Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Portland, Oregon
Bikes: Pre-Trek Bontrager Race Lite MTB, Cannondale Caad 4 Road, Bianchi cyclo-cross, Scott Boulder (grocery getter), Schwinn Traveler, Schwinn Stingray Fastback, Schwinn Speedster (being built up right now), S&M Holmes 20", DK Legend 24" Crui
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I just overhauled mine and didn't have a low gear at first either. A little mech rigging and I got it going. Here's what I would recommend to help get you moving.
First of all, to help you better understand the mechanism, assemble the hub guts without the shell. This way you get to play with it and see how it works (or should work) and see what's not working.
I would be willing to bet that the little "cogs" (not really cogs, more like a sliver bent out at a 90 degree angle) on the index spring are crushed/broken. What those cogs do, are spin into place and block out the 1:1 gear, thus allowing the low gear to function. When the cogs are broken, they don't kick the gear out enough to disengage it.
Now if the spring is broken, that doesn't mean that you necessarily have to replace it. What I did was take a pair of tough, sharp scissors and extend the cut on the cogs, essentially extending the length of metal that the cogs are made of. Then, very carefully, maybe with some needle nosed pliars, (I used two to get it right) bend the cog out.
This is really hard to explain via writing. Now I saw that you are in Portland which is where I am, so I would be glad to meet with you and show you what the hell I'm talking about.
Maybe bring along a six-pack of Bridgeport IPA and we can work on it. No guarantees that I can fix it though.
Let me know,