Author Topic: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil  (Read 1084 times)

Offline Ian_dw

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Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« on: January 10, 2022, 05:10:55 PM »
Hi, can anyone tell me if my 1923 Albion Featherlight Gearbox should be filled with Grease or Oil?? It has a ďuseĒ Mobiloil label on the case, but I canít find any info on what it might be? Also when I took it apart, the kickstart spring was loose in the case, so I have no idea how it was originally setup!! Should the spring pull the kickstart gear completely away from the internal gears it meshes with, or should it always be set to be meshed with the internal gears?? Any ideas ??

Thanks Ian

Offline R

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2022, 09:08:24 PM »
'Mobiloil' would suggest it is an oil.
Probably just an engine oil, before oils became specialized.
The general rule is that if it has a drain plug, then it was intended for use with oil.
Does it have a filler point/level plug ?

The basic box looks to have a drain plug ?
https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/images/3/3c/Im19230823MC-Albion.jpg

But the kickstart version is a little less obvious. !
https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/images/4/4a/Im19200924MCT-Albion.jpg

You could test 'fill' it with oil.
And see if it all just comes back out on the floor !
Some folks mix a little flowable grease in with the oil, to slow the rate of exit.
About every ride on lawnmower uses flowable grease in the gearbox - is it 00 grade /thixotropic grease ?

Can't help with the kickstart side of things.
If you turn it over in either of those 2 states, does it sound like a buzz saw on steroids ?
Most boxes have those separated, and the kickstart action pushes/engages them together.

Hmmm, Max 2 hp.
Sounds like a fun little beast.
Have fun !
« Last Edit: January 10, 2022, 09:10:40 PM by R »

Offline 33d6

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2022, 11:02:24 PM »
Albion boxes use oil.
Absolutely and positively do not use grease. The design and size of Albion boxes are such that grease will not penetrate into various areas so they will not be lubricated.
Oil advice was usually carried on the filler plug or elsewhere in the form of trade names such as Mobiloil DD or Castrol XL. One has to translate this into a modern equivalent.
What precisely is found on your box.
One question at a time, kickstart spring later.

Offline Ian_dw

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2022, 06:41:10 PM »
Hi Thanks for the replies about my gearbox. The case is marked with use MobileOil ďbbĒ. When I took it apart to restore the lubrication looked like a grease, but I suspect it had been taken apart before, I was given the honour. This is why I think the kickstarter spring was loose in the case!!

I assume I need to find a modern oil etc which has the same properties of the original or something which does the same job but in a more efficient modern matter?? To give you an idea of itís age it is circa 1923, so obviously an antique and very little chance of a workshop manual/spare parts!!
« Last Edit: January 11, 2022, 06:44:32 PM by Ian_dw »

Offline 33d6

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2022, 10:13:33 PM »
Itís easy. Information is plentiful and Albion made boxes for donkeyís years. Not only that, their early hand change boxes are idiot simple.
Firstly, letís identify what you have, ď 1923 Featherweight ď is unhelpful. Is it 2, 3, or 4 speed? Does it have a clutch? Is the clutch centre bearing a plain phosphor bronze  disc or balls? And finally what number is it? Albion mostly used a letter number combination stamped in.

Secondly, whatís it fitted too? If you want us to help you have to get us interested. This information thing is a two way street.

Third, if youíre really interested Mobil will cheerfully advise on what modern product of theirs is an appropriate alternative to their BB of the 1920ís. As will any of the major oil companies.

Offline Ian_dw

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2022, 09:20:27 PM »
Hi, the gearbox is a 1923 3 speed version with a clutch, which uses ball bearings to support the shaft. I was thinking the gaps between the ball bearings would be an obvious place for oil to leak out of the main case. When disassembled it the content looked more like a thick lol/grease rather than the thin type of oils used in England blocks.. The gearbox will be fitted to a 1923 mcKenzie motorcycle my dad bought and was going to restore. Alas he never got around to it and I have inherited when I cleared my mums house out at the end of last year. I managed to find out the correct gearbox for the bike, which my dad never did and have made a pulley for the belt drive it was supposed to use. Any info is much appreciated!!

Offline 33d6

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2022, 04:15:10 AM »
Hi Ian,
It really is important to exactly identify your gear box first. Albion did not make annual changes and they did not announce next year models at the annual MotorCycle Show. They made a range of gearboxes for all sorts of uses and steadily updated them as and when commercial reality dictated. They would also make minor changes to non-essential items to suit the customer if the order was big enough.  Saying it is a 1923 model is not helpful. This is why I asked for the stamped on alph numerical gearbox number which can be of more use.

Further to this my information is that the Mckenzie had a 2 speed box only, not three speed. You see my dilemma. I want to help but to do so I need to know what you have.

Your information to date describes a three speed box with the later model ball bearing clutch centre implying a 1928 onwards type. I would have no hesitation installing that in your McKenzie. It is a sensible and period upgrade. As long as it is one of the smaller 3 speed boxes no one will neither notice nor care.

I look forward to the next installment.

