Author Topic: Power-servicing your Rohloff  (Read 2434 times)

Andre Jute

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Power-servicing your Rohloff
« on: April 12, 2019, 02:58:38 AM »
If you're new to Rohloff internal hub gears, follow the instructions in the manual closely.

If you're a more experienced owner who has previously successfully serviced your Rohloff, you can at your own risk gear up to Power-Servicing your Rohloff. It takes a little longer, and you have to measure the quantity of All-Seasons Oil accurately, but it results in a better and less wasteful service, because you're now creating less opportunity for excess oil to be flung out through the breather hole or to mist out.

The sort of Rohloff owner for whom this post is intended probably already has two large plastic containers of bulk Rolloff Cleaning Oil and All-Seasons Oil, and a collection of syringes and gearbox closure studs from previous services with the expensive single-use kits, whose main attraction is convenience.

Take out the stud. Do not drain anything immediately. Put in 25ml of Cleaning Oil. Draw out a little air to avoid air bubbles.  Disengage the tube. Put the stud back in. Ride the bike for two or three kilometres in gears 3 and 5, which will bring all the gears into play, and clean them with the thinner oil.


Drain the dirty old oil and the used cleaning oil from the gearbox by attaching a second syringe kept only for this purpose of dealing with dirty oil. Before attaching the syringe, draw it out to only 35ml rather than all the way. Now turn the wheel so that the oil stud hole with the attached syringe points downwards. Stand the syringe up against the tyre and go away for an hour. When you return there will be dirty oil in part of the syringe, though less than you expect. Don't worry about that -- the rest of the All-Seasons Oil misted away over the last 3000m/5000km or one year, but your expensive gearbox was never in danger because enough oil always clung to the gears to lubricate them; the factory apparently sends out new gearboxes with 12ml of oil, but you shouldn't shave it that fine. What you're seeing is the oil clinging to the gears that the cleaning oil has washed off. At this point slowly pull the syringe handle out all the way to suck in the last drops of dirty oil in the gearbox, and to avoid expensive and acrimonious drips on your wife's favourite Persian carpet when you unscrew the tube. (You're not servicing your bike in the shed, are you?) Pulling the syringe handle to create a vacuum in the syringe to suck out any remaining dirty oil or bits of knocked-off metal remaining in the box -- especially if it is new or only a little used -- is the essence of Power-Service. Notice in the photo above the dirty oil in the tube rather than the syringe: this is the oil that would have been retained in the gearbox by air pressure without you creating a vacuum for the last of the dirty oil to fill. Remove the dirty-oil syringe and, later, dispose thoughtfully of the dirty oil.

Now fill the clean-oil syringe with 14ml or so, better a fraction more than less, of clean All-Seasons Oil (or in very extreme winter conditions -- read the manual! -- with more of the Cleaning Oil which is formulated for such conditions) and feed it to the gearbox with the stud-hole at the top. When the last drops are in the gearbox, suck out a few millilitres of air to equalise the pressures. You can reuse the old stud as long as there is some Loctite left on it; gently wipe the stud dry before reinserting it. The official closing torque for the stud is 0.5Nm; I suggest that instead of trying to guess how low this is and perhaps winding the stud down into the gears, you wind the stud into the gearbox until at least one full thread remains above the surrounding gearbox shell, and stop there.

The Rohloff hub gearbox is a near-sentient creature. I notice that mine, when serviced on time and thoughtfully as above, always rewards me by letting me put back the EXT shift cover (which I service at the same time as the main oil service) without having to fiddle with the rotary gearshift control on the handlebars, an awkward business if you need one hand on the rear hub of the bike.

Now you and your Rohloff are good to go for another year or 3000m/5000km, whichever comes first.

2019 Andre Jute
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 09:55:20 AM by Andre Jute »

Dave Whittle Thorn Workshop

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2019, 09:16:25 AM »
This is almost exactly how we do it in the workshop. Have no problems with recommending the above, we do prefer to use a new drain screw every time though.

energyman

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2019, 09:27:05 AM »
I note that there was no mention of having a cup of THORN tea whilst waiting for the oil to drain.
Serious omission !
;)

Andre Jute

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2019, 10:05:15 AM »
This is almost exactly how we do it in the workshop. Have no problems with recommending the above, we do prefer to use a new drain screw every time though.

Thanks, Dave; I'm flattered.

I note that there was no mention of having a cup of THORN tea whilst waiting for the oil to drain.
Serious omission !
;)

Progress is slow on persuading the local supermarkets to stock THORN tea, Energyman. We have to make do with locally fermented elderflower juice.

mickeg

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2019, 04:59:31 PM »
I note that there was no mention of having a cup of THORN tea whilst waiting for the oil to drain.
Serious omission !
;)

I do it in the evening and substitute some red wine for the tea.

