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Test your wits - Suntour Symmetric reassembly challenge! With pics!

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Test your wits - Suntour Symmetric reassembly challenge! With pics!

Old 02-26-09, 07:02 AM
  #1  
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Test your wits - Suntour Symmetric reassembly challenge! With pics!

Are you smart enough to reverse my stupidity?

The Suntour Symmetric shifters on my '84 LeTour kept slipping, so I took them apart to clean them.

Guess what (you saw this coming a mile away): these shifters are not so easy to reassemble correctly! I should have been taking notes or pictures when I was taking them apart. There are 26 pieces (if I didn’t lose any) and “Symmetric” is a misnomer – the design is not symmetrical.

My search of old threads shows that others have found Symmetric reassembly challenging as well. And no one has found exploded-view diagrams of these.

I took my best guess at positioning the parts, and took these photos … can anyone comment, does this look right to you?



One of the asymmetrical quirks of this design is the notched spacers – there are 2 identical ones (which I've put on the left side) and a third that is different (right side).

I think they go as pictured, but I’m not sure. Can anyone comment on that?



Another brainteaser is the ingenius (but flawed, per Sheldon) cam that auto-trims the FD when you shift the RD.

I think this is the correct positioning – can anyone confirm? (if you placed the cam at a 180 degree rotation from the photo, it would trim the FD in the other direction when the RD was shifted)



Thanks for your help!
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Old 02-26-09, 11:06 AM
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subscribing so i can remember to take mine apart and compare when i get home.
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Old 02-26-09, 11:13 AM
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The "auto-trim" isn't flawed at all. Sheldon had it wrong. If you observe closely, it doesn't turn the lever, it actually, in effect, movest the post or boss that the lever is attached to in order to alter cable pull. The key to making this work right is to set up the front cable tension at the relaxed/most inboard setting while the rear derailer is on the largest cog.

Sheldon argued that after enough "turns" of the lever, you had to set up again since it only trimmed one way. Unfortunately, he was in error, and if you set up like I have outlined above, your bottom trim is exactly where it should be, and there's no issue with "creep" in this system.

Reassembly? Ho ho ho.

I've tried this too. Here's how I resolved it.

1) Take apart shifters to clean. Be meticulous about laying out the parts in such a way that they can be re-assembled.

2) Attempt to re-assemble. Realize that even with your careful efforts, you can't make it work.

3) Go to C&V on bikeforums looking for help.

4) Go to e-bay and find another symmetric shifter for around $15.
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Old 02-26-09, 11:51 AM
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Subscribing so I can remember NOT to take mine apart to clean it.
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Old 02-26-09, 12:16 PM
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sekaijin
I was in your situation with my 1984 Le Tour about a year ago. Through trial and error I got them back together and functioning. Unfortunately I'm at work now and your pictures are blocked so I can't be of much help. I will try to look tonight and get an answer to you. It would be great if you could post a pic of your bike. Do you have a triple crank? Mine was in tough shape when I bought it and I don't think double crank it came with was original.

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I agree these are not flawed. Mine work great and thus far I haven't had to make any adjustments. I love not having to feather the left lever all of the time.
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Old 02-26-09, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
The "auto-trim" isn't flawed at all. Sheldon had it wrong. If you observe closely, it doesn't turn the lever, it actually, in effect, movest the post or boss that the lever is attached to in order to alter cable pull. The key to making this work right is to set up the front cable tension at the relaxed/most inboard setting while the rear derailer is on the largest cog.
I'll never disagree with Sheldon but I get your point - that it trims the FD by sliding the post up and down the downtube. What's getting me mixed up is, when I pull the RD lever down (weirdly, I'm forgetting if that is downshifting or upshifting - it's as if I'm dyslexic) do I want the FD shifter to slide down in tandem with it, or slide in the opposite direction? It can reassemble either way depending how you position the cam. Does that question make sense? (from memory, I'm thinking you want opposite direction movement)

Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
1) Take apart shifters to clean. Be meticulous about laying out the parts in such a way that they can be re-assembled.

2) Attempt to re-assemble. Realize that even with your careful efforts, you can't make it work.

3) Go to C&V on bikeforums looking for help.

