Lubricating cables

Discussion in 'Motorized Bicycle General Discussion' started by meowy84, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. meowy84

    meowy84 New Member

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    I'm looking for some suggestions on lubricating my cables (brake, clutch and throttle cables). What would you guys and gals suggest? I want to use something in my current inventory so that means a choice of: automotive bearing grease, engine oil, differential gear lube or motorcycle/bicycle chain lube.

    Bearing grease seems too messy and hard to apply to a cable and engine and gear lube seem too runny to me so I was thinking of using chain lube because it's relatively thick but not too thick and not runny.

    What do you all think?
     
  2. Toadmund

    Toadmund New Member

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    Methinks graphite.
    If you don't want to go out and buy it, just crush up a bunch of pencil leads to powder and blow it in somehow.
    Never used it but I am 100% sure it's the best choice, no gumming, just a dry lube.
    Or maybe silicone lube.
     
  3. beach cruiser

    beach cruiser Member

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    Spray WD-40 in the cable liners. Works wonders !
     
  4. meowy84

    meowy84 New Member

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    I've definitely thought of graphite, the main advantage of course being that it's dry so no gumming up issues when it gets old, unlike a lot of greases.

    I actually called a few bike shops and two of them suggested something called Duralube (it's apparently an engine treatment but they said they use it on cables) and another bike shop suggested chain lube, which I happen to have.

    I think any lubricant will work right off the bat when fresh but I'm most concerned about the gumming up when the lube gets old making the cables worse than they are being dry with no lube at all.
     
  5. meowy84

    meowy84 New Member

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    The only thing with WD40 I find is that it evaporates easily and frequent reapplication will probably be needed. On the plus side there's no issues with gumming up with WD40.
     
  6. The_Aleman

    The_Aleman New Member

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    I've used bearing grease many times, but only when installing cables. It lasts a very long time.
    It's definitely messy and probably won't help you, as your cables are already installed.

    I recommend you get some dedicated motorcycle cable lube spray with straw, or at the very least, a $3 bottle of Marvel Lubricating Oil.

    The chain lube you have right now will work, tho.
     
  7. timboellner

    timboellner Member

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    When you lube the cables the only effective way to do it is to pull the cable all the way out of the casing, wipe it down and soak a paper towel in your lubricant and wipe the entire length of the cable good.

    Take the casing and spray through it with the lube until comes out the other
    end.

    Tri-flow is the best stuff out there. It ain't cheap, but it is IMHO the best of the best... It has Teflon in it too.

    http://www.triflowlubricants.com/Tri-Flow_Superior_Aerosol_Lubricant.html

    TiM
     
  8. meowy84

    meowy84 New Member

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    Well actually it's no problem since all my cables are apart, just in the process of assembling everything.
     
  9. beach cruiser

    beach cruiser Member

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    The liquid in WD-40 dries but the silcone remains.
     
  10. The_Aleman

    The_Aleman New Member

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    If your cables are out of the housings, the wheel bearing grease method is probably the most ideal.

    Dip the end of the cable in the grease tub, insert it in the housing, and use the buildup to coat the rest of the cable. Add more grease as needed.
    Coat all sides of the cable lightly before it goes in the housing. Cable actuation should be silky smooth and stay that way for at least a year.

    Don't use WD-40, that stuff is useless for lubing cables, from my experience. It will make cable actuation "gritty" after awhile, making reapplication necessary.
    Don't get me wrong, it will "work" but it is far from ideal as a long-term lubricant.
     
  11. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    WD-40 does not lubricate. Or at least the lubrication will not last. It will attrack dust and grime and it will dry out after a short time leaving your cables dryer than when you started. It's a good product but it has limitations.

    A light oil, 10W or even 20W works well and lasts a long time. Dry lubricant such as graphite will work but is messy to apply and will leach out at both ends to stain everything it touches black.

    Grease will work but is hard to apply unless the cable is out of the housing and will eventually be pushed away from the points of contact/friction leaving you back to square one.

    I light oil will work better than any product I've tried and it's easy to apply and to re-apply after the cables are assembled and on the bike.

    Bike shops sell teflon housings that are essentially friction free. They're worth the price. Also make sure you have no sharp bends or kinks in the cables. The bends must be gentle and don't tie them down tight with nylon tie-wraps (zip-ties).

    Tom
     
    #11 2door, Jun 27, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  12. tigmaster

    tigmaster Member

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    Motorcycle shops should have a cable luber,its a little device that fits over the cable and has an O-ring to seal on the housing then You spray a lube into a little hole on the side of the device...You don't have to pull the cable out to use...I've got one that I used on My flat track 238 Kawasaki...Its somewhere in My tool box...If I find it I'll take a few pics for Ya....Tigmaster....
     
  13. tigmaster

    tigmaster Member

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    Can't find Mine,so I googgled it....
     

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  14. happyvalley

    happyvalley New Member

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    If the cable is out of the housing, clean it well, remove any oxidation, etc etc. Mothers metal polish works wonders here. Then, apply paste wax such as Turtle Wax or any similar brand and rub in until dry. Done.
     
  15. frogbiscuit

    frogbiscuit New Member

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    Has anybody tried spray silicone lube?
     
  16. maurtis

    maurtis New Member

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    Have not used any cable lube on my China Girl yet, but my California Girl likes KY, it provides some nice smooth action.

    .wee.
     
  17. meowy84

    meowy84 New Member

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    Thanks for the tips and info everyone. Looks like there's more than one way to skin a cat. :)
     
  18. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    The best stuff I've sampled was fishing reel lube a friend of mine used, but I don't know what kind it was. It was silicone based. So I tried regular silicone spray and it wasn't that slippery.

    When the cable is out of the housing, grease works well, and lasts a long time.

    I wouldn't use chain lube for fear it would get gummy.

    If you use motor oil, don't use detergent oil. It gets gummy.

    WD 40 works great, but only for a few days. Then you have to apply it again.

    I didn't like graphite cable lube. It seemed gummy right from the start.
     
  19. maintenancenazi

    maintenancenazi New Member

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    I have had great results using white sewing machine oil, this stuff is designed to NEVER turn gummy or congeal. As infrequent as most sewing machines are used it would have to be, as many sit unused for years and years between uses! The best, quickest, and cheapest way to lube a cable, is to take the cable loose at the top. Fashion a cable oilier from a sandwich bag, by poking a small hole in the bottom, run the cable through this hole, and secure it against leaks by looping a rubber band around the cable and bag. Then you can administer your oil by using this makeshift bag/funnel...
     
  20. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    I use a hypodermic needle/syringe to inject light oil down between the cable and housing. The baggy/funnel idea is a good one too. Sewing machine oil is typically 10W, something like 3in1 oil. Always has worked well for me.

    Tom
     

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