I am a 46 year old, partially disabled veteran and a newby to mountain bike repair and maintenance. The last time I owned a new bike was probably in 1983. It was a black mountain bike, and it was promptly stolen from the middle of my (then) aprtment complex courtyard bike-rack, despite dutifully locking it with a U-lock. So, that should give you a point of reference.
So...I was recently given a used, GT XCR 4000 recently and I do not know the year it was manufactured. Is there a way to find out based upon the serial number underneath? Anyhow, it had one cable on it (the front brake) and an unattached, broken Shimano 9(?) speed shifter.
I have checked out every book on mountain bike repairs in the library suystem and am only now finding some help with where exactly the cables should run along the frame. I found a good repair DVD and am still going through it. My rear brakes are missing the brake arm bosses, and I have no idea where to get something like that. (I have the break arms, just not the bosses to bolt them to.)
I don't need top of the line gear and parts, as I am not competing and mostly want to use it as a street/commuter bike around the local area. (I am in northern Washington, and there are thousands of "serious bikers" (that compete and do downhill treks, etc.. It's beautiful here, and there is no shortage of places to check out on your bike.)
I need to get brake arm bosses for the rear from God knows where, run the rear break cable, acquire a compatible and financially reasonable shifter, struggle with running those cables for both deraillures (which I have never done before), before I would consider myself almost done with primary fix-up of the bike.
I look forward to meeting more people in the forums, and perhaps more old-guy newby's like myself.