4) Go to e-bay and find another symmetric shifter for around $15.
5) It arrives dirty and you want it clean ... go to step 1 and repeat!
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Old 02-26-09, 12:42 PM
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+1 on these aren't flawed technically.
I read the Sheldon Brown blog and something didn't quite add up. Reading his description twice I also realized the initial setup was wrong. Unlike standard shifters, The rear lever must be positioned at the largest cog before installing/trimming the front derailleur cable.
(When the right lever is flipped back, the left lever is cammed rearward, thus shortening the cable. When the right lever is forward and chain is in the smallest cog, the left lever is cammed forward, thus pulling the cable and the FD trims outward.)

I acquired one of these when they were first introduced. Sorry, I no longer have the factory pamphlet with exploded view.
Mine has been working fine on my Nashbar since the early 80s.


Last edited by WNG; 02-26-09 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 02-26-09, 12:43 PM
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I swear I have seen an exploded diagram of these but can't find it ATM, doesn't help that I traded computers with my GF for the rest of the semester because she needs the faster one for school. All my book marks that might help me find some tucked away web page are on that computer.
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Old 02-26-09, 01:18 PM
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Miamijim, badger biker - if you were able to take a look at the assembly of your Symmetrics, that would be a huge help!

If you do, take care when removing the three outermost parts in my first photo. What happened with me was, I took those off and some other parts fell right off and got mixed up.

Aside from the cam, the notched spacers are my biggest brainteaser. Actually they are worse because the cam has only one right way and one wrong way to install it, but the notched spacers could fit back in lots of wrong ways - wrong order, wrong rotational orientation, wrong heads-tails orientation, tabbed washer positioned with the tab in the wrong notch.

In fact the more I think about the notched spacers, the more I think they are placed wrong in the picture. Logically, I'm thinking the middle and right-side ones should be switched. That would put the two identical notched spacers in matching outboard positions, flanked by other parts that match symmetrically.

The other notched spacer, the unique one, probably goes in the middle spot since that is the asymmetrical part of the assembly.

Here are "before" pics of the bike - it's a 52-40 double, with what I believe was the standard 1984 LeTour catalog build.

With the BF C&V forum to the rescue, maybe soon there will be before and after pics!
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Old 02-26-09, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by WNG View Post
When the right lever is flipped back, the left lever is cammed rearward, thus shortening the cable.
Am I missing something, wouldn't that lengthen the cable?

Originally Posted by WNG View Post
When the right lever is forward and chain is in the smallest cog, the left lever is cammed forward, thus pulling the cable and the FD trims outward.
If so, then the photo is wrong - when the right lever is forward, the cam peg should be forward. Correct?

Originally Posted by cyclotoine View Post
I swear I have seen an exploded diagram of these but can't find it ATM, doesn't help that I traded computers with my GF for the rest of the semester because she needs the faster one for school. All my book marks that might help me find some tucked away web page are on that computer.
This 1976 Suntour catalog is a great source of exploded diagrams for their older stuff, including some shifters. There is more in some adjacent wooljersey galleries and elsewhere on the web, but I have not found a Symmetric shifters diagram.
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Old 02-26-09, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by sekaijin View Post
Am I missing something, wouldn't that lengthen the cable?



If so, then the photo is wrong - when the right lever is forward, the cam peg should be forward. Correct?
1. Sorry about that, I can see the confusion, let me rephrase that...the left lever cams toward the BB, and shortens the distance between them. Equivalent to twisting the lever forward. When I wrote shortening the cable, I meant the distance between the anchorage points.

2. Yes, I believe peg should be forward.

I'm not at home presently and won't be for a few weeks, otherwise I'd venture to disassemble mine for you.

Last edited by WNG; 02-26-09 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 02-26-09, 03:31 PM
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To set up the shifter correctly, you want to first set up the rear.

Then:

Shift the rear to the biggest cog.

Put the chain on the inner chainring in front.

Set the inner limit stop to the appropriate spot.

Pull the cable and secure.

Doing these steps sets the inner limit...and the innermost trim...with the chain at its innermost possibility. In other words, with the right arm fully pulled, the left is slid aft on the downtube, but is still laying flat. After you set up like this, after you un-pull or flatten the right arm to move the chain to successively smaller rear cogs, the left arm will move forward on the downtube and will pull cable to move the cage outboard as well.

And then vice versa.

