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#888052 08/11/22 9:36 am
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Kev Ev Offline OP
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Hi all,

I’m wanting to purchase some good quality control cables for my 1966 A65 Lightning.

The bike has the LC Harris western style handlebars fitted and is using the standard chrome levers with a combined front brake and choke lever on the right hand side. I have a Devimead 750 kit on the engine along with a pair of 32mm AMAL Premier Concentric carbs.

I have seen from reliable sources that Venhill are a good source for quality cables. However, they do not list cables for BSA’s on their online catalogue and their response to my enquiry suggests that I need to supply a pattern in order for them to make a pattern. As my bike originally had the standard UK handlebars the cables I gave will, I assume, be too short for the US spect handlebars? I’m not sure if the throttle cables at the carburettor end are the sane for both Monoblocs and Concentrics?

I would consider making up the cables myself, but there are so many options for material types on the Venhill web site. What would be the best options to go for.

If anyone could advise I’d appreciate it, along with any BSA part numbers that would suit the set up on my bike,

My requirements are for: -

Clutch cable. (Standard 1966 3 spring type)

Front Brake Cable. (Standard 1966 8” half width)

Throttle Cable. (Twin cables twist grip to Concentric carbs.)

Choke Cabke. (Single cabke from lever to 1 into 2 junction then 2 cables to Concentric carbs)

Thanks, Kev Ev

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You can buy cable and nipples and ends for the outer. But use nylon lined. And that ensures clutch pull is light. There is a bike shop here that has cable and will make it up if you know what you need. But you only need a soldering iron and solder. They have varying grades.


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Learning to make your own cables is one solution.
My A65 has a Tomasseli twin pull twist grip, and I like fitting swept bends at carb and twistgrip so I haven to make my own.
For the carb top swept bends I like Mountain bike rear brake cable "noodles", these fit in the carb top , are nylon lined, V slim so make the most of limited space. I put in line adjusters near the twist grip end, carb top adjusters make the run terrible.

I used Venhills bits,
Throttle cable, use the smallest inner, but not the smallest outer, go one size up, this gives a very free running cable,
Clutch cable use the largest outer/inner combo that will fit. Same for front brake.
Use nylon lined outers,

Use Strimmer line to estimate lengths of outer required.
Tools, bird nesting tool to prep inner ends , grinding wheel to clean up outers after cutting, cable cutters ,and a soldering pot.


71 Devimead, John Hill, John Holmes A65 750
56 Norbsa 68 Longstroke A65
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All Venhill need to know is the overall lenght of you cable outer and the added length of the inner plus what fittings are on the ends
And they are standard sso something like a 3/8" diameted drum 5/16" long and a 1/4" ball , for example
I for one always make my own with floating drums as they really do allow the cable to rotate where as the ball ends that are supposed to do that, stopped doing that decades of wear ago .


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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
I for one always make my own with floating drums as they really do allow the cable to rotate where as the ball ends that are supposed to do that, stopped doing that decades of wear ago .

I like that idea, I do it with my brake/clutch cables and find it makes for a nicer action.

I find the throttle cables that have the thin nipples at the handlebar end often want to twist, and go side on. The wide nipples don’t though are probably more likely to fray.


Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

68’ A65 Lightning “clubman”
71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (now rebuilt)
67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
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Kev Ev Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Allan G
Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
I for one always make my own with floating drums as they really do allow the cable to rotate where as the ball ends that are supposed to do that, stopped doing that decades of wear ago .

I like that idea, I do it with my brake/clutch cables and find it makes for a nicer action.

I find the throttle cables that have the thin nipples at the handlebar end often want to twist, and go side on. The wide nipples don’t though are probably more likely to fray.

Hi Trevor / Allan, I’m not quite sure what you mean by floating drums. I feel like I must be missing something pretty basic here but can you please explain?

Cheers, Kev E

Last edited by Kev Ev; 08/15/22 12:30 pm.
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In place of soldering the wire to the drum you poke it through and solder it to a pear or ball that can fit inside the drum
If you get a univeral cable often they are set up like this with a pear on one end and a few drums of differetn sizes with a slot so they can be slipped over the cable
Usually you have to drill out the drum a little and if you want to be totally anal I know people who put brasso on the pear & lap it into th drum so they are a good fit .


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For years I have been making up my own cables and find it is well worth the effort in order to get good quality with a perfect fit. Brass nipples soldered to galvanised wire is the easiest way to go but more recently I have found that it is not that difficult to do it with stainless steel cable. Soldering stainless steel cable with silver solder and the silver solder flux works very well with a MAPP gas torch set with a low flame. It's more like a low temperature brazing than soldering. I have tried lead based solder, with immersion in a solder pot after phosphoric acid etching of the stainless steel cable but it didn't work out so well. Stainless steel cable of different weaves and sizes are readiy available on Ebay and very cheap. Now I'm happy with my technique I've been converting all my cables as I prefer to replace them before they snap.

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Originally Posted by JJC
For years I have been making up my own cables and find it is well worth the effort in order to get good quality with a perfect fit. Brass nipples soldered to galvanised wire is the easiest way to go but more recently I have found that it is not that difficult to do it with stainless steel cable. Soldering stainless steel cable with silver solder and the silver solder flux works very well with a MAPP gas torch set with a low flame. It's more like a low temperature brazing than soldering. I have tried lead based solder, with immersion in a solder pot after phosphoric acid etching of the stainless steel cable but it didn't work out so well. Stainless steel cable of different weaves and sizes are readiy available on Ebay and very cheap. Now I'm happy with my technique I've been converting all my cables as I prefer to replace them before they snap.

