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  1. #1
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    Shimano Alivio shifter woes.

    i have an old diamond back topanga (1995) I'm fixing to get back on the road. the problem is the rear derailer shifter does not work. i think the ratchet in it is broken, the levers move with no resistance. when i shift up or down the cable does not move but it is atached. it feels like its broken internally so i probably need to replace it?
    well after looking for one online, the only ones i found are shifters that mount on the bar. the one i have is mounted to the brake lever.

    this is what I'm trying to describe.


    [IMG][/IMG]

    [IMG][/IMG]

    [IMG][/IMG]


    lee.

  2. #2
    SoCal Commuter DanO220's Avatar
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    Yea, I would guess that the 10 year old shifter - which is quite a few steps down on the Shimano's quality scale - has probably given up the ghost. Now if you can't find a cheap replacement combo brake lever/shifter unit, why not get the bar mounted solo shifter, and then hacksaw the offending piece off of your brake lever and be done with it? It sounds llike a bit of a frankenbike to begin with. I guess a more attractive alternative is to find a .com deal on a new set of shifters and cheapo brake levers.

    DanO
    That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

  3. #3
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    you could try to spray some lubricant into the shifter. that will sometimes free up a stuck shifter.
    spray it and try working the shifter. hope this helps.

    steve
    khs comp tandem
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  4. #4
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    well, i took it apart and found the ratchet pawl seized along with a week spring. lube and working it didn't help so I'll buy another like Dano said and cut it off.

    Is this the one i need?

  5. #5
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    The fix

    I just completed a repair on a Shimano Alivio shifter on a Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike, ca. 1999/2000 vintage. The bike belongs to my girlfriend, and the combination brake levers/gear shifters look very similar to the ones in your photos, Lee-online. We were on a group outing around February/March, and she discovered that the rear shifter was completely stuck and the front shifter was barely working. I've learned that this is a common problem on these shifters, due to grease getting old and stiff, gunking up the ratchet and pawl mechanisms inside. I was able to remove the bolt from the rear shifter, get the covers off and spray some WD-40 into it to loosen the mechanism and soften the fossilized grease, but when I tried to repeat this for the front shift lever, some rather unfortunate things happened:

    • The double-flat flange on the steel nut tube tore out the recess in the softer aluminum body block, so now it spun freely;
    • Several days of treatment with Aero-Kroil penetrant did nothing to soften the thread locking compound; and,
    • When I got one of the plastic covers off and grabbed the nut tube flange with Vise-Grip pliers and tried to unscrew the bolt with a hex socket wrench, the 5 mm mild steel bolt simply tore off.


    Naturally, Shimano has long since discontinued this model of shifter, and when I showed it to the local bike shop proprietor, in the hope he might have parts or some way of getting them from Shimano, he just shook his head. He told me that, if replacement parts are available at all, Shimano only carries them for two or three years after they cease production on a particular model. A call to Specialized was also unhelpful; they referred me to Shimano. Furthermore, Shimano's Web site is a total mess, and even getting documentation on older assemblies is a problem. This whole situation was largely caused by Shimano foolishly using a permanent, high-strength thread locking compound where they should have used a removable grade of compound, if any at all. Since the shifter contains plastic parts, heating the bolt and nut with a torch to soften the thread locking compound was out of the question. After the bolt broke, I was able to heat the nut tube on an electric stove element and extract the bolt fragment with little difficulty, but the bolt has a custom, stepped-head design that isn't available anywhere. Since my friend won the bike in a raffle, she wasn't keen on spending a couple of hundred dollars to fix it by replacing the brake levers and shifters, and even that would be tough, because the Rockhopper's 3x7 sprocket combination appears to have been almost entirely replaced with 3x8 sets, so 3x7 shifter sets have become rather scarce. Facing the possibility of having to junk the bike because of a single, cheap bolt, I decided to set the problem aside for a while.

