Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Lancashire, England
Bikes: 1971 Bob Jackson, 1976 Dawes Galaxy, 1999 Townsend Harlequin
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I recently had endless fun trying to secure the front derailleur cable on a full-suspension MTB. It simply would not grip. I finally installed a lock-washer under the screw head, which seemed to sort it out. Typically, the cable is secured at the derailleur end by passing along a shallow groove machined in a metal part, and another loose metal part is tightened down on to it with a screw or bolt, or sometimes a nut. You always need to check that you're trying to route the cable correctly to get a straight pull. The MTB I mentioned had it routed incorrectly right from the shop. A nut and bolt (or screw) always need some sort of washer to remain tight, and there are various patterns of lock-washer (internal star, external star, split-ring, etc) which may be added if necessary. I fear your cable may be shot. A good tip is, when you're installing a new cable, to tin the loose end with solder, so the strands won't come apart. This may enable you to remove and re-use the cable after a long period of service, rather than having to replace it. It looks neater, too. A small propane torch may be better for this job than a soldering iron, unless the latter is a large one.
A new cable will tend to stretch at first. It's a good policy to install a barrel adjuster which you can safely reach while you're riding, to make fine adjustments.