25 March 2011

Brompton Cable Oilers

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the (few) disappointments with my Brompton is the brake performance. After a bit of research one thing I saw recommended was fitting cable oilers to allow easy lubrication of the brake cables. However I couldn’t find any information on how to fit them or what the different sizes meant - although it seemed that one size was for brakes and one was for gears. So, I ordered a packet of each and resolved to work it out when they arrived. The other thing I ordered was a packet of cable endcaps.

As it turned out the measurement relates to the outer diameter of the cable, the 5mm ones fitted the brake cables and the 4mm ones fitted the gear cables.

To fit an oiler you need to disconnect the relevant cable and remove the inner cable from the outer (which means removing the existing cable end cap). Then you need to cut the cable outer somewhere in the middle. You can (and probably should) use proper cable cutters, but as I didn’t know about them I just used a hacksaw. If you do use a hacksaw make sure that there are no sharp edges left to rub against the cable. Once the outer is cut it’s fairly straightforward to fit the oiler.

First reinsert the cable.

Secondly thread the cable oiler onto the cable and push it on to the cable outer.

Finally insert the cable back into the other part of the outer and push that into the oiler.

Once re-assembled the cable can be re-attached and re-capped, and then it’s ready to oil. Just push the rubber ring to one side, insert the tube from a can of WD40 or similar and squirt until lubricant comes out of the ends of the cable.

As the Brompton front brake cable is already in two sections I used two oilers on it, and one on the rear cable. I also fitted one to the hub gear cable. However, the derailleur cable was rather frayed at the end (I think probably inevitably due to the way it’s attached to the lever) so I left it. It would have been impossible to reinsert the cable into the outer if I removed it - it was difficult enough to re-attach it to the gear lever. I still have spare oilers and if I ever need to fit a replacement derailleur cable I put an oiler on it first.

After oiling the cables I noticed a definite improvement in the brakes, and I hope that lubricating the cables this way will increase their lifespan and also push out any grit or dirt that might have got into the ends of the cables.

So overall they’re a little fiddly to fit, but cheap and I think, worth it.