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Sturmey Archer AW 3 speed 1970... freewheels fine but turns with axle in other direction?!

pileykpileyk Posts: 16
It was reasonably ok but I decided to clean bearings and put new grease (and oil for freewheel bearings)... However since cleaning the wheel bearings and oiling the freewheel ones, it now will only spin properly in the clickety freewheel direction.... the other way for forward drive is ultra stiff, i.e impossible to spin around the axle when holding axle ends in my fingers and when I put it back on bike and try to spin tyre it turns for less than half a turn then stops dead

What could I have done to cause this?! Surely the wheel should spin a few times around the axle in both directions?

I've loosened the cones to the point of loads of play and it makes no difference. I didn't take the internals out of the hub shell, only removed the ends (and driver bit) to access all bearings. Is it possible to reassemble it wrong to cause this? I'm sure it went back exactly as it came apart :/


  • Have you dropped a bearing in behind the cup?
  • pileykpileyk Posts: 16
    edited May 2021
    The bearings were fine, 7 in each cage. I've took it apart again to try and see if I could see anything but I'm stumped. I've made a short video here to show you the issue:

    I should be clear and say even with the hub together and mounted on bike when I turn by holding the tyre (for increased leverage) it barely spins, quite stiff and goes 1/4-1/2 turn then stops. Surely it's not meant to be like this? I don't have the indicator spindle for changing gears so it was always used in top gear previously.
  • Have you put the axle back in the right way round? Is that what you mean by 'driver bit'?
  • pileykpileyk Posts: 16
    Yeah the axle never came out as I didn't remove the whole assy from the hub shell. The 'driver' holds the drive side wheel bearings and engages the clutch.

    It can be seen on this exploded view diagram (see part number 25) on this page:

  • photonic69photonic69 Posts: 2,221
    You are a very brave man to fiddle with a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub. I learned my lesson as a 11 year old trying to take apart the hub on my Chopper. It went badly wrong! I'd rather try to understand the intimate workings of The Devil's Puzzlebox than mess with one of those!

    Did you have any luck? From your short clip it appears that one of the pawls is engaging and stopping it from turning. Possibly the added lubricant has loosened something inside that otherwise wasn't loose before?
  • Has a planet pin slipped or a planet pinion got stuck or a sticky pawl?

    They're not that scary to completely strip down. I did a couple over the summer. Rusty as anything having rotted in a garden for 20+ years, white vinegar bath for a few days then a scrub with a wire brush and they both run more or less as they should after a dose of oil.
  • pileykpileyk Posts: 16
    Thanks for your comments guys, much appreciated! :) Sorry for the delay replying.

    I was totally stumped so I went and bought an indicator spindle and gear cable to see if being able to pull the clutch to switch gears would loosen it up. It seems that that and/or a good dose of gt85 squirted in oil port has helped. I let it that seep out/evaporate then added ~8ml of some car oil I found.

    It was still a little lumpy feeling in top gear when turning cranks by hand but has improved to where you don't notice anythin when pedalling on bike and the middle/low gears seem to work fine which is nice! Just glad it didn't need a full strip down, haha very happy :smiley:
  • Strangely enough, I've got one that appears to require an indicator spindle and one that doesn't...

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