I reuse the fill plug screw, but I put a bit of blue Loctite (actually a competing brand) on the screw first.

***

My trip on a plane with my Rohloff resulted in a lot of oil leakage on the left side down in the EX box area.  (I have posted photos before.)  I suspect that air pressure changes during flight and possibly my S&S case being set down flat are the reasons.  But the next oil change did not leak at all, so that leakage clearly was a one off occurrence that I blame on the flight, not a bad seal on the hub.

In a few months I expect to get on a plane again with my Rohloff.  This time, I will do the cleaning oil rinse and drain, then put in the filler plug.  And pack up the bike for transport.  Upon getting off the plane and reassembling the bike I will add the lube oil.  Hopefully that solves the mess of leakage that I had last time.  I bought a spare plastic hose that threads onto the hub, spare fill plug screw in case the plug goes walk about, a small bottle to carry the fresh oil, and a smaller syringe to carry in my spares. 

Off topic but I use blue Loctite on my rack bolts.  After observing several other bike tourists that have lost rack bolts or other critical bolts (I lost a shoe cleat bolt a couple years ago too), I bought a spare tiny bottle of blue threadlocker to carry on tours in my bag of tools and spares so when I assemble the bike, I can reapply it to my rack bolts.

John Saxby

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2019, 11:21:29 PM »
Quote
Upon getting off the plane and reassembling the bike I will add the lube oil.

Thanks for that helpful tip, George.

And +1 for blue Loctite/Permatex on small nuts & bolts subject to vibration.

(Hv seen several old Britbikes in the last 2 weeks in the th Gold Coast, a kinetic reminder of the virtues of keeping things tight.) (And also a reminder of pervasive oil leaks.)

Dave Whittle Thorn Workshop

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2019, 09:53:21 AM »
Quote
I put a bit of blue Loctite (actually a competing brand) on the screw first.

Blue medium strength loctite is fine on most bolts but not drain screws.

You need something oil proof that seals, your not actually looking to lock the thread.

Rohloff use Weicon AN301-72, you can use Loctite 511.

mickeg

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2019, 05:14:31 PM »
Quote
I put a bit of blue Loctite (actually a competing brand) on the screw first.

Blue medium strength loctite is fine on most bolts but not drain screws.

You need something oil proof that seals, your not actually looking to lock the thread.

Rohloff use Weicon AN301-72, you can use Loctite 511.

I mostly use it to inhibit dissimilar metal corrosion, not so much as a seal.  I will just keep doing what I do.  Thanks for the suggestion.

willywombat

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2020, 11:54:58 PM »
I know this is an old thread but I have a question that perhaps someone in the know could answer :

Andre says with the power service you add the cleaning oil without draining anything beforehand .

 In my mind surely draining what you can ,before adding the cleaning oil, might actually be a good idea , as this way would leave less work for the  cleaning oil to do ...( if the idea is that it washes away the residue clinging to the internals )

Presumably there is something I've missed.... unless it's done in this way to simply  reduce the number of times different syringes need to be connected.

I like to understand such things fully so if anyone can advise it would be much appreciated.

Many thanks fellow Speedhub obsessives!

PH

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2020, 12:04:16 AM »
You could try that, it won't do any harm, but you won't get much out.  It needs the flushing oil to dilute it (There may be a more technical term!) Quite often you don't get out much more than the 25ml flushing oil you've put in, it just comes out dirty.  I've sometimes flushed twice, on a whim or just because I didn't like the colour of what came out the first time. 

mickeg

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2020, 02:35:56 AM »
Agree with PH, you will not get much if anything from an initial drain before you add the cleaning oil.  I have never noticed any oil drops on the floor where I store my Nomad, but some have noticed drops of oil on the floor under their hub.  And I suspect most of us use 15ml of oil (plus or minus a ml) when we add oil.  And probably half of that 15ml will be adhering to the hub innards and won't drain out if you tried to drain it.  Thus, there is not a lot of spare oil to drain out, even if none leaked.

I have noticed on regular occasion oil adhering to my rear skewer so I know that some leaks out.  (At one time I thought there was a vent in the hub axle, but I later realized I confused the Rohloff with the Son hubs, the vent is in the Son.)  I also commonly have some oil leakage on the left side where it accumulates on the EX box where it is an excellent dust magnet, a couple photos below. 

The second photo below was on my Iceland trip, I changed the oil at home before I flew to Iceland and I assumed some of the leakage was due to air pressure changes on the flight. 

