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Brake lever adjustment gone wrong
The brakes on my Marin Fairfax hybrid were loose so I went to adjust them. I found that the brake area around the tire were already very tight, so I went up to the lever area. I found that though the barrel was screwed in tight, the cable itself was loose, and if I tugged on it I could pull it loose away from the lever.

I have not had experience adjusting the cable up at the lever before, but I went online for instructions and found I needed to unscrew the barrel enough to get the cable out to tighten it. Unfortunately, I unscrewed the barrel way too far, thinking I needed to get it all the way out.

The result is that my barrel is now out and I cannot screw it back in because I can't get the right angle. It appears to me that the brakes are designed to not allow it to screw back in. I have Shimano v-brakes.

My question is if it is possible to screw the barrel back in, and if there is a trick to it. Any advice is appreciated. I took a photo to make the situation easier to understand. Thanks for any help:

You definitely should be able to screw the barrel back in. You might need to release the cable down at the brake cantilever to take the tension off so you can line the barrel up right.

But I think you have a separate problem. If the v brakes are not popping away from the rim enough to take up the slack in the cable, something is going on. With the cable detached, see if the brake spring away from the rim well. If they do, it may be that the cable itself is binding up somewhere. Check for kinked or split housing, rush inside the housing, etc. But you want to figure out why there is slack in the cable as it may cause other problems even once you take it out by adjusting the barrel.
Thanks, DaveM. Re: the first problem, I did have the cable unlinked and slack and was unable to screw it back in- the problem there is that the barrel is bumping up against the body of the shifter as I am trying to screw it in. I'm glad to here that it SHOULD go back in, so I can keep trying.

The second issue, is of course, what I was trying to do something about when I messed around with the thing- I will try your advice to see if the cable itself is a problem- if the brakes don't spring back would you advise just getting a replacement cable?
Sometimes the barrel you hold has a little spring that pushes it down to the end of the threaded sleeve and that can block the threads from catching once it's come all the way out. I can't tell if you have that type, but that could be why you're having trouble getting it to thread back in. But regardless, it definitely should be able to go in, so keep fiddling.

You should try to figure out what the problem is before buying new parts. If the brakes at the wheel seem to pull away from the rim pretty well, it's probably the cable. Check if the cable slides smoothly through the housing or if it feels rough. Only other thing could be if the lever was mucked up, but it's usually the cable or the springs on the brakes that need a tweek.

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