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  1. #1
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    $45 repair recipe for "broken" Shimano shifters

    Recipe:
    Buy:
    1.) White Lightening - Clean Streak, $16.00
    2.) WD-40 (gallon size metal can), $16.00
    3.) Tri-Flow, $8.00
    4.) canned air, $2.00
    5.) translucent 1 quart container/ lid, $3.00

    I had a pair of Shimano 105 Brifters on my drop bar MTB with the right / rear frozen after sitting in the garage all winter. This has happened a few time before.
    Step 1: Remove rubber hoods and saturate the internal shifter gears with WL Clean Streak.
    Step 2: soak the brifters for 24 hours completely submerged in WD-40 in the translucent 1 quart container with lid (sold where they sell the mineral spirits at Home Depot), and agitate vigorously as many times as possible.
    Step 3: Inject a lot of canned air (like you use to clean computers) to purge the now softened old grease out of the gears.
    Step 4: Dry them in the sun for a few hours
    Step 5: Re-lubricate the gears with a ton of Tri-Flow. Dry and replace hoods.
    Done!
    They now are shifting like new - amazing. I have gotten rid of 3-4 pairs of brifters over the years that I thought were shot, that I know would have been fine if I had done this method. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20.
    From now on all brifters will get this treatment when they start shifting poorly.
    Side note; before I filtered the WD-40 back into the can, I soaked about 8 of my extra chains that I had previously cleaned these with gasoline (bad idea, because of the horrible smell - that seems to last permanently). I was amazed at how much gunk and dirt came off this time around. And, I actually like the smell of WD-40.
    I let the quart container sit for a day after, and the gunk/ old grease sank the the bottom. I was able to pour almost all of the WD-40 back into the can.
    Whatever WD-40 made from, ( What's Inside WD-40? Superlube's Secret Sauce ) the gallon size works perfectly for this "repair"! I realize that I put my stable of brifter equipped bikes through torture in storing them year-round in an unconditioned, separated garage/ shed (with high heat and cold that Maryland brings).

  2. #2
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    I have heard the same thing, I have also heard of people spraying WD-40 into the shifters from the aerosol can (which I tried, without success). I have also read here about how horrible Shimano brifters are , and "thats why there are so many used left/ front shifters on eBay".

    I have used this on 5-1/2 pairs of Shimano shifters so far, 3 sets are 105 9 speed; 1 is 105 10 speed and 1 is Tiagra 10-speed (and 1/2 is Ultegra 9 speed left). The worst was an ugly 9 speed 10 right/rear that was toatally frozen (shifter clicked but didn't move the cable) - which came back to 100% after the WD-40 bath.

    Guys don't hate when the number of "broken" road shift-levers on Craigslist goes down and my stock in WD-40's parent company goes up.

    Erik_A, You didn't specify what 105 levers you are salvaging: 8,9,or 10 speed.
    I have heard of the WD40 flush being used on Shimano 8 speed units, which
    are regarded by some to be the sturdiest of the lot.
    I have not seen that treatment being useful on later models.

  3. #3
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    For the canned air, I pull them out of the WD-40 bath; move the shift lever to the side so the gears are exposed - and purge out all of the yellowish/ white sludge that is the old hardened grease. Then put them back in the bath for more agitation.

    I don't work in a shop, and am not a mechanic - but a compressed air gun would work better. I am doing this on my back porch.

    I like the translucent container (clear would be better) because - I want to see when the sludge separated from the clean WD-40 afterwards. I just pour the clear liquid back into the gallon can with a funnel. This takes a few tries since the pouring agitates the sludge; so I let it sit for another day and repeat. But, opaque would work too.

    What it the importance of the container being translucent (as opposed to an opaque one)?

  4. #4
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    Reputation: J.B. Weld's Avatar
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    As you have discovered those old gummy shifters can nearly always be repaired, and the first item you mentioned (Clean Streak) is the best I've found. If you have that you can do without the WD-40, and it really doesn't have to be so complicated.

    Blast with Clean Streak>let dry (compressed air optional)>lube (not a ton!)>ride!

  5. #5
    Mantis, Paramount, Campy
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post

    Blast with Clean Streak>let dry (compressed air optional)>lube (not a ton!)>ride!
    This!

    People have been doing this "repair" since 1990. It takes 5 minutes to get most stuck STI working like new.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  6. #6
    ballbuster
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik_A View Post
    Recipe:
    Buy:
    1.) White Lightening - Clean Streak, $16.00
    2.) WD-40 (gallon size metal can), $16.00
    3.) Tri-Flow, $8.00
    4.) canned air, $2.00
    5.) translucent 1 quart container/ lid, $3.00

    I had a pair of Shimano 105 Brifters on my drop bar MTB with the right / rear frozen after sitting in the garage all winter. This has happened a few time before.
    Step 1: Remove rubber hoods and saturate the internal shifter gears with WL Clean Streak.
    Step 2: soak the brifters for 24 hours completely submerged in WD-40 in the translucent 1 quart container with lid (sold where they sell the mineral spirits at Home Depot), and agitate vigorously as many times as possible.
    Step 3: Inject a lot of canned air (like you use to clean computers) to purge the now softened old grease out of the gears.
    Step 4: Dry them in the sun for a few hours
    Step 5: Re-lubricate the gears with a ton of Tri-Flow. Dry and replace hoods.
    Done!
    They now are shifting like new - amazing. I have gotten rid of 3-4 pairs of brifters over the years that I thought were shot, that I know would have been fine if I had done this method. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20.
    From now on all brifters will get this treatment when they start shifting poorly.
    Side note; before I filtered the WD-40 back into the can, I soaked about 8 of my extra chains that I had previously cleaned these with gasoline (bad idea, because of the horrible smell - that seems to last permanently). I was amazed at how much gunk and dirt came off this time around. And, I actually like the smell of WD-40.
    I let the quart container sit for a day after, and the gunk/ old grease sank the the bottom. I was able to pour almost all of the WD-40 back into the can.
    Whatever WD-40 made from, ( What's Inside WD-40? Superlube's Secret Sauce ) the gallon size works perfectly for this "repair"! I realize that I put my stable of brifter equipped bikes through torture in storing them year-round in an unconditioned, separated garage/ shed (with high heat and cold that Maryland brings).
    I'm not sure of the wisdom of soaking any plastic parts in any kind of mineral spirits, WD40 or anything like that. Lots of things like lighter oils or solvents can make plastic deform of become brittle if dunked in that sorta stuff.

    I just shoot some Tri-Flow in my older shifters when they start to get gummed up, cycle it around a bunch of times, and it seems to clear up.

  7. #7
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    I've always used a plastic safe electronics cleaner, followed by a good lube, I have a can of Liquid Wrench brand lube that is a lot like tri-flow. I've fixed quite a few that way. But apparently DA 7700 9 speed right/rear sti's are among the few that just wear out, bummer 'cause I have 2 of those, -the only shifters I have not been able to fix.

  8. #8
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    Wow alot of work into solving this kind of issue. PB Blaster, mild brake parts cleaner (yes there is different kinds) air compressor and lube = problem solved in ten mins, gtg with proper maint lubing for a couple seasons so far. Waiting to see if plastic parts fail from doing it and nothing yet. Probably not the best thing but it brings new life into things that have had a rough previous life.
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