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How do you restore old Raleigh brake cables/new cable inside old housing?

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How do you restore old Raleigh brake cables/new cable inside old housing?

Old 11-11-15, 09:31 PM
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How do you restore old Raleigh brake cables/new cable inside old housing?

Hello All,
I recently acquired a 1940 Raleigh Sports Tourist bicycle and would like to preserve the original brake cable housings. Is there a way to remove the old cable from the housing and insert a new one? The cable housing is the old cloth type. I found a video on YouTube of the All British Cycling Event, and one of the recipients of an award for their bicycle mentioned shellacking the old cloth casings and installing new wire.

Thanks for any advice!
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Old 11-11-15, 10:15 PM
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I have done some experimenting using the old outers, new galvanized (not stainless) inners, and cutting a spoke nipple to act as the end that goes in the caliper arm. It actually worked out really quite well as the nipple fits perfectly in the caliper and it looks completely original.

There is a thread already in this forum about this though. There is some great advice about doing this with stainless cables, or if you are less fussy with screw on cable ends.
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Old 11-12-15, 12:00 AM
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Cable ends can be brazed on. You should be able to reuse the originals. Reproducing that cable casing would be tricky. There is some tubular woven fabric around thanks to the interest in antique radios and lighting fixtures, but the chance that the covering would fit a stripped cable casing is slim. Worth a look though. Other than that, you would be left with gluing material on a stripped casing and trying to make the seam look neat. Great bike! Thanks for posting the pictures. I have much to learn about pre war Raleighs.
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Old 11-12-15, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by markk900
I have done some experimenting using the old outers, new galvanized (not stainless) inners, and cutting a spoke nipple to act as the end that goes in the caliper arm. It actually worked out really quite well as the nipple fits perfectly in the caliper and it looks completely original.

There is a thread already in this forum about this though. There is some great advice about doing this with stainless cables, or if you are less fussy with screw on cable ends.
Thanks for your advice! I may have found the thread you are referring to here. Do you use the spoke nipple with the knarp? Do you mind posting a link to a source, if you have it, for the galvanized inner cable parts you use? Why galvanized versus stainless?

I've been poking at my old cables and it looks like since the ferrule piece that surrounds the end of the housing has come loose, I could just clip the pear shaped end off the old cable, slide of the brake lever hardware assembly pieces, slide off the old housing and build back up with the spoke nipple/knarp solution and the new cable with restored or replacement housing. I just need to source some parts. Will post the result if I can figure something out.

Thanks again!
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Old 11-12-15, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BigChief
Cable ends can be brazed on. ...
The easy way to attach a cable end is to crimp a spoke nipple onto the end of the cable. I use a 6" crimper made for the Bell Systems by HKP. The one you want is marked D and has a single die in the jaws; there is a similar tool marked B that has two dies in the jaw, and it is very useful for making Sturmey Archer gear cables, but that is another matter.

Here's an overpriced one on eBay:

Vintage H K Porter Inc Bell D System 6" Cutters Cast Iron | eBay

This is more like it:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/like/2219256...466&rmvSB=true

Most eBay sellers don't know what they are, so the are often described wrong (as in this case). They typically sell for $10-$15 including shipping.

Originally Posted by oldbicycles
... Do you use the spoke nipple with the knarp?...
No. the spoke nipple is permanent, the knarp is removable; they are just two different ways of doing the same thing. Use one, or the other, but not both. The knarp doesn't fit into the brake, or the brake lever, very well; the spoke nipple does. I've made many of these cables, so using the crimped nipple makes sense for me.
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Last edited by rhm; 11-12-15 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 11-12-15, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by BigChief
Cable ends can be brazed on. You should be able to reuse the originals. Reproducing that cable casing would be tricky. There is some tubular woven fabric around thanks to the interest in antique radios and lighting fixtures, but the chance that the covering would fit a stripped cable casing is slim. Worth a look though. Other than that, you would be left with gluing material on a stripped casing and trying to make the seam look neat. Great bike! Thanks for posting the pictures. I have much to learn about pre war Raleighs.
BigChief, is the brazing something you can do yourself? I haven't really done any soldering/brazing but am willing to try! Or can a bike shop easily do it?

I may have found some of the right kind of housing. I'd love to reuse the old parts as much as possible. If I can't get the right kind of old stock housing, I may try something like this fiberglass sleeve.

Thanks for your replies!
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Old 11-12-15, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm
The easy way to attach a cable end is to crimp a spoke nipple onto the end of the cable. I use a 6" crimper made for the Bell Systems by HKP. The one you want is marked D and has a single die in the jaws; there is a similar tool marked B that has two dies in the jaw, and it is very useful for making Sturmey Archer gear cables, but that is another matter.

Here's an overpriced one on eBay:

Vintage H K Porter Inc Bell D System 6" Cutters Cast Iron | eBay

This is more like it:
Vintage Bell System Telephone "D" Cutters Tool Hkporter | eBay

Most eBay sellers don't know what they are, so the are often described wrong (as in this case). They typically sell for $10-$15 including shipping.


