French Threaded Freewheels

Had a moment to work on the Motobecane Grand Tourer today.  Cleaned and reassembled the Stronglight headset and bottom bracket.  I was happy to have my Sutherland’s Handbook for Bicycle Mechanics to consult.  The thing is way out of date, but that is just what I need for most of the stuff I work on.

First help came when I was reassembling the headset.  I had made a note that when I took it apart both the top and bottom cups had 24 bearings.  As I reassembled it, I carefully installed 24 bearings in the top and bottom and adjusted it to perfection.  Then I saw I bearing on the floor.  Rats!  Opened it all up again and found one cup was one short.  I reassembled it and adjusted it to perfection.  Then I saw a bearing on my workbench.  How could that be?  I was sure there were now 24 in the each of the top and the bottom cups.  Must have been 25 in one when I first disassembled it.  To Sutherland’s, where I learned that in fact this headset should have 26 bearings in both races!  I disassembled it once again, added two bearings to each, closed it up and adjusted it to perfection.  Third time was a charm.

I am learning not to trust that things are not always as they should be when I get a used bicycle.  Remember the 26.6 seatpost in the Specialized Rockhopper taking a 26.2 seatpost?  I got the 26.2 and it fits like a dream.  Better to check than to trust that things are right.

What else?  I confirmed that the Stronglight bottom bracket uses 11 bearings per cup.  Most do.  That was right when I took it apart and right when I put it back together.

Freewheel?  I pulled it and removed the cogs from the body to clean it really well.  It was a SunTour 8.8.8, so  I wondered whether it was in fact French threaded.  Sutherlands told me to look for a M on the body.  There it was.  The freewheel is French threaded.  Bad result, but it is in really great shape and it cleaned up well.  No need to worry about it for years.  Cleaned the chain, too.  It is a Sedis.  Nice shape, too.  Not stretched.  It will get lubed and reused.

That’s as far as I got today.  I got more done than I expected in the short time I had.  I still need to clean the wheels, brakes, derailleurs and cranks and then repack the hubs, install the new tires and put it all back together.  I cant tell you how much fun I am having learning about vintage French bicycles as I bring this one back from the attic.

Hope you are well.


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