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I Hate Mangling Cables

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I Hate Mangling Cables

Old 04-02-11, 09:51 PM
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Johnny Rebel
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I Hate Mangling Cables

It makes me feel like a doofus. Those little buggers can be so finnicky. One day they slide in like a well-lubricated Randy Johnson into an ample yoni, and other times they snag on every little available corner, like trying to shove a rosebush into needle-hole (or whatever they're called). Maybe I'm just an idiot (likely) and am the only one whoever has this problem-o (?). Oy-vay. Just another hapless wannabe mechanic fishing for sympathy... I can't be the only one, can I?
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Old 04-02-11, 10:00 PM
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Do you have an old spoke that you have sharpened the end of,
to poke the liner open, after you cut the housing..?

If practical I like to solder the cable at the place where I will be cutting it for size.
length installed

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-03-11 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 04-02-11, 10:11 PM
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If you can try to buy single-ended inner wires. The makers cut these using heat which fuses the ends so they can't snag and unravel.

If you buy double-ended cables cut off the unused end as close to the head as possible. When the head is molded some of the molten metal flows down in to the wire a short distance, and might help hold the cut end together for you.

Then try to thread the wire before bending and securing the housing, it'll thread easier and be less likely to snag if it doesn't have to work through turns.
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Old 04-02-11, 10:44 PM
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You guys are the best. Will try these tips tomorrow.
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Old 04-02-11, 10:45 PM
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The trick is to twist the cable with the direction of the outer strands, preventing obstructions from messing with the end.
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Old 04-03-11, 07:05 AM
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JR: I use super glue to bind the strands together and form a smooth rounded end; it also eliminates the need for those little crimp-on cable tips to prevent fraying.
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Old 04-03-11, 07:23 AM
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What need?

Just cut them to a minimal length (2" is enough), and bend them out of harm's way. The FD cable is the most vulnerable to fraying, unless you do as I do and pull that sucker all the way around the pinch bolt so it's pointing down behind the seat tube (pull it tight with pliers and cut after final adjustment).

Cable tips are for Freds.
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Old 04-03-11, 07:33 AM
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As Kimo says... Often you can get even a cable that's starting to unravel a bit into the housing by "twisting" it in using the direction of the strands' natural twist.
Using a good cut-off tool helps too, like the Shimano cable cutter. A Dremel with a cut-off wheel is pretty good too...
I use an awl to open up cable housing that's lined or which has a bit of the winding bent into the opening.
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Old 04-03-11, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post

Cable tips are for Freds.
Guilty as charged!
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Old 04-03-11, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post

Cable tips are for Freds.
My middle name is Fred..
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Old 04-03-11, 06:57 PM
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I'll take the cable ends, thankyou. A brake cable isn't so bad if it's superglued or if you manage to get the solder to stick to the stainless cable. But the shifter cables are small enough that poking one of then into skin would result in some red leakage. So no thanks to bare ended cables.

However I've slipped cables into place and run them through the cut ends by twisting them as you described for many years now. It makes the job work like a treat.
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Old 04-03-11, 10:50 PM
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A small investment in the right tools and you'll be a happy cable installer for life.

Far and away the best way to cut the cable housing is with this:



It's a Dremel diamond cutoff wheel. It costs about $12. It will cut the housing square and cleanly without buggering up the inner coating. After you cut the cable housing, use the flat part of the wheel to lightly polish and round off the edges.

Then, use these to cut the inner cable:



Those aren't just any old wire cutters. Those are Shimano cable cutters designed specifically to do a good job cutting the stranded stainless inner cables. They cost about $50, but they're worth every penny. Take care of them. Make sure the bolt holding the jaws together stays tight enough for the two halves to scissor past each other to cut the cable. Mine are actually a bit stiff to open and close, but they cut perfectly cleanly like that.

Get a bottle of brake cable ends and a bottle of derailleur cable ends.



They run about $12/bottle of 250 each at Nashbar. That's about a lifetime supply.

