Stripped down and cleaned up
After 22 months, well over fifteen thousand kilometres and zero love, the modified Sturmey Archer hub on my commuter bike finally decided that enough was enough. I first wrote about the bike when I’d finished building it back in April 2016 and then provided a bit of an updated on how everything had been performing in May 2017. I wanted to see just how far the hub could go, and after the last two weeks of some terrible noises I got my answer. For someone who considers themselves to normally be a pretty mechanically sympathetic person, this was an unpleasant experience.
In the end it was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the driveside axle cartridge bearing that proved to be the weakest link. In fact, it was the weakest link by quite some margin as the other two bearings are rotating as smoothly as the day I fitted them, while the rest of the hub was functioning well. All that was needed now was to replace the one cartridge bearing followed by a good clean and re-build.
The hardest part of stripping the hub down was trying to unscrew the ball ring from the hub shell, which had seized after nearly two years of being covered in salt and muck – I ended up soaking it in GT85 and providing the necessary encouragement with a hammer and blunt punch. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a subtler way of doing it (I’ve bought the Sturmey Archer tool, supposedly designed for the job, but I find it hopelessly inadequate).
The hub internals greased up and ready to get pressed back into service
Once inside the hub I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. As I mentioned, the other two cartridge bearings are still spinning smoothly and so these have gone straight back into the hub for some more punishment, while the grease at the non-driveside end of the hub shell still looked like new. After the liberal application of some degreaser followed by some fresh grease, the hub has been rebuilt and is as good as new. The driverside cartridge bearing has been replaced. The original was a budget, non-branded item, so this time I’ve splashed out on an SKF number to see what sort of difference this might make. This way I’ll hopefully get even longer service out of the hub before it requires its next overhaul.
All back together again and ready for the commute