A while back, I spent a week one day in the garage
of Bikernet headquarters with Bandit. Bandit was hot to put
apehangers on his shiny new Road King Classic.
Once I arrived and cooled down his "high-bar desire", I suggested
putting all the handlebar switch wires inside the bars where they
would be safe from his undue attentions in the future. After a quick
assurance on my part that I wouldn't feel a thing, he okayed the idea.
With the bars off of the bike and the switch wires laid out on the
bench, he started whining about "all those wires". It was at this
time I whipped out the handy dandy "wire vise" and showed him how to
use it (it only took three times) to solder the wire extensions in
place. While Bandit amused himself with this new toy, he asked where
I found it. I explained to him (slowly) that the first time I saw one
in use was at the old West Coast Choppers shop in Paramount, CA. One
of the mechanics "Koon" was using the wire vise on one of the shop
bikes, when I asked where he found it he replied, "some old guy
showed me one." I asked to see it up-close and personal and traced
the wire vise on the palm of my hand so I could make one once I got
After Bandit was done with his soldering chores on the switch
wiring, I retrieved the wire vise from the bench only to be stopped
at the door. The only escape was to promise Bandit a wire vise of his
own. So, the only way to one-up the doorman, was to show
everybody just how easy a wire vise is to make.
All you need is a short length of wire (a piece of welding rod
or even a coat hanger) and a couple of alligator clamps. Here is my
wire vise and the components for Bandit's.
I've added a six-inch scale to give you and idea of the overall
dimensions. The vise is two and a half inches wide and each arm is an
inch and a half long.
After marking where each bend is, the wire is lightly clamped
in the bench vise and bent ninety degrees.
You can see the first arm is bent so it is the correct length
when compared to the original.
Pay attention to the orientation of the first arm when bending
the second arm, make the second bend so the arms are parallel to each
Using the scale to align the ends of the arms, Craftsman side
cutters snip the wire to the correct, equal length.
The wire is bent with the arms parallel and the ends of the
arms, where the alligator clips will be soldered, have been cleaned
up with Emory paper to insure a solid soldered joint.
Rolled up Emory paper was used to clean the inside of the
alligator clip as well.
After the Emory paper treatment each end of the wire and both
alligator clips were cleaned with Super Cleaner from PJ1 to remove
any Emory residue.
A good solder joint means using a liberal amount of soldering
paste, here the alligator clip is dipped a few times right into the
The wire receives the same treatment in the soldering paste.
Now the clips are slipped over the arms of the wire and lightly
crimped in place. The thin wire clamped in the alligator clip jaws
helps keep the clips in alignment during the soldering process.
Using a soldering iron held against the alligator clip, feed
the solder into the joint until you see it flow out the other end.
Note: it takes a minute or two for the clip and the wire to become
hot enough for the solder to melt and fill the inside of the clip. An
Allen bolt is used to elevate the wire off of the bench top. With the
clip sitting on the bench top, it would absorb some of the heat from
the soldering iron and take longer to solder the joint.
Solder both joints, allow to cool down and your done. The
actual size of the wire vise is unimportant, we found that this size
works well in all areas, especially inside the headlight housing of
dressers like the Road King.
I hope this makes Bandit happy for a change. The sonuvabitch would
hardly let me outta here to go to Daytona. I had to promise
thousands of flicks for Bikernet coverages. Hang on for the shots.
Below is a shot of the Wire Vise in use.