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Servicing Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed Hubs

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Cross-section of Sturmey-Archer 3-speed drum-brake hub

Cross-section of Sturmey-Archer 3-speed drum-brake hub

General information

Old-English Another article on this site covers maintenance issues that apply to three-speeds as well as other Sturmey-Archer hubs:

Read that article along with this one.

Sturmey-Archer has manufactured many makes and models of three-speed hubs over the years. There are also articles on this site more generally about

Gearing

Old English The common Sturmey-Archer three-speed hubs provide a direct drive middle gear, a high gear that is 4/3 of the middle gear, and a low gear that is 3/4 of the middle gear. (The principle of operation is explained on another page on this site.) Among current hubs as of 2010, the S3X fixed-gear hub is different, with two step-down gears and a direct-drive gear, and a special Brompton hub has a wider range to use with two sprockets and a derailer for a total of 6 speeds.

By modern standards, the typical English 3-speed bicycle is geared rather high. Most have 46/18 gearing, which gives gain ratios of 3.83, 5.11 and 6.81 (50, 66, and 89 inches; 4.00, 5.28 and 7.12 meters.) You can make riding a lot easier by customizing the gearing. 20 and 22 tooth sprockets are readily available, as well as smaller sizes for speed demons or small-wheel bicycles. It is also possible to modify Shimano cassette sprockets with a Dremel grinder if you need something bigger. This is not particularly difficult to do. There is more detailed information on this on another page.

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Documentation on current Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hubs

Sturmey-Archer has the widest selection of three-speed hubs of any manufacturer. Most have aluminum shells, and are relatively light compared with hubs of other brands. The information below is compiled from a review of the Sturmey-Archer Web site's listing of hubs, the 2010 Sturmey-Archer catalog, and a Web search. Technical information is available for most, but not all, current Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hubs. The newest three-speed coaster-brake hubs have been added to the comparative parts lists in Sutherland's Handbook of Internally Geared and Coaster Brake Hubs, now online on this site.

Model Features Documentation
AB3 90 mm drum brake, steel shell Like SAB3; Also see AB/C.
AB/C 90 mm drum brake, steel shell Technical information.
Another source
Internals like S-RF3.
Installation and parts list.
AW No Intermediate Gear version -- not the classic AW. Steel shell. Technical info.
AWC Coaster brake, steel shell Technical information
Rebuilding instructions and comparative parts list, in Sutherland's
AWC
2003-2005
Coaster brake, steel shell -- slight modification of the earlier version Technical information
Comparative parts list, in Sutherland's
AWC(II) Coaster brake, steel shell -- slight modification of the earlier version. Same as S-RC3(II) except for the shell. Technical information
Another source
Comparative parts list, in Sutherland's
BWR Special Brompton extra wide-ratio 3-speed used with 2 sprockets and a rear derailer to make a 6-speed hybrid-gearing system

Procedure is the same as for the S-RF3; driver and planet cage assembly are different.

Video of disassembly/reassembly on Brompton site (requires that you establish a login).

Video of disassembly-reassembly, narration in French but you should be able to follow this anyway.

CS-RF3 Splines for cassette (hybrid gearing) No information found
probably like S-RF3.
CS-RK3 Splines for cassette (hybrid gearing)
brake-disk fitting
No information found
probably like S-RF3.
QS-RC3 Gearbox for tricycle. Has reverse gear and coaster brake Installation
RS-RF3 Rotary shifting Installation
RX-RD3 Rotary shifting, drum brake Installation
S3X Fixed gear no information found
SAB3 70 mm drum brake Parts list; like AB3
S-RC3(II) Coaster brake. This is the same as the AWC(II) except for the shell. Technical information
Comparative parts list, in Sutherland's
S-RF3 3-spline driver Technical information; parts list
S-RF3 (N) 9-spline driver Probably like S-RF3
S-RK3 Brake disk fitting, 3-spline driver Probably like S-RF3
S-RK3 (N) Brake disk fitting, 9-spline driver Probably like S-RF3
SX-RB3 Wide body (chainline 65-69 mm), band-brake (threaded) fitting No information found
SX-RK3 Wide body (chainline 65-69 mm), brake-disk fitting No information found
TS-RC3 Gearbox for tricycle. Coaster brake Installation
TS-RF3 Gearbox for tricycle. Has reverse gear. Installation
X-RD3 70 mm drum brake Technical information
another source; parts list
XL-RD3 90 mm drum brake Probably like X-RD3; installation

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Older Sturmey-Archer Three-Speeds

classic Sturmey-Archer AW hub in cross-section

The classic Sturmey-Archer AW hub in cross-section

Old English Almost all English 3-speeds have Sturmey-Archer rear hubs. The classic Sturmey-Archer AW hub is by far the most common model. It is quite easy to overhaul with these instructions. Parts for the classic AW are available from Harris Cyclery, and this hub is so common that parts can often be cannibalized from discarded wheels. (The current No Intermediate Gear version of the hub is not the old AW. It is mostly the same as the S-RF3 hub except for its steel shell.)

