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SS Cables ?

Old 07-02-20, 10:02 PM
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frogman
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SS Cables ?

I am changing the cables on my road bike. It has Campy 10 speed ergo brifters. I want to use SS cables. I dug out some packages of Campy Ergo cables I have and would like to see if they are SS. I checked with a magnet and they are attracted to the magnet. Not a real strong attraction but still attracted. For comparison I checked some old cheap cables and they have a much stronger attraction to the magnet than the Ergo cables. Anyway, how can I check cables to see if they are SS ?
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Old 07-02-20, 11:40 PM
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Contrary to popular myth, stainless steel (or, corrosion resistant steel for the pedantic) does have a magnetic attraction. It is much weaker than high carbon for sure, but it is there nonetheless.

It's actually the amount of nickle in the mix that gives it, it's corrosion resistant properties. A metallurgist could give you a difinitive answer, but I always believed the attraction was in relation to how much iron the nickle displaced. More nickle meant less iron for the magnet to work on.

As always, the deeper you look, the more complicated it becomes.

I say go ahead and use the cables. Stainless cables, in my experience, last a lot longer & perform better than the zinc plated varieties.
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Old 07-03-20, 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by frogman View Post
For comparison I checked some old cheap cables and they have a much stronger attraction to the magnet than the Ergo cables. Anyway, how can I check cables to see if they are SS ?
Taste. SS won't have much, galvanized will.
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Old 07-03-20, 01:51 AM
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Campy cables are all very nice quality, I wouldn't worry about it. Galvanized also has a somewhat dull, lighter color to it.
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Old 07-03-20, 07:30 AM
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Yes, they are stainless steel. Even the 300-series stainless steels, which are generally non-magnetic, become somewhat magnetic if cold worked as cables are when die-drawn.
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Old 07-03-20, 09:32 AM
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Monel and some high nickel alloys are non ferrous IDK Who uses them for bicycle cables, if any.
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Old 07-03-20, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Contrary to popular myth, stainless steel (or, corrosion resistant steel for the pedantic) does have a magnetic attraction. It is much weaker than high carbon for sure, but it is there nonetheless.

It's actually the amount of nickle in the mix that gives it, it's corrosion resistant properties. A metallurgist could give you a difinitive answer, but I always believed the attraction was in relation to how much iron the nickle displaced. More nickle meant less iron for the magnet to work on.

As always, the deeper you look, the more complicated it becomes.

I say go ahead and use the cables. Stainless cables, in my experience, last a lot longer & perform better than the zinc plated varieties.
Oooooh! A chance to dig up a bit of my old knowledge from the years I spent studying metallurgy (and which I've never used since).

The magnetic element of steel is a crystal called martensite. Higher quantities of alloying elements - Chromium and Nickel amongst others - the less martensite tends to form. So high alloy steels - such as is used to make spoons and forks - are not magnetic at all. However, it's the martensite which gives the steel its strength so high alloy steels are also rather soft. For this reason they aren't used to make kitchen knives, hence why these are magnetic. Once upon a time we didn't know how to make stainless steel which would also keep its edge which is why antique steel knives tend to rust. You obviously couldn't use a high alloy steel for brake cables either.

Off topic a bit, but the martensite also affects the malleability of steel. Small martensite crystals mean the steel is malleable - e.g. wrought iron. Big crystals make it brittle - e.g. cast iron. The crystal size can be controlled by several factors such as alloying elements and heat treatments, which is why with some steels like Reynolds 753, bike builders had to be specially trained to make frames from it. A bit of careless brazing could seriously affect the strength of the tubing.
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Old 07-03-20, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by jgwilliams View Post
Oooooh! A chance to dig up a bit of my old knowledge from the years I spent studying metallurgy (and which I've never used since).

The magnetic element of steel is a crystal called martensite. Higher quantities of alloying elements - Chromium and Nickel amongst others - the less martensite tends to form. So high alloy steels - such as is used to make spoons and forks - are not magnetic at all. However, it's the martensite which gives the steel its strength so high alloy steels are also rather soft. For this reason they aren't used to make kitchen knives, hence why these are magnetic. Once upon a time we didn't know how to make stainless steel which would also keep its edge which is why antique steel knives tend to rust. You obviously couldn't use a high alloy steel for brake cables either.

