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Thread: Tinning cables?

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    Tinning cables?

    Is it possible to tin cable ends with a soldering iron? I think that would be a better solution vice crimped on ferrules as the cable could be removed and replaced easily without fraying the end.

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Most cables these days are stainless steel which requires acid flux and/or silver solder.
    Regular soldering methods just result in the solder rolling off.
    It is simpler to just coat the end of the cable in superglue.

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    Yes, it is possible with the right kind of solder. I have done it myself for the same reasons. Solder like this works well. You just need to make sure that the cables are totally free of oil or grease and you should use flux as well.

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    I have some silver solder and acid flux already, I am just out of fuel for my torch. I do have some superglue laying around......

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    Most cables these days are stainless steel which requires acid flux and/or silver solder.
    Regular soldering methods just result in the solder rolling off.
    It is simpler to just coat the end of the cable in superglue.
    +1, I either flame cut the ends which fuses them nicely, or super glue them. As noted soldering is possible, but only with brand new wires. Note that when threading the wires you'll often get oil or grease on them and that can make soldering more difficult.
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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    A frayed cable in my experience has always been the result of a missing crimp or broken strands. Its usually possible to take off a crimp just with needle nose pliers, or if the cable is still long enough - to simply cut it. I'm finding the biggest issue that makes cable reuse difficult is the deformation that takes place at the clamping screw where its also common to find broken strands. Solder or crazy glue or shrink tubing or torch cutting won't solve that problem. Cables are so inexpensive and crimps do a good job so I didn't personally think it worth the extra effort.

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    If you solder them using acid flux ensure that you remove all of the flux lest it cause corrosion of the wire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    A frayed cable in my experience has always been the result of a missing crimp or broken strands. Its usually possible to take off a crimp just with needle nose pliers, or if the cable is still long enough - to simply cut it. I'm finding the biggest issue that makes cable reuse difficult is the deformation that takes place at the clamping screw where its also common to find broken strands. Solder or crazy glue or shrink tubing or torch cutting won't solve that problem. Cables are so inexpensive and crimps do a good job so I didn't personally think it worth the extra effort.
    I agree that going to great lengths to avoid crimps on wires isn't warranted for every day use. However, for those who tour and there need maximum field serviceability (because compost happens) soldering makes for a wire that can be pulled, and replaced if necessary.

    On my old touring bike, the derailleur wires are run through open guides above the bottom bracket. That allows me to slacken and slip the wire free if, for example I needed to remove the handle bar.
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    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    One potential downside is the "heat treatment" effect.
    This can be a problem if the heat affected zone is in a part of the cable that bends/flexes. It'll fatigue and break.
    Ran into that problem with MC cables back in the day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    One potential downside is the "heat treatment" effect.
    This can be a problem if the heat affected zone is in a part of the cable that bends/flexes. It'll fatigue and break.
    Ran into that problem with MC cables back in the day.
    Unless you're totally crazy in how you do this, the entire heat affected zone would be beyond the pinch nut and wouldn't affect function.
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    It's a done deal. I used super-glue. I have a sticking cable and suspected dirt in the housing and it was indeed dirty, but alas, it still sticks. A little more troubleshooting is in order.

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    Senior Member Lazarus Short's Avatar
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    I've been soldering cable ends for decades. Frayed cables are NOT acceptable. Superglue is a new solution to me.
    "A Psychopath on a Cycle Path."

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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjkfsm View Post
    It's a done deal. I used super-glue. I have a sticking cable and suspected dirt in the housing and it was indeed dirty, but alas, it still sticks. A little more troubleshooting is in order.
    OK So were you really interested in lubing / cleaning the cable and had to dissasemble it to do that? If the cable bosses on the frame are slotted - that can be done on place. The only time I personally feel the need to take a cable out is (a) if the housing strands have pushed through the ferule on a shifter cable (b) the cable has frayed or broken - usually inside the control (c) the cable is seized in the housing.

    And I've found that the distortion caused by the cable clamping screw usually makes it difficult to send t cable back through the housing - but! A rear shifter cable cam be cut and reused for the front derailleur and a rear brake cable can be cut and reused for the front brake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazarus Short View Post
    I've been soldering cable ends for decades. Frayed cables are NOT acceptable. Superglue is a new solution to me.
    Superglue is new to me as well and I have to say it works quite well. Another method is to crush split shot for fishing onto the ends.
    Last edited by rjkfsm; 11-24-12 at 07:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    OK So were you really interested in lubing / cleaning the cable and had to dissasemble it to do that? If the cable bosses on the frame are slotted - that can be done on place. The only time I personally feel the need to take a cable out is (a) if the housing strands have pushed through the ferule on a shifter cable (b) the cable has frayed or broken - usually inside the control (c) the cable is seized in the housing.

    And I've found that the distortion caused by the cable clamping screw usually makes it difficult to send t cable back through the housing - but! A rear shifter cable cam be cut and reused for the front derailleur and a rear brake cable can be cut and reused for the front brake.
    The cable is seizing up on me. It's funny how it shifts really well in the house, but when I ride, it won't shift onto a smaller sprocket without going past and back. The cable just hangs slack.