It's really a neat system, and I'm kinda sorry they don't make them anymore.
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Old 02-26-09, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by sekaijin View Post
I'll never disagree with Sheldon but I get your point - that it trims the FD by sliding the post up and down the downtube. What's getting me mixed up is, when I pull the RD lever down (weirdly, I'm forgetting if that is downshifting or upshifting - it's as if I'm dyslexic) do I want the FD shifter to slide down in tandem with it, or slide in the opposite direction? It can reassemble either way depending how you position the cam. Does that question make sense? (from memory, I'm thinking you want opposite direction movement)



5) It arrives dirty and you want it clean ... go to step 1 and repeat!
I specifically looked for the term "NOS" in the description so I didn't have to do step 5. Mrs Banzai would have killed me if this had turned into a neverending cycle.
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Old 02-26-09, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sekaijin View Post
This 1976 Suntour catalog is a great source of exploded diagrams for their older stuff, including some shifters. There is more in some adjacent wooljersey galleries and elsewhere on the web, but I have not found a Symmetric shifters diagram.
That's probably what I was thinking of.
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Old 02-26-09, 04:17 PM
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The whole thing looks like a PITA, umaaaa someone said "Sheldon" was wrong--shame on you !
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Old 02-26-09, 04:29 PM
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There's bound to be a few things he's been wrong about in all the hundreds of pages of info and advice he's put up on his wonderful site. That doesn't take anything away from his awesomeness.

If for some reason Jim and Badge can't get at theirses, I'll take mine apart and photog it when I get a chance. As soon as I got it from Neal I threw it in the ultrasonic cleaner to avoid having to start a thread like this one!
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Old 02-26-09, 04:53 PM
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Exactly what riva said...just because Sheldon happened to get one wrong in no way detracts from his immense contributions to the cycling community.

Everyone makes a mistake now and then, and Sheldon made fewer than most, particularly if you compare his mistake to work ratio with the general pool of "knowledge" one can often find being spouted on bikeforums.

Just sayin'
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Old 02-26-09, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
To set up the shifter correctly, you want to first set up the rear.

Then:

Shift the rear to the biggest cog.

Put the chain on the inner chainring in front.

Set the inner limit stop to the appropriate spot.

Pull the cable and secure.

Doing these steps sets the inner limit...and the innermost trim...with the chain at its innermost possibility. In other words, with the right arm fully pulled, the left is slid aft on the downtube, but is still laying flat. After you set up like this, after you un-pull or flatten the right arm to move the chain to successively smaller rear cogs, the left arm will move forward on the downtube and will pull cable to move the cage outboard as well.

And then vice versa.

It's really a neat system, and I'm kinda sorry they don't make them anymore.
This is very helpful - I'm going to print this out and follow it closely. I also appreciate your apparent confidence that I will have working Symmetric shifters.

I really appreciate all the help. The BF C&V community is just fantastic. A guy interviewed me today for a piece he's writing about cycling, for a local sports magazine. He asked how I got into road biking and I told the story of how I rescued an old bike, and got all the help I needed to restore it from the BF C&V forum. So we'll see if he mentions us. (I told him to spread the word that we love fly-by vintage value inquiries! )
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Old 02-26-09, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by sekaijin View Post
This is very helpful - I'm going to print this out and follow it closely. I also appreciate your apparent confidence that I will have working Symmetric shifters.

I really appreciate all the help. The BF C&V community is just fantastic. A guy interviewed me today for a piece he's writing about cycling, for a local sports magazine. He asked how I got into road biking and I told the story of how I rescued an old bike, and got all the help I needed to restore it from the BF C&V forum. So we'll see if he mentions us. (I told him to spread the word that we love fly-by vintage value inquiries! )
Hope it helps. I hope you get those working too.

To clarify...

Make sure the left/front shift arm is in the down/relaxed position when setting up.

I assume you know how to set the limit screws on the FD?

I'm not trying to doubt your intelligence or know-how...I was just kinda vague with those setup tips.
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Old 02-26-09, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by sekaijin View Post
Miamijim, badger biker - if you were able to take a look at the assembly of your Symmetrics, that would be a huge help!

If you do, take care when removing the three outermost parts in my first photo. What happened with me was, I took those off and some other parts fell right off and got mixed up.

