Fea­ture: fix that cable

Re­plac­ing a cable can be ex­pen­sive. Why not rather let the ex­perts fix a broke one?

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - BY: Ni­col Louw Ni­col­l_­car­mag PHO­TOS: Jotham van Ton­der

YOU never think about a cable un­til it snaps. It was re­cently front of my mind when the 1982 Yamaha IT250 I’m restor­ing needed a new clutch cable. Some older ve­hi­cles’ cables are dif­fi­cult to source, while many mod­ern units are ex­pen­sive. The so­lu­tion: fix­ing a cable. To re­search this fea­ture, we vis­ited re­pair spe­cial­ist Cable Clinic in Cape Town.

Cable ap­pli­ca­tions

The num­ber of com­po­nents in clas­sic and mod­ern ve­hi­cles us­ing cables is stag­ger­ing and in­cludes the ac­cel­er­a­tor, choke, clutch, hand­brake, speedome­ter, gearshift, win­dow win­ders (man­ual and elec­tric) and bon­net and boot re­leases.

A cable spe­cial­ist is able to re­con­di­tion and even re­build all types of cables and usu­ally stocks most of the com­po­nents mak­ing up the unit. Those that are not in stock can ei­ther be or­dered or man­u­fac­tured in the ma­chine shop.

Cable Com­po­nents

Ev­ery cable is dif­fer­ent, but these are the main com­po­nents:

The outer cable forms the pro­tec­tive layer around the in­ner cable and is strength­ened by an in­ter­nal metal spi­ral al­low­ing bend­ing without pinch­ing the in­ner cable. An in­ner sleeve pro­vides a smooth sur­face for the in­ner cable to slide into.

The in­ner cable is the load-bear­ing part and comes in sev­eral thick­nesses and forms de­pend­ing on the ap­pli­ca­tion. The most com­mon is 7x6, where strands are bun­dled and turned into a spi­ral; 1x19, where 19 strands form a cable (mostly for straight-line use); a speedo cable, formed by an in­ner and outer spi­ral in the op­po­site di­rec­tions; and a push-pull cable need­ing a solid metal core to al­low it to han­dle com­pres­sion forces.

The ends may dif­fer be­tween ap­pli­ca­tions and all carry an in­dus­try code. They come mostly in ball or cylin­dri­cal shapes.

Fix­ing a Cable

Old cables can be re­fur­bished or re­built. The di­men­sions of the cable are im­por­tant but more cru­cial to op­er­a­tion is the stroke length, es­pe­cially when it comes to gearshift cables. Ac­cord­ing to Dil­lon Nel from Cable Clinic, the prod­uct sup­plied by a cable spe­cial­ist is only as ac­cu­rate as the in­for­ma­tion con­veyed about the cable’s use. Pro­vid­ing the cor­rect info first time round saves time and money.

When the outer and in­ner cables are cho­sen and cut to size, it’s time to fix the end points. This is a spe­cialised process in­volv­ing flar­ing the end into a rose shape af­ter it’s pushed through the end piece. Fi­nally, it is sol­dered and ground to cre­ate a smooth fin­ish.

Speedo-cable ends are pressed with a die in a 20-tonne press to cre­ate the square shape needed for the drive. The end tip is then melted us­ing an acety­lene torch be­fore it’s smoothed with a grind­stone.

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