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Thread: SS freewheel removal, and a question

  1. #1
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    Default SS freewheel removal, and a question

    I haven't posted in months so I thought I'd relate a simple mechanical chore that turned into a bigger one, and finish with a question for those patient enough to read this

    In 2005, I bought a fixed/free wheelset from the late great Sheldon Brown at Harris Cyclery. Formula cartridge track hubs laced to Mavic CXP-22 rims, with a 15t fixed cog and a 16t Shimano freewheel, solid axles. Important detail: Harris put spacers on either side of the rear hub so that I could use it in an old road frame, which has wider dropouts than a track frame. I rode these wheels hard for 10 years, then parted out that bike and saved the wheelset for a future build.

    The time for that new build has come. The freewheel was a bit worn, but really I just wanted to replace it with a new one, maybe a White Industries ENO. So, I pulled out my Park FR-6 freewheel remover and slid it over the axle. Oops, the flat locknut (not the track nut) is just preventing the FR-6 from engaging the freewheel's notches, gotta take that off first. Wow, that locknut is on TIGHT. Wait a sec, the cone is inside the freewheel recess ... I can't get a wrench on that guy to hold the axle still while using a wrench to loosen the locknut. Long story short, I had to destroy the freewheel to remove it. Not a big deal to wreck a $20 part that is 15 years old.

    The Park Tool instructions worked just fine and the freewheel is off now. Once the freewheel was off, I could get a wrench on the cone and then get the locknut off the usual way. But now, I'm reluctant to put a blingy White Industries freewheel on there if I'd need to destroy it to remove it.

    I think those spacers might have been the source of my trouble. You can see in the pictures below that the silver spacer is between the cone and the locknut. If the spacer had been on the other side of the cone, the cone would've been accessible to a wrench, and not shrouded by the freewheel. Then I could've taken the locknut off easily, and the FR-6 would be able to engage the freewheel. This is a cartridge bearing hub, so the "cone" doesn't have a race on one side for ball bearings, it's flat on both sides.

    Here's the question. Can just switch the stack order from cone->washer->spacer->locknut, to spacer->cone->washer->locknut? It seems like a no-brainer, but I figured Harris Cyclery might've put them in the current order for a good reason.

    First pic shows stack order:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Second pic shows cone hidden by what's left of the freewheel:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
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    Once you put on the White Industry freewheel, you'll never need to take it off

    As an alternative, I wonder if you could have taken off the nuts on the other side, then push the axle out, exiting the freewheel side.

    To answer your question, I'm thinking that they put the "cone" closest to the bearing because it has threads and braces against it. If you put the cone against the locknut, it'd be further out and possibly get looser more quickly?

    if it was me, I'd see if my alternative worked. If so, I'd put the cone back against the bearing.

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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by drevil View Post
    Once you put on the White Industry freewheel, you'll never need to take it off

    As an alternative, I wonder if you could have taken off the nuts on the other side, then push the axle out, exiting the freewheel side.

    To answer your question, I'm thinking that they put the "cone" closest to the bearing because it has threads and braces against it. If you put the cone against the locknut, it'd be further out and possibly get looser more quickly?

    if it was me, I'd see if my alternative worked. If so, I'd put the cone back against the bearing.
    Thanks. If I'm being honest, taking off the Shimano freewheel was a want, not a need

    I did try taking the nuts off the fixed gear side but the axle didn't budge when I gave it a pretty good "tap" with a mallet. After 3 taps I got the "you don't know what you are doing" feeling so I figured I'd wreck the freewheel instead of the hub. Another thing I tried was to squeeze a cheapo combo wrench between the locknut and track nut on the opposite side, to simulate a dropout. I figured maybe I could get it tight enough, I could hold the wrench and axle still while undoing the locknut on the other side. That didn't work because when I put a wrench on the locknut it was pretty easy to overcome the friction holding the combo wrench in place.

    What you say makes sense about the cone vs washer. I'll think I'll give the reordering a try though. With spacers the hub is 130mm, and my old Trek frame has 126mm dropouts, so maybe it's less likely to loosen, being a bit squeezed already.

  5. #4
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    You could go the other way with the spacers: use narrower spacers and aim for 123 mm (or so), so you are gaining some advantage for your freewheel tool, and you can squeeze the frame that couple of mm to make up the difference. I tried a 120 hub in a 125 spaced frame, and found it put the rear wheel slightly out of square with that much frame deflection; in that case I went ahead and opted to have the frame respaced to 120 by the LBS since itís easy and inexpensive to do that to a steel frame. If your frame is steel, that is another option, then you can just chuck the spacers altogether.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkel View Post
    You could go the other way with the spacers: use narrower spacers and aim for 123 mm (or so), so you are gaining some advantage for your freewheel tool, and you can squeeze the frame that couple of mm to make up the difference. I tried a 120 hub in a 125 spaced frame, and found it put the rear wheel slightly out of square with that much frame deflection; in that case I went ahead and opted to have the frame respaced to 120 by the LBS since itís easy and inexpensive to do that to a steel frame. If your frame is steel, that is another option, then you can just chuck the spacers altogether.
    Clever idea, thanks. The tool could almost engage, a couple millimeters more is all that would be needed to get it seated.

  7. #6
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    I too have had to destructively remove cheap freewheels before. I just ran into this, but it would've been nice if I had a tool like this Unior back then


  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by drevil View Post
    I too have had to destructively remove cheap freewheels before. I just ran into this, but it would've been nice if I had a tool like this Unior back then

    Neat tool!

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