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How To: Soldering Cable Ends

j-wasilenko

Chimp
Jan 7, 2008
15
0
Nelson, BC
Another month another guide. This time around I’m going to show you how to solder your cable ends for a nice clean look on your derailleur cables and brake cables.

I have never liked the cable ends that come on bikes. They tend to come off when they get caught on something, most of them are ugly with multiple crimp marks, or are way too big for the cable they were used on, and will fray your cable ends once you try to take them off so you can’t reuse your cable.

Why would you want to reuse a cable when they are so cheap? One would be the environment, why waste more materials? And two, no need to adjust your shifting once installed because the cable has been stretched already. With a quick wipe down and lube your cable will be good as new. So what is the alternative to cable end crimps? Soldering the end of the cable. Here is what you will need to accomplish this:



  • A soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Acid paste flux
  • Steady hands
After you have installed your new cable, cut it to length using a pair of high quality cable cutters. I find the one from Park Tools to be the best. If your cable frayed a bit after the cut, just twist the end with your finger and thumb to place the fray back where it belongs. Plug your soldering iron in and let it warm up. While you are waiting coat the end of the cable in flux. Flux allows the solder to run into gaps and gives a much nicer bond.

Once your soldering iron is heated up it is now time to solder your cable end together. Take your soldering iron and place it on the cable end to heat it up and melt the flux. Now add the solder to the tip of the cable end. It should take between 1-3 seconds for the solder to melt and run through the cable joining the end. You should now see the solder set and go hard.



A good soldering job will be nice and shiny with no large bubbles or spikes. If you have any of these place the tip of the soldering iron on the defect and try to melt it away. If done correctly you should now have a very neat and tidy cable end without and frays, and the tip should be small enough to be rethreaded through the housing.



Hope you enjoyed this guide and found it useful, any questions, comments or ideas for a future guide please e-mail me at justin.wasilenko@gmail.com.
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
37,068
3,915
Sleazattle
Soldering iron takes to long to heat up. I just use a small piece of shrink wrap or a dab of epoxy.
 

BikeMike

Monkey
Feb 24, 2006
784
0
Interesting. I read about soldering cable ends a while back when looking to avoid the cable crimps. IIRC, many people have trouble getting decent solder on the cable, something about the cable strands being coated in junk/cables being a wee bit greasy/something to that effect. Perhaps the acid flux helps with this problem. The coolest solution I heard about was cutting cables to length with a laser (some dude took his pre-measured cables to work to do this).
 

j-wasilenko

Chimp
Jan 7, 2008
15
0
Nelson, BC
I use a 60/40 solder, and yes BikeMike the acid flux is really what makes this easier. Most cables are stainless steel and without the flux the solder won't take to the cable. Good point about soldering then cutting, going to have to give it a try and see how well it works.
 

Flanderflop

Chimp
Aug 22, 2007
7
0
Louisville
This is all well and good, but I haven't had any problem with the crimps, and they are much faster easier and really provide no advantage or disadvantage. I have run into people in the past that are into soldering cables, but at the end of the day we both replaced our cables with the same frequency. Sorry to throw cold water on the topic, but I'm a crimp guy.
 

kuksul08

Monkey
Jun 4, 2007
240
0
I put a drop of super glue on the end, it wicked into the wires and it's all stuck together nicely now
 
Apr 16, 2006
392
0
Golden, CO
I braze it. it looks cooler too - nothing beats a little gold bling of the brazing variety. I've also brazed 2 cables together for my bmx'ing friends that are too cheap to buy a whole brand new cable haha. Surprisingly it never failed after like 3 years.
 

eaterofdog

ass grabber
Sep 8, 2006
7,046
259
Central Florida
I have been doing this with silver core solder for a while. I didn't know anyone else did it.

Do the solder job fast or the solder will crawl up the strands and you'll have an inch of stiff cable.

And be sure to neutralize the acid. The cable will corrode like crazy if you don't. I use baking soda in water, but a good washing will work as well.