Overhauling Maxi-Car Hubs, Part 2 (hmmm…)

When I left off from part 1 of my Maxi-Car hub overhaul project, I was having trouble disassembling the 1950’s Type 2 hubs that I was using as my training ground for learning the process of servicing and adjusting these well-regarded vintage components.  Those hubs are still soaking in penetrant in the hopes of freeing up the axles from the inner races of the annular bearings.  Now, I have pulled the Maxi-Car wheelset off of my 1977 Jack Taylor tandem, and am looking forward to achieving better results.  That hubset is laced to 650b rims, and features a front hub with a drum brake (as an addition to the front cantilevers), and a rear hub with a freewheel.

The freewheel, axle and nuts were showing some rust, so I was prepared for the eventuality that it would not come off on the first try.  That meant that the rear wheel of my 2nd Maxi-Car project is also soaking in penetrant, so I turned my attention to the front hub, which I was hoping to put off due to also having to address servicing the drum brake.

I don’t have a lot of experience with drum brakes and am not a big fan.  But, they can work well for some applications.  In this case, a tandem needs more than one front brake to safely descend steep hills, so the drum brake (which is actuated by the same lever as the front cantilevers – a double-cable mafac brake lever) is meant to augment the effectiveness of the rim brakes.

I started the process of removing the outer nuts and washers of what I thought was the fixed end of the hub, documenting each step as I went along.  When it came time to remove the drum brake shoes from the hub shell, the component came out easily by gently lifting it up from the axle.

However, one brake liner was left behind, having become dislodged from its proper position on the shoe.  Rather than worry too much about that, I continued with my process, thinking I would find the fixed side’s dust cover underneath the brake assembly.

But, that’s not what happened. Instead, I saw a black dust cap underneath the nuts and washers, with no holes for a pin-spanner.  Hmmm…

When I flipped the hub over to the “adjustable side” that’s when I realized that this hub looks different from other Maxi-Car hubs.  The dust caps are anodized black, and don’t have holes.  Are these cup and cone hubs?  The answer is yes!

I was kind of almost overjoyed to see these bearings peaking out from underneath the dust cover.  But then I realized that I may not in fact be overhauling a Maxi-Car hub, but some other kind of hub.  What could it be?

I took a closer look at the hub and saw that it is completely unbranded.  There are no markings anywhere on the hub.  The flanges and drum are steel, and the hub body is aluminum.  The style of the rivets and the flanges matches up to a number of older Maxi-Car hub styles.   Did Maxi-Car build regular cup and cone hubs?  I don’t know.  I do know what the hub is not.  It is not a:  Sturmey Archer, Sachs, Arai, or Shimano.  The hub appears to be of older vintage than its rear counterpart.  Perhaps the wheel was built up by Ken Taylor with the customer’s favorite older front hub?

Cam with spring on the right, pivot on the left, lower brake lining missing.

Brake drum before cleaning

Brake drum after cleaning

While those thoughts cogitated, I went forward with cleaning all the parts and thinking more about how to attach the dislodged brake liner to its shoe.  I know that drum brakes can build up a lot of heat, so using an adhesive that can tolerate high temperatures will be critical.  The liners still have about 2.5 mm thickness, so if the adhesive problem can be solved, then I can complete the hub overhaul.  If not, I’ll have to discard the hubs and build up a new 650b wheel using the original Weinmann rim, which is in good shape, and decide on what kind of front hub to use that would be appropriate for the 1977 JT.  But, the next step for now is to get the freewheel off of the rear hub.  Stay tuned!