( As the late, great, Elvis used to say once upon a time… )
And this Recyclist has certainly been a-rubbing a lot of hubs lately, perhaps in the forlorn hope that the Hard Rubbish Genie will grant him his wishes for an unloved De Rosa, Tommasini or similar to be cast aside, unloved, on the footpaths of his home town …
Anyhow, enough dreaming, it’s luck, observation, haste, and a trained bikey-nose that bring home the bacon on hard rubbish days.
I like the idea of having a mini-warehouse of preserved, restored, and useful parts, hopefully well organised and ready to hand at a moment’s notice. Not only that, but storing things as parts mean that one can do a proper and complete bike rebuild without having to scavenge through a whole yard full of rusty bikes. To be honest though, one has to be a bit selective as to which parts are : (a) most desirable, and / or (b) most likely to be useful in a future restoration considering the limited time one has available to pre-overhaul them.
In the case of old hubs, it’s a good idea to get inside and check the bearings and cones, but you can usually feel any roughness at first by slowly turning the axle around with the thumb and index finger much like a “safe-cracker” feeling for the ‘combination’. If the bearings drag then either the hub is too tight or the bearings are shot, ( often both ! ) and usually the cones are pitted as well. A firm wiggle of the rim or axle will indicate any looseness or play. Any hard rubbish bike will likely need it’s hubs overhauled as the grease is inevitably dry ( and should be checked regardless ).
Sometimes I find a ‘jackpot’ hub like this steel Japanese “Chair” brand from a Graecross Pro Ten that is in beautiful running order. Smooth races, shiny ball bearings and pit free cone tracks.
A thorough clean in solvent, the application of fresh grease, and re-assembly / re-adjustment … job done.
These hubs are really useful for restoring the more basic ‘ten-speeders’ as they have the 95mm locknut width and skinny 5/16″ axles to fit many low end to mid range 50s thru to 80s bikes as so often their axle is bent ( roll it on a flat surface ) or the cones are shot. Being a common 36 hole hub it will fit many classic (or even some more modern ) rims.
I make it a policy to save whatever straight and unworn parts I can off these front hubs – axles, shells, nuts, cones, etc. Yes I know that steel forks can be forced wider, but I prefer not to do that if I can avoid it. These skinny ‘roadster and sports-bike’ hubs will need careful adjustment and more frequent overhauls if they are to last.
I can never say enough times that if you want to be a serious recyclist you should be able to overhaul hubs, dismantle, clean and rebuild wheels. I’m so glad that I’ve learned the basics, for the sake of convenience – and my wallet. You will be too.
To clean hubs I use old toothbrushes, kerosene, rags, ( fine steel wool and rust converter for steel shells ), then to polish the shells it’s fine steel wool again, autosol, rags, and also calico cloth buffers on both a dremel tool and an electric drill.
A pair of Italian Ofmega road hubs look very much like classic Campagnolos in appearance with their steel oil hole cover clips. They are 100mm & 126mm over the locknuts and suitable for a 5 or 6 speed thread-on freewheel. Ofmega hubs are said to have more fragile cones and races than Shimano or Campagnolo. This is probably true, in my limited experience, but they do look great, with their elegant curves and milky alloy finish.
A pair of Shimano 600, the rear with an early Uniglide 5-speed freehub that takes a cassette where the smallest cog is the ‘locknut’ . I have a close ratio corncob 13-17T and 14-28T cassettes to match. Later Hyperglide cogs will fit these only if the wide positioning key / lug is filed down but you still need that final locking cog at the small end. 1980s Shimano 600 hubs are very well made, pretty, and long lasting too if routinely serviced.
Sunshine ( a.k.a Sansin ? ) is a brand I haven’t had much experience with, but this seems to be a decent mid-range rear. This hub was found to be in good internal condition and cleaned up nicely.
The high flange Suzue front and the 1975 Normandy pair needed new cones and bearings, though that’s not to say they all will. High flange hubs look great but as they use shorter spokes than low flange ones their wheels may be less compliant than equivalent small flangers. Although not the only factor for ride quality It’s worth considering your riding preferences and tyres with any particular frame-set you’re considering fitting them to.
This Shimano O-Type coaster has been more recently copied by other manufacturers such as Hi-Speed and Falcon, however this one seems lighter than the newer copies. As with any old coaster a front handbrake could be a good idea in modern traffic or if the coaster fails to brake well after rebuilding – and you won’t really know until it’s up and running. This one dates from around 1984 and is a good stopper.
Hopefully, the next few posts will feature a few bikes that are now wearing some of these hubs.
Happy Re-Cycling !