No. the spoke nipple is permanent, the knarp is removable; they are just two different ways of doing the same thing. Use one, or the other, but not both. The knarp doesn't fit into the brake, or the brake lever, very well; the spoke nipple does. I've made many of these cables, so using the crimped nipple makes sense for me.
Thank you for this information! This actually seems pretty easy to do. The tool spec is very helpful. Will look very close to the original, too.
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Old 11-12-15, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by oldbicycles
Thank you for this information! This actually seems pretty easy to do. The tool spec is very helpful. Will look very close to the original, too.
Oh, yeah, it's really easy. Just be warned: it's really easy to measure wrong, and once that nipple is crimped onto the cable, you can't get it off again! Measure twice (minimum) and make sure you have all the pieces in place before you crimp.

If you do mess it up, file through the nipple right to the cable on both sides, and then you should be able to get off the little that remains. I've had to do this a couple times, and it gives me great faith that the nipple won't come off during braking.
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Old 11-12-15, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm
If you do mess it up, file through the nipple right to the cable on both sides, and then you should be able to get off the little that remains. I've had to do this a couple times, and it gives me great faith that the nipple won't come off during braking.
Ha! Yes, that is reassuring! Thanks for the redo tips. I've already purchased the tool. I'm so glad to have this information. Thanks again!
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Old 11-15-15, 10:57 AM
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I would really like to see the cables you guys are talking about as I am not familiar with them. I have a custom cable making kit that I bought in 98 for my shop and it came with a pair of ratcheting Crimpers and different dies that can be used along with a smelting pot and special solder for installing cable ends onto stainless wire. I have made cables for a lot of custom builds on bicycles, motorcycles and power equipment. The company that I bought it from is still in business and they sell 1000's of different cable ends and hardware for building just about anything as they made many different kits for the many types of repair shops, Auto, Motorcycles, power equipment and more. I can order any fitting from them but they don't offer pictures of all the stuff they have just descriptions and measurements, also they are not cheap at more then a $1 a fitting that come in multiples of 5 or 10.

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Old 11-15-15, 11:49 AM
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Here's the difficult end...


These are the nicest vintage Raleigh type cables I've seen. The barrel shaped fitting for the levers is a separate piece that swivels on another soldered (?) cable end. Shimano copied this for their XT SLR cables except theirs were removable and often got lost.



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Old 11-15-15, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Glennfordx4
I would really like to see the cables you guys are talking about as I am not familiar with them.
Glenn
Glenn, Here is what they look like installed...
Rear brake on a step-through frame: [Edit: after I posted this I realized I had already removed this cable partially. The bracket you see with the hole on the brake assembly attached to the frame is where the barrel part of the cable assembly attaches.]
2015-11-09 15.58.19 by sunrisebreakfastgang, on Flickr

Front brake:
2015-11-09 15.58.06 by sunrisebreakfastgang, on Flickr

Last edited by oldbicycles; 11-15-15 at 04:50 PM. Reason: Additional information/correction.
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Old 11-15-15, 04:51 PM
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Here is a picture of the brake cable housing where it is frayed:

2015-11-06 16.06.32 by sunrisebreakfastgang, on Flickr
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Old 11-16-15, 09:19 AM
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I don't think it would be hard to use stuff from one of the kits to make the inner cable. The lever end shouldn't be a problem, and they make ball ends that depending on the size would work at the brake end. Does anyone know if a road bike lever end of the cable would fit in the brake, that would make it real easy to build a new cable as it would just need the lever end installed. I don't know where you would find a cloth covered outer housing though. They make sleeves for electrical wiring that may work if they make a size small enough for bicycle housing to fit through snug.
https://www.cableorganizer.com/cord-coverup/

https://www.cableorganizer.com/braided-sleeving/

https://www.cableorganizer.com/expandable-sleeving/

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Old 11-16-15, 10:16 AM
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I always save cable casings, casing ends and cable ends to replace or make custom cables. I use silver solder, paste flux and a torch.
Here's a 50s stirrup style lever with ball type cable ends. When I reuse these, I'll see if I have some old casing long enough, heat the old ends with a torch and remove them from the cable measure out and make up new cables and the cables will look like they've been on the bike for years.
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Old 11-21-15, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by BigChief
I always save cable casings, casing ends and cable ends to replace or make custom cables. I use silver solder, paste flux and a torch.
Here's a 50s stirrup style lever with ball type cable ends. When I reuse these, I'll see if I have some old casing long enough, heat the old ends with a torch and remove them from the cable measure out and make up new cables and the cables will look like they've been on the bike for years.
Thanks, BigChief. I'm interested in your method, though I'm not sure I have the skills needed to do it. I might be able to get some help or, heck...learn. So, you do reuse the old cable ends? Does it work for the fixed end on the brake side as well? Do the ends separate from the old cable when heated? You mentioned that you use galvanized new inner cable...is this for a better quality of braze? It would be very nice to know to preserve the original cable ends. Thanks for sharing your method.
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Old 11-22-15, 08:35 AM
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Here's the result I got using a cut down spoke nipple for the caliper end of the cable. If you are attempting to maintain "trainspotter" originality then this won't be for you, but it functions well, and is hardly visible in use. For the lever end, I would just take your original cable to the LBS and find an inner brake cable with a lever end "close enough" to work.





I did this with a standard soldering iron and the result appears pretty strong. I have not installed on a bike yet as I am waiting to find the appropriate housing.

As to the housing, I too am looking for something decent. I tried shrink wrap for electrical cables and it looked crappy and was too glossy and plastic like; might as well use vintage ribbed cables then (which look great but are not cloth wrapped).
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