I've just re-read these posts and I'm beginning to think I can see an answer. I believe the problem is that the chain is too long, and this causes the jockey cage to be too upright to allow the bottom sprocket to engage. I'm assuming here that the main problem is getting onto that bottom cog - if it won't change onto the others we'll have to think again.
It's quite clear to me that the main use for these mechs is for us to get pleasure by trying to figure out how to make them work - actually using them isn't nearly so much fun.
True but it's a bonus if you can use them as well. I rode mine from Paris to London last summer and it gave me no end of joy. Though I was no where near as quick as the other riders on their modern bikes the gear changing was consistent and reliable.
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