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I cant find anything similar to this freewheel - how do i remove it?
Please, can anyone tell me what kind of freewheel/ cassette I have - its on an '89-'91(?) peugeot Aspin road bike if thats any help.

Pictures are here: the mysterious freewheel

Which tool do I need to remove it? (I have got as far as "some kind of removal 'nut' type thing and maybe a chain whip" but I understand that there are as many different types as there are teeth on an alligator so specifics would be great)

One of the spokes has gone on the drive side. I have the spoke now, just no tools.

I'm a complete bike maintenance beginner but I don't really want to pay someone £30 to do it when the bike cost £28 - I'd rather buy the tools and spend the time to learn how to sort it out myself (in fact its a bit of a 'learn bike fixing' project bike).

I believe you have a helicomatic freewheel (actually an early version of a free hub.)

More info is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stronglight/sets/72157604719497074/

It looks like these guys sell the tool: http://www.yellowjersey.org/helico.html

Last resort in channel lock pliers, but you risk destroying the lockring.
DaveM, that's fantastic, it looks like just the thing, now to get my hands on one of those handy looking tools.

Does anyone happen know where I can get one in the UK?
Ok, I used a cloth to cover the teeth of a normal set of pliers and the lock ring came off easily and I dont appear to have damaged it at all.

Its all very greasy and dirty and I want to clean it, also when I turn the freewheeling mechanism it sounds gritty. The previous owner of the bike didn't really look after it and seems to have decided that chain oil is the solution to everything so everything id coated in a mixture of oil and dirt.

I would like to clean the helicomatic up. What should be grease free, what should I use chain oil (is this the same as light oil?) on? what needs something else.

I dont have lots of cash for this project so I dont really want to buy lots of different substances if I can get away with it.

Somewhere someone said something about using petroleum jelly and light oil in on the bearings, does this make sense.

(oh p.s. please dont just tell me to get a new wheel - I may do that in the future but for now I just want to get this one in reasonable shape - thanks)

All advice gratefully received by a total novice.
You can try to flush some oil through the freehub (ratchet) body. I would use something like a moderately thin oil (sewing machine, lightweight motor oil, etc) not a chain lube. Put the wheel on it's side, drip oil at the border between where the freehub rotates and where it stays still. Just keep flushing drips through until you hear the sound change. Then leave the wheel for a while for excess oil to drip its way out.

Exterior surfaces should be dry or have just the lightest coating of oil to prevent corrosion. Always grease threads.
Thanks DaveM, thats very helpful and clear. Just a little clarifier: when you say 'grease threads' is the grease in question anything in particular or just something greasy? - would chain lube do?

Thank you
Chain lube is typically pretty thin and will dry out over time. For bearings, assembling parts (lockrings, bolts, seatposts, etc.) you want something that is thicker. Automotive bearing grease is a good cheap option. Don't know if they have the same in the UK, but here you can get 'normal' bearing grease or "marine grease" which is more waterproof. "Anti-seize compound" is also very good for assembling parts (but not for bearings). That's also something an auto parts store would have.
YES, a new freewheel (to me)! Sorry just love the information. lol. Glad you got it!
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
DaveM you are a star, thanks. I'm off to the car shop.
Final update on the helicomatic:

I actually did cause a little cosmetic damage undoing the lock ring with the pliers wrapped in a cloth, but to be honest thats ok with me. The hub came off easily then. At last I was able to replace the broken spoke that sparked this all off.

I also at this point gave the thing a good clean as it was filthy and cleaned the hub and spokes as well, being careful not to let any water (especially soapy water) go into any of the moving parts.

On closer inspection the free wheeling action was a bit gritty and uneven and even stopped a bit so:

I flushed it through with light oil (as per DaveM's idea - I used '3-in-1') which brought out a whole load of black stuff, but it also washed the grease from the bearings (which are not really separated from the ratchet mechanism) so that when I shook the thing it rattled.

So I opened the cone (the bit with the bearings in) over a tub a plastic tub. I did this by replacing the unit on the hub without the lockring and tapping (fairly hard) on the square protrusions on the cone lockring (visible in the third photo above) in a clock wise direction using a long brass screw which fit and a hammer (the nail I tried wasn't hard enough and the point broke). This was as per the instructions here: helicomatic museum

Inside there were 2 sets of bearings and I kept these in separate trays and counted them to be sure not to loose any.

I cleaned the rest of the black crud from the ratchet mechanism and oiled it lightly with 3-in-1.

I wiped the places for the bearings off and applied a line of 'multipurpose No. 2 grease' and using a nail (for some reason this was slightly magnetic) I stuck the bearings back in place.

I greased (with the same grease) the threads for the cone lockring and carefully replaced the mechanism into the sprockets. This was a bit tricky because of the pawls and the bearings. I found the best way was putting two fingers into the center of the mechanism to grip it and then lowering it vertically into the 'back' of the sprockets and carefully wiggling it to get the pawls to fit between the contact points so that it dropped in. Just be careful of the exposed bearings on the other side.

I then screwed the cone lock ring back in and hammered it tight (there was a little pay between the mechanism and the sprockets until I did this).

I wiped as much grease/oil as possible from any exterior surfaces (the state of the bike as I got it demonstrated how greasy surfaces just get bunged up with abrasive crud so I wanted to avoid that problem as much as possible).

I greased the splines on the hub and slid the thing back in place, cleaned and greased the threads of the lock ring screwed it on and tightened it with the pliers wrapped in a cloth. Sorted!

It goes great now.

All I need to do now is overhaul the hubs (the front one is very clunky), clean and align the breaks, true the wheels, clean up the deralleur, rub down the rust spots and touch up the paint work and I'll have it tickerty-boo. £28 well spent...

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