Oil for rear hub



andrew77

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Oct 26, 2006
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I have been a cyclist for about 40 years. I currently have a Raleigh 3-speed. I am trying to find out what oil and how much to add to the rear hub. (the fill hole)

Thanks.
 

alfeng

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Jul 23, 2005
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andrew77 said:
I have been a cyclist for about 40 years. I currently have a Raleigh 3-speed. I am trying to find out what oil and how much to add to the rear hub. (the fill hole)

Thanks.
3-in-1/household oil. Add about an ounce ... periodically.
 

kingsting

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Oct 15, 2003
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30W non-detergent motor oil is fine in these. Put some in a squirt can and give it a shot every now and then. Not too much or it will run out and drip all over your floor.
On some of the English bike forums this is a highly debated topic. Just make sure you stay away from any vegetable oil based lubricants (Turns to gummy goop) and thin stuff like WD-40.
 

garage sale GT

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Jun 6, 2006
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While 3-in-1 may be a good oil, (I am sure it's fine in fact,) Sturmey Archer used to make their own proprietary oil so unless Alfeng knows something I don't, it's not the same stuff.

My first choice would be an automotive gear lube. I would choose a synthetic but there may be seal compatibility issues.

BTW I had a 3 speed Shimano which I lubed by mixing "tri-flow" synthetic grease with gasoline and injecting it in through the shift rod hole with a squirt bottle. The gasoline evaporates after coating all the parts in the mix, leaving the grease. It was not too thick to pedal freely, which is the point of bringing it up.

BTW be completely fanatical about CLEANING THE OIL FILL BEFORE OILING UP.
 

kingsting

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Oct 15, 2003
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garage sale GT said:
While 3-in-1 may be a good oil, (I am sure it's fine in fact,) Sturmey Archer used to make their own proprietary oil so unless Alfeng knows something I don't, it's not the same stuff.

My first choice would be an automotive gear lube. I would choose a synthetic but there may be seal compatibility issues.

BTW I had a 3 speed Shimano which I lubed by mixing "tri-flow" synthetic grease with gasoline and injecting it in through the shift rod hole with a squirt bottle. The gasoline evaporates after coating all the parts in the mix, leaving the grease. It was not too thick to pedal freely, which is the point of bringing it up.

BTW be completely fanatical about CLEANING THE OIL FILL BEFORE OILING UP.

The problem with automotive gear lube is that it's usually 90W or thicker. I don't think the tiny pawl springs will even move with that thick oil on it - especially in cold weather. This will make the hub quite unhappy...
The synthetic lube is an interesting idea and there are no seals to be concerned with on a Sturmey hub.
 

alfeng

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Jul 23, 2005
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garage sale GT said:
While 3-in-1 may be a good oil, (I am sure it's fine in fact,) Sturmey Archer used to make their own proprietary oil so unless Alfeng knows something I don't, it's not the same stuff.

My first choice would be an automotive gear lube. I would choose a synthetic but there may be seal compatibility issues.

BTW I had a 3 speed Shimano which I lubed by mixing "tri-flow" synthetic grease with gasoline and injecting it in through the shift rod hole with a squirt bottle. The gasoline evaporates after coating all the parts in the mix, leaving the grease. It was not too thick to pedal freely, which is the point of bringing it up.

BTW be completely fanatical about CLEANING THE OIL FILL BEFORE OILING UP.
Okay, I'm basing the use of 3-in-1 oil on what I recall the spec being for the SA hub on my old Hercules 3-speed ...

My memory could certainly have failed me as to what the "manual" said to use ... but, it's certainly what I recall actually using vs. anything more exotic.
 

garage sale GT

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Jun 6, 2006
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kingsting said:
The problem with automotive gear lube is that it's usually 90W or thicker. I don't think the tiny pawl springs will even move with that thick oil on it - especially in cold weather. This will make the hub quite unhappy...
The synthetic lube is an interesting idea and there are no seals to be concerned with on a Sturmey hub.
I am referring to synthetic grease. It is approximately NLGI 1 in thickness, about like toothpaste. The hub worked, though I guess I did not test it in weather below about 50.
 

garage sale GT

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Jun 6, 2006
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alfeng said:
Okay, I'm basing the use of 3-in-1 oil on what I recall the spec being for the SA hub on my old Hercules 3-speed ...

My memory could certainly have failed me as to what the "manual" said to use ... but, it's certainly what I recall actually using vs. anything more exotic.
I want to state for the record that I am aware I am splitting hairs here. I feel it's probabaly not that critical and they may have specified 3-in-1 because it came with the right kind of spout.

