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Recabling 3-spd! (x-post gen/mtbr)(14 posts)

Recabling 3-spd! (x-post gen/mtbr)girchygirchy
Mar 24, 2003 2:49 PM
As you may have read, I'm in the process of restoring my dad's '73 3-speed bike. I'm getting ready to re-cable the brakes and shifter, and took apart the shifter cable today to see what it looks like. The end that goes into the shifter looks like a smaller version of a brake cable's end, instead of the normal shifter end.

However, on the other end of the cable is what looks to be a normal shifter cable end. So I ordered a cable that has both ends. But I got to thinking, "Hmm, how did they get the cable jacket on there, between the ends? WTF?!" Here's a picture of the situation, at the hub end of the cable. The cable disappears into the silver knurled barrel (which, incidentally, is between the cable ends too!), which is screwed into the threaded silver piece. The threaded silver thing is attached via cotter pin to the shift linkage:

Has anyone ever seen this? How the heck am I supposed to recable this bike? Are there end that I can put on myself somehow? I'm completely baffled. Thanks for any help!

On my wife's '79 Higgins ...Humma Hah
Mar 24, 2003 3:23 PM
... there is a very similar arrangement, except that the turnbuckle has an eye to loop the cable end thru, instead of the cable vanishing into a mystery ferrule. Her cable was sloppily wrapped back on itself when a LBS worked on it. I used a nickel electronic barrel crimp to fasten it when I replaced the cable.

Yours does not appear to be crimped, and I'm wondering if it somehow slips over a doubled cable, or screws over some sort of collet that compresses uniformly around the cable. If you can break the code, it may just come apart.

I assume your cable jacket ends at a boss on the frame several inches away. If the end you have available looks solid, you could cut it from the original cable, loop it back and bind it, and then do the same to the new cable to join them.

Otherwise, see if your LBS can look in the junkbin and find the type of turnbuckle that is designed to loop the cable thru.

Be aware that the exact length of the cable is critical. Very little movement shifts the gears, and you have very little range of adjustment. You need the ability to get the length just right, at least close enough that the adjusters can fine-tune it.

BTW, my wife's Higgins is brown, just like your mom's was.
I can't wrap it around...girchygirchy
Mar 24, 2003 4:10 PM
The little weird ferrule is narrow, and measures only about 1/8" diameter inside no room to loop the thing. The metal piece that screws into the ferrule pinches the end inside, so I can't have the cable go outside the ferrule either.

I twisted both ends, and they're on there firmly, and factory-attached. I'll look again later to make sure, but it seems they're both on there good. The cable basically looks like the ones you can buy today, with both old and new endcaps, one on each end.

You're right, the cable ends with a boss that's clamped to the chainstay, maybe 6" away from the linkage. So that's a possibility, if I can't figure anything else out. I'll call my LBS and see if they have anything.

I know, I was looking at the linkage and cable earlier, that looks like it'll be a bit tough to get just right. The hub doesn't really let the user know when it's in gear, so I'll have to play around with it.

Neat, about your wife's bike! Is it a department store special too? I'm not familiar with Higgins. I'm not planning on working on my mom's bike now, but maybe I'll find a girlfriend who'll want to ride around campus on matching bikes, and fix it up :)

Thanks for all the help!

Monkey-Ward ...Humma Hah
Mar 24, 2003 4:27 PM
... The Higgins ESU Estate was sold by Montgomery Ward. I weighed it last night at a mere 38 pounds. Runs 26 x 1 3/8" tires. Originally geared too high, I recently replaced her 48-tooth chainring with a 42-tooth, so she can actually get some use out of top gear.

The sucker is surprisingly long-legged and fast, hampered mostly by cruiser bars.

If you can find the right little turnbuckle, I think you'll be able to make-do with a regular brake or rear der cable, as I did.

I suspect nobody thought these bikes would actually be kept long enough to need a cable replacement.
Monkey-Ward ...girchygirchy
Mar 24, 2003 8:35 PM
My parents' bikes might have come from there also, I emailed my dad asking him. Not sure what it weighs, but it's damn heavy! Same tires too, not sure about the chainring, I need to look. I haven't ridden it in a while, can't remember how fast it is. Do you have any pics of it?

Some others in General and on MTBR said I need a 3-speed shifter cable, they have the barrel and lining pre-installed apparently. Hopefully my fav LBS will be able to order it, or I'll call the older LBS here, or Harris Cyclery if nothing else.

