Bowden Control Cables (making, repairing, or modifying control cables)

#Repairing #modifying or #making a new control cable is something that comes along every now and again in the garage.  I recently had to shorten a throttle control cable.  I had to cut the carburetor end off and solder on a new brass sleeve.

Barrels are usually on the end that goes into the twist throttle  portion of the cable.


Brass sleeves go into the carburetor slide.  :Note that these are both the same part number and one end has a tapered  chamfer in the end.  The chamfer end goes to the cable end, and the squared off end goes towards the cable housing.

It takes a bit for the solder pot to get warmed up and we have a ways to go before we can start soldering, so start by warming up the soldering pot.

Do a visual check on the cable you are repairing/making and compare it with the old one. If the cable housing is in bad shape and the cable itself is frayed, kinked, or worn, its probably time for a new cable. When the correct housing ends are selected and the correct cable sleeves are fitted to the cable its time to prep for soldering.

Fray the cable end.  Fraying gives the solder more room to get to the cable and offers more surface area to get a grip on the cable.  Fraying also presses the cable up against the brass and helps give a nice strong solder joint.

At this point I clean the cable with rubbing alcohol.  I Just dip the end with sleeve into a small amount of alcohol that I put into alcohol bottle cap.   I dip it a few times and flick it with my finger to get the excess alcohol and oil off the cable.  My point is to clean the cable.  So I may dip and flick a few times.

After the cable has had a minute or two drying I slide the sleeve or end to where I want it.

Pull the brass sleeve just until a teensy weensy portion of the cable end is sticking out. Be careful, because as soon as the cable starts to compact smaller into the sleeve it will slide out easier. It may start to slide so easy in fact, that it pulls right off your cable before you get a chance to solder it.

Show Teensy weensy amount of cable in the end.


Shows gaps and space where solder can flow into the frayed end.

At this point I dip the end into flux for a few seconds so it can penetrate the cable.  The flux helps the solder slide into all the tight gaps. The flux helps make it flow and adhere to the brass and cable.  I dip it in the flux just enough to get the sleeve and the cable under the surface tension of the liquid flux.

Soldering the end on with a torch or soldering iron, is not the correct way to do it.  A soldering pot must be used, otherwise the solder will not get a good grip, or the cable will become to brittle from excessive heat.
A soldering pot can be made up using a 3/4″ or 1″ black pipe cap with a small 1/4″ round steel sock welded to it.  It should almost look like a ladle.  The cap is then held in a vice by the 1/4″ rod, and then the cap is heated with a torch until the solder is molten.

Solder is molten and hot. Be careful!!!  Skim the top of the molten with an old stainless steel spoon. The solder that sits on top that is dull and grey, is not good solder. That is why we are scraping it off.  We want it to look shiny and clean. This shiny solder is what we will dip our cable end into.

When dipping the end into the solder, just dip it far enough to submerge the brass, and no more. If you dip the cable any more it will loose its flexibility next to the sleeve or barrel and could inhibit the action of the #cable working correctly or it could cause it to get brittle.

This is a good soldered end it flowed into the joint, and adhered to everything and doesn’t have excessive solder above the sleeve.

I get all my cable making supplies from and

After the cable is installed, don’t forget to lube it.


Riding motorcycles and wrenching since my preteen years, I have moved from motocross to street bikes. Being a teen back in those days it was tough to get me off of the bike. Now days even though I am very busy being a dad I still have my weekends and go to the track to race and on occasion will do a track day or two.

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