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  1. #1
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    Reviving old brake/gear cables and housings

    Apologies if this has been covered recently - a forum search didn´t throw up anything specific.

    Is there a recognized ´best practice´for bringing old, but intact, brake and derailleur cables and housings back to life?

    Mine are OK but could do with a bit of reviving. I plan to clean the cable with a bit of steel wool and then wipe clean with a solvent, and shoot some WD40 though the (empty) cable housing, then a couple of drops of sewing machine oil down the housing prior to posting the cable back through.

    Thoughts? Sound OK?

    TIA for any tips.
    Barchettaman

    PS I realise I can buy new cables and housing, but that cuts into my beer fund.

  2. #2
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    Sounds reasonably good. A few pointers though:
    Start soft and work yourself up. Begin with wiping the cables down with a rag, then hit the rusty parts with coarser stuff, I like to use a Brillo pad.

    There's nothing to be gained by excessive amount of lube in the housings. You might hang the housings vertical when you try to flush them through, but then I'd just take a dab of lube on my fingers and try to spread it along the cables.

    Besides generic cables can be had for maybe a dollar or two. Unless there's a pressing need to improve performance RIGHT NOW with what's already at hand the payoff of reconditioning that stuff is really marginal. Occasionally I've reused rear cables for front cables, but that's about it when I'm doing planned maintenance.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barchettaman View Post
    [SIZE=1]Is there a recognized ´best practice´for bringing old, but intact, brake and derailleur cables and housings back to life?

    PS I realise I can buy new cables and housing, but that cuts into my beer fund.
    I think that what you are overlooking is wear in the inside of the cable housings. Everywhere there is a bend the movement of the cable is wearing away at the inside of the housing. That little short piece of housing adjacent to your rear derailleur is the worst.

    I suspect that what you are proposing will be a fair amount of work for no significant improvement when you are finished.

  4. #4
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    At the current price for cables (relatively low) I follow the idea of "if the cable really needs reviving, then it needs replacing)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    OK - will do. Thanks all for the advice.
    One less beer for me tonight, then.

  6. #6
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    You can overhaul brake cables with a rag, steel wool or a sheet of 600 grade sand paper; as far as no strands are broken. Lube with teflon oil and a rag.

    Check brake cable housing for burst or broken plastic, they are prone to water infiltration.

    Never even think about using shifting cable, nor housing, for brake applications: DANGEROUS.

  7. #7
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    The "recognized best practice" is new cables and appropriate housing.

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    I've done some reviving of cables, mostly its just been a quick-fix of putting some lube in the housings and moving the cables back and forth a bit to loosen something up. Sometimes, I swear the effects are only mental, but others it works like a charm. I just did this with a "new" used Schwinn World Sport and it made everything feel awesome. Eventually, however, I will get around to replacing the cables.

    I understand the beer fund deal. Flip the couch over, scavenge some change from other places. It cost me about $5 or 6 for some generic cables and housings, and I was able to revive my dad's old 10-speed road bike to feeling like new (at least the cables moved like new, it still needed some more improvements).

  9. #9
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    It´s going to be new cables, there seems little point skimping on fitting a replacement set as the prices are lower than I had thought.

    Many thanks all for the advice.
    Barchettaman

  10. #10
    Senior Member bluenote157's Avatar
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    plus..newer cables might have a teflon coat inside or grease.. helping on the return action..

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    At the current price for cables (relatively low) I follow the idea of "if the cable really needs reviving, then it needs replacing)
    +1

    Though; if you must re-use, I try to keep the WD-40 away form my bikes. In my experience as a shop mechanic I have seen it do some nasty stuff to customers bikes that get a little lube happy with it. I have always prefered a lite lube, such as Tri-Flow or Prolink. Good luck to ya!

  12. #12
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    If in doubt, just replace, and buy a few extras while your at your LBS. Cables, like inner tubes are good things to have extras of.

  13. #13
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    If you get drip acetone through the housing it will make the cable slide a lot smoother, I do this to new housing as well as to revive the shifting during regular maintainence.

  14. #14
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    where can you get generic cables for a dollar?
    1997 Terry Classic

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by erbfarm View Post
    where can you get generic cables for a dollar?
    Where I can get them won't be much use for most of you guys, as it's in Sweden.
    They used to be $1.30, but they're gone up to $2 this year. And if I can get them here at that cost, there certainly should be a similar supplier in the US.
    Anything else would probably be in violation of a natural law or something.

  16. #16
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erbfarm View Post
    where can you get generic cables for a dollar?
    I just started getting into bike maintenance last year, and have five old bikes (and my son has five!). I'm working through them all, replacing cables, changing handlebars, saddles, etc. Niagra has lots of parts, including very inexpensive cables. I spent a couple of hours going through their online catalog and ordered a bunch of spare parts that can be hard to find anywhere, at least for reasonable prices (e.g. 6-spd thumb shifter for mt. bike, axles for my singlespeed, etc, etc).

    The best deal, I think, are these generic/universal cables with housings for ~$4-5. The brake cables have a mt. bike end, and a road bike end, and I think the shifter cables also had two different end styles.

    They are not big on customer service, or answering emails, but I've ordered from them three times successfully. Great prices on Schwalbe Marathons (1/2 my LBS's price), which are kinda hard to find.

    http://www.niagaracycle.com/
    Last edited by sunburst; 11-08-08 at 11:52 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member
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    i got them in batches of 5 for about $2.50 each for housing and cable in a set from www.pricepoint.com

  18. #18
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Pricepoint has cables with housing for $3.00 They get even cheaper if you get 5 or 10-packs, you know, in case you're rehabbing 2.5 or 5 bikes...

    I type soooo slowww....

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