Lol I would agree. On your wife's bike, does it look kinda like the tubes are just sitting together magically? I can see hardly any welding/brazing, it's pretty scary.
Western Auto here...girchygirchy
Mar 25, 2003 12:00 PM
My dad said they were bought at the Western Auto in Carlisle, KY. Strange.
At one point they had their own brand ...Humma Hah
Mar 25, 2003 1:23 PM
... in the very early days, even Schwinn built bikes with store labels, instead of having company stores. When they decided to shift support to real bike shops, other manufacturers (Huffman, etc) continued to build bikes for Sears, Western Auto, Wards, etc, and put the store's name on the headbadge.

Western Auto sold a lot of bikes in small towns.
Oh, okgirchygirchy
Mar 25, 2003 6:41 PM
I suppose that's why the headbadge says "Westpoint." Thanks for the info!
Oh, okM_Currie
Mar 27, 2003 9:12 PM
I'm not quite sure about your cable problem. I wonder if some part is missing or if you got the worng brand. It looks as if yours is a Shimano. All the 3-speed cables I've seen have a sheath on them already. The sheath goes between the shifter and a stop on the downtube, beyond which the cable goes unsheathed, usually with a roller to get it pointed straight at the chainstay. The barrel end, also permanently attached to the cable, just screws onto the corresponding part at the hub end. If you have the right parts, you shouldn't have to disassemble the cable or take it apart. The cable stop should have a slotted insert to allow it to pass over the cable, and the roller will usually have to be disassembled or loosened to get the cable through its guide. Coarse adjustment is made by moving the cable stop or the pulley, and fine adjustment is made with the barrel adjuster.

Adjustment of the one you show should be easy. Shift to middle gear, and adjust the cable so that the "N" on the bellcrank is centered in the window.
Mar 28, 2003 7:19 PM
I delivered newspapers from a Huffy 3 speed with s Sturmey-Archer hub. Your cable set up looks pretty much like I remember. I never replaced the cable but often removed the rear wheel and I agree with the prev. poster that a threaded sleeve should be integral to the cable. While taking apart such a hub is notoriously difficult everything else on those Brit styled bikes was about as easy as easy could be so I'd guess you need the proper cable. I have no idea where to find one for sure but the first places I'd look are an old LBS if you've got one near and then Harris Cyclery ( and Menotomy Vintage Cycles ( In fact the OldRoads site has a discussion board dedicated to English Roadsters as aficianados call the 3 speeds and there's probably help there.

If it's a Shimano hub perhaps their new Nexus hubs use the same style cable?
A thought on the handlebars on that thing ...Humma Hah
Apr 2, 2003 3:58 PM
I'm assuming that 3-speed has the usual swept-back cruiser bars. If I'm not mistaken, cruiser bars originated when someone turned old-fashioned mustache racing bars (drops without quite as much rams-horn bend to them) upside down so they could sit upright.

The bars I'm referring to would have the handgrips coming straight back, not angled out at about 45 degrees like many do. I was just noticing that my wife's bike has the right type.

So maybe you have a pair of perfectly good retro drops already on the bike, they're just installed upside down? Give it a try!
You'd be exactly right...girchygirchy
Apr 5, 2003 1:04 PM
It does have the cruiser bars with the straight-back grips. Here's a pic:

I thought of what you're suggesting one day while looking at them, compared to my friend's Peugeot roadie's bars. I'll definately try that when I get started on the bike! Thanks for the suggestion and background info.

A quick question...I noticed the bike pulls to the left pretty hard, while I was doing a quick test-ride the other night. So I was looking at it today, and when you look at the bike from the rear, it appears the front fork is skewed to the right. Would the fork be bent, do you think? Could I just bend the legs back into a normal position? That kinda freaked me out a little.

It is possible ...Humma Hah
Apr 7, 2003 5:54 AM
... the steel tubing used in that kind of bike is soft, but there's plenty of it. They can get bent out of shape, but they can also be bent back.

Decades ago, I bent the cruiser pretty badly when I fancied it a BMX bike. Landed a 4-foot-high jump sideways. At that time, I laid it on its side and stomped on it until it was ridable again (I don't recommend this procedure). It tended to pull somewhat for many years. Before getting it powdercoated, I had the frame professionally straightened (the LBS had a rig for doing it and an old guy with the experience). He found it was still 3/4 inch out of alignment. The cost of this service was so little I don't even recall the figure.

But even that didn't fix the main problem, which was a seriously worn-out headset. With that fixed, it rides like new.
Hm, I'll have to ask my dad if he did that too...girchygirchy
Apr 8, 2003 2:20 PM
...don't picture him as the BMX type, though! I think it's just the fork legs, so I'll see what I can do. But it might be the headset, I did think of that...when I begin tearing into it, I'll have to check. Thanks!