    This week I took another stab at it. Looking at the shifter design carefully, it became clear that it wouldn't work well, or work at all, if a different type of bolt were substituted. So, I purchased a couple of kinds of M6 metric hex-head bolts from my local Ace Hardware store. (They're inexpensive -- about $0.50 to $0.80 each, depending on style and length.) I settled on the washer-head bolt as the starting point. It turns out that the M6 stock bolt and the Shimano custom 5 mm bolt both have a 10 mm hex head. I turned the M6 bolt on a Sherline miniature tabletop lathe, thinning the shank to 4.85 mm and replicating the domed, stepped-head design of the original as closely as I could. I then cut an M5x0.8 mm thread into the bolt with a die, and finally, cut the excess thread off to roughly match the length of the original Shimano bolt, to within 0.5 mm, or so.

    The nut tube had to be glued into the stripped-out aluminum body block with Epoxy Steel, allowing half a day for it to harden. Reassembly of the shifter was fairly straightforward after that. I used a little bit of plumber's Teflon tape as a mild thread locking compound on the threads -- actually, more like an anti-vibration compound. During an initial test, I discovered the rear shifter had seized up again, despite the WD-40 treatment a few months earlier, and the front shifter only allowed selection of two of the three sprockets. I tried shooting both shifters with copious quantities of Aero-Kroil and WD-40, to no avail. Finally, in desperation, I flipped the bike upside down the next day, opened up both shifters, and working over a plastic oil drain pan, thoroughly washed them out with kerosene, using an automotive parts washing brush. (One could also use paint thinner, a.k.a. naphtha or "mineral turps". I wouldn't try using anything more aggressive than that, such as gasoline or lacquer thinner, for fear of damaging the plastics in the shifter mechanism.) After all the old grease was washed out, I relubricated the pawl pivots with Dura-Lube (synthetic 30-weight motor oil would be OK here) and the ratchet teeth with synthetic bearing grease, reassembled the shifters, and while I was at it, gave the drive chain and derailleurs the kerosene wash and light oil treatment, too. Result: The shifters work, sound and feel like new, and the bike will be usable for years to come.

    I've read many forum posts complaining about stuck Shimano shifters as little as three years old, and the typical recommended solution in the replies has been to spray them with Tri-Flow, WD-40 or similar light penetrating oil. If it works at all, it's a temporary solution, at best. The real fix is that the old, dry grease has to be washed out of the mechanisms and they need to be completely relubricated with fresh grease and oil. Also, a pox on Shimano for selling a non-maintainable product and for their customer non-service.

    UPDATE Friday, March 29 2013:
    For this kind of application, I'd recommend using a product like ND Industries' Vibra-TITE VC3 or Tectorius North America's Vibra-Stop on the bolts in the shifters. These products could be used in many places on a bicycle. This stuff never hardens completely and allows adjustment and dis-assembly several times before one needs to reapply it. A 30 cc bottle costs around US$15 to US$18, but it goes a long way and preventing even one lost nut or bolt during a ride is worthwhile. Save the high strength anaerobic thread lockers (Loctite) for the large-diameter tempered steel fasteners that normally don't need to be removed for maintenance, of which there are very few on a bicycle.
    Last edited by Andrew P.; 03-29-13 at 11:59 AM. Reason: update comment

  6. #6
    professional newb antilogy's Avatar
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    Get the shifters, take off the bar mount and see if they mount with the brake lever. If they do no need to cut anything.

  7. #7
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    AP - I'm impressed! What at first sounded like Rube Goldberg stuff turned out to be quality re-manufacturing. I should have known at the first mention of Aero-Kroil!

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    Shimano ST-EF50 Acera shifter / brake lever sets will replace the Alivio sets. Pretty much straight across. I have a set on my old Specialized RockHopper.

