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Thread: Speedometer/tach lube?

  1. #1
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    May 2010
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    Default Speedometer/tach lube?

    I'm curious what others use to keep their clocks running on their bike - I haven't been using anything but apparently I need to. Last week my speedo cable broke on the way home from work. When I put the new one on I noticed the receiver thingy in the gauge (that the square end of the inner cable slides into) would not budge the least scintilla - no wonder the cable broke. Guess it gets hot in there when it dries out...

    I shot some PB Blaster up in there and it freed up with a bit of persuasion, I then just let the stuff drip out and shot cable lube up in there (tach too!) and called it good for now. Would I benefit from doing anything different with it?

    Thanks!
    "Men will never be free until Mark learns to do The Twist."

    -Denis D'shaker

    79 GS750N

  2. #2
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    May 2004
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    St. Catharines, On.
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    I use just a couple drops of sewing machine oil in the tach and speedo.
    Find any more of anything can fog up the inner face.
    2@ \'78 GS1000

  3. #3
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    Sep 2008
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    Omaha, Ne.
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    Sounds like your clocks could benefit from a couple of muffins.
    Larry

    '79 GS 1000E
    '93 Honda ST 1100 SOLD-- now residing in Arizona.
    '18 Triumph Tiger 800 (gone too soon)
    '19 Triumph Tiger 800 Christmas 2018 to me from me.

  4. #4
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    Mifflinburg, PA / Land of Tar & Chip
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    I went to the local Mennonite bicycle shop and bought a bottle of what they use.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2018
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    Branson, MO
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    On my 450 I opened them up, cleaned it out with rubbing alcohol then used 3-in-1 oil for lube. On my Goldwing the speedo started to make noise just after I got it on the road and since I was on the highway traveling at the time I shot some plain jane "Spray Lube" from the Dollar store which quieted it down, haven't touched it since. If I where to take it apart I'd probably use silicon grease on the plastic gears inside, my impression is that any lube that won't attack plastic will work.
    1983 Naked Goldwing Interstate GL1100 (Current bike)
    1982 GS450txz (former bike)
    LONG list of previous bikes not listed here.

    Not ALL conspiracy theories are false. If it's on the radio, TV AND the internet (with pictures) then it's true. If it shows up in print, it always will be. www.birdsarentreal.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Ireland
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    When getting new speedo / tach cables I remove the inner and dribble some gear oil down the hole, followed by either dunking the inner in a bath of gear oil or just holding some in the palm of my hand and running the inner through the pool. Either hang it up to drip or wipe it with my fingers.
    Put the inner back into the outer, pull the top end of the inner back out about two inches and remove excess oil with a clean rag. That prevents oil from working its way into the instrument head. Repeat once every two years or once a year if you're keen.
    No special tools or any fancy lubes needed.
    However, the blasted kinked ends that were OEM on the Zuk cables have caused several cable failures over the years, so I don't choose to buy those, as I don't need them to kink to clear the original headlamp housings any more.
    I still get occasional failures of inners, but it's more down to a crappy design and ancient tech.
    Last edited by Grimly; 06-06-2021 at 05:23 PM.
    ---- Dave
    79 GS850N - Might be a trike soon.
    80 GS850T Single HIF38 S.U. SH775, Tow bar, Pantera II. Gnarly workhorse & daily driver.
    79 XS650SE - Pragmatic Ratter - goes better than a manky old twin should.
    92 XJ900F - Fairly Stock, for now.

    Only a dog knows why a motorcyclist sticks his head out of a car window

  7. #7
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    Sounds like I'm in the ballpark anyway. The needles operate just fine, yet the part where the inner cable fits was seized. I'm having trouble visualizing what goes on between the cable and the needle. I remember sawing my 550 gauges apart because the needle was super sluggish while the cable spun freely. I gently lubed the needle assembly and all was well. Seems like two different problems. Grimly it sounds like oil (or whatever) CAN pass easily between the cable and the inside of the gauges? Hope I didn't spray too much, so far no sign of mess in the gauge. Might want to make sure there's not an excess. At any rate sound like the cable lube was a good call, it seems like nothing more than a light oil in a spray can.

    Thanks!
    "Men will never be free until Mark learns to do The Twist."

    -Denis D'shaker

    79 GS750N

  8. #8
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    Feb 2018
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    Davis,CA.95616
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    I like to smooth-on some light grease for the speedo and tach inner/square cables as the oil will shake off quickly.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allie View Post
    Sounds like I'm in the ballpark anyway. The needles operate just fine, yet the part where the inner cable fits was seized. I'm having trouble visualizing what goes on between the cable and the needle.
    It's very simple, the cable is connected to a magnet that is spun as the cable rotates, over the magnet is an aluminum cup with mild 2 steel strips of a specific width that is connected to the needle with a hair spring so as the magnet spins it attracts the strips on the ally cup but doesn't actually pick up because the hair spring resists but as the magnet spins faster the spring on the needle gets wound up and resists more thus the pick up is more and the needle has to move round further. As it all slows down the spring pulls the needle back down the scale.
    If it's explained badly maybe somebody else can articulate it better.
    I use a small squirt of ACF50 that does it for me also irons out any flickering needles. Often the needles have oil dampers on them these can leak over time especially if the clock is stored inverted, you can see this by a damp patch around the needle pivot but you have to look closely, it also then causes the needle to be erratic.


    Don't say can't, as anything is possible with time and effort, but, if you don't have time things get tougher and require more effort.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatu View Post
    It's very simple, the cable is connected to a magnet that is spun as the cable rotates, over the magnet is an aluminum cup with mild 2 steel strips of a specific width that is connected to the needle with a hair spring so as the magnet spins it attracts the strips on the ally cup but doesn't actually pick up because the hair spring resists but as the magnet spins faster the spring on the needle gets wound up and resists more thus the pick up is more and the needle has to move round further. As it all slows down the spring pulls the needle back down the scale.
    If it's explained badly maybe somebody else can articulate it better.
    I use a small squirt of ACF50 that does it for me also irons out any flickering needles. Often the needles have oil dampers on them these can leak over time especially if the clock is stored inverted, you can see this by a damp patch around the needle pivot but you have to look closely, it also then causes the needle to be erratic.
    Thanks that does help a bit in visualizing it. It sounds like there's no direct physical contact between the needle and the cable and if I ever needed to directly lubricate the needle I'd need to pop the gauge open.
    "Men will never be free until Mark learns to do The Twist."

    -Denis D'shaker

    79 GS750N

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