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  1. #1
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    Alfine 11 drive side oil leak

    Dear all,

    I have a 2000km old Alfine 11. I just switched rims on it and dutifully cleaned it up in the process. And afterwards found it to be leaking from the Drive side (only).

    I only presume it wasn't beforehand as I had never noticed any leakage. Although I never left it in the same place for long enough as I was touring the whole time and it was permanently filthy.

    I imagine I must have nudged the cone adjustment when cleaning it up.

    Anyways to the issue.

    Leak is on the drive side only. Hard to tell where is the exact source and everything is now slightly oily as I didn't do a complete clean up for the photo.

    To test I've been leaving it horizontal and drive side down on top of a cardboard box with a sheet of paper below.
    Or standing and tilted over paper to catch the drips.

    I'm not 100% certain it is not coming from the big plastic dust cap.
    But that is pretty darn tight (though not excessively as it is nightmare to undo without the 20 tool).

    The tighter I, well, tighten things, I think the main culprit is part number 21. The splined bit the pencil is touching in 2nd photo.

    Alfine 11 drive side oil leak-shimanoalfinesg-s700.jpg
    credit is due to someone for this great schematic aid.
    Alfine 11 drive side oil leak-img_3952.jpg

    Or rather it is just above or below this part as when I press down on it, it has a mm or so of give and you can see more oil glistening in the gap that is formed.

    Thus my question. To stop the leak:

    I have cinched down the big plastic dust cap and I think that is now innocent.

    I believe the only thing left is the NON-DRIVE SIDE cone. This is what I have been tightening with my 15 and 17mm cone spanners. Using the 17mm on the drive side and the 15mm on the non-drive side to progressively tighten. Then both on the non-drive side to lock them down.

    But I'm also struggling to tell when the bearings become gritty. I can of course feel/hear something but doubt creeps in and makes me wonder whether its the bearings or gears. Especially as so long has it been now since I had it running fresh from lovely Shimano.

    Did I read somewhere that it's tighter than you think?

    How about I should tighten the non-drive side cone until I get no play in the splined bit my pencil is pointing out and just leave it at that?

    But I imagine this would mean:
    No-leakage 1 - bearings 0...?

    Or do I further need to tighten something on the drive side?

    Incidentally I've read the excellent
    Servicing the Alfine 11 hub gear.
    which says
    "The drive side is now sealed and won't leak oil. Refit the non-drive side cone and lock ring. It's difficult to judge the correct cone adjustment on the Alfine because of the internal resistance. I go by end play on the axle, adjusting until it just disappears and the bearing feels smooth. If you have excess play the hub can leak oil, too tight and the bearings will be notchy and won't last long."

    but need more info on the specific point of my leak.

    Have I just managed to remove some grease from the drive side plate seal (this number 21/toothed thing the pencil is indicating? Should I just try and pack some in there and that might do the trick?

    Many thanks

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    First of all great write up of your issue.

    I had mine for a while without any issues but in reality I was only riding it occasionally until circumstances changed and I have been predominantly riding the Alfine over the last 24 months on a couple of different frames.

    A little while ago I started to experience shifting issues which I finally tracked down to loose cone bearings, however this was only after the brearings had become very loose during a ride i.e. movement at the rim.

    So after tightening everthing up shifting was back to normal, whilst going through the checks I also noticed the plastic cap had come loose, which without the shimano tool I re-tightened by hand.

    Over the next few weeks I observed a slight oil leak when storing the bike leant over towards the drive side however no leaks when storing the bike upside down in the car.
    Leak appeared to be coming from the plastic cap.

    Last week finally got the shimano tool ordered in preperation for a for a bit of a service, cones again, second oil change, cassette clean and to tighten the plastic cap.
    Decided to drop the innards out while in the process, and delighted to see some oil still in there despite the leak and no broken metal work despite some clunky gear shifts.
    As an aside the gear assemblies have a level of movement/free play (3-5 mm) along the axle when out of the housing, this may explain why the shifting or gear slips when the cone bearing have play which would allow this assemblies to move.
    In reference to the link on mbr I found setting the cone bearing so it felt smooth caused shifting issues, slightly tight but not notchy by feel on the axle seamed to be the sweat spot with good rotation when fitted to frame. I think very loose bearing could cause oil leaks and the play I experienced helped lossen the plastic cap.

    So after putting everthing back together tnings looked good, the bike has sat in the garage for the last week, so I just checked it and there still seems to a bit of oil seapage from the plastic cap even after tightening with the shimano tool.

    Looking at the back of the plastic cap there apeared to be 3 areas where there are moulded seals, I think the inner one (nearesr axle) is the one that is leaking, although I couldn't discern any damage I suspect it is or became worn when the bearings initialy came loose.

    I will see if I can get a replacement cap for the next time, looks as though SJS cycles have them for 8.99, I am thinking a little grease aroung the seal areas may also help.
    I have not observed any oil seapage from the area you are indicating, however I will investigate during the next service.

    Hope this helps

  3. #3
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    Is the lock washer seal - part 23 - located correctly? This seems very reluctant to go into it's recess & you have to be careful when putting it all together.

  4. #4
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    Hi again, Many thanks for both of your replies.

    -Jes - I will have a look again at the big plastic dust cap. It is the largest part that can fail so does seem to warrant the most suspicion. I'll give it a complete clean, check by shining light through etc and...
    I'm sure I noticed too in the other article something about greasing this part to stop leaks. So I'll try this. If not, it's to SJS and a new one. And if that doesn't work... Polyfilla! Ha, no I hate a bodge.
    I've just ordered the special tightening tool as I'm also struggling somewhat to get it to seat properly again now after having a quick look yesterday. (I also have a broken knuckle at the moment which makes things so large difficult to turn)

    Also incidentally I was running it the whole time without the chain guard as mine never shipped with one and it's been fine.

    I'll let you how I get on once the tool arrives.

    Evesie - I never took the hub apart so it's set up as it should be from the factory. And was running fine until I cleaned it and I can't believe a toothbrush and a rag dislodged something that was so tightened down. But it is worth being suspicious. Yet everything seems flush there and in place. Plus it's only when I press down on part 21 that I can see more oil glisten, it seems in its normal state it might just be working correctly?


    Incidentally another question. On the part 23 indicated by the pencil there are two indented dots. Are these meant to line up with the red dots? As mine are off by a fraction...

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