However, Sheldon seems to think the oil you put in a 3 speed can be too thin, though he did not name names. If using oil I would use synthetic gear oil. Synthetics are good about not thickening up in the cold, and their higher film strength may save your hub in marginal situations such as if you let it go for too long. Plus, you use so little of it you may as well get the good stuff.
 

rschleicher

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Oct 4, 2006
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My wife used to have an old English 3-speed with the Sturmey-Archer hub (not a Raleigh, but some other English brand that began with a D), and when I fixed it up for her I used the "real thing" Sturmey-Archer oil. My unscientific recollection is that in terms of weight it was more like a 3-in-1 household oil (or Marvel oil, or other light machine oil), than a 30W automotive oil. Admittedly that is just recollection, but it was pretty thin. 30W MIGHT be OK, too, but I definitely wouldn't put anything heavier in.
 

garage sale GT

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Jun 6, 2006
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I put grease in my shimano hub because I wanted to avoid having to remove the bellcrank and pushrod in order to put oil in every week. If you get dirt in there the hub is toast. The grease worked fine, but I don't think it has any huge advantages over oil.

Gear oil would have the same benefit and drawback: i.e. harder to put in but longer lasting.

The more viscous type of lubes may help protect the pawls from getting rounded off due to shock loading especially if you powershift. Or maybe not.

All in all, as long as it's not too thin, it's fine. Just keep the oil plug as clean as you can while oiling.
 

garage sale GT

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Jun 6, 2006
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P.S. Try a new (Taiwan) Sturmey Archer 8-speed! Smooth as silk, permanently greased, 305% range, choice of drum, disc, or rim brakes. They're good hubs.
 

andrew77

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Oct 26, 2006
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garage sale GT said:
While 3-in-1 may be a good oil, (I am sure it's fine in fact,) Sturmey Archer used to make their own proprietary oil so unless Alfeng knows something I don't, it's not the same stuff.

My first choice would be an automotive gear lube. I would choose a synthetic but there may be seal compatibility issues.

BTW I had a 3 speed Shimano which I lubed by mixing "tri-flow" synthetic grease with gasoline and injecting it in through the shift rod hole with a squirt bottle. The gasoline evaporates after coating all the parts in the mix, leaving the grease. It was not too thick to pedal freely, which is the point of bringing it up.

BTW be completely fanatical about CLEANING THE OIL FILL BEFORE OILING UP.
I already put in the 3-in-1. I think it'll do just fine. I keep my bike inside my apartment, so the bike environment is controlled most of the time.

I got the bike at a resale shop for $30 and it was in excellent condition. Just had to remove some surface rust from the rims. I added a gel seat and made a 120 db horn out of an old house alarm.
 

pytor

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Jul 18, 2009
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i recently serviced my sturmey archer AW hub when i rebuilt my rear wheel last week and in the course of reading about how to take the thing apart i got a lot of conflicting views about lubricating it.

Sturmey Archer's original instructions were to use their own brand oil regularly, like two or three drops once a week for regular riding. that oil was a light grade oil, so using something like sewing machine oil or household oil would be closest to following the original instructions of the company. in the end though, although the lighter oil might penetrate all the parts more quickly and thouroughly, it does leak out and need to be replaced more often than a heavier oil would. if i remember right, sheldon brown recommends motor oil (medium thickness) or something like that. in the end i dont think it really makes much difference at all.

one thing that you should avoid is trying to use grease for the internal workings of the hub. the only place grease is meant to be used is in the labyrinth seals at each end of the hub, nowhere else. keep the thing clean, oiled, and grease free and thats pretty much all you should have to worry about. the things are built like bricks. after cleaning out my 1974 hub (the only servicing its had in its lifetime) i can tell you the parts look like they were cast in the foundry yesterday.
 

chas0039

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Jun 23, 2007
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Just so you know, the last time I checked, 3 in 1 oil was vegetable based and not to be used for gears.
 

Akadat

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Sep 12, 2006
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The gear teeth have a shearing or rubbing action as they mesh. The planet gears spin on plain bearings. These parts need a good medium weight oil like engine oil. 3-in-1 is a bit light but will do, gear oil is a bit heavy but will do. The main ball bearings don't need much oil and they get theirs from the overflow which inevitably runs down the spokes and onto the floor. This is a good sign that your hub has sufficient oil.

A squirt per month will keep it topped up and lack of overflow for many months means you are in the dark as to how much oil is in the hub. Wiping oil off the spokes, tyre and floor is a ritual unique to SA hubs.

As previously said the SA hub is tough but it has it's quirks. As long as some oil is seeping out the dirt is being flushed out!
 

scuppy

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Nov 12, 2007
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In my opinion oil viscosity is a trade off based on how often you want to check your oil, and how cold it can get. I use 80/90W motor gear oil in my Rolhoff and am happy, but I live in Aus and I dont ride in freezing conditions.
 

garage sale GT

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Jun 6, 2006
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I always used motor oil in my hubs (Shimano 333s, for the benefit of mr. Akadat,) but on another forum quite a few people stated that 3-in-1 vegetable-based household oil, when used for extended periods, tended to gum up the hub. I seem to recall one of them got his information from S/A.