Shimano 3CC sadness

Sep 13, 2006
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So recently someone gave me a nice set of 26" aluminum wheels with a QR front and a Shimano 3CC (3-speed coaster). The hub looked relatively clean and not grimy, with just a little dust and surface rust, so I figured (hoped) it hadn't seen a whole lot of miles and would be in good mechanical shape inside.
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Got them all set up on an old Schwinn Hornet, got the shifter adjusted right. 2nd and 3rd are nice and smooth, but first gear occasionally pops, clunks, skips. At first I thought the old chain I tried to clean up was making noise; it had a couple of stiff links even after I tried to clean it. So I put a new chain on it, readjusted, and it didn't help.

Then I put several drops of light oil in the end of the axle and it got worse. In a couple runs up and down the block, first gear skipped and slipped half a rotation and it felt really ugly. Anyone have experience with these, maybe know of a silver bullet to free up/quiet down the internals?

Or should I have just heeded the advice of all the articles I've read on early Shimano stuff, most of which says they're fragile and difficult to service?
 
Jan 21, 2009
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I used one of those for years on my 53 Schwinn, got the whole wheel for 3 bucks at the flea market, back in 1988. I asked at the bike shop how to service it, they said it wasn't made to get any service. I added a lot of light oil to the axle where the shift rod goes and that seemed to work. I put thousands of miles on it and it was still working good when all my bikes were sold back in 2013.
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Maybe it just needs more time to work in the oil or the old lube needs to dissolve for first gear to act right.
 
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I used one of those for years on my 53 Schwinn, got the whole wheel for 3 bucks at the flea market, back in 1988. I asked at the bike shop how to service it, they said it wasn't made to get any service. I added a lot of light oil to the axle where the shift rod goes and that seemed to work. I put thousands of miles on it and it was still working good when all my bikes were sold back in 2013.View attachment 105725
Maybe it just needs more time to work in the oil or the old lube needs to dissolve for first gear to act right.
Hmmm... maybe I didn't use enough oil; it was just a few drops. nothing to lose at this point if I shoot a bunch more in it. What I used was this very light stuff you'd use in model trains. I guess I could try 5W30 motor oil? Or would you say something more like Dexron transmission fluid? Or Marvel Mystery Oil?
 
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Jan 21, 2009
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I'm thinking the pawls are gummed up and need to be freed up to fully engage for first gear. I used light machine oil, but a penetrating oil like 3 in 1 would probably work better. Then give it a good amount and some time to work in and free up the little parts. You could take it apart if that doesn't work, and give it a good cleaning and then relube and oil it. But from the looks of the hub, it hasn't seen much use, so the penetrating oil should do the trick. Also, the adjustment on the shifter should be right on the mark, The line from the round red circle with an "N" lines up on the slot in the mechanism while in second gear on the shifter.
 
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I'm thinking the pawls are gummed up and need to be freed up to fully engage for first gear. I used light machine oil, but a penetrating oil like 3 in 1 would probably work better. Then give it a good amount and some time to work in and free up the little parts. You could take it apart if that doesn't work, and give it a good cleaning and then relube and oil it. But from the looks of the hub, it hasn't seen much use, so the penetrating oil should do the trick. Also, the adjustment on the shifter should be right on the mark, The line from the round red circle with an "N" lines up on the slot in the mechanism while in second gear on the shifter.
Yesterday I tried something like you suggested: based on various online sources, I mixed up a little lubricant soup of 30W, Dexron III, and Marvel Mystery Oil. I squirted about 3/4 teaspoon into the end of the axle right before a ride, with the hopes that it'd loosen up the first gear pawls.
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But then after a few laps around the block I got cold feet and took my backup bike on the ride, because I didn't want to get stuck across town if the hub decided to implode. It wasn't getting any better in the few minutes I rode it, but I'll give it a little more time and some more miles and see if it works its magic.

Sutherland's Handbook

Link ^^^
I've taken these apart and cleaned them up, they work fine if you're not actually racing them or cruising 100 miles. They're easy to find and cheap to work on.

Carl.
I LOVE that book. I have an excerpt from it printed out waiting for me to rebuild my Bendix 2-speed as a winter project. I will save that PDF and print it out also in case I get brave enough to tear into this one. I really want to get it working; I've liked Shimanos since I had them as a kid.
 
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I just got a 333 today in a small haul. Freewheel version I guess? But the hole in the axle is on the drive side.
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Didn't come with any of the shifting mechanisms, so I'm just hoping to get in an appropriate gear to use it as a single speed. Got some acorn axle nuts to cover up the hole.
 
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I just got a 333 today in a small haul. Freewheel version I guess? But the hole in the axle is on the drive side.
Other Shimano 3-speeds I have had, which were 333s, had the hole on the drive side. From what I understand, this one is a later design which they called a "cartridge" style, from maybe the late '70s or the '80s. The LBS owner took a look at it with me today and said that compared to the older ones, the cartridge styles aren't too bad to take apart, so between that and the excellent schematic that @GuitarlCarl shared above, I am working up the courage to tear into it and hopefully free up whatever is stuck.

View attachment 105843 View attachment 105844
Didn't come with any of the shifting mechanisms, so I'm just hoping to get in an appropriate gear to use it as a single speed. Got some acorn axle nuts to cover up the hole.
sending you a PM
 
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Just going to chime in and say that I have also successfully overhauled these and it's probably the easiest 3 speed I've ever overhauled. And contrary to the comment above I have done centuries on it.