Off topic a bit, but the martensite also affects the malleability of steel. Small martensite crystals mean the steel is malleable - e.g. wrought iron. Big crystals make it brittle - e.g. cast iron. The crystal size can be controlled by several factors such as alloying elements and heat treatments, which is why with some steels like Reynolds 753, bike builders had to be specially trained to make frames from it. A bit of careless brazing could seriously affect the strength of the tubing.
I award you +10 points, good sir!
There is a lot of good info in here.
Thanks!
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Old 07-03-20, 11:12 PM
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Thanks for the info everyone and the education on SS and magnetic properties ! Like was said, SS can be magnetic, but not as much as low alloy steels. I will not worry and be happy with the Campy ergo cables that are "slightly" magnetic.
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Old 07-04-20, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by jgwilliams View Post
The magnetic element of steel is a crystal called martensite. Higher quantities of alloying elements - Chromium and Nickel amongst others - the less martensite tends to form. So high alloy steels - such as is used to make spoons and forks - are not magnetic at all. However, it's the martensite which gives the steel its strength so high alloy steels are also rather soft. For this reason they aren't used to make kitchen knives...
Correct so far. The "high alloy" stainless steels you are referring to are the "300-series", generically 18/8 Cr/Ni, the most common of which are 303, 304 and 316. They are high in Cr and Ni content and low in carbon. They are non or only weakly magnetic and can't be heat treated for hardness. As noted they aren't suitable for knives, tools, etc. but are used to make bike cables and spokes and they are very corrosion resistant.

Originally Posted by jgwilliams View Post
Once upon a time we didn't know how to make stainless steel which would also keep its edge which is why antique steel knives tend to rust. You obviously couldn't use a high alloy steel for brake cables either.
There is a whole family of heat treatable and hardenable cutlery and tool stainless steels, the "400-series" that has been around since the early 1900's. Typical grades are 410, 416, 440, etc. and they that contain 12% or more Cr and up to 1.2% carbon. There are also more exotic Stainless Tool Steels but they aren't commonly found in consumer items. These are used to make knives, tools and other items where hardness and edge keeping ability is required and some corrosion resistant is sacrificed. They are indeed magnetic and strongly so. These are not used for cables or spokes but the 300-series are as noted above.
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Old 07-06-20, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Correct so far. The "high alloy" stainless steels you are referring to are the "300-series", generically 18/8 Cr/Ni, the most common of which are 303, 304 and 316. They are high in Cr and Ni content and low in carbon. They are non or only weakly magnetic and can't be heat treated for hardness. As noted they aren't suitable for knives, tools, etc. but are used to make bike cables and spokes and they are very corrosion resistant.

There is a whole family of heat treatable and hardenable cutlery and tool stainless steels, the "400-series" that has been around since the early 1900's. Typical grades are 410, 416, 440, etc. and they that contain 12% or more Cr and up to 1.2% carbon. There are also more exotic Stainless Tool Steels but they aren't commonly found in consumer items. These are used to make knives, tools and other items where hardness and edge keeping ability is required and some corrosion resistant is sacrificed. They are indeed magnetic and strongly so. These are not used for cables or spokes but the 300-series are as noted above.
Very interesting. My degree course was over 40 years ago now so I'm a bit out of touch. I have to point out, though, that I'm British and to us 'early 1900's' is merely old, not antique. I have a set of antique table knives that have corroded quite badly although not uniformly. I also have an old carving set (not sure how old) which has resisted rusting but does have a somewhat corroded appearance rather than the silvery appearance of modern stainless steels. Whether this is actual corrosion or something else I don't know and I've never attempted to clean it up.

Interesting that cables are made from the 300 steels. I guess I'd just made the assumption that if it wouldn't take an edge then it wouldn't be strong enough for cables. Just goes to prove that assumption makes an ass of u and mption.
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Old 07-06-20, 11:24 AM
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I worked in the hypodermic needle industry years ago and 304 stainless is used to make the (cannula) injectable, disposable needles, spinal needles, etc. The grinding process is normally one longer bevel cut, then two rotated side cuts to form the diamond point. Very sharp, corrosion resistant and generally small in diameter, with ultra thin walls allowing for smaller needles to be used with greater liquid flow.
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