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Shimano 333 brought back from the dead

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  • rich_as_a_queen
    Just like to share a success story. A few years ago I picked up an old Shimano 3-Speed hub (type F), with the cable & shifter, which was laced to a wheel from
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 2, 2012
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      Just like to share a success story.

      A few years ago I picked up an old Shimano 3-Speed hub (type F), with the cable & shifter, which was laced to a wheel from some kid's bike, probably from the 70's. It showed very little wear at all. I removed the hub and had it laced to full sized rim and have been using it in a track-bike frame.

      I'd read on the web that these hubs are not very tough, but I make sure to keep the hub oiled, and the shifter-cable properly adjusted because I remember from my youth that the usual way to damage these hubs is to mash the pedals while between gears. Mine's proven to be very tough. I've been climbing some quite steep hills with never a slipped pawl or missed gear. The hub has been able to take everything I throw at it.... until recently.

      At the base of a climb, just as I stood on the pedals there was the sound of breaking metal and I felt resistance and grinding through the pedals. Oh no. I inspected the rear wheel and noticed there was now significant side-to-side play in the rear wheel. Not a good sign.

      Back home, when I removed the wheel from the frame the rear sprocket fell out of the hub along with the freewheel and half of the rear axle - I had broken the axle in two!

      Luckily, I had previously bought another 333 hub from Ebay. It was sold for a penny (plus a kings-ransom worth of shipping) as a non-working specimen. But it had never been used and had all the internal parts intact. Unluckily, I had been warned never to open these hubs up because it was rumoured that ordinary mortals can never get them working again.

      I downloaded a copy of the exploded diagram of the hub and saw immediately what I was up against. All the internal planetary gears and the shifting mechanism are held in place by an end-cap that is permanently press-fit onto the drive side of the hub. This makes it hard to remove/install the axle. In particular, the axle has a one inch long slot cut through it (where mine broke!) where two small metal rods pass through and engage the internal shifter mechanism. These small rods must be inserted in the axle, while it is removed, and then the axle must be carefully inserted in the hub, through the planetary gears, in such a way that the rod does not fall out in the hub. But there's a narrow spot in the center of the hub that prevents the rods from passing through. One rod must be on one side of this constriction, and the other rod must be on the other side. But once you slide one side in as far as it will go, with 1 rod in place, you cannot easily reach the axle-slot from the other side of the hub to insert the 2nd rod. I used the thinnest of thin needle-nosed pliers to reach between the ball-bearings and insert the rod into the slot, and then used a piece of wire to manoeuvre the rod perpendicular to the axle, and then replaced the spring, and ball race, and free wheel, and other ball race, while all the while holding the axle in the hub perfectly steady least those damn rods fall out inside before I can get the whole thing back together. Once together only the spring tension keeps the rods in place (I guess). One last hard bit. The freewheel wouldn't go back in because the pawls stick out. You have to insert the freewheel, then use a piece of wire, inserted between the freewheel and hub body, to depress the pawls and get the freewheel properly seated into the hub.

      And it now works like new! Even better, I replaced the old freewheel with the Ebay one that does not have any wear on the pawls. So my hub should last another 40 years.

      A note on the durability issue of these 333 hubs. I think these hubs are very tough - much tougher than the Sheldon Brown site makes out. I've put three years of commuting in all weather on it and there was very little wear on either the planetary gears or the freewheel pawls. I believe the axle failure I experiance was not the fault of 'bad metallurgy', but bacause I once seized one of axle nuts (salt from Canadian winter driving) and used a huge wrench on it while the other end of the axle was in a vice. All that torque must have cracked the axle.

      Sorry to have rambled on so long. Maybe this will inspire some else to revive one of these old hubs.

      Ernie,
    • will
      Way to go with rebuilding your IGH. Gotta be one of the more technically challenging jobs in bicycle maintenance. Personally I never want to see the inside
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 2, 2012
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        Way to go with rebuilding your IGH. Gotta be one of the more
        technically challenging jobs in bicycle maintenance. Personally I never
        want to see the inside of mine.

        I have a Nexus 8-speed on my daily commuter and it's been through a
        couple of messy winters now and has never let me down.

