I mentioned in one of my entries on Saturdaythat I planned to swap out the Campy Record long-cage derailleur on our Calfee for a SRAM X.0 model with a Jtek Shiftmate Straight 5S adapter once all of the bits and pieces arrived on Tuesday. Well, it’s Tuesday and the swap-out is now complete.
If the SRAM X.0 shifts the 10 speed XT cassette w/KMC 10 spd chain as well on the road under load as it does on the workstand we’ll be in fat city. The cable routing for the SRAM rear derailleurs is a bit different from most ‘conventional’ designs and, frankly, I like it a lot better: it’s very direct and eliminates that extra loop of derailleur housing and cable that is often time to blame for bad shifting. The installation of the in-line Shiftmate Straight was also a no-brainer and is a very tidy installation, far more solid than the right angle installation needed for Campy & Shimano rear derailleurs.
I thought I’d like the gold accents on the SRAM X.0 and the ti-nitrate KMC chains a lot more than I did when I finally had it all together. Standing back and looking at the Calfee with its new bling, I was now thinking that black chains and a black derailleur may have been the way to go. Regardless, I’m sure this will grow on me. Cest la vie… It’s not about the bike anyway, eh?
Now, I must confess that there was one really big surprise during the conversion session. As if often times how it happens, everything was going just fine and I was clipping right along with the various things that needed to be done tonight:
- Swap out the 9 speed XT cassette on our Topolino rear wheel for the 10 speed XT cassette.
- Swap out the SRAM X.0 rear derailleur for the Campy Record rear derailleur.
- Throw two of the new KMC 9SL 9 speed chains into my 1 gallon jug of diesel fuel to remove the factory chain grease.
- Trim two short pieces of derailleur cable housing for the new derailleur and Shiftmate installation.
- Route the rear derailleur cable through the new housing, Shiftmate and rear derailleur.
- Fish the KMC chains out of the nasty solvent and move them into my Citrus degreaser bath and let them soak.
- Install the rear wheel with the 10 speed XT cassette and re-install the KMC 10 speed drive chain.
- Dial-in the rear shifting and get all of the slack out of the rear derailleur cable.
- Fish the KMC 9 SL chains out of the citrus degreaser bath, rinse them in the garage sink, and then throw them into the cold Fry-Daddy deep fryer, plug it up and then go do other things while the chains get a hot melt wax treatment (don’t go there; I’ve been doing this for 30 years).
- Loosen the eccentric and remove the sync chain so that I can replicate the chain length as I build a new sync chain with 1.5 KMC 9 speed chains.
- Fish the chains out of the hot melt wax bath, carefully wipe them down and them leave them in a pile to cool for 15 minutes while I do some other stuff.
- Finish working on the tandem and putting away tools, then install the new sync chain, adjust and tighten the eccenctic and call it a night….
And this is when the night went to H.E. double toothpicks. As I tightened the Bushnell eccentric on our Calfee I detected a complete lack of resistance in the wrench: that ain’t good. To make an already too long story short, the wedge nuts threaedd on the double-threaded fixing bolt of the Bushnell eccentric had apparently been damaged by excessive torque when someone (that would have been me during the compact timing belt beta test) over-tightened the eccentric. As I tightened the eccentric’s fixing bolt I could feel the aluminum threads give way and that was that: stripped nut city.
After figuring out how to knock the eccentric loose with the stripped nut, I cannibalized our ’98 Erickson’s very similar Bushnell eccentric for parts and put the Calfee back together. I had another spare, older model Bushnell eccentric in my parts bin so there was a back-up plan for my back-up plan. That, and our Ventana also uses a Bushnell eccentric. Looks like I’ll be trying to get my hands on some spare parts for the Calfee’s eccentric.
By the way, if anyone is curious why I don’t simply run an all-Campy or all-Shimano drive train in the first place, here’s some background. When we bought our first tandem back in 1997 — a Santana Arriva — it came with Shimano bar-end shifters, and XTR rear derailleur and an LX cassette. Being addicted to Shimano’s integrated shifting on my single bike, I wanted the same on the tandem. However, Shimano did not offer STI that was compatible with a triple front crankset. The only option I was presented with by my dealer was using SACHs Ergo shifters, basically a relabled Campy Veloce shifter with an 8 speed, Shimano-compatible shift disc. I immediately became an Ergo convert, as they fit my hands far better than the Shimano STI levers and I found the shifting movement more intuitive; heck, I even wrote an article on the differences. Ever since then I’ve been running Campy shifters & rear derailleurs with Shimano cassettes on our road tandems. The reasoning is pretty straight forward: Campy’s never had wide range cassettes (12×26 was the max for a while before the 13×29 came out), so that ruled out Campy cassettes on the tandem since many of our local rides put us onto steep grades where we needed at least a 30t, and sometimes 32t in back. I also liked the look, feel and performance of Campy’s Chorus components vs. Shimano Ultegra line. So, in 1998 we had our Erickson built with Campy 9 speed shifters + Racing-T rear derailleur +Shimano’s 11x32t 8 speed cassettes and they worked great, despite the purported technical incompatibilities. After that we migrated to Campy 9 with Shimano 9, then Campy 10 with Shimano 9, and more recently Campy 10 with Shimano 10. Again, even though the folks at Shimano and Campy willl tell you these combinations won’t work, we found we could run the mis-matched components ‘nekkid’ and finesse the shifter every once in a while to deal with some so-so gear combinations, or we could use one of two different adapters: the Shimagnolo (aka, Shimergo or Shimangler) from the Pacific Northwest or a Jtek Shiftmate from Minnesota. Both methods and both adapters worked pretty well. So, this hybrid transmission using Campy Ergo 10 speed shifters with a SRAM derailleur and Shimano cassettes is merely the latest in a long-line of somewhat eclectic components that have found their way onto our road tandems over the years.