Saturday, October 27, 2007

Inside the Mechanics' Studio

If James Lipton was going to ask me what my favorite curse word is, he would have to do it early in the program. The next 15 or 20 minutes would be one long bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

I'm doing a conversion to linear pull brakes on a customer's nice 1988 Rockhopper. He's finally getting rid of those Exage cantilevers that used those fat, chunky brake pads that bolted in from the back. The way the pads flared, they would either cut into the tire or develop a lip below the rim before half the pad's volume had been worn away. If the frame builder had been a little careless aligning the brake bosses, the curved washers on the pad did not provide anywhere near enough range of adjustment to correct the discrepancy. No one mourned the passing of these brakes. Their only virtue, which turns out to be a curse, is that they take forever to wear out to the point where a frugal rider can justify replacing them.

The ones on this bike had finally developed enough of a problem for me to suggest it was a good opportunity to hop into a more modern system.

But I've been Shimanoed. I failed to notice (or remember) that this Rockhopper came with integrated shifter mounts. The shifters are above the bar, where they sensibly should have remained in a perfect world, but they don't have their own separate bar clamps. Instead, the brake lever body has a tab sticking off it and the shifter mount bolts to that. In an earlier repair we had sawed the tab off for the rear shifter and installed one on a separate clamp. Seeing that helped me overlook the way the front shifter was still attached until I was disassembling the brake system.


And so on.

I'm ripping the shop apart, looking for what I know I will not find: a decent quality, top-mount thumb shifter for the front derailleur. I may have something at home in my personal stash, which I am loath to relinquish. To help a bro' out, I might do it. It could be something from the Golden Age of Suntour, or a nice Deore DX. But meanwhile I've got this guy's bike ripped apart and only Shitno to blame for this predicament.

1988, people. I've been grappling with these arbitrary bastards and their weird aesthetics for a LONG time.



All Hail Patent Infringement! I dug up a cheesy friction shifter that had a surprisingly decent clamp. The four locating holes for the shifter unit matched the four pegs on the bottom of the original Mountain LX shifter itself. I am able to transfer it to this separate clamp. We're movin' ahead!

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