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Old 10-13-11, 08:29 PM   #1
IntoTheWild
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Soldering the end of a bicycle shift/brake cable

Since my Google search for "Bicycle cable ends" turned up nothing (I was trying to find those little crimp on ends), I decided I'd try to solder the cable end. I found a thread that mentioned this could be done. But I can't seem to get the cable to absorb the solder. I'm guessing it has some sort of coating on it that prevents the flux from adhering to the surface. Any ideas?
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Old 10-13-11, 08:56 PM   #2
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Good-quality cables are stainless steel and may also have a coating, both of which contribute to difficulty in soldering; acid flux may help. I use Krazy-type glue to hold the ends together.

I have also recently used heat-shrink tubing instead of the crimps. It can be easily removed by slicing away the tubing, unlike the crimps which require cutting the wire.

You can probably get the crimps cheap or free at your LBS.
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Old 10-13-11, 08:58 PM   #3
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If you can't find the end caps, try J B Weld.
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Old 10-13-11, 09:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntoTheWild View Post
I can't seem to get the cable to absorb the solder. I'm guessing it has some sort of coating on it that prevents the flux from adhering to the surface. Any ideas?
Use Stay-Brite Silver Solder. It is excellent in other applications as well, except alu. Incidentally, the manufacturer Harris Products has another kit for alu too.

Heat-shrink slips off. An important benefit of soldering is that you can take the entire cable out and then thread it back without the problems caused by the cable end fraying.
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Old 10-13-11, 09:22 PM   #5
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I've found that soldered cable ends can puncture skin quite effectively compared to capped. You might want to hit your LBS up for some cable tips. If you want to buy some... http://aebike.com/product-list/jagwi...0-m24616-qc30/
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Old 10-13-11, 09:29 PM   #6
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Heat shrink tubing. That's brilliant. I have a whole box of tubing of different sizes and a hot air tip for my gas soldering iron. I just tried it and it went on perfect. Thanks.
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Old 10-13-11, 09:44 PM   #7
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In a pinch I cut pieces of brass tubing with a dremel and use them for crimps.
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Old 10-13-11, 10:39 PM   #8
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A 6% silver bearing solder works well. I use this one: http://www.forneyind.com/catalog/det...er_solder_kit/.

I bought a 4% silver bearing solder from Radio Shack and it did not work.

Also, I use the Forney liquid flux.

BTW, I will solder the area of the planned cut before I cut the wire.

Soldered tips look clean!
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Old 10-13-11, 10:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
Good-quality cables are stainless steel and may also have a coating, both of which contribute to difficulty in soldering; acid flux may help. I use Krazy-type glue to hold the ends together.

I have also recently used heat-shrink tubing instead of the crimps. It can be easily removed by slicing away the tubing, unlike the crimps which require cutting the wire.
The crimps usually come off when you squeeze them a bit 90 degrees from the previous squeeze.
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Old 10-13-11, 11:19 PM   #10
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Or just get some electrical connectors from autozone, cut the end off for good looks. This is for emergency case only unless you like.

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/cat...m/85436/image/
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Old 10-14-11, 07:39 AM   #11
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I've never tried silver solder and of course I don't know about the 4% not working & 6% working but I believe you need some nickel in the silver solder for it to stick to stainless steel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MudPie View Post
A 6% silver bearing solder works well. I use this one: http://www.forneyind.com/catalog/det...er_solder_kit/.

I bought a 4% silver bearing solder from Radio Shack and it did not work.

Also, I use the Forney liquid flux.

BTW, I will solder the area of the planned cut before I cut the wire.

Soldered tips look clean!
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Old 10-14-11, 08:37 AM   #12
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Cables can be a little more difficult to heat up to the
proper temperature to flow the solder. They are
larger and have more mass than your average electrical
components.

You did not mention what you are using to heat the cable end?

I've had reasonable luck with



but with some cables it takes longer than others.

Probably a small torch would work the best,
but they are a little less user friendly.

I'm pretty sure you can't do it with one of these



because a lot of them are temp controlled
to prevent frying electronic components.

And what the others have said about a better
quality solder should also help....flows better
at slightly lower temps, i think.

I solder my cables all the time for the convenience
of removal and reinsertion. I have yet to stab
myself, but you never know.

Edit: flux is not a bad idea either, but I've only
used it on plumbing. Never really considered using
it for cable ends because the joint is not critical.
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Old 10-14-11, 10:20 AM   #13
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Soldering, heat-shrink, and end caps all work. Another method I will add here is pop rivets. Take the center pin out and crimp the rivet in place.
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Old 10-14-11, 10:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
The crimps usually come off when you squeeze them a bit 90 degrees from the previous squeeze.
And, if you do it carefully, you can reuse them.

Here is a source for new ones in both shift and brake cable sizes: http://www.biketoolsetc.com/index.cg...Cable-End-Tips
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Old 10-14-11, 10:32 AM   #15
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But I can't seem to get the cable to absorb the solder. I'm guessing it has some sort of coating on it that prevents the flux from adhering to the surface. Any ideas?
NB*
Stainless steel is difficult to solder at low temperatures.. [easier, Zn coated cables]
Welding supply shops have what is the lowest temperature stuff.

* But the metal cleaning and fluxing is the part to first pay attention to..

Map/propane torch may make the hotter heat needed for the job.


then it is probably best to solder the cable in the region that is to be cut,
then install the cable.. then cut it.

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-20-11 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 10-14-11, 10:39 AM   #16
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then it is probably best to solder the cable in the region that is to be cut, then install the cable.. then cut it.
Correct but you don't want to solder the cable where it's going to be clamped by the pinch bolt.
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Old 10-14-11, 10:46 AM   #17
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Never had a problem there .. the draw bolt or setscrew, will distort the cable some,
but still grip, even after soldering. , individual wires in cable wont break,
and fray, at that point, as soon.. [nothing being forever]
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Old 10-14-11, 10:47 AM   #18
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Supplies:Crack torch,flux and acid core solder.

Application:Apply crack torch to very tip of cable(1/16th inch),will get red instantly(must get red on stainless or no sticky real good),dip solder in flux,touch solder to cable,done.

DO NOT BRAND FINGERTIP CHECKING TO SEE IF IT WORKED!

Last edited by Booger1; 10-14-11 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 10-14-11, 10:52 AM   #19
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http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...olor+Pack.aspx
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Old 10-14-11, 11:51 AM   #20
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And for the win ^^^^^^^^^.
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Old 10-14-11, 01:31 PM   #21
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http://www.loosescrews.com/index.cgi...d=928561413992
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Old 10-14-11, 02:48 PM   #22
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I'd suggest the cable caps, I use them as a test of an LBS; if they give you a few for free upon request, they pass.
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Old 10-20-11, 10:49 AM   #23
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I dip the end in ShoeGoo. Once it cures, it stays in place, but I can pull it off to check the cable if I want without cutting.
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Old 10-20-11, 05:37 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicycleflyer View Post
Soldering, heat-shrink, and end caps all work. Another method I will add here is pop rivets. Take the center pin out and crimp the rivet in place.
Good one, never thought of that and have 100's of them in my garage.
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Old 10-20-11, 05:46 PM   #25
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Let me add that the heat shrink tubing is definitely the best method I've tried. I can change the derailleur without having to remove the heat shrink. Can't do that with a cable cap.
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