        IGH forever!


        ---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
        From: "rich_as_a_queen" <ernie_olson@...>
        Reply-To: Bicycle_Restoration@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2012 14:49:21 -0000

        >Just like to share a success story.
        >
        >A few years ago I picked up an old Shimano 3-Speed hub (type F), with
        the cable & shifter, which was laced to a wheel from some kid's bike,
        probably from the 70's. It showed very little wear at all. I removed the
        hub and had it laced to full sized rim and have been using it in a
        track-bike frame.
        >
        >I'd read on the web that these hubs are not very tough, but I make sure
        to keep the hub oiled, and the shifter-cable properly adjusted because I
        remember from my youth that the usual way to damage these hubs is to
        mash the pedals while between gears. Mine's proven to be very tough.
        I've been climbing some quite steep hills with never a slipped pawl or
        missed gear. The hub has been able to take everything I throw at it....
        until recently.
        >
        >At the base of a climb, just as I stood on the pedals there was the
        sound of breaking metal and I felt resistance and grinding through the
        pedals. Oh no. I inspected the rear wheel and noticed there was now
        significant side-to-side play in the rear wheel. Not a good sign.
        >
        >Back home, when I removed the wheel from the frame the rear sprocket
        fell out of the hub along with the freewheel and half of the rear axle -
        I had broken the axle in two!
        >
        >Luckily, I had previously bought another 333 hub from Ebay. It was sold
        for a penny (plus a kings-ransom worth of shipping) as a non-working
        specimen. But it had never been used and had all the internal parts
        intact. Unluckily, I had been warned never to open these hubs up
        because it was rumoured that ordinary mortals can never get them working
        again.
        >
        >I downloaded a copy of the exploded diagram of the hub and saw
        immediately what I was up against. All the internal planetary gears and
        the shifting mechanism are held in place by an end-cap that is
        permanently press-fit onto the drive side of the hub. This makes it hard
        to remove/install the axle. In particular, the axle has a one inch long
        slot cut through it (where mine broke!) where two small metal rods pass
        through and engage the internal shifter mechanism. These small rods must
        be inserted in the axle, while it is removed, and then the axle must be
        carefully inserted in the hub, through the planetary gears, in such a
        way that the rod does not fall out in the hub. But there's a narrow spot
        in the center of the hub that prevents the rods from passing through.
        One rod must be on one side of this constriction, and the other rod must
        be on the other side. But once you slide one side in as far as it will
        go, with 1 rod in place, you cannot easily reach the axle-slot from the
        other side of the hub to insert the 2nd rod. I used the thinnest of thin
        needle-nosed pliers to reach between the ball-bearings and insert the
        rod into the slot, and then used a piece of wire to manoeuvre the rod
        perpendicular to the axle, and then replaced the spring, and ball race,
        and free wheel, and other ball race, while all the while holding the
        axle in the hub perfectly steady least those damn rods fall out inside
        before I can get the whole thing back together. Once together only the
        spring tension keeps the rods in place (I guess). One last hard bit.
        The freewheel wouldn't go back in because the pawls stick out. You have
        to insert the freewheel, then use a piece of wire, inserted between the
        freewheel and hub body, to depress the pawls and get the freewheel
        properly seated into the hub.
        >
        >And it now works like new! Even better, I replaced the old freewheel
        with the Ebay one that does not have any wear on the pawls. So my hub
        should last another 40 years.
        >
        >A note on the durability issue of these 333 hubs. I think these hubs
        are very tough - much tougher than the Sheldon Brown site makes out.
        I've put three years of commuting in all weather on it and there was
        very little wear on either the planetary gears or the freewheel pawls. I
        believe the axle failure I experiance was not the fault of 'bad
        metallurgy', but bacause I once seized one of axle nuts (salt from
        Canadian winter driving) and used a huge wrench on it while the other
        end of the axle was in a vice. All that torque must have cracked the
        axle.
        >
        >Sorry to have rambled on so long. Maybe this will inspire some else to
        revive one of these old hubs.
        >
        >Ernie,
        >
        >
        >
        >------------------------------------
        >
        >Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
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