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Splicing cables together?

Old 05-17-20, 11:52 AM
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Splicing cables together?

I got new handlebars and the shifter cacle is now a couple inches short. I can't buy any at stores here atm and already have plenty of extra cables and I don't want to buy online and have to wait. I was thinking of getting some copper tubing from home depot and crimping it together but that might be a bit expensive depending on how much I have to get. Anything better for this that would probably be at home depot?
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Old 05-17-20, 12:03 PM
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That would be quite a hack. Most of the Home Depot tubing is quite large. Perhaps thermostat tubing scrounged out of something? I know I've seen coils of small tubing, I think. Maybe refrigerators? Or, Washing Machines?

Is your cable stainless or galvanized? I've found it more difficult to solder stainless cable than galvanized.

Anyway, I'd just hunt down the cables you need. Most department stores will sell cable kits, albeit cheap kits. Keep what you need and toss the rest. I haven't checked bike shops, but I thought some were open.

If you hunt, you can also find thin bulk cable. You may be able to solder on a solid end to the cable. I think I've seen some Youtube videos.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:23 PM
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Possible, yes. Practical, no.

You can pretty easily extend housing with a double ended housing ferule. You need this or it can't be done.

For actual shift cable or brake I guess (if you're a maniac), you need a couple special things.

First, a miniature Nicopress tool. Pliers or a hammer might work, but probably not in the space you're working in. I have this tool, I use it to repair a specific piece of rock climbing equipment.

Second, you need swages that perfectly the cable. I don't know what size that is but they can be ordered in lots of 50 or so. I do know they're quite a lot smaller than the garage door swages available at the hardware store.

You should probably run 2 or 3 in a row for security. You also have to have this set up on a fairly long run of exposed cable. Probably the downtube. It's also got to be the last thing you attach, since it won't run through housing. Finally, it'll probably scratch your frame, so wrap them or frame with something.

Or you know, order an $8 cable and wait a couple days.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:27 PM
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I can't imagine copper crimps holding well enough.

Whatever you do, get the replacement cables on their way so your temporary fix only has to be temporary and as brief as possible.


You might take a small bolt and drill a hole in the shaft and then run a nut down on it to use as a cable clamp. Probably need two or three then cover with plenty of electrical tape to keep from scratching up the down tube.

Last edited by Iride01; 05-17-20 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by rosefarts View Post
Or you know, order an $8 cable and wait a couple days.
I usually pay $1 to $2 on E-Bay, and buy a few spares but then the wait may be shipping from China which can be sporadic, especially now.

I generally choose stainless cable, but galvanized can be used in a pinch.

One can often recycle rear derailleur (or brake) cables to be used in the front, but you'll still need new cables.

Oh, were you talking about cable housing? The department store kits will generally come with unlined housing. Generally very little choice in colors. Black?
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Old 05-17-20, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I can't imagine copper crimps holding well enough.
They'd probably hold for shift cables (not necessarily brakes) if one either soldered the cable into a 1" or 2" copper tube that fit tight. Or, perhaps a larger, shorter "crimp", and made sure the cable was ,looped back through the ends of the crimp.



It is common to spice eyes into fishing and logging cables. It would be curious if a similar splice would be stable on bike cables.

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Old 05-17-20, 01:01 PM
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I have grip shifters but they don't really work well with my new handlebars so I will probably get something else but I am not sure what to get yet. I also don't like the crappy grips that go with them anyway so have been thinking of replacing them already. For now though I just want to get this going for today. It would be a little silly to get a replacement cable now and then throw it out later if size or color is wrong, and last time I went to walmart the shelves were totally bare so I don't think that's happening anyway.
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Old 05-17-20, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Oneder View Post
I have grip shifters but they don't really work well with my new handlebars so I will probably get something else but I am not sure what to get yet. I also don't like the crappy grips that go with them anyway so have been thinking of replacing them already. For now though I just want to get this going for today. It would be a little silly to get a replacement cable now and then throw it out later if size or color is wrong, and last time I went to walmart the shelves were totally bare so I don't think that's happening anyway.
Are you talking about the cable or the cable housing?

Walmart? that might be your main problem.
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Old 05-17-20, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by wsteve464 View Post
Are you talking about the cable or the cable housing?

Walmart? that might be your main problem.
Well genius, I already said no bike shops are open. They all suck here anyway that is why it's splicing time since I don't want to wait on online order.
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Old 05-17-20, 01:26 PM
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Is there any point at which you could remove a couple of inches of housing without affecting performance? That effectively gives you a couple more inches of cable.
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Old 05-17-20, 01:32 PM
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this is the type of hack that a) would be crazy to even try to brake cables b) might, maybe, if you are luck work for shifter cables.... If i were to have to macgyver some think, I would find very small cable crimps and I would not try to do in line, instead I would make would do 2 loops forgive the terrible graphics, but this should give you the idea cables looped in red, crimps in blue. Soldering cables has never been successful in my attempts

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Old 05-17-20, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by AeroGut View Post
Is there any point at which you could remove a couple of inches of housing without affecting performance? That effectively gives you a couple more inches of cable.
Good idea but the handlebars are much longer than the old ones so unfortunately not.
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Old 05-17-20, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
this is the type of hack that a) would be crazy to even try to brake cables b) might, maybe, if you are luck work for shifter cables.... If i were to have to macgyver some think, I would find very small cable crimps and I would not try to do in line, instead I would make would do 2 loops forgive the terrible graphics, but this should give you the idea cables looped in red, crimps in blue. Soldering cables has never been successful in my attempts

Why the loop? Two or three swages in line would be as strong or stronger than the cable.

It's a fun thought experiment.

