Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reloading a Vintage Campagnolo Brake Carrier

Currently I have a set of Campy Gran Sport brakes. I bought them for a bike project and it turned out 1) the reach was too short for the rear and 2) they had recessed pivot bolts and my frame needed standard pivot bolts. The recessed pivot bolt problem could have been dealt with, but the reach issue was a deal breaker; I needed another brake-set with longer arms. I am now left with a brake-set I can not use, which is prime ebay material.

The brakes-set sat on ebay for 2 weeks and nothing, not even a question. The brake-set was in very good condition with one glaring exception; the pads were shot. A set (4) of Campy pads cost about $35, which will eat away a good part of my profit (actually increase my loss), but it appeared it will be necessary to sell the brakes. Old style Campy pads are usually pretty easy to replace. First you need to pull out the old pads, this can usually be accomplished with a pair of pliers.

Once the pad is out, you simply slip the new brakes in from the open side (Campy carries hold on the pads from three sides or retainer walls. The rear is left open, which is not an issue as long as the open part of the carrier faces the rear or opposite tire rotation, so the rotation of the tire doesn't pull the pad out.

As I'm sure you noticed, I said "Old style Campy pads are usually pretty easy to replace." This is not true for Gran Sport carriers. The reason is, at the time Gran Sport was bottom of the line race components. Campy reduced the manufacturing costs of the Gran Sport brakes by less polish, a linkage vs cam brake release, the carriers are galvanized steel (not chromed), the lack of a wheel guide, and the retainer walls are on all four sides, meaning the pads are not meant to be removed and re-installed. Perhaps this was not a big deal from 1974 to 1984, but today these filled carriers are no where to be found. But even back in the old days, the less expensive option of replacing just the pads led to bending the rear pad retainer so a new pad could be inserted. Due to the poor grade of metal used to make the Gran Sport carriers, this retainer wall usually broke off when you tried to bend it back into place. Since the Nuovo Record brakes were already make without a rear retainer, it simply made sense to cut/grind it off.

I decided to grind the rear retainer off prior to removing the old pads; this gave me additional access to the pad when removing it. I pulled out the pads, primarily with pliers, but in a few cases the pad split is half, or started to, so I used a screwdriver to help remove the pad. Once the pad was out I was able to clean up the area where I cut/ground off the the rear retainer wall.After that it was an easy job to rub the pads with alcohol and slide them in; if you are doing this, make sure you remember to reinstall the brake retainer bolt before sliding in the pad. Also, some pads have different wiring on the them. The older pads have "CAMPAGNOLO"" on one side and "BREV. INTER." The pads brakes are usually positioned so CAMPGNOLO is on the top, meaning the pads will have to be installed, 2 with the open end facing forward and two facing back. If you need to remove a pad that you plan on reusing, best to pry it out with a screwdriver than pull it out with pliers. While a newly installed pad will usually pull right put, the pliers will leave jaw marks and their always the possibility that you may unknowingly split part of the pad, causing it to tear off at a later time.

After that I simply reinstalled the brake retainers and put them up on ebay for another try. Since there's really nothing else I can do, the brakes will now remain on ebay until they sell.

Edit: Well they finally sold a short time afterwards and I lost about $35 on the deal; but it was still money in my pocket vs nothing.

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