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  1. #1
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    best way to flush Rapidfire shifters?

    Anything Shimano approved? WD40? PB Blaster? Triflow? I have some old 8 speed XTR shifters than don't want to ratchet anymore. Hoping they are just gunked up but don't want to gunk them up more or damage the plastic bits inside. Thanks.


  2. #2
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    IMO best is to use simple green, tooth brush and compressed air. because simple green is organic. cant hunt anything, i even use a tiny bit in the laundry, itd clean cloth better and have than mint smell.

    my method is to spray some simple green like it soak for sometimes, clean it with tooth brush. then rise it off. soak it with simple green again for few hrs. blast it with compressed air from an auto shop or air duster you get from costco , walmart. repeat soaking and blasting till it cleans, then apply the internal with marine grease, be careful not to over grease it.

    dont even think of using carb cleaner or brake cleaner. my biggest hobbit beside biking is car mods. i have a lot of car stuff laying around
    one day i was like why just take the shifter apart and clean it. so i took it apart try spraying it with carb cleaner, after rubbing the plastic exterior of it. the surface turned into jelloish . it was like melting.
    so dont even use carb cleaner and brake cleaner.

    i hope this helps
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  3. #3
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    I don't think anything is "Shimano Approved" but I have found the best first option is TriFlow aerosol, it leaves some lubrication behind after you're done. Next would be WD-40 and after that you could try a solvent like an orange degreaser solution (Zep comes to mind). Whatever you do, leave it soak at least over night, then cycle it a few times.

    If you're mechanically inclined you can open up the covers to expose the pawls and that way you can actually see where the built up grease is and target it directly. Remember if you use a solvent that you need to replace the lubricant. It's (shockingly) expensive but Shimano Special Grease is amazing for this and for using as a cable lubricant. A light grease or heavy oil would do fine.
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  4. #4
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    I would probably try triflow first.
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  5. #5
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    I usually use a combination of Finish Line Speed Clean, compressed air and the foaming Tri Flow. That's usually enough to clean up whatever is in there.

    For what it's worth, that's the only use I've found for foaming Tri Flow that I've been happy with. It expands inside the shifter and coats everything.
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  6. #6
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    Thanks guys. I may try Boeshield cause that's what I have in aerosol (I only have little drip bottles of TriFlow). Gonna see if I can get access to an air compressor first, though. Also may try taking it apart a bit, too, to get a better view of it. It's very weird. Totally "ran when parked" eight years ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Chinaski View Post
    Thanks guys. I may try Boeshield cause that's what I have in aerosol (I only have little drip bottles of TriFlow). Gonna see if I can get access to an air compressor first, though. Also may try taking it apart a bit, too, to get a better view of it. It's very weird. Totally "ran when parked" eight years ago.
    It should be easy to bring back to life if it's just the pawls sticking with the old grease. You might also want to consider a new cable and housing if they're also a bit sticky.
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  8. #8
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    The grease inside the shifter solidifies into a crusty wax, and blocks the ratchet mechanism. WD40 dissolves the grease back into a flowing solution. I wouldnt use degreaser on any part of the bike.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    It should be easy to bring back to life if it's just the pawls sticking with the old grease. You might also want to consider a new cable and housing if they're also a bit sticky.
    Yeah, I just replaced those. I was running the Gore stuff for years but replaced with conventional Shimano SIS cable and housing.

  10. #10
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    I say WD 40 is a good option to get things moving again, then once that's done you can blow it out with compressed air and put back in either some oil or light grease - this is how I've done it in the past with sticky shifters and it's worked every time.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    The grease inside the shifter solidifies into a crusty wax, and blocks the ratchet mechanism. WD40 dissolves the grease back into a flowing solution. I wouldnt use degreaser on any part of the bike.
    Agree about degreasers.

  12. #12
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    Ok, removed it, took off more of the covers and hit it hard with WD40. Let is sit an hour, reinstalled. Smoother motion but still will not hold a gear. Will click up to bigger cogs but then still just drop down to the small cog. Any ideas what is happening? Something still stuck/not engaging?

