Basic ?s re: flexible metal cable

Old 10-27-03, 08:50 PM
Michelle Moran
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Basic ?s re: flexible metal cable

I have two basic questions about the flexible metal cable that houses wiring in older homes. (1) What is it called? and (2) Is there a way to cut the metal casing easily to expose the 6 to 8 inches of wire you need at either end? I've been using tin snips but it is really difficult to work the snips into the end of the cable; hence, it takes a long time to cut 6 inches. One side seems to sort of unravel as you trim if you use pliers to aid in the unraveling, but the other end resists unraveling and seemed to require snipping each individual 1/4 inch section one at a time. I figure there has to be an easier way to trim this stuff.

Thanks for any tips!
Old 10-27-03, 10:27 PM
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How old is the wire in this cable, plastic coated or cloth type stuff? There are different methods and hate to suggest a way that may damage older wires.
Old 10-28-03, 05:54 AM
Michelle Moran
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type of wire

About 2/3's seem to have plastic coated wires while a 1/3 have the older, thick cloth coated -- although the cloth ones seem to be in pretty good shape. The plastic coated ones are also older (the coating is heavier and somewhat more faded than the new stuff), but the coating is not brittle or cracked. There is no ground wire in the older two wire cables. The metal cable seems to serve as the ground as it is hooked up to the water pipes and all of the boxes are metal in those cables. In some of the newer cables, there is also a ground wire that is also attached to the metal boxes.
Old 10-28-03, 09:56 AM
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1) BX.
2) Use a hacksaw to cut through one rib of the armor, then twist to break it off. Be careful not to nick the wires inside. Also, use anti-short bushings on the ends, so the metal can't damage the wires.
Good Luck!
Old 10-28-03, 10:20 AM
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"What is it called"? The NEC refers to this type of wiring-method as "Armored Cable". The "Trade-name" is "BX".

Cutting type AC cable is simply a matter of practice. Use a 32-teeth-per-inch blade with the teeth of the blade pointing away from the handle-end of the hack-saw.Set the blade across the cable at a 45-degee angle.

Cut thru the 2 "ridges" of the cable to a depth that allows "Snapping-off" the end ,instead of cutting completly thru the armor. This procedure avoids cutting the insulation on the cable-conductors.

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!!!!!!!
Old 10-28-03, 11:19 AM
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The old spiral armor is BX. The new is AC. AC has a thin bare bonding lead to help with grounding, the old BX does not. BX was not intended to provide a ground, only mechanical protection. AC is intended to provide both. BX still beats no ground, but poses a hazard with a high impedance short. The spiral can heat up and cause a fire wihtout pulling enogh current to trip the breaker. It is a rare occurance. Rotosplit makes a handy cutter for prodcing a clean cut in the armor and is worth having if yo are going to be dealing with a lot of AC (or BX).

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