  9. #9
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew P. View Post
    I just completed a repair on a Shimano Alivio shifter on a Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike, ca. 1999/2000 vintage. The bike belongs to my girlfriend, and the combination brake levers/gear shifters look very similar to the ones in your photos, Lee-online. We were on a group outing around February/March, and she discovered that the rear shifter was completely stuck and the front shifter was barely working. I've learned that this is a common problem on these shifters, due to grease getting old and stiff, gunking up the ratchet and pawl mechanisms inside. I was able to remove the bolt from the rear shifter, get the covers off and spray some WD-40 into it to loosen the mechanism and soften the fossilized grease, but when I tried to repeat this for the front shift lever, some rather unfortunate things happened:

    • The double-flat flange on the steel nut tube tore out the recess in the softer aluminum body block, so now it spun freely;
    • Several days of treatment with Aero-Kroil penetrant did nothing to soften the thread locking compound; and,
    • When I got one of the plastic covers off and grabbed the nut tube flange with Vise-Grip pliers and tried to unscrew the bolt with a hex socket wrench, the 5 mm mild steel bolt simply tore off.


    Naturally, Shimano has long since discontinued this model of shifter, and when I showed it to the local bike shop proprietor, in the hope he might have parts or some way of getting them from Shimano, he just shook his head. He told me that, if replacement parts are available at all, Shimano only carries them for two or three years after they cease production on a particular model. A call to Specialized was also unhelpful; they referred me to Shimano. Furthermore, Shimano's Web site is a total mess, and even getting documentation on older assemblies is a problem. This whole situation was largely caused by Shimano foolishly using a permanent, high-strength thread locking compound where they should have used a removable grade of compound, if any at all. Since the shifter contains plastic parts, heating the bolt and nut with a torch to soften the thread locking compound was out of the question. After the bolt broke, I was able to heat the nut tube on an electric stove element and extract the bolt fragment with little difficulty, but the bolt has a custom, stepped-head design that isn't available anywhere. Since my friend won the bike in a raffle, she wasn't keen on spending a couple of hundred dollars to fix it by replacing the brake levers and shifters, and even that would be tough, because the Rockhopper's 3x7 sprocket combination appears to have been almost entirely replaced with 3x8 sets, so 3x7 shifter sets have become rather scarce. Facing the possibility of having to junk the bike because of a single, cheap bolt, I decided to set the problem aside for a while.

    This week I took another stab at it. Looking at the shifter design carefully, it became clear that it wouldn't work well, or work at all, if a different type of bolt were substituted. So, I purchased a couple of kinds of M6 metric hex-head bolts from my local Ace Hardware store. (They're inexpensive -- about $0.50 to $0.80 each, depending on style and length.) I settled on the washer-head bolt as the starting point. It turns out that the M6 stock bolt and the Shimano custom 5 mm bolt both have a 10 mm hex head. I turned the M6 bolt on a Sherline miniature tabletop lathe, thinning the shank to 4.85 mm and replicating the domed, stepped-head design of the original as closely as I could. I then cut an M5x0.8 mm thread into the bolt with a die, and finally, cut the excess thread off to roughly match the length of the original Shimano bolt, to within 0.5 mm, or so.

    The nut tube had to be glued into the stripped-out aluminum body block with Epoxy Steel, allowing half a day for it to harden. Reassembly of the shifter was fairly straightforward after that. I used a little bit of plumber's Teflon tape as a mild thread locking compound on the threads -- actually, more like an anti-vibration compound. During an initial test, I discovered the rear shifter had seized up again, despite the WD-40 treatment a few months earlier, and the front shifter only allowed selection of two of the three sprockets. I tried shooting both shifters with copious quantities of Aero-Kroil and WD-40, to no avail. Finally, in desperation, I flipped the bike upside down the next day, opened up both shifters, and working over a plastic oil drain pan, thoroughly washed them out with kerosene, using an automotive parts washing brush. (One could also use paint thinner, a.k.a. naphtha or "mineral turps". I wouldn't try using anything more aggressive than that, such as gasoline or lacquer thinner, for fear of damaging the plastics in the shifter mechanism.) After all the old grease was washed out, I relubricated the pawl pivots with Dura-Lube (synthetic 30-weight motor oil would be OK here) and the ratchet teeth with synthetic bearing grease, reassembled the shifters, and while I was at it, gave the drive chain and derailleurs the kerosene wash and light oil treatment, too. Result: The shifters work, sound and feel like new, and the bike will be usable for years to come.

