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Here's Yours, Give Me Back Mine

Text and photography by Frank Kaisler

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RK full side shot 36

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.

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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 home.


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 other.

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 paste.

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.

handy wire junction tool

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Reader Comments

I like the ape hangers used on this bike. Do you know the brand name, model #, measurements? I have been looking around for a while. Any info would be helpful. Thanks for your time.

Chris Horton
pearland, TX
Monday, October 20, 2014
Editor Response Should be in the article. They may have come from Biker's Choice or flanders. The were likely 16-inch apes, 1-inch in diameter. Make sure you do some measurements before you buy a set. Make sure they fit you.

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