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Columbia 3 wheel differential
#1
Hello everyone and thank you so much for having me!

I have an older Columbia 3 wheeler adult tricycle and she has a differential, somewhat like a car. I wanted to open up the differential for cleaning and oiling but cannot find any info on her, as to how much oil to add, and where the oil fill point is. Can anyone help me in this endeavor? I'd really love to get her going but don't want to risk damage. Thank you in advance!
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#2
Maybe this video can help.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m28hQZhv1RY

I'm not a GIGA Chad, so I can't walk you through by instruction myself.
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#3
I much appreciate the link. I believe that's a Miami Sun trike. I have one of those two that I rebuilt entirely. My Columbia has an actual spider gear differential. There's literally nothing about these units out there. I'll be figuring out by myself it appears. Thank you!
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#4
(06-04-2022, 04:21 PM)Hoodoo Creek Wrote:  Hello everyone and thank you so much for having me!

I have an older Columbia 3 wheeler adult tricycle and she has a differential, somewhat like a car. I wanted to open up the differential for cleaning and oiling but cannot find any info on her, as to how much oil to add, and where the oil fill point is. Can anyone help me in this endeavor? I'd really love to get her going but don't want to risk damage. Thank you in advance!

How old is your bike? Do you know what the model/serial number is? There is a good chance that the gear reducer is a sealed unit that does not require
preventative maintenance, and should only be serviced (if possible) during malfunction by a qualified mechanic. That being said, I have taken apart many "sealed"/"unserviceable" assemblies on automobiles and other devices (mechanical, and electronic) and was able to conduct an inspection and/or service of that part.

Given the type of part you are talking about (do you have any photos?), I would think that if it required routine oiling there would be some sort of port designed for the owner to conduct that service. If no port is available it makes me tend to think that the manufacturer intended it to be left alone. It is not uncommon to see oil/grease ports on older bikes primarily before the 1980s (on hubs, bottom bracket assy's, etc.); but for the most part newer bikes are utilizing sealed bearing assemblies that theoretically cannot be lubricated and the part must be changed out (either the entire assy., or the bearings separately).

It may still be possible to contact Columbia and request a service manual, or schematic blow-up diagram of your part; or ythey may have it available online. More than likely Columbia does not manufacture the part, and you may need to find out who the actual part manufacturer is and look them up the see if they can provide any guidance.

If you have the tools and feel confident working on it (also, it's not under warranty) then go ahead and tear it open. I doubt that it is too complex, but beware of very small pieces that might easily be lost in the process of disassembly.

Ultimately, if it is not giving you any trouble during operation I would tend to leave it alone unless it is on a very old bike and you expect to use it regularly and you want a little piece of mind when out on the road.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#5
Thank you Jesper! The entire assembly is held together by 2 through bolts that hold even the sprocket on the differential. It appears to be, that oil is added at the right axle end. I don't think it's necessary to tear it apart, but it'd be handy to know what, and how much oil to add to it. The back wheels could use an alignment on the rims, but unsure exactly the best approach there, since they can't easily be installed inside a fork for tuning. I'll post photos as soon as I figure out how to do so. Excellent suggestions on contacting Columbia for a manual if available.
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#6
(06-07-2022, 07:50 PM)Hoodoo Creek Wrote:  Thank you Jesper! The entire assembly is held together by 2 through bolts that hold even the sprocket on the differential. It appears to be, that oil is added at the right axle end. I don't think it's necessary to tear it apart, but it'd be handy to know what, and how much oil to add to it. The back wheels could use an alignment on the rims, but unsure exactly the best approach there, since they can't easily be installed inside a fork for tuning. I'll post photos as soon as I figure out how to do so. Excellent suggestions on contacting Columbia for a manual if available.

