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  1. #1
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    How to cope with frayed or unraveled cable ends?

    Hi all,

    This seems simple but it's got me stumped. I pulled everything off my frame and did a detailed cleanup and rebuild - looks gorgeous now. However, in the process I had to remove cable ends and pull the cables out of some housings. Now I need to thread them back through, but one of the tips is a bit frayed and won't allow me to get it started.
    I tried solder but it won't flow into the strands at all, not even using a torch to make the tip red hot and using flux. Is there a special solder that does work? I just grabbed the roll I used for sweating copper pipe joints.
    Other solutions? Cheap as they are I'd hate to just toss the cable, it's pretty new.

    Thanks,
    Don
    Specialized Allez Pro '06
    Specialized Sirrus Elite '05

  2. #2
    Senior Member f1junkie's Avatar
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    The cable might be stainless steel, in which case the solder won't stick. You might want to try a dab of superglue.

    I use heat shrink on the cable ends instead of those crimped ends. Minimal damge if any, to the cable.

    Cheers

    Dave

  3. #3
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    Replacing worn or frayed inner cables is pretty cheap, and you may have to do one or two. When they are new I cut to length and put a drop of super glue on the end. Then I put a 1/2 inch piece of heat shrink tubing on an shrink it. Later, if I need to remove the cable, I can remove the heat shrink, and the glue will keep the cable from fraying.
    Try it. bk

  4. #4
    Yet another vegan biker
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    Regular cables are dirt cheap. If yours is unraveling I'd forego trying to rescue it and slide in a new cable.

    Yours must be stainless because solder usually works well. Any solder will generally work. I use silver solder because I like how it looks and , well, I'm a silversmith.

  5. #5
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    If worse comes to worse-you can use the long rear cables for the front brake and derailleur.This way you only have to replace 2 cables-not all four(guess you already know this).
    I usually leave my cables a bit long-with maybe 2-3" extra-so I can cut and trim the ends a couple of times if I have to pull them.Luck,Charlie

  6. #6
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    if its that bad, i'de probably replace the cables.
    I use aluminum nipples as a cable crimp
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    Thanks all for the quick replies. I guess I'll just have to finish the rebuild after I can make a trip to the shop for a new cable. But now I'm armed with good advice and will saturate the clean cut tip with superglue this time. Great idea!

    Regards,
    Don
    Specialized Allez Pro '06
    Specialized Sirrus Elite '05

  8. #8
    Yet another vegan biker
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    That nipple idea seems worthy, too. And I definitely second the cutting-them-long theory of cable snipping.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by f1junkie
    The cable might be stainless steel, in which case the solder won't stick.
    followup question: the end of the cable when it was uncut was soldered, (same situation as above - solder wont stick). is there a special type of solder that does work with stainless cables?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zip22
    followup question: the end of the cable when it was uncut was soldered, (same situation as above - solder wont stick). is there a special type of solder that does work with stainless cables?
    You need to use an acid, or corrosive flux with stainless steel. A 50-50 or 60-40 solder should work.

  11. #11
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    good to know, thanks.

  12. #12
    Coyote!
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    F1junkie suggests, "dab of superglue". I use a variation on that theme, JB Weld. It cures to a color quite compatible with the cable. Caveat. . .just make sure it doesn't touch anything whilst it cures.

  13. #13
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2
    I use aluminum nipples as a cable crimp
    The problem I've found is that when you crimp any nipples or caps on the cable, it crushes the cable end somewhat flat. Then when you remove the nipple later to pull the cable out, the end is frayed. As long as you don't crimp too tight this won't happen, but then they might fall off. I like that superglue/heat shrink idea. (plus it weighs less, ha-ha)
    Have Bike, Will Travel

  14. #14
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    I find it's best to trim new cable to length and solder before ever inserting it through the housing. Once it picks up any grease or oil of any kind, it's impossible to get solder to stick. Although I did manage to clean the used ends once really well with acetone in an ultrasonic cleaner. Then dipped in battery-acid to etch for a minute or two. Then the solder stuck, but it was a lot of work to get a clean cable-end...

    BTW - the plumbing-solder has way too much lead to stick well. You'd want an electronics-grade solder made primarily with tin & silver.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Avalanche325's Avatar
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    The best way to cope with frayed cable ends is to seek professional counsiling for the emotional distress that it causes. After this you should, in true American fashion, be able to place the blame squarely on someone else. After hiring a good lawyer you should sue the bike company, cable manufacturer, bike shop, cutting tool mfgr, cable nipple mfgr, CEOs / owners of all the above, and your Mother. Write a book, and then go on Oprah.

