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Old 06-07-11, 12:09 PM   #1
himespau 
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How long should it take a complete newb to re-cable/adjust derailleurs?

I'm not happy with the shifting on my bike. I only have one bike for commuting/recreation/grocery getting purposes (this is important).

I don't like the location of the shifters (stem shifters) and the derailleurs are all out of whack (front has a limit screw issue I think as when I'm in the biggest ring and there's no tension on the chain it can fall off to the outside and I get the smallest cog in the back maybe 1 in 4 attempts).

My solution to both issues was to buy some downtube shifters (NOS 105's, front friction, rear indexed 6 speed, which is what I have) and some good cable/housing and redo it all myself and get the derailleurs adjusted right.

So I put the shift levers on the bike to make sure they'd go and then a crisis of confidence set it. With a new baby (and the need to do my share in taking care of her and housework), I pretty much have a couple of hours Sat/Sun mornings before they get up that I can work on the bike (or ride it if I prefer). I've never done anything to adjust shifters before, though I have recabled my brakes a couple of times (once to put on new levers, a second time to put on new brakes when levers alone didn't fix the problem), so I am familiar with how to use my cable/housing cutter and file to smooth the ends (though the big blue book says I won't have to file derailleur housing?) and crimp on the ferrules/cable ends and all that.

Roughly how long would you expect the job to take me? Given that this is my only bike, I don't want to be without the ability to use it to commute (I could take public transit but I prefer the exercise of the bike) if I can't get it done in my limited time window. I guess if I get stumped, I can always take it to the LBS to get them to adjust the derailleurs once I get the cables strung (I wonder if they'd show me how to do it/what I did wrong for an extra $10), but I'd really like to learn to do it myself if it's something I can get done in such a short time.

thanks
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Old 06-07-11, 12:22 PM   #2
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As it sounds like you have issues that aren't totally about cables, I would suggest that you go to Park Tools website and look at the steps for setting up FDs and RDs and plan to do everything from beginning to end. Figure you will install the new cables and do a complete set up from start to finish. Shouldn't take over an hour if you have everything you need and you familiarize yourself ahead of time with all the steps. Just don't rush or skip steps and you'll be fine.
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Old 06-07-11, 12:23 PM   #3
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I don't know your mechanical atitude level. If it's average, AND EVERYTHONG ELSE IS RIGHT, I'd guess running the cables and adjusting the tension shouldn't take over 1/2 hour.

Here's some advice that you didn't ask for:
1. Limit screws, once they're set correctly, seldom need to be adjusted. Make sure that everything else is right before you start messing with the limit screws.
2. Derailleur hangers, expecially on old bikes, get bent. Stand your bike up and look at it from the back. The derailleur hanger arm should point straight down. If yours points toward the rear wheel, grab the derailleur where it attaches with a big crescent wrench or something and bend it back straight. You won'd need a gauge for a 6-speed, that'll get you close enough.
3. You mentioned "chain on the big ring with no tension". Are you sure you got the chain length right? When the chain's on the big/big combination the derailleur arm should point almost horizontal.
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Old 06-07-11, 12:25 PM   #4
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www.parktool.com/repair

There's information there on setting the derailleurs up. And some good hints from RG above to aid you.

Two hours will be more than enough even for a first timer.

I'm also envious that you're still flexible enough to even consider downtube shifters....
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Old 06-07-11, 12:38 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the help guys. I'll spend more time at Park's site. I've been mainly using their big blue book as it has most of the same information (though lots of stuff not related to what I'm doing), and I don't feel as bad handling it with greasy hands as I do my keyboard/mouse. I guess I'll give it a try this weekend.
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I'm also envious that you're still flexible enough to even consider downtube shifters....
They're not really on the downtube, I just called them that to make life easier. I got these things called Kelly Take-offs that allow you to mount downtube shifters on the bars just under the brake lever so you can shift with your hands on the hoods or tops. The fact that they're in a different location is why I need the new cables/housing. I know the new levers/cables won't fix any of my problems, but I wanted to try a new lever position, couldn't use STI's with a drop-bar converted 6 speed mountain bike, and knew I needed to adjust the derailleurs so I thought I'd do it all at once.

My FD got banged out of whack once on the racks at work and I just repositioned it as well as I could to ride home, so it's possible it's still not 100% straight and that, not limit screws, is the cause of the chain falling off outside. Basically it's only happened 3-4 times when I was walking the bike off a curb or lifting it over a large obstacle and setting it down again. Thanks for bringing it up as I'd forgotten that. I hadn't had the problem before that happened. I can't figure out why I can no longer shift into the lowest gear in the back most of the time. Hope I can get it worked out (and have the time for a test ride) this weekend.
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Old 06-07-11, 12:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
...They're not really on the downtube, I just called them that to make life easier. I got these things called Kelly Take-offs that allow you to mount downtube shifters on the bars just under the brake lever so you can shift with your hands on the hoods or tops. The fact that they're in a different location is why I need the new cables/housing. I know the new levers/cables won't fix any of my problems, but I wanted to try a new lever position, couldn't use STI's with a drop-bar converted 6 speed mountain bike, and knew I needed to adjust the derailleurs so I thought I'd do it all at once.....
Ah, that sounds more like it!

But this means you're likely going to want to shorten or make up new housings for the upper runs to the cable stops on the mounts. That calls for a bit of work depending on what you have for tools. Before I got housing cutters I'd cut the housing about a 1/4 inch long and then slice it off with a Dremel and a cut off wheel. Keep an thin scriber or sharpened spoke handy to re-open and form the melted inner lining tube if you do this. Now that I have housing cutters I cut closer to length and then just square up the end on my bench grinder and again open up the inner liner with a scriber point. If you don't have any of this you can cut the housing about an 1/8 inch long and then hold the housing against the edge of your bench and with a fine cut file dress the end smooth and square before fitting the end ferrule.

Not many shops dress the housing ends this way and likely not even many home mechanics. But it does make for smoother cable motion and I think it produces more accurate long term shifting and a more solid lever feel when done on brake housings.
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Old 06-07-11, 01:12 PM   #7
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This site has excellent video tutorials: Bicycle Tutor, including derailleur adjustments.
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Old 06-07-11, 01:30 PM   #8
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himespau, I'm an amateur bike mechanic and I'd guess you're looking at about an hour's worth of work if most everything goes well. Prior to any adjustments make sure the derailleurs are aligned properly (height also on the FD), this will save grief when finely adjusting them both.

I have to mention that the devil is in the details, properly dressing cable housing ends and cable housing length will make things not only look correct, but work faultless for years.

Brad
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