Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

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mnahon
Posts: 4
Joined: 13 Jun 2020, 5:30pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby mnahon » 30 Sep 2020, 1:00am

Thanks for those responses. My concern with the drain hole and what I've read of the oil change process is that due to the slowness of the draining, I can imagine particles left behind in suspension in a film coating the interior of the hub shell and the gears. That's why I think it's worth opening up to get a sense for what's going on inside---e.g. to see how it looks after the oil has been emptied and to see if there's any sludge buildup.

In the meantime, I think the magnet is a good addition. Whatever metallic particles I can pull out of the hub are better off outside than left inside.

For refilling, I can see there's no particular advantage of not doing it through the fill hole. I should be able to get a sense for how much oil I wipe off when cleaning, so as to add a bit extra to compensate.

drodrig
Posts: 1
Joined: 31 Oct 2020, 6:44pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby drodrig » 5 Nov 2020, 9:38pm

CXRAndy wrote:Ive just modified my Alfine drain plug to a magnetic version

I acquired a batch of 3 mm Neodymium magnets 0.29 kg pull

I set the drain plug in a piece of alloy to hold it whilst I drilled the required hole. By the way the thread for the drain plug is 6mm by 1mm pitch

I drilled a couple of millimetres into the plug applied Araldite steel epoxy adhesive. Its oil, chemical resistant.

Set magnet in hole left to cure for a couple of hours


How long is the screw?

Could one use a "normal" (DIN 912, hexagonal internal head) screw with an o-ring?

thanks!

severs1966
Posts: 20
Joined: 23 Aug 2014, 2:52pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby severs1966 » 21 Nov 2020, 7:52pm

mnahon wrote:Thanks for those responses. My concern with the drain hole and what I've read of the oil change process is that due to the slowness of the draining...


You can improve the oil change process by basically stealing the Rohloff oil change method. Instead of draining the hub and then re-filling it with new oil, as per the Shimano method, you drain the hub and fill it with "washing oil" (a thin oil, such as yellow metal compatible ATF). You then run the hub up and down the gears by hand-cranking the pedals on a workstand, or even in the traditional "upside down on the floor" position. Then you drain the "washing oil" and replace it with the proper all-year-round hub oil.

You can do this by simply buying a Rohloff oil change pack, consisting of "Spülöl" ("washing oil") and "Ganzjahresöl" (all-year-round hub oil) or you can substitute the two oils by whatever the Rohloff enthusiasts recommend in the forums. Rohloff's all-year-round oil is generally described as being the same stuff, more or less, as Shimano Alfine hub oil.

I posted a more detailed item about Alfine 11 oil changes and their overlap with Rohloff over at Bike forums:

https://www.bikeforums.net/21595504-post32.html

I can post a summary of what oils I use if anyone wants, following conversations with oil experts who figured oil what the Rohloff oils and Shimano oils are.

rotavator
Posts: 564
Joined: 6 Jun 2016, 9:50pm
Location: North Wales

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby rotavator » 21 Nov 2020, 9:01pm

Yes please tell us suitable, cheaper replacements for the Rohloff cleaning oil and year-round oil. It would be handy when my current cans run out.

jb
Posts: 1044
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 12:17pm
Location: Clitheroe

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jb » 22 Nov 2020, 9:20pm

The Rohloff has plastic or nylon parts, the Alfine doesn't. You need to be sure the oil whether washing oil or lubricant doesn't cause the plastic to swell.
Last edited by jb on 22 Nov 2020, 10:27pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cheers
J Bro

rotavator
Posts: 564
Joined: 6 Jun 2016, 9:50pm
Location: North Wales

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby rotavator » 22 Nov 2020, 10:16pm

I think I will stick to the Rohloff oils rather than risk damage.

severs1966
Posts: 20
Joined: 23 Aug 2014, 2:52pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby severs1966 » 24 Nov 2020, 3:05pm

rotavator wrote:Yes please tell us suitable, cheaper replacements for the Rohloff cleaning oil and year-round oil. It would be handy when my current cans run out.


Having spoken to an oil specialist I know, these are the oils I started to use for my Alfine 11:

As "wash oil", a yellow metal compatible ATF: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/254532256054 (I bought a 2-pack because I needed some ATF for other purposes, you may not actually need so much)

As "all year oil", a 75W90 Fully Synthetic Gear Oil (API GL 4+) which is, once again, yellow metal compatible: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302918679363

Note that I didn't ask about plastic swelling so I am not recommending these for a Rohloff, but the principle that you can use genuine Rohloff oil in an Alfine 11 hub still stands, allowing you the "wash oil" functionality. On the basis that the "wash oil" is only in the hub for a few minutes, you could probably substitute fully synthetic ATF for "wash oil" even in a Rohloff hub. I haven't tried it, though.