Aside from the cam, the notched spacers are my biggest brainteaser. Actually they are worse because the cam has only one right way and one wrong way to install it, but the notched spacers could fit back in lots of wrong ways - wrong order, wrong rotational orientation, wrong heads-tails orientation, tabbed washer positioned with the tab in the wrong notch.

In fact the more I think about the notched spacers, the more I think they are placed wrong in the picture. Logically, I'm thinking the middle and right-side ones should be switched. That would put the two identical notched spacers in matching outboard positions, flanked by other parts that match symmetrically.

The other notched spacer, the unique one, probably goes in the middle spot since that is the asymmetrical part of the assembly.
sekaijin
I apologize that I don't have time right now to do a complete disassemble. I have 7 inches of snow to clear out of the drive tonight and we are leaving town tomorrow for the weekend. But I did check the outer pieces you were interested in and you do have them in the correct order. The double notched one you have on the right side is definitely from that side. I can't vouch for exactly how the identical 2 go on the left at this point for sure but I think you have them correct also.

Here is how my right is set up. The inner spacer (right lever) has the big notch that matches the notch in the lever. Then with the lever at about mid point the other spacer with the little clip is facing about straight up with the clip fitting in the other notch of the first inner spacer. The outer Suntour ring goes next with its notch fitting slightly aft and down from the clip on the smaller outer spacer.
I remember the issue I had was getting the cam set up so that it was moving the left lever in the same direction up and down the tube as you are moving the right lever. Bigger gears in rear equate to downward slide (slack) and inner movement of front derailleur.
I also recall you need to get a fair amount of tension on the lock bolt on the right so it doesn't loosen the whole assembly after a while. I don't think mine has the little lock washers you do though.

I'll keep an eye on this thread and if you still need help the beginning of the week I can take another look and maybe get a pic. I liked the pic of your Le Tour. I thought I got a deal at $30 with crappy wheels but yours was better. Mine also has center pulls and from the pic it looks like yours may have sidepulls. Same color though although my decals except the tubing sticker were all worn off. I have it set up with front and rear racks as a grocery getter. I'll try to post a pic next week.
Good luck and lube the inside parts good since you want smooth action for the cam.

BTW I don't think Sheldon was wrong - I think he may not have had the patience at the time to see the correct adjustment through. I know when I can't get something right at first I immediately call it a POS!
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Old 02-27-09, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
Hope it helps. I hope you get those working too.

To clarify...

Make sure the left/front shift arm is in the down/relaxed position when setting up.

I assume you know how to set the limit screws on the FD?

I'm not trying to doubt your intelligence or know-how...I was just kinda vague with those setup tips.
I appreciate the tips ... I know enough to set the FD limit screws at a point where they keep the chain from overshifting off the rings ... and preferably where the chain does not rub the cage if I occasionally shift into a gear where I'm crossing the chain more than I should ... and they sometimes need tweaking to keep the shifting dialed in ... but mostly I pretty much wing it by trial and error until it's right. Your tips about the way to get the settings right in a rebuild are brand new to me, and look very helpful.

Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
I have 7 inches of snow to clear out of the drive tonight and we are leaving town tomorrow for the weekend.
Yikes! All the best digging out, and have a great weekend. No digging here in Madison: we got heavy sleet, enough to close the highway briefly when it was carpeted in hailstones. Then it turned to rain, which I rode home in. Lots of surface water from melting showbanks and ice-choked runoff drains. It froze overnight and this morning everything is a sheet of ice. I'll ride to work on my studded tires.

Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
But I did check the outer pieces you were interested in and you do have them in the correct order. The double notched one you have on the right side is definitely from that side. I can't vouch for exactly how the identical 2 go on the left at this point for sure but I think you have them correct also.
Wow, I'm a little surprised. I thought it made sense that the two identical notched spacers would both belong outboard. Cool.

Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
Here is how my right is set up. The inner spacer (right lever) has the big notch that matches the notch in the lever. Then with the lever at about mid point the other spacer with the little clip is facing about straight up with the clip fitting in the other notch of the first inner spacer. The outer Suntour ring goes next with its notch fitting slightly aft and down from the clip on the smaller outer spacer.
I can't really visualize this when I'm not working on the bike, but I will have this printed out when working on it. Thanks.

Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
I also recall you need to get a fair amount of tension on the lock bolt on the right so it doesn't loosen the whole assembly after a while. I don't think mine has the little lock washers you do though.
I am really hoping this works smoothly when it goes back together. Before, the left shifter was really hard to keep at the right tightness. It frequently got loose and wiggly (like every ride or two), and when I tightened it enough to get rid of the wiggle, it was too tight to shift easily. Maybe that will go better once the cam is well lubed, as you suggest. The whole business was completely caked with dried gunk inside, which must have added a lot of resistance.

Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
I'll keep an eye on this thread and if you still need help the beginning of the week I can take another look and maybe get a pic.
Don't hold your breath - I'm short on time to wrench, so things move a little slowly with me. I have a social ride scheduled for March 14 and my goal is to have the LeTour done by then.

Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
I liked the pic of your Le Tour. I thought I got a deal at $30 with crappy wheels but yours was better. Mine also has center pulls and from the pic it looks like yours may have sidepulls. Same color though although my decals except the tubing sticker were all worn off. I have it set up with front and rear racks as a grocery getter. I'll try to post a pic next week.
Mine is to be a 3-season commuter and rain bike. For $5 it certainly didn't look bad at a glance, except for the flaking-off decals, but your $30 LeTour may still have been a better deal: once I rode mine and then took it apart, I found it was in rough shape. The cables and housings were so old/dirty/corroded that shifting and braking were sticky (replaced them). The BB was shot, with pitting on the spindle races (replaced it). Headset not pretty but serviceable. The inside of the frame was full of rust dust (framesavered it). The hubs would have benefited from an overhaul, if I kept using those wheels.

Post your pics ... I'll post mine as a before and after, hopefully by the Ides of March!
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Old 03-07-09, 03:12 AM
  #22  
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Update – greased up and rebuilt the Symmetric … making progress but not completely happy.

The whole right side shifter assembly is smooth and perfect.

The left side is loose. Or rather, the whole left shifter assembly fits together nice and tight, and shifts smoothly. (or feels like it will – have not cabled it up yet.) But there is play in its fit with the male (right) side of the cam. The whole left shifter assembly wiggles a little like a loose tooth, fore and aft in its slot in the central body shell piece.

I could take it apart again, but I don’t know what to change. Even if I have a washer that would fit, I don’t think that’s what’s needed. It’s as if the two rectangular shim pieces need to be thicker.

Wondering if I should call this good enough and cable it up. Have limited time to wrench – this bike needs to debut in a week, and it still has other work I need to get to.
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Old 03-07-09, 08:27 AM
  #23  
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My schematic breakdown is slightly different than the OP's. It appears my levers are missing 1 thin washer and the lock washers under the outer bolts. My lever are a different version of the OP's which may explain the difference. Regardless assembly is the same.



A few random notes:
1. The thin metal washers are alwayd placed against the lever handles. One on the inside, one on the outside.
2. There are 3 thick notched washers. The 2 matching washers are for the left side and the single is for the right side.

Assembly of the housing base requires 6 parts:

Base-1
Bosses-2
Thick Washer-1
Clips-2

Keep your orientation correct as the following picture is viewed from below!!!!

1. Install left boss with 2 retaining clips. The boss is offset so be sure to intall it so that the boss is offset towards the BB.
2. Place thick washer on right boss and slide down so the pin recesses into the slot on the left boss.



Begin assembly of left lever.

Nylon washer is placed first with notch towards BB shell. Place the notched chrome washer so that 'sharp' edge is on the inside and the notches are above. Place thin washer. Edge of nylon washer must be aligned with edge of notch on notched washer


Install left lever and washers. Thin metal metal first, notched washer with sharp edge to the inside



Install small notched washer followed by chrome outer cover:



Begin assembly of right lever.

Install small metal washer:


Install lever followed by small metal washer on the inside and notched washer on top. Sharp edges of notched washer go to the outside:


Placement of small washer with tang. Fllow with placement od chrome cover and bolt:

Last edited by miamijim; 03-08-09 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 03-07-09, 11:41 AM
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That is an invaluable public service you just did, miamijim.
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Old 03-07-09, 06:04 PM
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Wow miamijim, that is amazingly helpful. Even before going over everything step by step, I can see what is probably my problem causing the loose-tooth wiggle of my left lever assembly: I am missing the nylon notched washer.
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