Suntour most definitely made French threaded freewheels, and I'm 99% sure Shimano did as well. I don't know where the primary market was for this stuff, but remember in the 70's metric thread, which we call French, was also used in Spain, Switzerland, and to some extent in Belgium. Maybe Holland and the Scandanavian countries as well, although I'm not sure of that. Since the Japanese stuff initially sold on price, I imagine they were probably cheaper than French-made FW's. This may not have allowed them to sell much in France, but maybe they did better in other European countries that used metric thread.
The other thing about the Japanese components in the 70's was that they were mostly aftermarket items rather than OE. This was especially true of Suntour, which really rarely appeared as OE on non-Japanese bikes in the 70's. So many of those metric Suntour FW's no doubt wound up as replacements for original Atoms on Peugeots and other French bikes, which of course were sold all over Europe and in America, when the owners decided that the original Atom didn't have quite the gear range they needed. My recollection is that in the US market, the availability of French-made aftermarket parts wasn't really very good, so a metric thread Suntour FW might have been easier to find in the US market than an Atom, as well as probably being cheaper.
This reminds me of a question I've long wanted to ask the group. Italian thread seems a strange mix of English and metric dimensions. One theory I've heard for this is that a lot of machine tools from Britain and the US were installed in Italy during the reconstruction from WWII. If that is really the case, then one presumes that the threading used on Italian bikes before WWII was different from the more recent Italian thread. I think several CR members own Italian bikes from before WWII. So what thread are they? The thread we call Italian? The metric thread we call French? Something completely different?
Jerry Moos Big Spring, Texas, USA
Stronglight49@aol.com wrote: David,
I'm curious why you are looking for more modern Japanese freewheels to match with a French threaded hub & an older French derailleur rather than just using a French (and French threaded) 5-speed freewheel.
I suppose it is possible that Shimano or Suntour might have actually made freewheels with French threads, intended exclusively for export to France, although I would think the domestic French freewheels of the 1950s to 1970s are and always would have been far more commonly found. Especially since the French would have been extremely reluctant to buy any imported Asian components as replacements for their own world famous components which they would have regarded as far superior in quality to any Asian parts relatively unknown in France.
As for the problem of fitting a 5-speed freewheel to your derailleur, it puzzles me that you would have any problem there. Simplex was the first to actually introduce a 5-speed 3/32" freewheel in the 1930s and I would presume they had offered a compatible derailleur that early too.
I've personally owned a couple 1950s TDF type Simplex derailleurs which had no issues when shifting across standard, full width, 5-speed freewheels.
Could your derailleur perhaps have a shorter plunger bolt... which may have been intended for a more narrow 3 or 4 speed freewheel?
By the way: Do these parts look compatible with your derailleur?
BOB HANSON, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, USA
David Snyder Wrote:
I'm looking for a Pro-Compe or Perfect Freewheel body or complete freewheel.
5 speed, French threaded.
I'll be building it up as a sort of Ultra-5, to work with my 1950's Simplex TDF derailer.
I prototyped the build tonight using an English-threaded body and easily got the width down to 23.6mm overall, the maximum that the plunger derailer will handle.
I previously built up a Shimano 5-speed body using 7-speed spacers with a re-machined body, and am still using that for now, but it's time to get the original rear hub back on there, hence my need for a french-thread freewheel.
I'll also be looking for an 18t (large-form, 4-spline) cog for it. Ratios to be: 14-16-18-21-24t.
Thanks for digging! David Snyder Auburn, CA usa
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