Assembling a Campagnolo Frictional Gear Shifter

Campagnolo Friction Gear Shifter - AssembledI had a slight moment of panic when I recieved in the post a set of vintage Campagnolo C Record downtube shifters for the Walvale classic bike restoration. They came in no less than 18 teeny pieces and as they were vintage they didn’t come with an easy to follow assembly instruction manual.

After 15 minutes of the now well recognised mechanical frustration, I determined the correct order of assembly.

For all those that go after me I thought it might be useful to write down how to assemble a Campagnolo frictional gear shifter.

The photo shows the individual components laid out in the order of assembly with each part also oriented as they should be put together.

So, part A sits on the braze-on part of the down tube followed by B and C. D goes in flat side up pushed down of the protruding part of the frame. E is flat side down. Then F, G, H followed finally by the D-clip screw.

Campagnolo Friction Gear Shifter Parts

Job done, or at least almost done. I haven’t wired it up yet but that will follow in another post.

I’ve read somewhere that these frictional Campagnolo shifters were not the most reliable and have a tendency for losing the friction setting so you have to repeatedly tighten up the D-ring. I’ll report back when it’s all working.

I had some amazing assistance on the Retrobike forum and want to link back to the post as it should form a useful reference for those who may also struggle to match together the parts from a disassembled friction shifter.

On the same forum, one of the members uploaded a scanned copy of the original instructions which you can view here: Campagnolo Record Friction.

Restoring a Classic Bike

My new project arrived in a box last night. It’s a thing of beauty but is destined to cause cursing and consternation in the household.

I’m not known for my mechanical skills but I am known for flitting from one project to the next with only a book for guidance.

The book didn’t help me much last night. Mostly because it was upstairs under the bed while my workshop is in the front room. I spent two hours with my fingers trapped under the saddle guide rails trying to attach it to the seat post. I scared the kids with my swearing but finally achieved some success only to discover, as I collapsed into bed, that I’d attached the post in a back to front fashion.

This is going to be a palaver of monstrous proportions.

The bike is an old custom build from Walvale Cycles in Liverpool. It is made from Reynolds 531 tubing, although there are no transfers and it has 3/4 chromed forks and rear triangle. I haven’t found out much about Walvale Cycles, they are mentioned in Classic Lightweights but aren’t famed in the same way as other frame builders such as Holdsworth, Dave Yates or Mercian.

My plan is to source some classic campagnolo components and recreate the dream bike of my youth.

Today’s task was to fathom out how to shift the rust marks from the chrome.

I’ve had impressive results with fine steel wool and oil but I may attempt the aluminium foil and coke trick tomorrow.

By the end of day 2, I have a frame that is beginning to look rather like a bike. I’ve attached every component that required only a few turns of an allen key. I’ve got the stem, handlebar, seatpost, saddle and the brakes attached. I haven’t ventured anywhere near cabling so of course nothing works but I’m already feeling as though I’ve missed my vocation in life. I’m clearly a bike mechanic at heart.

Now I need to return to ebay to find some wheels, I haven’t a clue what I need and what will work with the rest of the components but I need wheels urgently. It won’t be til then that I can confirm that this bike will fit me.