With the stainless cable, have you considered the “birdcage” tool from Venhill? I use a solder pot (of my own making from a camping stove and a stainless measuring cup filled with solder) I find it works well, but unless you actually deform the end of the cable like what the birdcage tool does instead of just splaying the cable ends, if the bikes is used fairly frequently it will eventually fail. That may be down to the stainless cable not having a great fondness to solder. I had one fail recently from this, it was a brake cable and it was on the bike for probably 10ish years. I have a spare cable at the side of it so as soon as o felt the cable needed adjustment I stopped. Checked.. and adjusted and found that with one good pull on the lever the cable pulled the solder. Upto now I have had no failings since using the bird cage tool. Also with that soldering the cable becomes optional and not a requirement.


Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

68’ A65 Lightning “clubman”
71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (now rebuilt)
67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
68’ D14 trials (undergoing transformation)

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Never used a "birdcage" tool. I ordered a few components from Venhill a while back and looked at the tool but decided it was quite expensive for what it was. I think getting solder to "wet" the stainless steel would still require a chemical step such as an etch to get a good bond. Regular solder rosin seems to have no impact on stainless steel cables. That said, I'm not sure how manufacturers of stainless cables with 100% solder nipples actually get it to "wet" the cable.

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Originally Posted by JJC
Never used a "birdcage" tool. I ordered a few components from Venhill a while back and looked at the tool but decided it was quite expensive for what it was. I think getting solder to "wet" the stainless steel would still require a chemical step such as an etch to get a good bond. Regular solder rosin seems to have no impact on stainless steel cables. That said, I'm not sure how manufacturers of stainless cables with 100% solder nipples actually get it to "wet" the cable.

I’d agree to that. I looked at it for many a year thinking it was too expensive for what it is but glad I eventually buy it.


That would explain it. The acidic flux being the thing.


Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

68’ A65 Lightning “clubman”
71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (now rebuilt)
67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
68’ D14 trials (undergoing transformation)

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I have used a river setting punch to do the same thing although comparred to the original, it did not do as neat a job.
However pretty is not a requirement all you need is the cable ends to be bent over.
Having said that I have never had a problem with soldering the cable then punching the end with a centre punch the filling the void with solder either
But as previously mentioned I have used free rotating drums for over 40 years ever since I realized that the cables always fail from torsional fatigue
( unless they pull out ) so the free drums allow the cable to turn as you pull the lever at both ends
The current brke & clutch cables on the M20 have been there for 28 years .
Never replaced one of my clutch cables on any of the work bikes and these all did well over 60,000 km per year in Sydney inner city & inner suburban traffic so lots of gear changes .


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My A65 seems to get through lots of clutch and throttle cables, which invariably fail at the handlebar end. Having learned my lesson (eventually) I now replace them before they fail and recently made the switch to stainless steel cable hoping for increased longevity. Sounds like rotating nipples give long life so I will give them a go next time. As well as the BSA, I have a GSXR 1000 K6 which likes to destroy clutch cables but at the engine end of the cable. There is a slight misalignment between the cable adjuster and the actuating lever such that the inner cable rubs on the inside of the adjuster. It's a heavy duty stainless steel inner cable, 2.5 mm diameter and 49 strands but still starts to fray after just a few thousand miles.

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Originally Posted by JJC
My A65 seems to get through lots of clutch and throttle cables, which invariably fail at the handlebar end. Having learned my lesson (eventually) I now replace them before they fail and recently made the switch to stainless steel cable hoping for increased longevity. Sounds like rotating nipples give long life so I will give them a go next time. As well as the BSA, I have a GSXR 1000 K6 which likes to destroy clutch cables but at the engine end of the cable. There is a slight misalignment between the cable adjuster and the actuating lever such that the inner cable rubs on the inside of the adjuster. It's a heavy duty stainless steel inner cable, 2.5 mm diameter and 49 strands but still starts to fray after just a few thousand miles.

When you pull on the cable it tries to rotate , Rope & extension leads do the same thing unless the are platted
To accomodate this every control cable has a ball / pear some where to allow free rotation.
ON bikes it is usually the engine ./ wheel end
When new from the factory it works well if you occasionally put some sort of lube on it
However the cup that the ball sits in, or the ball itself gets mangles so the cable can not rotate
From that day on you are effectivly bending the strands back & forth every time you pull a lever so they break
BMW used to use floating ends as standard on the Boxer twins .
As an aside, when Sydney Tech got their nice new SEM the teaching staff asked the lab techs to produce a small rotational fatigue fracture that was clean so the bench marks could be clearly seen\
After near a year they had given up as whenever the sample broke, what ever was applting the reversing torque cause the ends to mash into each other. So I dropped one of my old OEM cables that I was going to repair in to see if the fracture surface was good enough.
The head of school was beside himself

Last edited by BSA_WM20; 09/04/22 6:58 am.

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Your clutch cable will last longer if the clutch is fitted with the 7 plate conversion, this needs less spring pressure, less cable wear. + 1 to WM 20's post.
Use hard swept bends at each end of the throttle cable to cut friction and prevserve cable outers from splitting.


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Originally Posted by gavin eisler
Your clutch cable will last longer if the clutch is fitted with the 7 plate conversion, this needs less spring pressure, less cable wear. + 1 to WM 20's post.
Use hard swept bends at each end of the throttle cable to cut friction and prevserve cable outers from splitting.

I have renewed every single component in my clutch. I have a Dunstall alloy basket with a Norman Hyde 7 plate clutch kit. Brand new main shaft hub and clutch centre with brand new thrust washers, bearings, clutch springs, cups, screws, nuts. All topped off with the SRM pressure plate kit. At the other side on the actuator lever mechanism everything is also brand new. So with a good quality cable, correctly routed, I’m hoping for a good clutch with an easy action. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and advice.

Cheers, Kev Ev

Last edited by Kev Ev; 09/06/22 4:26 pm.

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