While we are discussing oil substitutes, I use another Mannol oil for mineral oil hydraulic disc brakes, a "Citroen" LHM+ oil:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302918701938 and actually, anyone's LHM+ will work, such as Total, who make the "genuine" Citroen LHM+ oil.

zeluzel
Posts: 22
Joined: 27 Jan 2020, 11:38am
Location: Wrocław, PL

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby zeluzel » 3 Dec 2020, 2:14am

@severs thanks for detailed information! It's good to have an opinion of real specialist, when it comes to things as esotheric as bike parts lubrication xD. Btw. what exactly did he/she tell you? Anything specific about it's ingredients etc.?

Sooo... https://forums.mtbr.com/internal-gear-hubs/whats-current-verdict-alfine-11-a-786497-2.html :p? Did Shimano do any improvements along the way? It seems that most of the bad experiences come from users of early versions of hub - anyone of you ride a new SG-7001 with:
Improved internal structure for better gear engagement,
Smooth shifting performance,
Improved performance for both E-BIKE and non-E-BIKE usage
?

Brucey
Posts: 42205
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 3 Dec 2020, 8:50am

IIRC there is no yellow metal in either Rohloff or A11 hubs so a GL4 oil specification is not required. It is also questionable whether the operating conditions would cause a problem with GL5 oils even if there were yellow metals present.

The flushing oil should be near as good a lubricant as the main oil, because there is always quite a lot of flushing oil left inside the hub.

IMHO you should definitely not use ATF in an alfine hub because it will almost certainly contain seal swelling additives in it which will wreck the seals in an alfine hub ( I have BTDT).

If you want to 'flush' with standard oil, you can; just change the oil, run the hub for a hundred miles, then change the oil again. If the oil still comes out dirty then consider a further change.

By 'dirty' I mean loaded up with contaminants and wear debris; you can test the old oil by using a magnet to pick up any wear debris from the bottom of the (plastic) container that you drained the old oil into. Having removed the magnet, wash the oil off the magnet using a suitable solvent. Examination of the magnet using a good magnifying glass will show if there are wear particles present or not. IME oil never comes out of well-used A11 hubs that isn't loaded up with wear debris.

AFAICT the oils specified by both Rohloff and Shimano are considerably higher specification than automotive (GL4, GL5) gearbox oils. Nonetheless when bought in bulk such oils are not mind-bendingly expensive. I have run all kinds of IGHs in all kinds of lubricants and a half-decent automotive gear oil will work in most of them. It will certainly be better than really dirty oil, or worse yet, nothing. But it is unlikely to be quite as good a lubricant as either shimano or rohloff oil. If you have no other choice but to use a (suspected) inferior oil, it would be prudent to change it more often than normal.

Arguably the main reason for not changing the oil more often anyway is that it costs time and money. If you are DIYing and have purchased a reasonable quantity of oil then the only reason then not to do it more often is probably sloth.

BTW there are only detail differences internally between current and previous A11 versions.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

severs1966
Posts: 20
Joined: 23 Aug 2014, 2:52pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby severs1966 » 6 Dec 2020, 12:02pm

zeluzel wrote:@severs thanks for detailed information! It's good to have an opinion of real specialist, when it comes to things as esoteric as bike parts lubrication xD. Btw. what exactly did he/she tell you? Anything specific about it's ingredients etc.?

He told me a lot of stuff, but i didn't understand it all. I'm not a chemist. The message did seem to be that both genuine Rohloff oil and genuine Shimano oil is much less exotic than they would like you to believe.

Brucey wrote:IIRC there is no yellow metal in either Rohloff or A11 hubs so a GL4 oil specification is not required. It is also questionable whether the operating conditions would cause a problem with GL5 oils even if there were yellow metals present.

The yellow metal thing might have been to do with being able to use the same oil in Sturmey hubs.

Brucey wrote:The flushing oil should be near as good a lubricant as the main oil, because there is always quite a lot of flushing oil left inside the hub. IMHO you should definitely not use ATF in an alfine hub because it will almost certainly contain seal swelling additives in it which will wreck the seals in an alfine hub ( I have BTDT).

If you want to 'flush' with standard oil, you can; just change the oil, run the hub for a hundred miles, then change the oil again. If the oil still comes out dirty then consider a further change.

That's useful info. Maybe I will use the main oil for both purposes.

Brucey wrote:BTW there are only detail differences internally between current and previous A11 versions.

I have read a lot of forum entries that suggest that these might only be "details" but they are details that boost the reliability of the A11 greatly; its first couple of years of manufacture were marred by design flaws that caused hubs to fail completely and there were a lot of warranty returns. The design update supposedly cured this.

Brucey
Posts: 42205
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 6 Dec 2020, 2:25pm

no yellow metal in SA hubs either.