So, for a small investment in the proper tools, you'll be set for installing or repairing your own cables for life.
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Old 04-04-11, 02:12 AM
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A fine cut-off wheel is definitely the nicest way to cut housing.

But a $5 pair of sidecutters is just fine for cables (hold them up to the light before putting your money down). Works for brake housing too, but then you have to grind the end flat anyway...
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Old 04-04-11, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
A fine cut-off wheel is definitely the nicest way to cut housing.

But a $5 pair of sidecutters is just fine for cables (hold them up to the light before putting your money down). Works for brake housing too, but then you have to grind the end flat anyway...
Any set of side cutters ($5 to $500) will squash the end of the cable flat in order to cut it. The Shimano cable cutter jaws are designed to leave it round. The side cutters use an anvil cut versus the guillotine (or scissor) cut of the Shimano cutters. Sure, the side cutters will hack the cable in two, but the end is left much nicer with the Shimano cutters.

Cutting any brake or derailleur housing with an anvil-cut side cutters is asking for sticky brakes and poor shifting. Of course it can be done, but there are better tools for the job.
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Old 04-04-11, 08:18 AM
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+1000 on cutoff wheel for housings and cable cutter. Clean perpendicular cuts on housings make all the difference in shifting.
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Old 04-04-11, 08:18 AM
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It's only a problem if they're blunt; in practice, although they're the wrong tool for the job, I find they make a quite passable cut. They do the job well enough... you don't need to spend $50 to cut cables.

Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
Cutting any brake or derailleur housing with an anvil-cut side cutters is asking for sticky brakes and poor shifting.
I don't suggest using them to cut gear cable housing. But with the right technique, you can use them to cut brake housing no worries.
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Old 04-04-11, 09:41 AM
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For those of you who have a good boat supply store close by, you might stop in and see if they carry sailboat rigging wire cable cutters. I use some that I picked up at West Marine and they make nice clean cuts in housing and cables. Very similar in design to the Shimano ones and they were around $20 if I recall correctly.

https://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...ull&classNum=0

I use mine all the time in the shop. Recently used them to cut some old cables in lenght to make pulls for the gate latches on the fence at home. Need to take a pic of that to show how old bike stuff can be used around the house.
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Old 04-04-11, 01:56 PM
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Good side cutters do an OK job on cables. A strand or two may snap out of place but a rotating twist/pull between your fingers will lay the strands back into place and leave a nice clean end.

The cutoff wheels do a great job but they ALL will soften/melt the inner tube from the heat of grinding through the metal spiral. A scriber or sharpened spoke to poke the end back open and produce a little bit of a flare while the plastic is still soft works wonders. Be quick because the plastic cools fast.
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Old 04-04-11, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
The cutoff wheels do a great job but they ALL will soften/melt the inner tube from the heat of grinding through the metal spiral. A scriber or sharpened spoke to poke the end back open and produce a little bit of a flare while the plastic is still soft works wonders. Be quick because the plastic cools fast.
That's more true of the standard Dremel cutoff wheels like these:



The Dremel 545 diamond wheel:

cuts fast enough to significantly reduce the amount of inner tube melting. I still run a small drill shank into the hole to make sure it's open and smooth.
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Old 04-04-11, 04:30 PM
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I used this guy when I swapped my cables out, but I need to pull it apart and sharpen it now -
https://www.service.kleintools.com/To...P/Product/1010

It worked decently well.
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Old 04-05-11, 07:34 AM
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Hm, I found the type of cable housings made a big difference. No problems with reasonable cable cutters on Shimano cable housings. No luck at all on Campy cable housings - couldn't cut through them at all, never mind not mangling the housing, they are incredibly tough.

These wire cutters did the job just fine:

https://www2.shopping.com/Knipex-Knip...-Cutter/prices

They are so precise *and* sharp that you can actually snip tissue paper with them...after years of use.
The tool is a favourite with guys who work on pianos, etc....Knipex in general makes insanely good tools.

In order to avoid any squeezing of the cable housing I insert a short length of old cable before I cut.
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