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I got home from a short ride up the street today where there was a lot of clicking and skipping of chain links and when I got home I realized my chain had a ton of slack. After looking around on the internet, I tried moving the rear wheel back, but there's more slack in the chain than there is room to move the rear wheel back, so I'm stuck.

A cursory understanding of bikes and reading the internet suggests that it could be a stretched out chain or an issue with the derailleur. This is an old steel 12-speed Raleigh. Granted, I don't take the best care of it (not sure where I'm supposed to wash it and store it - I live in a small apartment), but I do depend on it.

Here's the picture of the state of things:

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    A stretched chain changes in length by around 1% ish, so thats not it. Is the chain on the front chainring? – Batman Feb 25 '15 at 2:53
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    Yeah, the rear derailer is in bad shape. Cleaning and lubing may fix it, or it may be that the spring has slipped off it's tang (not uncommon for that style), or it may be that the spring is broken. The chain is probably shot too, but it would never "stretch" that much. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 25 '15 at 12:37
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    For starters, turn the bicycle right-side up and lean it against a wall, slide a section of newspaper against the wheel and up behind the derailer (to protect the tire), and hose the thing down thoroughly with (don't shoot me) WD-40. Wipe with a rag and lubricate with whatever light oil you have. If that frees it up then do a proper lube job with real chain lube. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 25 '15 at 12:40
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    If you depend on your bike then need to get on a regular maintenance routine. Proper maintenance is less work and less money than wait for it to break. If you are opposed to maintenance then a single speed is less maintenance. – paparazzo Feb 25 '15 at 13:42
  • Don't shoot @DanielRHicks for the WD-40, that stuff works wonders getting crap off parts. I have cleaned up 3 old nasty kids bikes using it and they come out shinny new. Save that shot though, It make take a few soakings for some of the heavier grime. – BPugh Feb 25 '15 at 17:47
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It appears your rear derailleur pulley cage spring is not doing its job. In your picture, it should be pivoted back towards the right side of the picture, maintaining chain tension.

You'll have to remove and clean out your pulley cage, clean up and lubricate the spring and reassemble it. If that doesn't solve your problem, you'll have to replace the derailleur. You can see how to service many brands here: http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/rear-derailleur-overhaul

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