He told me a lot of stuff, but i didn't understand it all. I'm not a chemist. The message did seem to be that both genuine Rohloff oil and genuine Shimano oil is much less exotic than they would like you to believe


It depends whether you consider fully synthetic PAO ester based gear oil with a highly specific additive package as 'exotic' or not. [IIRC this is what the rohloff oil is, and the shimano stuff is likely to be similar.] You almost certainly won't be buying this if you nip down to halfords and buy stuff that meets GL4 or GL5 specs.... :roll:

Re alfine 11 unreliability; the vast majority of troubles (read this thread...) in early hubs were caused by poor manufacturing tolerances meaning that the hub wasn't correctly set when the yellow marks were lined up. Shimano appear to have addressed (but not entirely fixed) this early on. When they created a revised model they took the opportunity to strengthen various parts inside the hub, but in the main these parts only gave trouble in older model hubs if the hub was ridden whilst out of adjustment....

So I would have no qualms about running an older model A11 hub on the road, provided it was adjusted correctly. However I'd favour a later model A11 if much harder offroad use or e-bike use is envisaged, because this is where any detail changes might make a difference.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RJC
Posts: 157
Joined: 30 Jan 2007, 7:17pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby RJC » 6 Dec 2020, 3:57pm

severs1966 wrote:
zeluzel wrote:He told me a lot of stuff, but i didn't understand it all. I'm not a chemist. The message did seem to be that both genuine Rohloff oil and genuine Shimano oil is much less exotic than they would like you to believe.


Just to be clear - your friend did some tests on samples of these oils?

severs1966
Posts: 20
Joined: 23 Aug 2014, 2:52pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby severs1966 » 6 Dec 2020, 10:19pm

RJC wrote:
severs1966 wrote:
zeluzel wrote:He told me a lot of stuff, but i didn't understand it all. I'm not a chemist. The message did seem to be that both genuine Rohloff oil and genuine Shimano oil is much less exotic than they would like you to believe.


Just to be clear - your friend did some tests on samples of these oils?


Yes, It was arranged between a number of us that run IGHs as we sought a supply of oil that isn't expensive. He works for a company I can't name, that moreor less tests commercially available "fancy" oils and then markets copies to companies that buy in bulk. He works for a company that has a manufacturing plant on Humberside. His workplace is full of chromatographs and other sexy machinery.

RJC
Posts: 157
Joined: 30 Jan 2007, 7:17pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby RJC » 6 Dec 2020, 10:56pm

severs1966 wrote:
RJC wrote:
severs1966 wrote:


Just to be clear - your friend did some tests on samples of these oils?


Yes, It was arranged between a number of us that run IGHs as we sought a supply of oil that isn't expensive. He works for a company I can't name, that moreor less tests commercially available "fancy" oils and then markets copies to companies that buy in bulk. He works for a company that has a manufacturing plant on Humberside. His workplace is full of chromatographs and other sexy machinery.


Any results from these test would be of interest. It will probably mostly mean nothing to me but I expect there will be others who understand these things.

Karx
Posts: 6
Joined: 8 Dec 2020, 4:20pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Karx » 8 Dec 2020, 9:07pm

Hello all,

I am new to the forum, though have been reading through many threads and finally decided to ask for help with a specific issue in regards to A-11.

I've recently took on a project to replace my perfectly functioning Alfine 8 IGH with Alfine 11. Hub and shifter was no longer being used on my wife's bike, but has been sitting and collecting dust for a while. Hub had some oil leak on drive side but seems to be common/normal with experience from most of the users.
Before putting the wheel on my bike I went ahead and took the internals out (removed the brake rotor, left side cone, sprocket from the drive side along with dust caps and shifter mechanism), remaining oil seemed to be in light green color which was good news as to my recollection bike was not used that much. I haven't messed around with the actual gear/drive unit and just gave it a bath in ATF (drained properly after). After all the oil dripped away I took off the lock nut from the drive side and removed a washer with a seal (shaped like multi-point star), cleaned any debris off and put everything back together, filled it with ~28ml of oil due to the fact that I cleaned the inner shell and drained the old oil from the drive unit (3ml to compensate for that). None of the internals seemed to be damaged or with any signs of wear, no metal shavings in the oil as it still was green-ish color.
Long story short, after putting everything back together, installing shifter mechanism and brand new cable I shifted to gear 6, aligned the yellow marks on the shifter mechanism and thought this is it. After this and further research I decided to ask for help.

Sitrep: Hub seems to have 1, 2 and 7th gears only. I have not ridden the bike but just tried operating the pedals by hand not to cause any damage. Shifter shifts to all the gears with no problem, but all the rest of the gears (3,4,5,6,8,9,10 and 11) are non existent as I can move the pedals about 10 degrees and then it locks/feels stiff. It almost feels like a handbrake is put on. Pedals however move so slightly after changing the gear on the shifter, which indicates that internals are moving. If I walk the bike or if I spin the wheel forward it all seems fine in all gears, wheel does not spin backwards that freely.

I think I covered everything that was worth mentioning. From the possible symptoms I suspect and fear that issues could be related to:
- The way I put back together seal/washer which goes behind the sprocket. I did follow shimano repair guide;
- Internal drive unit (fear the most)
- Shifting mechanism installed incorrectly
- Lack of oil :?:
- Cable adjustment

Would anyone foresee what could potentially be wrong with it based on the details above?

Appreciate any help!

Thank you,