Sturmey Archer Hub Gears

wannabecommuter

New Member
Location
London
Recently rode a dutch bike that may be around 30 years old for the first time. It has 3 speed Sturmey Archer AW hub gears and drum brakes.

Seemed to run fine on the flat. But on a short and not particularly steep incline, I switched down to first gear and put a load on the pedals to take me up. Then there was a noise from the direction of the hub, the gear disengaged and the pedals spun around freely. I had an audience at the time, which was nice.

Afterwards, second and third gear engaged fine, but in first gear the indicator chain(?) moves but the pedals just spin freely.

I searched forums and Google for some clues and founds some info on adjusting the indicator chain (involved checking part of it was flush in second gear, and checking that the indicator chain wasn't too loose in first). But to no avail.

Given the noise at the time I wonder if I've done some damage to something inside the hub.

The lever on the handlebar lever seems a little loose, as does the cable from the shifter, but I figured as second and third gears work, the problem doesn't lie here.

I'd be very grateful if anyone has any ideas of what may have happened and what the remedy might be.

Many thanks.
 

Gerry Attrick

Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant
If you are certain the adjustment of the indicator is correct, I would suspect the first gear pawls have worn. If you can get them, its a relatively easy job to replace them, but if you are not confident mechanically, then I would suggest an old-style LBS with older staff may be able to help.
 

tyred

Legendary Member
Location
Ireland
The indicator rod should be fully pulled out when in first gear. Lift the back of the bike of the ground, hold the indicator rod or exposed part of cable tight and see try and turn the pedals. If first gear is now engaged, you have a cable/selector/adjustment issue. If not it looks like the hub. It is perfectly feasible to swap the entire gear assembly out of another hub into your shell. If you usually do your own repairs to your bike, your car, washing machine or anything else, you can do this.

There are lots of exploded diagrams on the net. In your case, you will need to remove the drum brake first before working on the geared part of the hub but it should have the same internals as any other AW hub.
 
OP
W

wannabecommuter

New Member
Location
London
Thanks very much for you advice Tyred and Gerry, much appreciated.

I tried lifting the backwheel and pulling the indicator tight, but first gear would still not engage.

I'll look into getting replacement pawls as you suggest. I'm not good at all at mechanical things, but will find someone to help.

If that doesn't do it I'll ask a bike mechanic to see if he can repair/replace the inner workings of the hub.

Thanks again for you help.
 
OP
W

wannabecommuter

New Member
Location
London
Been doing a bit more research - well, Googling anyway - and found one suggestion that first gear might freewheel if pawls get stuck and that they might be 'loosened' by applying a light oil until it drips though then apply a heavier oil.

Does anyone have any thoughts on that idea, and what oils might be used? If it makes a difference, I misread the hub and it's actually an AB with the number "80".
 

PpPete

Guru
Location
Chandler's Ford
Not too much help on SA I'm afraid... but ordinary freewheel hubs certainly do get stuck (usually at lower temps)
Sheldon has a guide for dis-assembling and servicing those.....along with the advice not to bother. Would imagine that applies even more so to SA hubs.

Dribbling light oil (something like 3 in 1 maybe) through it MIGHT work if you are lucky.

If it were mine I'd be looking to buy a new hub (if available) and rebuild the wheel - that's a lot easier than messing with the internals of 30 y.o. hubs
 

tyred

Legendary Member
Location
Ireland
You certainly could try a light oil. My preference would be diesel. Fill the hub and lift the wheel and pedal in all gears, let it sit for a while and then drain it out and then put in two spoonfuls of light engine oil and try the hub again.
 

Gerry Attrick

Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant
porkypete said:
Not too much help on SA I'm afraid... but ordinary freewheel hubs certainly do get stuck (usually at lower temps)
Sheldon has a guide for dis-assembling and servicing those.....along with the advice not to bother. Would imagine that applies even more so to SA hubs.

Dribbling light oil (something like 3 in 1 maybe) through it MIGHT work if you are lucky.

If it were mine I'd be looking to buy a new hub (if available) and rebuild the wheel - that's a lot easier than messing with the internals of 30 y.o. hubs
Sheldon's advice about not dismantling freewheels is wise. You generally end up with springs and pawls whizzing all over the place and in any event, they are relatively cheap to replace. SA three and four speed hubs are fairly easy to work on and nowhere near as complex as the exploded diagrams suggest.
 

ASC1951

Guru
Location
Yorkshire
Here is another one for you SA gurus, then...

I have an ASC three speed fixed hub which I keep meaning to put into a modern frame. One thing I wasn't able to find was the correct trigger for it, but those are pug-ugly anyway, so would I be able to use a Campag Ergo shifter instead?

I was thinking of the left Ergo, which is just a continuous ratchet, rather than the right which IIRC is indexed.
 

hubgearfreak

Über Member
pete you should be ashamed of yourself. fancy giving advice on what to do and not do on a subject you think may be hard but haven't tried. it's KNOWHOW, not thinkhow:tongue:

porkypete said:
Would imagine that applies even more so to SA hubs.

Dribbling light oil (something like 3 in 1 maybe) through it MIGHT work if you are lucky.

If it were mine I'd be looking to buy a new hub (if available) and rebuild the wheel - that's a lot easier than messing with the internals of 30 y.o. hubs
1. whatever you imagine , it's not the case. sheldon not only gives advice on how to do it, he also gives advice on how to modify them:rolleyes:
2. don't use 3-in1. it won't lubricate things properly or for very long.
3. it's easier to rebuild a hub than to build a wheel, by a long shot. and i've done both, so it's not just my imagination

to the OP. . . . . the hub's 30 years old and probably hasn't had its required drip of oil on a monthly basis. to strip it down, clean every bit in white spirit, leave to fully & properly dry and reassemble with fresh 30 sae motor oil will imeasurably improve things. when it's in bit's you'll soon see if the pawls are shagged (i doubt it), but in any case fit new pawlsprings (probably the fault) whilst you're there

here's a thread worth reading, but read the online factory repair sheets in conjunction with the video before you start. if you can't find them,. pm me your email address and i'll send it to you.

http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=34132&hilit=sturmey+strip

derek at http://oldbiketrader.co.uk/display_Sturmey_Archer.php?options=internalhubparts has all the bits that you'll need.
 

ASC1951

Guru
Location
Yorkshire
Gerry Attrick said:
What's a three speed fixed hub?
Well, it's exactly that. They were quite popular for time trialling in the 50s and early 60s, before the derailleurs became widespread. The ratios on mine are 100%, 90%, 75%.

Why would you want to use a modern shifter with (I assume to be) a vintage hub?
Because I'm only interested in function, not form. No-one makes a variable fixed hub nowadays, but there are lots of different types of triggers, so if a modern one works better I'm perfectly happy to use it. If the new owners of SA ever make a variable fixed, I'll buy one.
 

buddha

Veteran
Can I just butt in to advise NOT to dribble 'light oil' into the hub?
Been there. Done That = Wrecked hub :smile:
 
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