[Following material is by John Allen]

There have been several licensed and unlicensed copies of the AW: Brampton, Hercules, Scintilla, Steyr, SunTour, Vibo. Most parts are interchangeable.

The table below covers the more common older hubs and a few others of interest. It omits specialty narrow-ratio hubs and hubs discontinued before 1940. Old Sturmey-Archer three-speeds other than the AW and closely-related models (AG, AB) can be tricky or impossible to repair, due to parts un-availability.

Sturmey-Archer changed its parts numbering system sometime around 1950. Older parts numbers begin with the letter K and newer ones, with H. If the model of the hub is the same, and the description of the part is the same, the part is almost always the same, despite the different numbering. Some of the classic references linked below use the "K" parts numbers. Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally-Geared Hubs uses the newer part numbers.

Older internal parts with a gray finish are reportedly more durable than newer ones with a black finish, due to a better surface-hardening treatment which had to be discontinued for environmental reasons.

The AW's internals will fit into most Sturmey-Archer hub shells of the same era, making it possible to keep a wheel in service. One exception is that the left ball cup of many if not all four- and five-speed hubs lacks an inner flange to center the planet cage. Sturmey-Archer historian Tony Hadland reports that 1984- and later steel AW shells will not accept S5 internals.

Older Sturmey-Archer coaster-brake hubs have safety issues: The brake of the TCW and S3C was actuated through the gear train, so it was weakest in high gear, when the bicyclist was going fastest! The TCW could lose the brake entirely if the cable was misadjusted, due to the neutral-gear position between second and third,. The AW and its near relatives also have a neutral gear, and if the cable is misadjusted, these hubs can drop out of gear. Jobst Brandt has, in addition, described a tendency of these hubs to slip out of high gear into neutral in a hard sprint -- though this problem does not occur under more usual conditions of use. See comments on this topic by Brandt.

The Web sites linked below the table cover many additional older hubs. The Sturmey-Archer Heritage Web site has a wealth of historical and technical information. Tony Hadland's Web site includes an exploded drawing and parts list for nearly every Sturmey-Archer model up through 2001, as well as rebuilding information for many older hubs.

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Model

Year Introduced

Features

Documentation
in Boldface if on this site

AB 1938 90 mm drum brake Parts list and instructions
Another source
Parts list
AG 1946 Dynohub generator Rebuilding instructions
Another source
Parts list
ASC 1946 Fixed gear Rebuilding instructions
Another source
Parts list
AT3 Elite 1984 Drum brake, aluminum shell, no intermediate gear. Internals same as the SAB Technical information
Parts list
AW 1936 The classic but can slip into neutral! not the same as the current no-intermediate-gear version. Rebuilding instructions and comparative parts list, in Sutherland's
Rebuilding instructions
Technical info
Parts list and exploded drawing
Later version of instructions
AW-Columbia 1984 Columbia "no slip" three-speed Parts list, exploded diagram
Another source
AW Alloy 1983 Three-speed, aluminum alloy shell Rebuilding instructions and comparative parts list, in Sutherland's
Technical info
Parts list
S3B 1967 Small-diameter drum brake Parts list and exploded diagram
Another source
S3C 1970 Coaster brake, weakest in high gear Rebuilding instructions and comparative parts list, in Sutherland's
Rebuilding instructions
Parts list Another source
Yet another source
And another
SAB 1978 70 mm drum brake Parts list
SAB Steelite 1984 70 mm drum brake, no intermediate gear. Internals same as the AT3 Technical info
Parts list
SW 1954 1954-58 hub with forward-freewheeling problem. Analysis of design and problems
Parts list
Another source
TCW 1952 Coaster brake (if cable is adjusted) Rebuilding instructions and comparative parts list, in Sutherland's
Parts list
Another source

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Links

Sturmey-Archer logo
Official Site
old Sturmey-Archer logo Heritage site
Three-Speed Parts from Harris Cyclery
English Three Speeds, Care and Feeding
Internal-Gear Hubs
Sturmey-Archer Hubs, General Information
Sturmey-Archer 1902-1952
Sturmey-Archer 1935-38 Catalogues
Evolution of the Raleigh Sports
My old Robin Hood
Sheldon's old Robin Hood
Martin Hanczyc's roadster pages.
Tony Hadland's Sturmey-Archer Pages
including the 1956 master catalogue with
rebuilding information for SWs
and others.
Hubstripping web site
John Allen's spreadsheets of internal-hub gear ratios
Retro Raleighs
SW Hubs by Brian Hayes
Jane Thomas's site with
Sturmey-Archer service manuals.
Menotomy Vintage Bicycles
Chat forum on English bikes.

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Last Updated: by John Allen