We all know that a piece of copper or whatever tubing in that diameter wouldn't come close to being strong enough. We also can pretty much assume this is beyond the OP.

I'm talking about a $50-75 tool with extremely limited use. Plus the swages and shipping time.

I don't think there is anything in home Depot that would get this bike on the road today.
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Old 05-17-20, 02:02 PM
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What kind of shifters? Indexed shifting (assuming you want it to continue indexing) = a home made splice isn't going to work. Actually, there are cable splicers that are used on bikes that have S&S take apart frames. They actually work without needing to be adjusted each time but that would still require buying an additional replacement cable plus the splicer. The fastest, easiest and cheapest way is to simple replace the cable AND THE CABLE HOUSING with new.

One of the things about modern derailleur bikes that amazes me is how precisely and reliably they shift tiny amounts of cable.
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Old 05-17-20, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
this is the type of hack that a) would be crazy to even try to brake cables b) might, maybe, if you are luck work for shifter cables.... If i were to have to macgyver some think, I would find very small cable crimps and I would not try to do in line, instead I would make would do 2 loops forgive the terrible graphics, but this should give you the idea cables looped in red, crimps in blue. Soldering cables has never been successful in my attempts

I agree. Trying a splice or soldering an end on brake cables is one of the more hazardous ideas I have heard and I cannot recommend against doing it strongly enough. The ends on cables are applied by splaying out the wires in the cable end into what is called a "floret" and molding them into a solid zinc alloy end. You would have to destroy the end to get the cable out. Soldering is nowhere as strong. A PROPERLY-designed crimp might be acceptable but a jury-rigged solution will surely fail just when it is needed most. There is still the matter of extending the housings....
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Old 05-17-20, 02:24 PM
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I have plenty of housing left over from before just no long cable, so that is not an issue. And it's just for the shifter not the brakes. I already cut the cable and made new housing for the front that works and will just keep the housing on the back in place. I will crimp the cable in the middle where I already cut and where there is no housing just cable, make it as tight as possible and then adjust the rear deraullieur as needed. So basically it will be two splices inside a single copper tube (unless anyone else has better idea for equip I can use available at home depot). Indexed shifting should still be fine because there should not be any play at all in the crimp if anything it will be more solid not less.
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Old 05-17-20, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by rosefarts View Post
Why the loop? Two or three swages in line would be as strong or stronger than the cable.

It's a fun thought experiment.

We all know that a piece of copper or whatever tubing in that diameter wouldn't come close to being strong enough. We also can pretty much assume this is beyond the OP.

I'm talking about a $50-75 tool with extremely limited use. Plus the swages and shipping time.

I don't think there is anything in home Depot that would get this bike on the road today.
first this is not a good idea in any way and I don't condone...... as to why the loop....my thinking (right or wrong) is it spreads the stress from one set of swages, to two sets and the pull is not quite as linear.... again me as mcgyver.....I would not do this at all....
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Old 05-17-20, 02:36 PM
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https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt...3254/205887928
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Old 05-17-20, 02:51 PM
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Got a marine store near you with a lot of rigging supplies? The 3/64ths version of this might work. 3/64 of an inch is only about 3 thousandths bigger than a 1.1 mm shift cable. I've never seen any this small at HD or Lowes, but I've never looked for very small ones.

https://www.jamestowndistributors.co...uct.do?pid=288

Crimping properly without crimpers might be an issue though. I'd use at least two.
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Old 05-17-20, 02:59 PM
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Exactly what I'm talking about. He probably needs smaller ones than those and the brass ones. Totally exists, I've used them for very different applications. Not at the local lumber store. Maybe McGuckins in Boulder, maybe.

I think attached loops would be weaker.

Yes a loop is stronger, about double. That's completely dependant on the swages strength. It wouldn't change regardless so it's unnecessary.

This is the sort of thing to do for a 4 person tandem or some other crazy fun. Not something the OP can or should do.

As for strength, judging by the absolute weakest scary aid only climbing gear, those bits have really similar diameter cable as a bike cable. Swages on those achieve 2kn or a little over 400lbs. Terrifying when you're hanging off it. Not bad if all it needs is to move a derailleur.
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Old 05-17-20, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Got a marine store near you with a lot of rigging supplies? The 3/64ths version of this might work. 3/64 of an inch is only about 3 thousandths bigger than a 1.1 mm shift cable. I've never seen any this small at HD or Lowes, but I've never looked for very small ones.

https://www.jamestowndistributors.co...uct.do?pid=288

Crimping properly without crimpers might be an issue though. I'd use at least two.
I'd try doubling them up. up one side down the other both directions. each end would be a "J" on both tubes of the crimp. No reason it shouldn't work in a uncased area of the cable if it can't hang up on something on the frame.
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Old 05-17-20, 03:13 PM
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My local hardware store stocks cable kits.

https://www.acehardware.com/departme...sories/8305336
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Old 05-17-20, 03:23 PM
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Dudes, abide. It's a shifter cable. Absolute worst-case scenario, he rides home on the small cog. Hell, I'd tie it in a blood knot or a surgeon's knot and have a go at it.
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Old 05-17-20, 03:48 PM
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Depending on the frame, also wrap the frame with electrical tape near the splice to protect the paint.
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Old 05-17-20, 04:39 PM
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I tried the aluminum ferrules but I could not crimp them at all. I couldn't find any tubing that wasn't huge so I got some copper plates and folded them over the wires several times then crimped the bejesus out of them. It seems to be holding well enough and I can shift properly but it does look really stupid. It only needs to hold up a couple weeks at most and if it does break then it should not cause any problems because the stays will keep the cable from going anywhere important, I just won't be able to shift for the rest of my ride. Now I just have to find some decent handgrips that don't cost 30 bucks and figure out what shifter to order.
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