  13. #13
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    Gear ratchets might be worn?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Chinaski View Post
    Ok, removed it, took off more of the covers and hit it hard with WD40. Let is sit an hour, reinstalled. Smoother motion but still will not hold a gear. Will click up to bigger cogs but then still just drop down to the small cog. Any ideas what is happening? Something still stuck/not engaging?
    You only waited a hour. Drench it again and come back to it tomorrow.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    You only waited a hour. Drench it again and come back to it tomorrow.
    Ok, just blasted it some more, will try it again tomorrow.

    Last edited by Henry Chinaski; 03-12-2012 at 08:49 PM.

  16. #16
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    if you dont wanna clean it throughly and re-grease it. just use PB blaster or liquid wrench. WD40 is definitely not strong or fast enough for you. PB blaster works the best to clean off grease
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  17. #17
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    I just degunked an indexed Shimano rear shifter for a friend yesterday. The pawls were frozen and the shifter was acting like a stick shift stuck in neutral and would not shift into gear. I took off the bottom cover of the shifter and put WD40 to work. I alternated between spraying WD40 onto the axles on which the pawls pivoted and moving the pawls back and forth by hand. After about 15 minutes of doing so and a light coat of Slick Honey, the shifter is working well again.

    My friend's shifter was of 7-speed STX-RC vintage and had a bolt that went from bottom to the top similar to the one in the picture posted by OP. Once the cable was pulled out and the bolt removed, the entire shifting mechanism popped out in one piece and did not explode into a million pieces flying in all directions. I just want to put a disclaimer that I don't think all Shimano shifters are constructed this way, so disassemble at your own risk.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Chinaski View Post
    Ok, just blasted it some more, will try it again tomorrow.
    You'll get it, just try it out occasionally and keep it drenched. The key is to get the pawls moving. If just soaking it doesn't work (and sometimes it doesn't by its self), open it up and try moving and cleaning the pawls manually. If you can get a little movement in the pawls, they practically soak up the solvent and will break up the old grease fast.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    You'll get it, just try it out occasionally and keep it drenched. The key is to get the pawls moving. If just soaking it doesn't work (and sometimes it doesn't by its self), open it up and try moving and cleaning the pawls manually. If you can get a little movement in the pawls, they practically soak up the solvent and will break up the old grease fast.
    Hey, it's working now! Just nuked it again and will let it sit some more.

    So after it dries out, what's the best lube? Grease? If so, what kind, how much dissasembly, and/or how to apply? I assume white lithium grease is too heavy. Or will dripping TriFlow or shooting Boeshield in there suffice? I also have ProLink and Finish Line Wet Lube and maybe even some Phils oil somewhere...

    Thanks for all the help!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Chinaski View Post
    Hey, it's working now! Just nuked it again and will let it sit some more.

    So after it dries out, what's the best lube? Grease? If so, what kind, how much dissasembly, and/or how to apply? I assume white lithium grease is too heavy. Or will dripping TriFlow or shooting Boeshield in there suffice? I also have ProLink and Finish Line Wet Lube and maybe even some Phils oil somewhere...

    Thanks for all the help!
    If you were able to find a compressor, blow it out and drip some of one of those lubes in there. You might have to do it once a year but it will work fine. Grease is usually too heavy to work properly with the pawls unless you have the fancy stuff.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    If you were able to find a compressor, blow it out and drip some of one of those lubes in there. You might have to do it once a year but it will work fine. Grease is usually too heavy to work properly with the pawls unless you have the fancy stuff.
    Perfect. I might just get some of that compressed air in a can from an office supply place. Thanks again.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by akacoke View Post
    IMO best is to use simple green, tooth brush and compressed air. because simple green is organic. cant hunt anything,
    Just FYI.. Because I use to think it was a "green" cleaner as well.. it may be green in color but it is not organic and not really all that eco friendly either.

  23. #23
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    The professional mechanics methodology of fixing rapid fire shifters.

    #1 - Grit your teeth and tell customer that he has a broken shifter and to buy a new set because thats what management wants you to do. Lots of shops don't want their mechanics wasting time actually trying to fix things, especially when there is no guarantee of something being fixable.