    I've read many forum posts complaining about stuck Shimano shifters as little as three years old, and the typical recommended solution in the replies has been to spray them with Tri-Flow, WD-40 or similar light penetrating oil. If it works at all, it's a temporary solution, at best. The real fix is that the old, dry grease has to be washed out of the mechanisms and they need to be completely relubricated with fresh grease and oil. Also, a pox on Shimano for selling a non-maintainable product and for their customer non-service.
    Dude, those shifters are worth $20. Shimano did NOT run over your puppies.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  10. #10
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    Oh, by the way, I should have said that the Acera set cost me $35.

  11. #11
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    replace the shifters with some cheap click shifters or some sram grip shifters

    i just upgraded an old bike
    alivio r derail. and a pair of grip shifters that i bought from rei for 20 bucks

  12. #12
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    Andrew P--just read your post on this subject. I have a 1994 Mongoose Hilltopper that has these shifters. has been sitting for about 10 years. My 5 year old wants me to ride with him so pulled bike out and cleaned it up. but shifters don't work. Tried to take them apart. removed the bolt on bottom and a screw on top, but they wouldn't come apart? I don't want to have parts flying everywhere on me so wanted to use caution when dis-assembling them. of course, can't find any diagrams showing how to reassemble should they come all apart. there are also two small screws on the bottom. do those have to be removed? any help would be appreciated. you can PM me. Tried to PM you but have to have 50 posts first to do that.

  13. #13
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    Just re-bend the weak spring and lubricate everything.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DroidTechnician View Post
    Shimano ST-EF50 Acera shifter / brake lever sets will replace the Alivio sets. Pretty much straight across. I have a set on my old Specialized RockHopper.
    The ST-EF50 is designed for V-brakes, the photos show cantilevers. The only currently availible 7 speed trigger shifters are integrated with V-brake levers. This means the the OP has the option of converting the brakes to V-brakes or upgrading the gear cluster (assuming that it has a freehub and is wide enough).

  15. #15
    Old Crank
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    Dude, those shifters are worth $20. Shimano did NOT run over your puppies.
    You missed the point entirely. Shimano cheats their customers by shaving costs. You're looking at the potential loss of a bicycle worth $500 and up because of a bad choice of thread locking compound worth a fraction of a cent. If you can't get the $20 shifter at any price because the vendor has stopped selling them and supporting them, they're not worth just $20, are they now. If you like that kind of economic trade-off, be my guest.

  16. #16
    Senior Member buffalowings's Avatar
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    just get a new brake lever and shifter $35-40 can set that problem right.

  17. #17
    Old Crank
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffalowings View Post
    just get a new brake lever and shifter $35-40 can set that problem right.
    Fine, if you can find any 3x7 shifter hardware these days. More likely, you're looking at replacing the rear 7-sprocket cluster with an 8-sprocket cluster and matching derailleur, IF you can find one that fits. More likely, you're going have to replace the entire rear wheel as well. Once you price it all out, you're talking $200 and up. For what — the manufacturing having saved a fraction of a penny?
    Last edited by Andrew P.; 03-29-13 at 12:29 PM.

  18. #18
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    http://www.niagaracycle.com/categori...-right-7-speed

    $13. Just get a new shifter.

    If you can find it, yes I just found it in about 3 minutes. Niagra Cycle is GREAT for that! Slow to ship sometimes, but lots of selection!

    My 2001 era LX (9spd) started to do the same thing, but removing dust covers and lubing the mechanism worked fine for me. The grease was a bit dry and needed to be removed, which lubing did.
    2012 Diamondback Podium 2 - Ready for spring! :D
    1995 Specialized Rockhopper Rigid - SS converted!

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