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Albion gearbox.

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Hi Bud,

Photos are at

A bit of trial and error called for, as even on a simple bike there are many things that can sieze. On your bike the likely candidates are motor, generator, chains, gearbox, brakes (even if they're not connected) or wheel bearings. For what it's worth, I'd start like this:

Put the bike on the rear stand.
Remove the spark plug.
Remove the primary drive cover. (Looks like a tin affair, so undo any nuts/screws you can find and see if the outer cover slips off.)
Select neutral.
Make a cup of tea and tell your friends to go home. Don't hurry.

Are any of the chains dead tight on both runs? They should all have some play, and you can use this to see if any of the rotating parts are tight. It should be relatively easy to rotate all the different parts you now have access to, so with some gentle rotating you should be able to identify anything that is "tight". If a chain it trying to rotate a tight component, the run of chain that is pulling on the sprocket will be very tight.

If everything seems OK in neutral, select the three gears and rotate the back wheel to see if there is a problem in the gearbox. You can take the bike off the stand an wheel it around in gear to see how it feels.

With a bit of luck, you might find the problem component.

Good luck!


A good first step here, bearing in mind the above, is to remove the rear chain - undo the joining link - and soak  in some fresh oil, or soak/spray with chain oil if you have some.  While its soaking, turn over the back wheel, and see that its quite free to turn and the brakes are not dragging or crusty.

If all is good here, refit the chain and see that its still easy to spin the back wheel.

Hopefully, that will show already where the problem is.
If not, back to the other possibles listed above.

About the only thing left to mention is the level of oil in the gearbox. The small Albion box is oil lubricated, not grease as is used in other prewar makes. That said, you can't stop them leaking and if the bike has been sitting for a few months you'll be surprised how much has leaked out. Again, unlike most other prewar boxes the sleeve gear is not bronze bushed but rather the mainshaft runs directly in it so it is steel on steel; not steel in a bronze bush, so a really dry surface twixt mainshaft and sleeve gear is not a good thing. You really need the oil to get in there as grease won't.
After years of garage floors being well lubricated by Albion boxes I now use a certain amount of Penrite semi-liquid grease and then top it up with oil. That seems to stay in the box but is liquid enough to get everywhere it's needed.
The particular semi-liquid grease I use is sold by Penrite with this type of use in mind. Many prewar car steering boxes also leak badly and the semi-liquid grease is poured in (yes, it pours). It is like thick honey when cold but becomes liquid in use getting everywhere it should and thickening up again when not in use. It's thin when you want it to be and then thickens up when it cools down so doesn't leak out.
Personally I think the others have well covered all the likely villains causing your woes but you'd eventually need to know about gearbox lubrication anyway.

The gearbox in your bike is the EJ model lightweight,which was made into the late fifties,and fitted to garden tractors,rotary hoes,etc,as well as small bikes in the thirties. They re generally pretty reliable.   I would check the cup and cone wheel bearings,are they adjusted too tight? Are the adjusting nuts locked up, so they cant turn with the wheel,and finally are they OK and not completely worn out as these types of bearings often are,with broken balls?    Regards John.


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