Generally, as I have done on a car diff.; just add oil to the unit; and with it on level ground there should be enough if a little oil pours out of the port/plug/axle. You may have to drain a little to keep it from dripping when stored or if it just keeps dripping oil (if gear oil it would drip very, very slowly). I would assume that it may take hyboid gearbox oil/ or regular gearbox oil around 75W or so. Still that is a guess; I would rather use a lighter weight oil due to the fact that it makes it a little harder to pedal with that heavy gear oil. That viscous Lucas stuff should work good also; or maybe chainsaw bar oil. I'm sure there is a bicycle brand of that oil costing about 2 to 3 times as the automotive version.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#7
(06-07-2022, 07:50 PM)Hoodoo Creek Wrote:  Thank you Jesper! The entire assembly is held together by 2 through bolts that hold even the sprocket on the differential. It appears to be, that oil is added at the right axle end. I don't think it's necessary to tear it apart, but it'd be handy to know what, and how much oil to add to it. The back wheels could use an alignment on the rims, but unsure exactly the best approach there, since they can't easily be installed inside a fork for tuning. I'll post photos as soon as I figure out how to do so. Excellent suggestions on contacting Columbia for a manual if available.

When I did a search over, I was able to find one source, on bikeforum I believe (I no longer have the link) that said these axles simply need new oil now and again. You're matching that description now.

I would suggest using full synthetic oil. I use this to soak my freehub bodies in, and it can remove maximum resistance from them. I was able to entirely silence a PAWS HD freewheel. It had no click whatsoever. This is a high engagement freewheel that normally has much louder click than normal. The formula used was Valvoline high mileage 10w-30.
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#8
(06-07-2022, 07:50 PM)Hoodoo Creek Wrote:  Thank you Jesper! The entire assembly is held together by 2 through bolts that hold even the sprocket on the differential. It appears to be, that oil is added at the right axle end. I don't think it's necessary to tear it apart, but it'd be handy to know what, and how much oil to add to it. The back wheels could use an alignment on the rims, but unsure exactly the best approach there, since they can't easily be installed inside a fork for tuning. I'll post photos as soon as I figure out how to do so. Excellent suggestions on contacting Columbia for a manual if available.

You don't need a truing stand to straighten your rims. Simply securely attach some sort of marker/pointer on the bike frame in a manner where it can provide an indication of the warp on the rim as you turn it. If you have not trued wheels before, you may want to read up on it first; especially for aluminum rims.
The suggestion for using synthetic oil/grease is fine, but you still need to determine if you need a "gear" oil weighted product (possibly a grease), or something much lighter such as a general motor oil. If you cannot determine the oil type then I would err on the side of caution and use a gear oil which would be very unlikely to cause any adverse effects other than the effort required to cycle (or possible leakage if grease is req'd). Motor oils are not designed for most gearboxes so I doubt that a motor oil is the required oil grade, but anything is better than nothing.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#9
Sorry to you all for the delay in replying. I'm getting married July 2 after my first wife of 3o years, passed away last year. Been SOOO busy. Thank you all so much for the info. What I'd give to find a manual or info on line. There is absolutely nothing, but the advice you've given. Cannot wait to give this gal a spin! I have adjusted / aligned rims before, and the wrench I just bought is in the mail box actually. I'll be working on her this winter in my shop. Until then, I'll be fleecing you all for more info! Thanks again!
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#10
(06-11-2022, 07:16 PM)Hoodoo Creek Wrote:  Sorry to you all for the delay in replying. I'm getting married July 2 after my first wife of 3o years, passed away last year. Been SOOO busy. Thank you all so much for the info. What I'd give to find a manual or info on line. There is absolutely nothing, but the advice you've given. Cannot wait to give this gal a spin! I have adjusted / aligned rims before, and the wrench I just bought is in the mail box actually. I'll be working on her this winter in my shop. Until then, I'll be fleecing you all for more info! Thanks again!

Here is something I found, but unfortunately lacking in details.

Link: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.facebook.com/DaysRollBy/posts/1515827875124682&ved=2ahUKEwj3-4aUxKb4AhUMKkQIHUYeARsQFnoECAsQAQ&usg=AOvVaw3OUCCEt-S53dMpCDlCsL4_
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#11
Thank you! I actually stumbled on to that page a couple times and left a comment (since removed) asking for more info because there are no details as you mentioned. AGH!!!!
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