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"Grail" Gran Compe centerpulls-are they worth the headaches?

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"Grail" Gran Compe centerpulls-are they worth the headaches?

Old 11-18-20, 10:10 AM
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"Grail" Gran Compe centerpulls-are they worth the headaches?

I'm lucky to have these on a 1982 Trek 728 I'm restoring, since they're original and were mostly unused. Guess I was naive about their odd sizes. Apparently the post diameter is about 1mm thinner, so I'm finding almost all newer shoes don't fit. Plus I'm having no luck finding replacement shoes, if I was even able to pry out the old ones. They're 38 years old and hard as a rock, guess I'll at least attempt to file them down and rough em up as a last resort.

Secondly, bike came with a brake lever mounted mirror on the left, so that cable end button was substituted for the mirror mount when built new. No problem, ordered two new Dia Compe brake adjusters from Velo Orange but they're also too thick to insert into the levers, which I'm reluctant to spread wider. In the pic you'll see that odd adjuster/cable end button that seems to found nowhere online.

Grail brakes they may be, but they're a pain in my arse so far. If I can't find these must have parts, and I'll need to buy new brakes anyway, I'm already thinking of longer reach versions to just go ahead and convert this 728 to a 650 version.

If anyone can suggest replacement sources for these shoes and end button thingys, I'd be so grateful. Thanks in advance!

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Old 11-18-20, 10:25 AM
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Do they have the ball bearing pivots (NGC450B model)? I have found that if so, they squeal a lot unless heavily modified (as I did here). NGC450b brakes: See the shine, hear the whine!

Mine had already lost the pads and hardware by the time I bought them, so I put hardware from a mountain bike canti, or MAFAC or CLB Racer on them, which works fine and allows them to use regular pads. Since yours are almost all original, I'd lean toward cleaning them up and putting them on Ebay, unless you're bent on making the Trek all original with no compromises.
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Old 11-18-20, 11:05 AM
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Had the same deal with the VO barrel adjusters. I enlarged the hole in the brake levers slightly with a drill bit, no problems, it works good.
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Old 11-18-20, 12:35 PM
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I have a set, and they have been on 2-3 different bikes, and have been removed by the same. Now they live in a box. Pretty, but for me, they are not any better or worse than any others. Just my experience.
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Old 11-18-20, 12:47 PM
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...if I wanted different brakes on that particular bike, I would put them on it.

If I wanted to use those originals, I'd carefully enlarge the holes for the adjusters with a drill as described above. I'd maybe clamp the top lightly, so the drill bit wouldn't spread them at the slot if it catches on the edges of it.

I wouldn't drill out the shoe post fittings unless there is plenty of extra meat on them. It's not a big deal to reduce the diameter of a post mount, brake shoe post. Clamp the shoe in a vise, with the post sticking up, sand with a strip of coarse sandpaper. It goes quickly.
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Old 11-25-20, 11:19 PM
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Thanks for the great advice!

I drilled out the levers which didn't take much effort, so they now accommodate the modern Dia Compe adjusters nicely.

However, reading about the oddities and proprietary issues with these brakes has me thinking they'll be replaced. If I can't find shoes or pad refills, and have to worry about a panic stop relying upon a nearly 40 year old straddle cable that has no replacement, I'm baffled why theses are so valuable to some. Yeah they're pretty, but that's about it.
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