Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

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Brucey
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Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby Brucey » 12 Nov 2020, 11:36am

There is a theory that after the nuclear apocalypse the Earth will be populated by cockroaches, and the only other recognisable thing will be Sturmey Archer three speed hubs. There is another theory that says that cockroaches will inevitably start to ride bicycles as a result.

So the question is just how bad does one have to get before it is a complete goner? The answer is 'pretty bad', but we don't know just how bad. Oddly enough much older hubs often fare better than more recent ones; old hubs have an oiling port but since some time in the mid-'80s they have lacked this feature and are lubricated with grease instead.

This means that older hubs have at least seen some oil and this often helps prevent corrosion when the water gets inside. By contrast when greased hubs get water inside the result is usually some festering, creeping corrosion that stops the hub from working. Oddly enough you can add oil to a greased hub, via the hollow axle, but most folk don't realise this, so don't bother doing it.

I recently cut a rather rusty 1996 vintage (non-NIG type) AW hub out of an old wheel and proceeded (with difficulty) to dismantle it. I say with difficulty because water had been inside this hub for some time and the corrosion was bad enough that it certainly wouldn't actually turn (even with a spanner on it) and several parts of the hub only came apart using a hammer and drift. Of the four 'R' springs only one was recognisable, but of course not fit for further use. I found half of another one, and of the other two there was no sign; they had rusted away altogether. The rust was still wet and I foolishly left the ball ring screwed in the hubshell finger tight. Rust never sleeps, so two weeks later I needed tools to shift it again.

Image01937.jpg
"the horror...." - this is what can happen if you let water get inside a SA hub.


I'm both slightly masochistic and full of curiosity, so just for kicks I'm going to try and resurrect this hub.

What do folks reckon; some chance, every chance, or no chance...?

cheers
Last edited by Brucey on 12 Nov 2020, 4:29pm, edited 1 time in total.
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mjr
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby mjr » 12 Nov 2020, 12:01pm

Brucey wrote:There is another theory that says that cockroaches will inevitably start to bicycles as a result.

Missing verb? To what bicycles?

Great start to the story. I reckon you'll manage to repair that, but I wouldn't like to bet against it needing so many parts that it'll be like Trigger's broom with only a few survivors.

Even though they've been around nowhere near as long as the 1930s-design AWs, I've seen far more corrosion horror pics of Shimano Nexus 3 hubs. Has the move from oil filler caps used monthly to grease lube at servicing been a mistake? Servicing-only lube allows the hub to be designed with tighter seals, but sea air is an invasive swine, so maybe it's better to expect the hub to leak and attempt to mitigate it...
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Psamathe
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby Psamathe » 12 Nov 2020, 12:42pm

What are your thoughts on the modern (currently new) SA hub?. In general but I'm considering a set-up with a 3-speed SA hub (plus derailleur) and that they are sealed or not user maintainable worries me a bit for tour (compared to traditional e.g. triple).

Ian

alexnharvey
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby alexnharvey » 12 Nov 2020, 12:54pm

One cone on the left looks a bit pitted whereas the one on the right doesn't look so bad? Are the other race surfaces pitted or smooth and are you thinking about polishing the rough ones?

I expect it'll work but it'll be a bit rough, a bit like my rusted nexus 8 was after an overhaul, although it wasn't half as bad as that, a much smaller amount of water ingress that only really corroded the largest ball bearing race.

Cyckelgalen
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby Cyckelgalen » 12 Nov 2020, 1:23pm

I'd vote for almost no chance to revive it. You will get it to turn but it won't be viable for long. Once you remove that ammount of rust that has already gnawed at the metal, there will be massive play between the parts and that will accelerate terminal wear.

By the way, if I may ask, how do Sachs/sram 3 speed hubs compare to these SA hubs? Any chance they might ever be of marginal use to cockroaches?
Last edited by Cyckelgalen on 12 Nov 2020, 7:31pm, edited 1 time in total.

mig
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby mig » 12 Nov 2020, 1:39pm

using just those parts? or are you allowed a few spares/replacements?

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simonineaston
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby simonineaston » 12 Nov 2020, 1:42pm

All depends on the state of the ball races... As an eternal optimist *, I have10p that says it will run - and run good, once you've finished, Brucey!
* I'm joking, of course...
(rides: Brompton nano & ever-changing Moultons)

bgnukem
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby bgnukem » 12 Nov 2020, 1:46pm

Maybe immerse all the parts in an oxide stripper (such as Bilt Hamber Deox) and see how much metal is left when the iron oxide is removed!

rogerzilla
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby rogerzilla » 12 Nov 2020, 1:46pm

It'll work but will always rumble, as the bearings will be pitted.