After all that leakage on my Iceland tour, for my tour last summer I rinsed and drained the oil at home before my flight, but I did not add the lube oil to the hub until I arrived in Halifax and reassembled my bike.  Thus, there should not have been any leakage due to the pressure changes on the flight or from orientation of the hub (was it on its side during the flight?).  I noticed during the first several days that my low range gears (1-7) were the quietest that they had ever been, but over the weeks after that the gears slowly got noisier again as the EX box started to look more oily, I suspect as the oil leaked out that the gears had less dampening from the oil and thus was noisier.

Bottom line, if you want to drain the oil first in hopes of getting a few ml out, it won't hurt, but I am not going to waste the time trying.

If you are new the process, watch the video first.  But, wipe any dirt off of the hub before removing the screw, as most hubs are dirtier than the hub in the video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVhmgqICNhU

And only tighten the screw at the end enough to stay, the hub shell is aluminum so if you try to tighten it too tight you risk stripping the threads.  That is why I renew the threadlock on the screw every time I put the screw in.

Andre Jute

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2020, 06:03:12 PM »
Andre says with the power service you add the cleaning oil without draining anything beforehand .

On a bike that is regularly used, there will be nothing to drain. All the oil remaining in the gearbox sticks to the gears.

The only time that you may conceivably drain something substantial, somewhere nearer what you put into the box, is if an unused bike stood for the entire year after a service in a temperature-controlled room.

Paul, would you share with us how much you drained on the second cycle on those occasions when you double-cleaned the Rohloff?

The reason I say in the opening post to the thread that newbies should at first follow the manual, and that the Power Service is for experienced Rohloff users, is so the newbies can get comfortable with the idea that oil has somehow "disappeared".

There is a fuller explanation, plus some harum scrum from when I was a newbie myself, in the thread "Where is my used oil?":
http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=12606.msg93564#msg93564

In my mind surely draining what you can ,before adding the cleaning oil, might actually be a good idea , as this way would leave less work for the  cleaning oil to do ...( if the idea is that it washes away the residue clinging to the internals )

As PH says, you can try it, and I think everyone should, to prove for themselves that when they put 25ml of Cleaning Oil into a hub that they presume holds 25ml All-Season's Oil, total 50ml, and then drain the hub, they never get 50ml back.

Presumably there is something I've missed....

Uh-huh. Everyone hears "hub gearbox" -- and immediately draws a parallel with a motorcar gearbox, which runs, quite literally, in an oil bath. I did, and I bet many others on the forum did too. That's not even all: "running in an oil bath" is, particularly in bicycles, a heritage piece of false advertising indulged in by many bicycle and component makers over the years.

But the motorcar gearbox is the wrong analogy. The Rohloff HGB is not, repeat not, sealed in any way, because if it were, it would be far, far too heavy for bicycle use. The "seals" we hear about are designed to let the gearbox breathe, and therefore "mist out" any oil that doesn't cling to the gears. (Which is also the reason you must use only Rolloff-approved oils -- you don't know whether any other oil has been formulated to a) stick to the gears and b) be harmless to these innovative seals, some of them actually paper.) Check George's photos of the misted-out oil settled on his bike's rear end attracting dust while the rest of his (yellow!) bike appears clean. The main function of Rohloff seals is to keep dust out, not to keep oil in. That's why you shouldn't submerge a Rohloff in water, or use a power-spray on it.

Ironically, one of the main actual oil-proof seals in the Rohloff is the gunk around the stud in the hub you remove to put in oil... It is not, as is commonly assumed, threadlock.

Once you grasp the concept of a basically open-air gearbox (sort of like a rear derailleur cluster, but stronger, in a protective shell with some Chinese paper curtains over the openings) lubricated by the special oil sticking to the gear spindles and mating surfaces, you're ready for Power-Servicing Your Rohloff.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 03:45:21 AM by Andre Jute »

PH

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2020, 12:49:10 AM »

Paul, would you share with us how much you drained on the second cycle on those occasions when you double-cleaned the Rohloff?


I'd say on the second flush I'm getting out pretty much what I've put in.  There's always a small +/- depending on the ml or two in the syringes and tubes but as close to as to not make any difference. I don't ride the bike while changing the oil (Chances are it's a foul day, I've cleaned the bike once already and it's in the living room, so I'm not going out again!) I'll sit next to the bike on the stand and turn the cranks by hand while listening to some music!  I'll also let it drain into the syringe overnight, just leaving the refill to do in the morning.

My hub is currently leaking, or self changing oil as the British motorcycle industry used to call it. I must get round to sending it off to be sorted.


Andre Jute

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2020, 03:53:01 AM »
Thanks, Paul. Sorry to hear your hub has sprung a leak.

mickeg

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Re: Power-servicing your Rohloff
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2020, 10:53:49 AM »
...
My hub is currently leaking, or self changing oil as the British motorcycle industry used to call it. I must get round to sending it off to be sorted.

When the old brit bikes stopped leaking, you worried that you had run out of oil.