Nothing wrong but you feel like opening them up anyway?
After a year commuting ten miles a day, I couldn’t help but feel that the Sturmey Archer X-FDD (click for in-depth review) drum brake on the front of my new utility bike must be in need of a routine service.
A little over 2,000 miles and wearing in nicely!
Fortunately, if you don’t need to replace the brake shoes (which have a really long lifespan – probably longer than most people keep a hub), opening and servicing Sturmey Archer drum brakes is a piece of cake.
You only need to worry about the brake-side nut, and all that does is free up the brake plate: you’re not changing the bearing preload for the hub or anything like that. It’s a 16mm single nut (so no need for a fancy narrow cone wrench) – remove it and the whole brake plate will lift up, allowing access.
The photo above shows what’s left of the hub with the brake plate removed: you want to clean this of any debris especially focusing on the inner braking surface.
Don’t use just any old oily rag for this, unless you also like the feel of disc rotors or rim brakes covered in grease! (But don’t worry – you can’t contaminate the pads and ruin them, aka disc brake pads).
Above you can see the back of the brake plate – there are two shoes, a fixed pivot point (on the right) and the cam ‘axle’ (on the left) which you’ll be able to see spreading the pads when you move the brake arm itself.
Again, you want to generally clean this up. It’s commonly advised to put a *small* amount of lubrication on the axle and cam pivot points, but make sure not to leave any excess lubrication… I just dripped on a tiny amount of oil (which I had handy – rather than grease), worked the brake plate in my hand for a minute then carefully removed any visible traces… I like to be able to stop at the bottom of hills!
And that’s it – pop the brake plate back on and do up the nut. In the case of the X-FDD or XL-FDD, don’t forget that you’ll want to turn the brake plate so that the reaction arm loosely lines up with the plug on the dynamo side (unless you’d like that to face the ground!
Good as new! Looking at the photo exif data this took me twenty minutes all-in, and that’s at a first attempt (including taking the photos!)