Tiberius
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby Tiberius » 12 Nov 2020, 1:55pm

I have no doubt whatsoever that you will fix it....so I'm in with 'every chance'

Those rusty parts should clean up OK and the springs and bearings can be replaced easily, and cheaply, enough (assuming that's allowed)

Plus (and this is a big PLUS)...You want to repair it. Your personal 'I'm going to repair this thing if it kills me' instinct will kick in. You've repaired lots of these things - you could pull one apart with your eyes shut..NO WAY will you let 'defeat' creep into this project. It would drive me nuts if I didn't get that going angain and I bet you would feel that same.

Crack on !!... :mrgreen:

Brucey
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby Brucey » 12 Nov 2020, 4:52pm

Psamathe wrote:What are your thoughts on the modern (currently new) SA hub?. In general but I'm considering a set-up with a 3-speed SA hub (plus derailleur) and that they are sealed or not user maintainable worries me a bit for tour (compared to traditional e.g. triple).


There are currently two distinctly different types of SA 3s hub available; the toggle chain 3s hub (NIG AW, SRF3, X-RD3, Brompton BSR etc) and the rotary shifting 3s hubs (RX***).

The latter hubs suffer from the rather fundamental issue that they will only build into a seriously dished, seriously weakened wheel. One of the Big Advantages of IGHs is that they build into wheels which are inherently stronger than those found on derailleur geared bikes; well not this one. All the rotary shifting gubbins takes up about 12-13mm on the RHS of the axle and this pushes both hub flanges ~13mm leftwards vs a toggle chain 3s hub.

The current toggle chain NIG AW owes much to the older AW but ultimately it isn't so robust; in use the NIG aspect serves to mask poor gear adjustment and the result is that folk more often ride these hubs until they break( rather than notice the neutral which has appeared and adjust it out). That said it is easily the strongest 3s hub (of any made in the last 20 years) and it is also the most easily repaired, both in terms of complexity and parts availability. The SRAM hub is no longer made and whilst it was a good hub at one point the last iteration isn't missed by anyone; it was pretty hopeless, containing designed-in problems as well as accidental ones which were introduced by poor QA during manufacture. There are way fewer small parts you can buy for shimano Nexus 3s hubs, and Madison seem very reluctant to actually stock any; for example the last time I ordered Nexus 3s cones I had to wait nearly two months for them.... :roll:

So a pre-NIG AW is probably stronger than any of the above.... but a NIG 3s is a reasonable alternative.

cheers
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Brucey
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby Brucey » 12 Nov 2020, 5:02pm

regarding rust and rumbling; I don't doubt that there will be some pitting on the bearing surfaces (rather than none) but I am vaguely optimistic about how bad it is going to be. And whilst having lube which is contaminated with anything is fairly obviously sub-optimal, I can't help but wonder just how close finely divided rust is to being a kind of ersatz jeweller's rouge, just polishing the wearing parts smoother and smoother as they are ridden....?

We shall see, anyway....

cheers
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goatwarden
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby goatwarden » 12 Nov 2020, 5:06pm

Your picture and the description of the R-sprins' condition seem very similar to my own X-RD3 which I originally took out of the scrap at the recycling project I help with. From memory I spent about £20 on bits from SJS Cycles (this inflated as one part - I think it was a r/h bearing? - seemed overpriced) and did a lot of cleaning before building it into a wheel which has served me very well for the last four years as a winter hack.

Sid Aluminium
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby Sid Aluminium » 12 Nov 2020, 7:09pm

Brucey wrote:The latter hubs suffer from the rather fundamental issue that they will only build into a seriously dished, seriously weakened wheel. One of the Big Advantages of IGHs is that they build into wheels which are inherently stronger than those found on derailleur geared bikes; well not this one. All the rotary shifting gubbins takes up about 12-13mm on the RHS of the axle and this pushes both hub flanges ~13mm leftwards vs a toggle chain 3s hub.


In the derailleur world, I'm seeing up to 13 cogs on one side of the rear hub. I'm seeing dished front wheels to make room for disc brakes. In the third millennium is wheel dish still a real problem or just something old guys worry about?

Brucey
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Re: Sturmey Archer AW; the thing that wouldn't die?

Postby Brucey » 12 Nov 2020, 7:37pm

Sid Aluminium wrote:...In the derailleur world, I'm seeing up to 13 cogs on one side of the rear hub. I'm seeing dished front wheels to make room for disc brakes. In the third millennium is wheel dish still a real problem or just something old guys worry about?


I see broken wheels nearly every day. A good fraction of them broke, or broke more easily than they should have because of the dishing. A new one on me the other day; a ~550g 36h rim from a good maker with cracks around the DS spoke drillings. It was in a wheel with an IGH in it.... :shock:

cheers
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