    It's the only way to cope.........................

    I really bored at work today. Can you tell?

  16. #16
    DocRay
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    You shouldn't re-use the cables, change them , it's better in the long run. Crimp the ends with an aluminum nipple-Cannondale makes these tiny ones.

  17. #17
    Lost in the Black Hills mx_599's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by f1junkie
    The cable might be stainless steel, in which case the solder won't stick. You might want to try a dab of superglue.

    I use heat shrink on the cable ends instead of those crimped ends. Minimal damge if any, to the cable.

    Cheers

    Dave
    never thought of that...thanks for the tip!

  18. #18
    Lost in the Black Hills mx_599's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2
    if its that bad, i'de probably replace the cables.
    I use aluminum nipples as a cable crimp
    another good idea. i have more nipples around than crimps!

  19. #19
    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoebeisis
    If worse comes to worse-you can use the long rear cables for the front brake and derailleur.This way you only have to replace 2 cables-not all four(guess you already know this).
    I usually leave my cables a bit long-with maybe 2-3" extra-so I can cut and trim the ends a couple of times if I have to pull them.Luck,Charlie
    For a while it seemed I was overhauling / changing something on my bike ever other week - usually involving pulling the cables - which created some frayed ends. The idea above saved me more than a couple bucks in cables when the frayed ends got too much to cut off and reuse the cable where it was. Super glue also works well - something I should add to my toolbox and use regularly.

  20. #20
    Really like your peaches
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    I find it's best to trim new cable to length and solder before ever inserting it through the housing.
    BTW - the plumbing-solder has way too much lead to stick well. You'd want an electronics-grade solder made primarily with tin & silver.
    I find it easier to solder before trimming to length, that way I cut through solid metal without wire strands springing apart. I also use eletronics solder, with a 70 watt iron.

  21. #21
    sch
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    Electronics solder is either 60/40 or 63/37 tin-lead and rosin core, it does not need silver and silver actually raises the MP a bit. Silver solder is nice but requires a lot more heat and special fluxes for best results. Lead based solder will probably get very scarce in a few years with all the emphasis on getting rid of lead and requirements that all electronics gear sold to real people have no lead in it in the next 2-3yrs. Satellite people are alarmed because tin based lead free solder grows whiskers over a few yrs and some satellite failures have been attributed to this. Like tharold soldering before cutting was very nice when cables were galvanized. Most cables I use won't solder with electronics solder.
    Steve

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avalanche325
    The best way to cope with frayed cable ends is to seek professional counsiling for the emotional distress that it causes. After this you should, in true American fashion, be able to place the blame squarely on someone else. After hiring a good lawyer you should sue the bike company, cable manufacturer, bike shop, cutting tool mfgr, cable nipple mfgr, CEOs / owners of all the above, and your Mother. Write a book, and then go on Oprah.

    It's the only way to cope.........................
    ROTFL!! That's priceless, I didn't even realize my choice of words left such a nice opening. Nice pickup!
    Specialized Allez Pro '06
    Specialized Sirrus Elite '05

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoebeisis
    If worse comes to worse-you can use the long rear cables for the front brake and derailleur.This way you only have to replace 2 cables-not all four(guess you already know this).
    The other thing I like about this recycle approach is that the now well used rear cable gets moved to the less demanding front der job while the new cable goes where it's needed more.

    Thanks again all, the LBS gave me a new cable and about 10 caps (whatever fell out of the bottle when he shook it) for $5.00 today. I'm trying the JBWeld idea on the ends - only problem with it so far is that it's slow to setup. Superglue may be better in that regard but I wondered about long term durability. Heck, should have done one of each as an experiment. Oh well, next time.
    All this for my old bike that I'm probably just going to sell once my heart hardens enough. For now it's getting TLC while I ride the new one.

    -Don
    Specialized Allez Pro '06
    Specialized Sirrus Elite '05

  24. #24
    Senior Member concernicus's Avatar
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    you need to replace cables when they begin to fray. a frayed cable loses much of its power when it begins to unravel. for better performance, replace em. theyre like two bucks

  25. #25
    Member DeeMaGlee's Avatar
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    So, what do y'all use to cut the cable to length so it doesn't fray?

    The most effective method I've found is hitting a wire cutter with a hammer: Hold the cutter's jaws on a strong surface - a bench vise or similar indestructible surface - and place the wire at the back of the wire cutter's jaw. Then strike hard with a hammer. It cuts very cleanly and no need to wiggle the cable back and forth to break that last strand, which usually leads to some other strands unraveling...
    --deemaglee
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