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Proper lube for a freewheel
#1
I'm almost embarrassed that I don't know this...

After 35+ years my Atom(ic) Bombe freewheel has developed a noticeable slop when under load so I acquired a used Shimano 600 5 cog freewheel as a replacement.

After a thorough cleaning, it was obvious that the new-used freewheel needed lubrication, so I dripped Tri-Flow teflon into the body until it spun smoothly and quietly.

Then I got thinking... (this is where I typically l get into trouble) maybe I should have dissembled the body and packed the pawl mechanism with grease instead of dripping chain lube into it. As I was about to purchase a pin spanner to open the body, it occurred to me that I have no idea what is the proper lube for a freewheel hub and the reason the Atom(ic) ate its lunch was from using too light a lube.

So, what's the correct lube to use in a freewheel mechanism?
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#2
A light lube is correct to use. Grease will gum up the pawls, which need to move freely. Tri-Flow is a good one to use.

Wear happens inside freewheels - they will not last for ever. 35 years is amazing long life, and indicates that it was well maintained. It probably needs new pawls, new balls, new springs, new housing, new pivot pins, etc.

You may also want to look at IRD's latest freewheels, which are available in five, six and seven cog configurations.
Nigel
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#3
nfm;isso, thank you for the advice. It makes good sense that grease would inhibit the pawls' movement. Glad I asked.

I've never dissemble a freewheel, so I'm just guessing... But isn't there a bearing inside too? Shouldn't it be packed with grease like an axle or bottom bracket? Or is the load from the chain tension so little that light lube is sufficient for it too?

I was considering a brand new IRD freewheel... agonizing over which combination of cogs... when this lightly used Shimano came along. IRD says that their freewheel is patterned on the Shimano 600.

There are also some NOS SunTour freewheels available for anyone who wants a new quality replacement
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#4
there are a LOT of little bearings inside freewheels - light oil is fine. There is nothing to prevent the lube on the bearings from being the lube on the pawls inside.

Suntour stuff is great - but you need a different tool to remove their freewheels, and it is not as robust as the current Shimano design used by Sunrace, IRD and others. There is a chance that you will not be able to get a Suntour freewheel off because of the two prong tool messing up the freewheel.
Nigel
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