Having contributed to a few freewheel related threads recently, I notice a few different schools of thought on what to do with 'em. Seems some folk need only the flimsiest excuse to get the lockring off and mess about with those little balls, springs and pawls, while others are reluctant to go inside them at all. Either they are using much better freewheels than I am, or their lubrication regime is so efficient that the thing continues to click and spin as smoothly as it ever did. Probably both..
I don't suppose either group needs any input from me, so, mainly for my own entertainment, I have assembled this little photo-essay on the subject of putting a freewheel back together, guaranteed for all to be as dull as the ditchwater that doubtless comprised a major percentage of the black slime I dug out of it.......
Here are my freshly cleaned spheres and circles, beneath them you can see the stuff I seperated from them.. Everything looks nicer than it really is in a photograph, yes? OK, maybe not much ditchwater... probably 45% WD40 that I used to try and get the thing to click before I gave up and started dismantling, 45% Plus-gas that I used to free up the lockring which turned out to be a left-hand thread on this particular freewheel, 8% steel-dust, and about 2% of whatever it was left of what was supposed to be lubricating the freewheel in the first place.
I smear a bit of oil on the ratchet faces, apply a fair bit of oil to the inboard ball-race, and place the part on a jam-jar lid with the inboard race uppermost. Then I fill the race with ball-bearings, 48 of 'em in this case.
Having smeared the core/pawls with oil, I invert it and then bring it down inside the ratchet, carefully angling one pawl past the ball-bearings. Once it is past, I use something thin and pointy...a cocktail stick in this case... to push the other pawl into it's housing so I can ease it past the bearings. Once this is accomplished, the core can be dropped into place. A tricky manoeuvre... as you can see, I failed on the first attempt, dislodging three balls, so had to remove the core, replace the dislodged balls, and try again.
Once I've got the core/pawls in place, I turn the freewheel over, holding it together carefully all the while, and place it on a flat surface, now with the outboard race uppermost.
Next, after smearing them with oil, I replace the spacer-rings at the bottom of the thread on which the lockring tightens. In this case there were three, one quite thick, one paper-thin, and one somewhere in-between. I don't think it matters much what order they go on... I hope not anyway because I'm fairly certain that I put them back on in a different order to the one they were in originally.
Now I apply a fair bit of oil to the outboard race, and replace the balls, 48 of 'em in this case. I thought at this late stage in the proceedings that I ought to show the oil-can,
so here it is.
All that remains is to screw the lockring back down, after oiling it's thread. To make sure it is tight, I put the freewheel in a vice and place an old (but not blunt/rounded!) screwdriver blade in one of the two little indentations, at about a 45 degree angle, and hit it with a hammer.
Yes, I know there's a dedicated tool I should be using instead of the screwdriver blade and hammer.. I'm as careful with 'em as I can be, and hopefully as careful as I need to be.
Hope this is useful to somebody.