Well, Im all for old bikes. But it can become difficult to find parts for some of them. Heck, its difficult to find parts for eight-speed Campagnolo road gear, and that was state of the art only eight or nine years ago.
Three avenues to pursue. Loomis, California, is a little bit out in the sticks, but not too bad. You can troll some different bike shops in Sacramento and see what they have. Lots of shops will have an old parts bin or three out in the back, and if the mechanic has time he or she might have a look for you. Thats one.
Second is to check with Loose Screws/The Third Hand, an Internet-based bike-parts shop (www.thethirdhand.com). They have all sorts of old, miscellaneous bike parts. They also have generic thumb shifters that might work just finetheres no magic to the ones you have nowand cost only $12. So thats a very promising avenue.
Your third option is to look on eBay (www.ebay.com). You dont always find what you want there, but Ive learned that in nine times out of ten, somebody somewhere is selling what Im looking for on eBay. Right now, for instance, there are a variety of Shimano thumb shifters for sale now with buy-now prices of $10 or so. These are thorough people with shops on eBayyou might e-mail them with specific models of what youre after.
Im sure we can get your Karakoram up and running cheaply, and that it will give you many more years of service. Provided the frame isnt about to rust out, or crack. But well think positive thoughts!
The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest mountain bike.