 

 

Offline john.k

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2022, 11:04:16 AM »
Sounds like it may be the very common EJ model 3 speed........these little boxes are a near  exact copy of the Sturmey Archer LS,but to a  smaller scale......they also have steel to steel bearing surfaces,hence oil is advisable.

Offline R

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2022, 08:36:25 PM »
It should be pointed out though that flowable grease is completely different to yer average grease !

I once dismantled a Burman grease box. I was amazed to see it had been 'packed' with common grease.
It was packed to the gunnals, in fact. Except, the gears had carved cavities in said grease, and was doubtful
if there was much lubing taking place at all. The gears were still in good condition however.

Flowable grease, as used near universally now in ride-on lawn mower gearboxes etc, will flow to a level - as the name suggests.
This means the gears chuck it everywhere, much as oil does.  Except it won't escape as easily out of rudimentary oil seals.
Just a bit mixed into the gearbox oil makes it escape less out of those same rudimentary oil seals in older oil boxes.
??


Offline 33d6

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2022, 12:23:39 AM »
Yes, it's good stuff but the Albion sleeve gear and mainshaft are steel on steel, and until your flowable grease warms up a tad and flows you create a problem for yourself. Unlike other makes the Albion was designed by the maker to be lubricated by oil from the start. On top of that, given what the McKenzie is, how often do you think it will be operated long enough for the gearbox to warm up?

It's a tricky one isn't it. Neither alternative is quite what you want today but which one do you prefer?


Offline R

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2022, 04:26:18 AM »
I guess that depends on how big the puddle on the floor of your garage is.
And how often it repeats ....

Offline Ian_dw

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2022, 10:40:29 PM »
Hi guys, thanks for you input. I reread the comments and omitted that it is a type ĎCí gearbox and I have advertising material which says the McKenzie had either a 2 speed gearbox or a 3 speed gearbox, which cost an extra 6 shillings!! The gearbox has a ball bearing on the main shaft, but looks like a later replacement, as it is stamped with made in Sweden, which I donít think the Brummies who made it used?? So  although it will do the job doesnít look like an original part. The rest of the box gears etc is thou. I will rebuild this week end then bolt onto the bikes brazed on frame extension!!
Ian

Offline 33d6

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2022, 04:29:29 AM »
Hi Ian,
At last, solid information. The 'C' series Albion is two speed, and shares the same ratios as Top and Middle gears on the three -speed. All you get with the extra gear in the three speed box is an ultra low 'crawler' bottom gear suitable for retrieving Army tanks out of Siberian bogs.
How do I know this? It's very familiar. My Model 1 Excelsior has a 'C' series Albion box and Excelsior also offered the three speed alternative.  I've long since acquired a three speed but haven't fitted it as there is little point.  The ultra low bottom gear is next to irrelevant for normal road riding. You'll find the same.
As for your Swedish ball bearing, luckily for us Albion used a metric size here, a 6204  deep groove ball bearing. Found in a gazillion pieces of equipment, usually in the sealed for life 6204.2RSR version, it's one of the few bearings where the sealed for life .2RSR is easier to get than the standard 6204. As fitting the sealed for life version stops oil leaking out but leaves you with a large empty groove where the original felt washer and it's retainer sit I either turn up a nylon ring to fill the empty space thus keeping muck out of the groove or just replace the old tatty felt washer and retainer.
I can't make my mind up which is the better arrangement.
At least if I replace the old felt washer and retainer future renovators will know how it left the Albion factory. They're left guessing with my nylon filler ring. I seem to change my mind with each box.
Cheers,

 

Offline Ian_dw

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2022, 08:29:27 PM »
Thanks 32d6 for the info. To be honest I did have a problem finding the gearbox and ended up getting mine sent from Sweden. I think someone had taken it apart and itís probably why it got the Swedish ball bearings?? However I think when it was put back together the kickstart spring didnít get put back properly, as it was floating loose in the case when I split it apart. Do you know in the type C, if the spring goes under the kickstarter gear spring is supposed to retract the gear completely away from the engaging gear, or stay engaged. I suspect the spring should be between the gear and the case when the kickstarter comes through, so the gear should disengage?? Any ideas would be appreciated!!

Offline 33d6

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Re: Albion Gearbox Grease/Oil
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2022, 04:13:32 AM »
Hi Ian,
The kickstart spring has a small closed loop at the inner end that is attached to the box by a screw extending through the box with a further locking nut on the outside.
The other end of the kickstart spring has an open loop that slips over with the web of toothed sector.
Replace the kickstart loosely and then when pushing the outer cover home use a spanner on the cotter pin flat to turn the kickstart slightly so as to clear its return stop. Everything should then just slide in place.

The above assumes you have all the parts and the spring is complete and not broken. "Spring loose in the case" is not helpful and could arise from a variety of causes.

Wear on the actual gear teeth is rarely very noticeable. Everywhere else wears, the gear change system, the kickstart assembly and the whole kit and caboodle of the clutch system but the actual gear teeth seem to go on forever. All easily sorted and then ready for another hundred years of use.