    Then...

    #2 - Wait till the manager is out of ear shot and charge customer for 30 minutes of labor & cable replacements.

    Then...

    Take out cables.
    Flush with White Lightning Clean Streak or Finish Line Fast Clean. Clean Streak works slightly faster. Exercise the shifters. Shoot aerosol lube through the shifter cable holes. 80% of the time, this fixes the problem. For the other 20%, it means the pawls are stuck.

    Which means....

    You only have to open the bottom section of the shifter to expose the ratchet and pawl. Take a scribe... (or more commonly in a shop, the pokey stick made from a spoke and the grinder) and manually exercise the stuck pawl. Shoot a little Clean Streak on it while working the thing. Once its free, the shifter will work as new. Spray or drip Tri-Flow all over the inner workings. Close up shifter.

    Work time should be less than 10 minutes per shifter after you've done it once. If you have to open up the shifter, you can use any lube in place of Clean Streak, but it will take much longer for it to de-gunk.

    One caveat, around the main pawl, there is a tiny little itsy bitsy spring. If that snaps, its all over. Dead shifter. This will happen maybe 5% of the time when you have to go in and exercise the pawl, and usually only on the really abused neglected stuff. It usually snaps because there is a combination of corrosion and waxy build up acting as a glue. When you try to free it, it snaps the spring in half.

    Use Clean Streak or Fast Clean because it doesn't need to be rinsed out. Do not use regular degreasers (mostly because its a pain in the ass, not because you will damage something) and definitely do NOT use Simple Green. Its mildly corrosive on metals.

    I know its an old thread, but as these parts get older, more and more people are needing to restore them. You know, there was actually nothing wrong with thumb shifters with its THREE main mechanical parts.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by archone View Post
    The professional mechanics methodology of fixing rapid fire shifters.

    #1 - Grit your teeth and tell customer that he has a broken shifter and to buy a new set because thats what management wants you to do. Lots of shops don't want their mechanics wasting time actually trying to fix things, especially when there is no guarantee of something being fixable.

    Then...

    #2 - Wait till the manager is out of ear shot and charge customer for 30 minutes of labor & cable replacements.

    Then...

    Take out cables.
    Flush with White Lightning Clean Streak or Finish Line Fast Clean. Clean Streak works slightly faster. Exercise the shifters. Shoot aerosol lube through the shifter cable holes. 80% of the time, this fixes the problem. For the other 20%, it means the pawls are stuck.

    Which means....

    You only have to open the bottom section of the shifter to expose the ratchet and pawl. Take a scribe... (or more commonly in a shop, the pokey stick made from a spoke and the grinder) and manually exercise the stuck pawl. Shoot a little Clean Streak on it while working the thing. Once its free, the shifter will work as new. Spray or drip Tri-Flow all over the inner workings. Close up shifter.

    Work time should be less than 10 minutes per shifter after you've done it once. If you have to open up the shifter, you can use any lube in place of Clean Streak, but it will take much longer for it to de-gunk.

    One caveat, around the main pawl, there is a tiny little itsy bitsy spring. If that snaps, its all over. Dead shifter. This will happen maybe 5% of the time when you have to go in and exercise the pawl, and usually only on the really abused neglected stuff. It usually snaps because there is a combination of corrosion and waxy build up acting as a glue. When you try to free it, it snaps the spring in half.

    Use Clean Streak or Fast Clean because it doesn't need to be rinsed out. Do not use regular degreasers (mostly because its a pain in the ass, not because you will damage something) and definitely do NOT use Simple Green. Its mildly corrosive on metals.

    I know its an old thread, but as these parts get older, more and more people are needing to restore them. You know, there was actually nothing wrong with thumb shifters with its THREE main mechanical parts.

    Nailed it ^ pretty much 100% IMO, did you used to work at my shop?

    The only thing I might do differently is to leave the cable in the shifter which makes it easier to cycle through shifts by holding tension on it. Nothing I've used beats Clean Streak.

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