The 21-tooth sprocket arrived for the Racer and I leapt into action. Three cheers for bicycle projects! First thing I did was pull the crank, clean the bearings and add fresh grease. The bearings were clean but dry so I am very happy to have opened it up.
Then I removed the rear wheel to replace the 18-tooth sprocket. With the wheel out of the frame, I decided to make my first attempt at opening a Sturmey Archer AW hub. I followed the instructions in both the Sutherland’s guide and those of Sheldon Brown and had a lovely time of it. Just one pucker moment when two of four pawl pins fell out freeing two pawls and their very delicate delicate springs, but I found all the bits quickly enough. I was happy that the three sets of bearings were in retainers. No bearings to chase.
The inside of the hub was clean with a light oil coating and there were no visible signs of wear. I cleaned up everything, added grease to the bearings and put the works back together.
All that remained was to add the right oil. The guidance I found said (a) use a quality light oil and (b) don’t use 3-in-1 (which gums up over time). What I hoped for but didn’t find were recommendations for particular brands that I might find nearby. My friend uses Sturmey Archer oil. Seems obvious and comforting, but I didn’t have any on hand and don’t see it offered online. I tried to borrow a can of Sturmey Archer from the neighbor whose Raleigh I reconditioned, but she was observing a religious holiday. Lacking patience sufficient to wait one day for the holiday to pass, I added two teaspoons of Phil Wood Bio Lube (not the Tenacious Oil which has been universally declared to be too thick for this application). The Bio Lube may not be the best choice but it is light and available.
Since then, I’ve read recommendations for SAE 20 and 30 weight motor oil. Others recommended synthetic motor oil and automatic transmission fluid. Too many experts to give me the warm and fuzzies. Unless someone raises a red flag, I’ll continue to use the Phil Wood Bio Lube (since I haven’t used it much elsewhere).
Having fully sorted the Racer from a mechanical standpoint, I spent another hour under gentle sun touching-up a few nicks with a bottle of Manic Panic’s Raven nail polish. This has long been my go to touch-up paint for all the glossy black painted objects in my life. Like the Phil Wood Bio Lube, the nail polish is in the house and the in-cap applicator brush is so very handy. Also, I’ve had a single bottle for more than a decade (I very rarely do my nails) and it has maintained a perfect consistency throughout. This off label use for Manic Panic’s Raven polish is surely not news to goth pedalers, but I am happy if I can spread the word a bit more broadly.
The Racer is done for now. It rides perfectly and looks great. Hope you are well. Happy Monday.