French threaded freewheels and hubs are a common trap for the unwary vintagista. The french freewheels are a hair smaller than the english. The problem is an english threaded hub will accept a french freewheel and feel okay going on, but the freewheel will be loose: loose enough to damage the threads and ruin the hub, especially under high torque pedaling like a tandem going up hill. And the French very seldom mark the thread size, which is 34.7 mm x 1mm for french and 1.370/1.375 x 24 TPI for english. Beware, in addition to french brands (Maillard, Normandy, Maxicar, Pellesier, etc. etc.) there are a lot of Zeus french threaded hubs on the market right now.
The only safe detection method is to have a known french freewheel to try on hubs. I now keep an old cyclo body lying on the bench to interrogate new hubs that arrive. A french freewheel will start to thread onto an english hub and then bind quickly within the 1st turn or so. As Sheldon Brown said, a french freewheel cannot be screwed onto an english hub without considerable violence.
Without a known gallic threaded freewheel, pull the Maillard freewheel off the Maxicar hub and try it on a known english hub. If the Maillard binds quickly, it's french, the hub is french threaded and the Suntour perfect freewheel cannot be used safely, unless you want to try the teflon tape trick mentioned by Jan. Like him, the thought of that trick makes me shudder, especially on a tandem. Note: Suntour did make some french threaded freewheels, but they are marked with the thread size, I believe. In any event, they are rare bird indeed.
If the maillard freewheel threads onto the english hub, you still aren't home free, as you then have to determine if an improper freewheel was installed on the Maxicar hub. I'd recommend getting a french freewheel to test for sure. Fortunately, with the proliferation of French sellers on ebay now, french freewheels are becoming more common although not in touring sizes. But a trashed 5 speed 14-19 is all you need for testing. Try to get a splined malliard, so you will have less trouble getting a freewheel tool for taking it back off again. Ah, what I wouldn't give for a french threaded 14x31 regina oro---.
Go to it, Sherlock
Tom Adams, with 3-4 sets of accidental french hubs lying around the house in Manhattan, KS USA.
From: Jan Heine <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: [CR] Maxi-Car hub and freewheel compatability To: email@example.com Date: Saturday, January 30, 2010, 11:22 PM
> I have a Maxi-Car tandem drum brake rear hub that I would like to know the freewheel threading compatability with existing vintage freewheels. I have Suntour Perfect (14-30 )freewheel that I would like to thread on. Would this fit or irreversibly damage the threads? It had a Maillard freewheel (French) that was on it but in an unusual 6 speed 13-19 configuration. A tight freewheel for a tandem! Anyway I wanted to know what the thread pitch is and/or which freewheels will work. BT
> Bruce Thomson Spokane WA 99204
> (509) 747 4314
> Masi3v4me@yahoo.com firstname.lastname@example.org
In later years, Maxi-Car hubs were made both with French and British freewheel threading. The French is marginally smaller.
Ernest Csuka of Cycles Alex Singer used to claim that he ran BSC freewheels on his tandem with a French-threaded hub, just with a few layers of Teflon tape to take up the slack.
I haven't tried this and cannot endorse it.
I suggest that the first step is to figure out your hub threading... (Maillard probably made some British-threaded freewheels, too.)
Another thing that might help: Late Maillard freewheel cogs are the same as the Sachs-Aris cogs. So if you find a Sachs freewheel with a suitable cog range, you can move the cogs to the Maillard freewheel body...
Jan Heine Editor Bicycle Quarterly 2116 Western Ave. Seattle WA 98121 http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com