    RK

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Is it possible to tin cable ends with a soldering iron?
    Zn coated steel, lead-tin solder, is good ,
    Stainless is trickier as a low-temperatue silver solder is needed, so soldering is at over 400F.

    Then I cut the cable.


    Made a Brake lever change on my Brompton, factory cut cable would not feed back un frayed ,and they used teflon-coated cable, so couldn't do anything , but replace it.

    Got a Zn treated die drawn cable at LBS,
    Installed it , noted where I needed to cut it,
    then pulled the cable out, Soldered the area where it needed to be Cut,
    Re installed . Cut it,
    them pulled it again, and greased the cable,
    then put it back together and Then, finally, clamped it in the Brake..

    a side pull brake, (theirs pull backwards , from the Bottom.
    so grease was a rust, in upturned loop, prevention.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-25-12 at 10:38 AM.

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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjkfsm View Post
    The cable is seizing up on me. It's funny how it shifts really well in the house, but when I ride, it won't shift onto a smaller sprocket without going past and back. The cable just hangs slack.

    RK
    So my bet is either a wire strand has broken on the cable someplace inside a housing section, or there's an issue with the housing stranding itself in one of the housing sections. Usually that kind of issue is hidden behind one of the cable-stop bosses on the frame and not evident. That's assuming you have stainless cable and lined housing and it isn't just a corossion issue.

    As part of a tuneup, shifter cables are normally checked and lubed on the bike and the procedure is fast and simple. Assuming a top normal derailler, the bike is shifted into low gear (largest rear sprocket) and then WITHOUT TURNING THE CRANK, the shifter is released all the way to top gear. That leaves the chain still on the largest rear gear and lots of slack in the cable.

    Most frame cable-stops are now slotted to allow the next step - hold the derailleur to maintain maximum cable slack and pull the rear section of housing backwards and up releasing it from the cable-stop. All the other sections are now a breeze to free up.

    You should be able to slide each section of the cable housing freely and identify what section(s) is hanging up. Protruding cable strands should be evident if a ferrule is damaged. If the ferrule is plastic, a sharp bend in the ferrule can cause unacceptable friction. Each cable section can be easily cleaned, greased and the whole reassembled IF there are no other issues. Up to this point the cable has never been removed from the housing sections.

    If a section of cable housing or ferrule needs to be replaced, there's really no choice. The cable has to come out. Sometimes it can be reused by optimizing housing fit IF the housing sections were originally too long. That can let you trim the cable past the original clamping point so reinstallation is easy. Otherwise I usually just replace the cable and spare it as a front cable replacement.

    Maybe someone else has a different approach.
    Last edited by Burton; 11-25-12 at 02:09 AM.

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    I removed the whole cable and found a kink inside the housing. Not sure how that happened, but the last people to have the cable off was my LBS.

    Today's ride will tell me if I found the issue.

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    Senior Member JTGraphics's Avatar
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    I always do that use silver solder that's all.
    It may not be fancy but it gets me were I need to go.
    http://www.jtgraphics.net/cyclist_bicycles.htm

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    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I apply my crimps with hot glue. That way, they can be removed and replaced with the heat from a lighter. Just apply some glue to the cable end, slide on the crimp and then apply more heat. Any glue that overflows can be pulled off with fingers. They also don't have that ugly "squished with pliers" look. I use derailer cable crimps for both brake and derailer cables because the brake cable crimps are way too oversize.

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    Someone just told me about superglue the other day. I always have a tube of shoegoo or some type of goop, and just dip the wire into the mouth of the tube. Lasts forever and easily pulls off when I want to remove the cable for whatever reason.

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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    So people are using superglue, goop and hot glue as alternatives to crimping a cable tips. Has anyone tried just using pliers and squeezing the cable tip across the two sides that WEREN'T crimped? The tip can be pulled right off afterwards. My issue is still the same. The distortion (or ocassionally broken strands) where the cable is clamped is my biggest obstacle. How do you guys deal with that?

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    Only come across one bike ever that had all the cables soldered, worked with guys with 30+ years of experience and have never seen someone actually take the time to do it.

    I just crimp em like normal folks, but when I have to remove one I cut through the crimp at the base, holds it together for a clean cut. I also keep a worn out pair of jewelers pliers around with dull cutters, perfect crimps and impossible to cut all the way through.

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    Can'tre Member 3alarmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    So people are using superglue, goop and hot glue as alternatives to crimping a cable tips. Has anyone tried just using pliers and squeezing the cable tip across the two sides that WEREN'T crimped? The tip can be pulled right off afterwards. My issue is still the same. The distortion (or ocassionally broken strands) where the cable is clamped is my biggest obstacle. How do you guys deal with that?
    I usually just run new cables, but for the guys at the coop who actually cannot
    afford the two bucks we charge for a cable, I can often just bend the cable back
    straight enough to work with fingers/bench vise in a pinch.

    I have pretty much soldered the end of every cable I care about over the years,
    but the things are so cheap now that I usually just whack off the end with a
    decent cable cutter and leave it alone........no crimp, no glue, no solder, nada.

    But I am very wild and living close to the edge here in California...........

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheshire Cat
    Only a few find the way, some don't recognize it when they do - some... don't ever want to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    +1, I either flame cut the ends which fuses them nicely...
    How are you flame cutting the cables?

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