No, I don’t mean actual jewellery sorry, it’s just that I think the shifters on some older ten-speed bikes remind me somehow of womens’ pendant earrings. The cast alloy ones I mean, like the Suntour 888 (clip-on down-tube) or the classy Shimano (stem shifters) pictured here :
I like using stem shifters and, although they are more associated with heavy old ‘sports’ bikes or mixtes, I often prefer them over down-tube shifters because they are easier to see and to access from a semi upright position.
Some may say they add extra cable outers, curves and complexity, but hey – isn’t that exactly what today’s ‘brifter’ style road bike levers do ?
As far as servicing and refurbishing these shifters goes, they are quite simple. If the steel clamps are in very rusty condition – as usual – I will soak them in rust converter till the loose chrome flakes off, then buff up what’s left. Carefully clear coating the bare steel may help prevent some rust returning.
The alloy levers will respond to fine steel wool, soft brass wire brushes and metal polish. Generally the nylon friction bushes last well in all but the most neglected examples. They only need a wash in soapy water.
When reassembling, I don’t use oil or grease as it might affect the friction properties, but I use a bit of the waxy ‘stick’ dry lube (as used on car door latches).
Friction shifters are in constant tension against the derailleur springs (when in operation) and some friction must be present to prevent them from self-changing back to the default gears ( the smallest ring or cog ). Adjustment on the shifter screws is critical, between too-tight to turn the lever and too-loose to hold the derailleur fast.
It’s therefore a good idea to leave your gears in the smallest ring and cog when you have finished riding for the day. Less stress !
Faded plastic levers will respond quite well to Armour-all, but the later plastic coated Shimano SIS levers are chunky looking and lack grace. These generally have friction front levers along with indexed rear levers:
If you aren’t familiar with the reassembly just do one side at a time so you can cross reference the pieces.
And having restored the levers, shout them some shiny new cables too !
Here’s a quick fix for mis-aligned side pull calliper brake pads – instead of trying to bend the alloy arms, I fitted a longer pad bolt and put some thin convex / concave washer pairs from a set of used V-brake pads on each side of the arms.
This allows enough movement to set the ‘toe in’ correctly and restore some dignity to Cecil’s front wheel brake judder.
Just be careful to fit a big enough flat washer between the the bolt head and curved washers to cover them properly.
Happy Re-cycling !