The bike shop that told you it wasn't serviceable was probably mistaking it for one of the Shimano 3 speeds that preceeded it. This was Shimano learning from their mistakes. This was the introduction of their "cartridge" system, not too dissimilar from their next 3 speed coaster brake hub - their current Nexus. The "cartridge" idea is that instead of a hundred small parts inside, theyvth consildated it to a handful of parts. Less work to overhaul, but potentially you're out of luck if something goes bad because some parts are not accessible to overhaul. If yours is still in good mechanical condition, a teardown, clean up, and re-lube and it should treat you well for ages.
 
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Just going to chime in and say that I have also successfully overhauled these and it's probably the easiest 3 speed I've ever overhauled. And contrary to the comment above I have done centuries on it.

The bike shop that told you it wasn't serviceable was probably mistaking it for one of the Shimano 3 speeds that preceeded it. This was Shimano learning from their mistakes. This was the introduction of their "cartridge" system, not too dissimilar from their next 3 speed coaster brake hub - their current Nexus. The "cartridge" idea is that instead of a hundred small parts inside, theyvth consildated it to a handful of parts. Less work to overhaul, but potentially you're out of luck if something goes bad because some parts are not accessible to overhaul. If yours is still in good mechanical condition, a teardown, clean up, and re-lube and it should treat you well for ages.
Ok so...

Armed with a printout of the info from Sutherlands, I took it apart last week. Not all the way apart, but I took the brake arm end off, took the brake shoes out, and everything came out in a couple of big pieces just like you said. For the most part, without referring to the parts list, it was a cylinder with pawls that fit inside a bigger cylinder with pawls. Both of them, especially the smaller one, were slathered with some kind of grease. It was a pretty light grease, but still, from what I have read, the only grease in these things should be in the bearings, and the internal workings should be lubed with oil only.

I wiped off as much of the grease as I could and twisted it back together the way the book said. First gear worked better, but still slipped often. And whatever I did, I screwed the brakes up so that I had to pedal back like 90 degrees to get the brakes to engage.

To be fair, I didn't do anything close to a proper rebuild... I essentially opened it up a little, wiped some of the grease out, and hoped for the best. I am putting the wheelset aside to do a more thorough job, but for now, I have found a bike with a Nexus 3c41 3 speed coaster and set the bike up with that.
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Apr 1, 2014
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Hmmm... maybe I didn't use enough oil; it was just a few drops. nothing to lose at this point if I shoot a bunch more in it. What I used was this very light stuff you'd use in model trains. I guess I could try 5W30 motor oil? Or would you say something more like Dexron transmission fluid? Or Marvel Mystery Oil?
I would like to recommend Marvel mystery oil. It contains eucalyptus oil and is a superior penetrating oil. Maybe pull the cartridge and just let it soak for a while in a tin can or something?
 
Jul 27, 2019
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Resurrecting an old obsolete piece is a worthy challenge. I have a 3S on my bench right now. The research aspect is especially daunting, for me. I think it will be worth it, though. A three speed hub is a thing of beauty when it is in working order.
I don't talk about this much because of a wax melting incident that occurred while I was dipping guitar pickups. My wife saw me and scolded me for about a year. Recently, I painted some forks in the downstairs bathroom. Anyway, I advise you to keep this on the down low; I have used the oven to heat items past the melting point of the binding agent. The solidified grease will run out. While it's just warm, you can flush it with fresh oil. I like to agitate (believe it or not!) the item, too. After draining, deploy your new lubricant. I use synthetic where applicable. I urge you to be super careful. If you drop a hot hub on the floor and antique grease comes out your spouse may notice!
 
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I realised it a few years back that there is only one solution for making vintage bicycle parts work the way you want them to - full rebuild, nothing less.

Even if I have brand new vintage parts, from a known source I always don't trust them and make a full cleaning & rebuild.
 
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I am surprised at the amount of clean-up I am doing on bicycle projects. Two of my projects are derelicts, left outside to fend for themselves through a winter! This caused them to be sold off at junk prices. Resurrecting a dead bike is worthwhile but almost all the actual hands on stuff is cleaning or polishing in one form or another.
 
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Resurrecting an old obsolete piece is a worthy challenge. I have a 3S on my bench right now. The research aspect is especially daunting, for me. I think it will be worth it, though. A three speed hub is a thing of beauty when it is in working order.
I don't talk about this much because of a wax melting incident that occurred while I was dipping guitar pickups. My wife saw me and scolded me for about a year. Recently, I painted some forks in the downstairs bathroom. Anyway, I advise you to keep this on the down low; I have used the oven to heat items past the melting point of the binding agent. The solidified grease will run out. While it's just warm, you can flush it with fresh oil. I like to agitate (believe it or not!) the item, too. After draining, deploy your new lubricant. I use synthetic where applicable. I urge you to be super careful. If you drop a hot hub on the floor and antique grease comes out your spouse may notice!
Just catching up with this thread now. Made me laugh out loud... I can relate, I do a lot of work on bikes in the house. And I agree, I love the way 3 speed hubs work when they work right.

I realised it a few years back that there is only one solution for making vintage bicycle parts work the way you want them to - full rebuild, nothing less.

Even if I have brand new vintage parts, from a known source I always don't trust them and make a full cleaning & rebuild.
Good advice, and the same goes for vintage car parts. I have a tendency to fall into the same old trap, though... maybe I'll spray a little lube/cleaner in it and it'll fix itself. :21::rofl::rolleyes:
 
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