Extracting Feeders From Cable

Imagine if you will, a friend gives you a 200 ft spool of microphone cable for your feeders (and says there’s more if you need it). The cable has 2 pairs (black/red, white/green) of stranded and tinned copper wire, 22 AWG that would be great for feeders. The catch is, the pairs are shielded and also twisted along with another ground wire. This is the part of the hobby I really do not enjoy because it is very tedious. When are we going to “do” trains finally?

After making a bundle of dozen pairs of 18″ feeders for the turnouts by slowly scoring the cable with a blade and ripping the pairs out, I thought that there has to be a better way to at least rip the plastic jacket up and extract the wires.

Luckily the shielding is not full wire but kind of an aluminium foil which can be stripped off with ease. And then there’s the main plastic jacket that’s not too tough so it likes to rip and break off, especially when you don’t want it to (if you don’t score it well).

Cursory search of the web yields that there are tools that strip the cable jacket. But it’s 9:30pm on Friday night and you want to get something done tonight, to have something to show for, and not waste precious time over the weekend stripping wire.

In desperation you drill a hole the size of cable diameter through a block of wood, and then another hole perpendicular to it through which you drive a #8 x 1.5″ screw. Voila!

Feed the cable through and a moment to adjust the tension using a screwdriver, the make-shift scoring tool is done. Success!

The scoring part is done and works ok as long as the tension is right and you can pull the cable through without ripping it. The untangling twisted wire pairs and removing shielding is still tedious, so perhaps the next step would be to use the drill to untwist the wires first, then deal with the shield second.

For now, I have two bundles of 18″ feeders that I can use for the yard tracks I plan to lay this weekend.

I suppose if I just went and bought individual wire spools I would’ve saved some time on doing all this. But then again, copper wire is not cheap nowadays and I could spend that money on other things (more tortoise motors, electronics to control them, rolling stock, women, booze, blackjack…ok maybe focus on trains only).