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My front derailleur has stopped shifting. Have a look at that rusty spring. Is it worth trying to fix, or should I just replace it?

Rusty derailleur

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  • Replace it, that rust looks really bad, as does the chain.
    – ebrohman
    Nov 27 '15 at 0:59
  • You're right. I rarely look at the chain from this side. It is pretty rusty. Is that reason enough to replace it if it's not otherwise worn out?
    – Mica
    Nov 27 '15 at 1:32
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    I've seen derailers far worse than that come out just fine after cleaning and lubing. Clean it up with some solvent spray and a toothbrush and it should be just fine. Nov 27 '15 at 14:36
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    A challenge, if you replace it, is finding the RIGHT derailer. In my Christmas Anonymous work I've replaced a few front derailers, and it's always a challenge to find a good match, unless you can find the exact same model. On the last bike I had to try three times with units that "looked right" before finding one that matched pull direction and distance well enough to sorta work. Nov 27 '15 at 14:40
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    (And likely the shifting problem is due to a rusted-up cable, not the derailer.) Nov 27 '15 at 21:09
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It looks like a cheap enough derailleur that replacing it shouldn't cost too much, and the rust is severe enough that if the derailleur has stopped shifting I'd replace it.

If you can force the derailleur to move with your hand it's very likely to can repair it just by pouring sufficient oil on it and working it backwards and forwards for a while.

But whatever has caused it to rust will still exist afterwards, so unless you fix that problem the new/repaired derailleur will just rust again. If you buy a slightly more expensive one it will use better steel so will rust less readily, but the real solution is to stop leaving it out in the rain, or at least cover it. If the problem is salt spray, all you can really do is put a coating of grease on everything and reapply that every few months. Which is a good idea with derailleurs anyway, especially cheap ones.

Use chain lube that's grease-plus-solvent and put a few drops of that on to the derailleurs when you oil your chain. You can save money by doing this, as $5 worth of chain lube will double the life of the chain, and probably the derailleurs too.

For bikes like this a half-decent chain lube is often a miracle cure. Run it into the brake and gear cables, put it on all the pivot points you can find, coat the corroded metal with it, go a bit wild. But 3-in-1 oil and a top coat of grease will work better on the derailleur spring - you want thick and gooey for that. I use "TriFlow" but any of them will work (with the caveat that WD40 and so on are degreasers, not lubricants)

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  • Is it really called whoring? I guess I won't bother doing that. I do have a bottle of TriFlow that I'll remember to use on my next derailleur. I've recently moved away from the salty winter lands, so that will help too. Thanks for your help!
    – Mica
    Nov 27 '15 at 1:29
  • Fixed that. Ooops.
    – Móż
    Nov 27 '15 at 2:21
  • Haha, that makes more sense. I just thought it was some bicycle related jargon that I hadn't yet heard. Incidentally, depending on your line of work, the two words may be synonymous.
    – Mica
    Nov 27 '15 at 2:38
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I did a FD replacement last week and its not hard nor expensive. Mostly its fiddly getting all the gear positions to line up and not rub too badly.

You have a band-on deraileur (it straps around the frame with a band) not a braze-on one (which bolts to a U shaped nubbin which is brazed or otherwise part of the frame.

I can't tell if its top pull or bottom pull from the photo, but that means does the pull cable attach from above or below.

Given the bike has a case of tinworm, its your call whether you spend money on fixing bits of it now, or simply disassemble, scratch it clean, apply rust stopper, and lube and reassemble.

Chains should be replaced every 3000 km anyway, but if teh cassette and chainrings are rusting badly then I'd run the whole transmission till it stops working, and then replace all three.

Generally you should store your bike inside out of the salty air, rinse it in fresh water after any exposure to salt. However this means more frequent and better lubing. This will lengthen its life.

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    If you look at the spring arm hidden by the cable clamp bolt it's pushing that bit down, so the cable must pull it up.
    – Móż
    Nov 27 '15 at 2:23
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    @Mσᶎ - But there appears to be a cable guide above the clamp, implying that the cable comes up from under the BB, around the derailer from the "outside", then down to the clamp. Nov 27 '15 at 14:44
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    @DanielRHicks you're right. This is fun :) Visual archaeology.
    – Móż
    Nov 27 '15 at 20:52

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