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Elgin, JC Higgins, J.C. Higgins, They're All Sears bikes, and all freaking awesome!!  I love that the Firestone bikes are all the same frames too... It's too bad there isn't more information out there about these bikes as they totally kick ass.  Yes, they're not quite as good quality as a Schwinn, but they're absolutely serviceable and personally I find they fit taller riders a bit better.  One really could ask why AREN'T these bikes ruling the world about now?!?

Gettin' Greasy

by Bryn — last modified Sep 03, 2007 02:12 PM
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Rainy days are good - without them I'd never actually FIX my bikes until I had none left to ride!

So like I mentioned in my last post, I blew my hub on my Kustom Kruiser back on Friday night. It's been acting a little weird lately - the brake has been kinda sticky and sharp to engage at times so I knew it wasn't particularly healthy but it was otherwise riding great so hey, keep on truckin' right?

Sachs Torpedo 3-Speed
Sachs Torpedo 3 speed hub - NOT what I'm using

Komet Super
Sachs Torpedo single speed hub


Well, after it siezed I had managed to loosen up the cones a touch and get it rolling again. Noticed in the process that the axle was bent too... This is a "Hi-Stop" brand coaster hub, I've got 3 of them on different bikes. One we can't keep the coaster brake quiet on, one has kind of rough cones direct from the factory (including a few little pits and things that would make me toss them on a rebuild) and #3 is the one that just blew apart on me. Not good.

Unlaced it so I could measure my rim yesterday, and off to Simon's Bike Shop for new spokes. As usual they took care of me - found a nice spot with a view to wait while they finished off some other things and then popped back and picked up my lovely new set. Off to the house!

Now I mentioned that the hub I am replacing it with is a Sachs Torpedo. Bit of a history lesson on Sachs and the Torpedo hubs:

From what I've been able to dig up, Sachs, or Fitchel & Sachs (F&S) started making the "Torpedo" single-speed coaster hub in 1903. This hub actually had quite a long life to it - it didn't go out of production until 1991 when the last customer buying these hubs, the Swiss Army, upgraded to derailleur bikes. These hubs were also sold under the name "Komet Super" - I've got one of these on an old J.C. Higgins, stamped "F&S" on the hub body.

There's not a lot of history on Sachs prior to WWII - during the war the Sachs factories became part of the German war machine, turning out tank parts. This of course caused them to end up on the business end of the Allied bombing runs, destroying just about any history that had been recorded. Naturally nobody particularly cared about bike parts either so there really isn't much out there. You can read a bit on the official SRAM web site - apparently they "shifted priorities" some time in the 1940s... Umm... In about 1997 F&S or Sachs became SRAM. They are still very much in business and still turning out great bike parts, like the drum brake I've got on the front of my Manhattan.

The Torpedo single-speed remained essentially unchanged throughout its production. Like nearly every other manufacturer brass brake pads were replaced with steel to save costs, plus a few other minor changes such as switching to a splined sprocket. Most of these cost-cutting changes happened in the 1950's, when Sachs was rebuilding their factories so it kind of makes sense. From that I know the hub I've just laced up is a 1950 or later, although I haven't found an exact year yet. Oh, there's also a 3-speed "Torpedo" - it shares a few design points with the single speed Torpedo such as its roller clutch...

OK, so here we are, I decided to do a quick check over on the hub before I laced my wheel up. I'd previously noticed that the bearings were stamped "USA" which was a bit of a warning sign... The hub is made in Germany. One VERY large difference between German and US parts? "METRIC"

Well, after fiddling with it for a bit I noticed it was having issues binding up. Opened things up and realized the left hand bearings were really not seating properly at all - the keeper was just a bit too big for the cone. Rather than the balls sitting in their races they were riding the shoulder and the keeper was trying to bind up against the inside of the hub. Ugh. The actual ball bearing size seemed appropriate though so what could one do but upgrade to loose ball bearings?

That's when I decided to start scavenging for a couple more appropriately sized balls. Opened up the "Hi-Stop" hub and managed to find a few... PLUS the nasty chewed up mess that had been the left side bearings on that hub. Well, that explains why it siezed! The keeper was just little chunks of metal mixed all through it. Fun.

Anyhow, what's old is new again and my Torpedo hub is laced and ready to roll. So far so good, although I'm still worrying about the USA bearing on the drive side. Time will tell! If I score some more ball bearings I'll probably redo it loose ball too...

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sprockets Sachs torpedo and Komet

Avatar Posted by chargerpk at Sep 04, 2010 04:19 PM
Hey great read there, I was looking for info on whether the sprocket on the Komet would fit the Torpedo and by the look of it they will provided they have a manufacture date after 1950 - is this correct?


Avatar Posted by Bryn at Sep 04, 2010 04:23 PM
The sockets are all pretty interchangeable, there's basically two styles; threaded on and clipped on. As long as they're the same style they'll probably interchange fine.