dished 22T rear cog with the concave facing inward, to give a straight chain line.

The wheel came fitted with an 18T straight S-A cog – that would have been OK on a 34-36T ring for my purposes.

the new look

the new look

The 42 x 22T combo gives a first gear of around 51 inches and a top gear of 70 inches, giving brisk acceleration in low from low speeds and the equivalent of around a 42x16T “urban” top gear.  If you are the sort of rider who likes to chase down road bikes you will want a smaller rear cog, but with this combo you have an all-round flexible top with a bonus low for those short sharp hills. In this form, it is the rough equivalent of the second and fourth gears of a classic 10-speed, so the idea is to coast, not pedal, down the big hills.

the protector ring hides the outer chain wheel

the protector ring hides the redundant outer 52T chain wheel

As a rider who likes to always remain seated I find this a great set-up, and on a howling windy day like today i could appreciate the headwind cutting ability of the lower gear.

crikey - try pedalling against that !

crikey – try pedalling against that !

On a ten-speed on flattish ground I will often change from the big to the small ring all day, as required, leaving the rear mech. set around the middle cog, and this hub gives a similar feel …

new reflector, no rack

new reflector, no rack

The S2 makes two distinct types of freewheel clicking noises when coasting in either gear, high-loud and low-quiet. This is a simple way of telling the gear, and your gear will hold while coasting unless you pedal backward.

Gearchange is via a quick back-pedal, and while it takes a bit of getting used to it’s really no more fiddly than the trimming of friction shifter gears. The up-change is almost foolproof, backpedal to the first click and you are there ( approx. one-eighth revolution ), changing down is quieter and more tricky, though it’s not a problem to have to have a couple of goes now and again.

hiding from the wind ...

hiding from the wind …

Other alterations to the Road King included changing of the brake levers and callipers, bending the calliper arms to correct the toe-in, a 1/8″ single speed chain, new handgrips, a longer and lower stem, and of course removal of the redundant gear mechs. and levers.

The 27″ wheels are now 700c with Duro ‘Ene Ciclo’ 2-tone tyres and a Brooks B17 saddle replaces the trusty sprung B66, due to the less upright seating.

The bike is now refreshingly simple and a bit lighter, though the S2 hub is pretty hefty – similar in weight to a coaster brake or a 3-speed hub.

Even though the seating is only semi-upright, I found it a real ‘sit-up’ – since I have been mostly riding with drop bars lately !

new stem, no shifters

new stem, no shifters

I would really recommend this S2 hub as a simple yet clever bit of useful gear. I can only assume the coaster brake version may be a little more difficult to use because of the possible shift/brake movements conflict, but I am only guessing in this case.

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