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How To: Soldering Cable Ends

Discussion in 'The Shop' started by j-wasilenko, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. j-wasilenko

    j-wasilenko Chimp

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    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.
     
    #1 -   Feb 2, 2008

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  2. Serial Midget

    Serial Midget Al Bundy

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    I use a lighter to heat up the cable - then I touch the solder to the cable. :)
     
    #2 -   Feb 2, 2008
  3. Quo Fan

    Quo Fan don't make me kick your ass

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    If you solder the cable before you cut it, you will have a much cleaner end, and you won't have to worry about fraying cable before you solder it.
     
    #3 -   Feb 2, 2008
  4. ultraNoob

    ultraNoob Yoshinoya Destroyer

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    I solder wires all the time at work. I shoulda done this a long time ago :imstupid:
     
    #4 -   Feb 4, 2008
  5. Westy

    Westy the teste

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    Soldering iron takes to long to heat up. I just use a small piece of shrink wrap or a dab of epoxy.
     
    #5 -   Feb 4, 2008
  6. BadDNA

    BadDNA hophead

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    I can't believe I've never thought of this before but it make perfect sense now. Thanks.
     
    #6 -   Feb 4, 2008
  7. johnbryanpeters

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    Which solder do you use? 60/40? 50/50?
    Probably want to give the end of the cable a soap and water wash when done since you're using acid flux...
     
    #7 -   Feb 4, 2008
  8. Quo Fan

    Quo Fan don't make me kick your ass

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    If you don't want to heat up the soldering iron, use a small torch to heat the wire, I'd have a heat sink ready unless you are really good at it.
     
    #8 -   Feb 4, 2008
  9. BikeMike

    BikeMike Monkey

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    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).
     
    #9 -   Feb 4, 2008
  10. Serial Midget

    Serial Midget Al Bundy

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    Obviously a roadie. :twitch:
     
  11. j-wasilenko

    j-wasilenko Chimp

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    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.
     
  12. Flanderflop

    Flanderflop Chimp

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    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.
     
  13. kuksul08

    kuksul08 Monkey

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    I put a drop of super glue on the end, it wicked into the wires and it's all stuck together nicely now
     
  14. MobileChernobyl

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    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.
     
  15. j-wasilenko

    j-wasilenko Chimp

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    Cool nice too see other peoples ideas. I like the brazing idea just for the gold bling factor. I'm glad some of you found the guide useful.
     
  16. eaterofdog

    eaterofdog ass grabber

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    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.
     
  17. Curious_George

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    talking about soldering, who here does it with wires wrapped around the spoke crossings?