Sunday, October 11, 2009

Salvaging a Hub

I know I have lots of updates to give on various projects, which I will hopefully get to this week, but in the meantime, here are some photos of my latest project, which is really just a side project for the Phillips roadster.

My friend Mauricio tipped me off to a cheap junker bike at a local estate sale. I picked up what's left of this 1964 Huffy Sportsman for $10, and I'll probably be able to salvage a few things, but the main thing was the rear hub. It's a Sturmey-Archer TCW III, a three-speed coaster brake hub. Sheldon Brown says the TCW series is unreliable as a coaster hub, citing possible failure of the brake if the cable is not properly adjusted, but for the money, I'm willing to give it a try.

My wife has hinted that perhaps she would like to ride the Phillips when it's finished and she really liked the idea of a coaster brake. I, however, wanted to put a three-speed hub on it, so here's the compromise, which suits all parties. True, it's not period-correct for the Phillips, but the correct K Series Sturmey-Archer hubs seem to be hard to come by and somewhat expensive, and not available in a coaster brake model. We'll have the rod brakes, too, just in case there's a problem with the coaster brake.

Here's a little photo series on my efforts to salvage the hub:

The before photos:

I had to cut the spokes with a pair of aviation snips because the nipples were too corroded to turn and the spokes too rotten to reuse.

Below, the top layer of gunk and rust has been scraped off:

Below, rust removal continues with fine steel wool, penetrating oil, rubbing compound, and even very carefully applied sandpaper over the worst rust spots, never used directly on the chrome.

The external cleanup on this hub is probably about half-finished. I'm hoping for near-pristine by the time I'm done, but it's going to take a lot more elbow grease to get there. I took a peek at the internals, and everything is surprisingly clean in there, so maybe I can get away with not dismantling it entirely.


  1. Úna has a SA 3 -speed with a coaster brake that she uses in SF all the time. Except for the neutral space between 2nd and 3rd gear, the brake is fine. Of course you have to keep it tuned and all, but you have to do that with old bikes, anyway.

  2. Nice job on the hub. I always liked the idea of a three speed coaster on my town bike, but never seemed to find one at the right time.

  3. I never would have guessed you could have cleaned up that hub as much as you have. Good Luck!

  4. The TCW leaves quite a bit to be desired in the braking department! However as long as A) the rider is aware of it, and B) and alternative brake is provided it should be fine. FWIW my wife has 2 bikes with the TCW on them. I am building up a set of wheels for "her" Twenty and will go with the more modern hub for safety.


  5. Good job on the hub, my LBS wasn't happy when they eventually opened my FG4 dynohub up, was as rotten inside as yours was outside! But they are making progress.

  6. wowza. reminds me I have that post that shelley did with the dr.bronners stuff. very handy

    btw/ like the new layout :)
    &Im gonna go ad-free soon

  7. Where would we aficianados, in America, be without a steady stream of old Nottingham-built Huffy Sportsman 3 speeds to partake of! Thank you, Mr. Huffman!

  8. I love seeing how meticulous you are willing to be with very specific aspects of your projects.

  9. Second on Aaron's post, above -- my fiancee's 1957 Raleigh Sports runs quite well with its original TCW hub, but I wouldn't use it as the primary brake.

    On that note: the Huffy above has its front brake lever on the left ("normal") side of the handlebars, but I think it's traditional on Dutch and English bikes with the front caliper/rear coaster setup to put the lever on the right, with the shifter, leaving the left hand entirely free for a bag or an umbrella. That's how the '57 Raleigh came to me, and I haven't messed with it; the lady says she likes it.

  10. Thanks for the additional input on the TCW. I think the handbrake may have been on the left on this bike because the original shifter was the unsuccessful S-A grip shifter, which is pretty large and bulky and there may not have been room for the handbrake on the right side. This bike was converted to a trigger shifter at some point in the 70s (based on the style of the shifter casing), but the original bulky grip was still in place.

  11. My Raleigh 1976 has the 3SC (three speed with coaster brake) The brake is not there in high gear but it is in low and middle gear. It came with only one caliper handbrake for the front so I added the rear caliber with a used self adjusting Raleigh brake I found on Ebay. The coaster is not too robust so I feel better with both handbrakes on the original steel wheels. The hub is super sensitive for just the right setting on the indicator chain coming out of the hub. I oil the hub with ATF and perhaps should use a different oil. My other 3 speed S. A. hubs on four Raleigh Twenty's and one Austrian Sears 3 speed are not nearly as fussy as the 76 man's Raleigh with the 3 sp. with coaster brake. Easier still is the Raleigh Super Record recently converted to a fixie with frt . and rear center pull brakes. 60 cm. frame and weighs 24 pounds. 42 / 15 tooth ratio and lots of fun to ride. Thanks Ed straining on the uphills with a fixie but smiling anyway!

  12. Did you ever try this: