Underground telephone cable wire salvage questions

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coldlake11

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Newbie Here.

I have acquired a pile of underground telephone cable with all those little insulated wires inside a really well protected insulator casing. The first thing that went through that flickering 5 watt bulb between my ears was that I now have a pile of free insulated wire for antenna experiments published in the late Mr. Joe Carr's antenna book.

Problem: How do I extract the wire from the heavy insulation? Is there a simple method? Is extracting the wires even worth my time and effort?

Thank you
 

jhooten

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Direct burial with a thick black plastic jacket, corrugated aluminum shield, and jelly filled? If so it can be done but it is time consuming and messy. It takes a strong solvent to get the jelly off your hands. Even with rubber gloves, which the shield cuts right through, you will get the crap all over you. The inmates in the recycling shed used to run and hide when they saw my work crew carrying it toward them.

Save yourself the headach, take it to the scrap yard.
 

mmckenna

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Problem: How do I extract the wire from the heavy insulation? Is there a simple method? Is extracting the wires even worth my time and effort?

Thank you
Depends a lot on the type of cable.
As jhooten said above, if it's a filled cable, the gel inside is a headache to deal with. It'll get all over you, your tools, your house, your clothes. De-gel compounds will be required, but you'll be finding that stuff on your tools for years to come.

If it's an air core cable, then it will be easier to deal with. Air core cables are pressurized with low pressure dried air and don't have the nasty gel inside.

But the gopher shield aluminum is a challenge. It's usually pretty thick, and as stated above, will tear through gloves, skin, etc.

If you want to try it, you need to cut the outer polyethylene jacket and split it open. Then you need to deal with the shielding tape, if it has it. If it's an air core cable, it'll have a cellophane type wrap around the outside. Getting that open is easy.

Then you get to the good stuff on the inside. Sort of.
Usually these conductors will be in the 22-26 gauge end, soft drawn copper. It's too thin to make any good long wire antennas with, but you could certainly use it to make some loops or other small antennas. If you luck out and get larger gauge conductors, then you'll have some more options.
But, depending on the age of the cable, and if it's air core, sometimes the individual conductors are wrapped in paper, which will come off really easily.

So, sort of a crap shoot depending on what you have. If it's the gel filled cable, just save yourself the headache and recycle it now. If it's an air core cable, you could certain try extracting some pairs out of it to play with, but it'll be a lot of work. Once you are done trying all that, recycle the whole mess and go to the hardware store and buy the type of wire you want.
 

wa8pyr

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So, sort of a crap shoot depending on what you have. If it's the gel filled cable, just save yourself the headache and recycle it now. If it's an air core cable, you could certain try extracting some pairs out of it to play with, but it'll be a lot of work. Once you are done trying all that, recycle the whole mess and go to the hardware store and buy the type of wire you want.
Ditto to what others have said. . . interesting idea but definitely a crap shoot. I once latched onto a big pile of indoor 25-pair telephone cable with the tan vinyl (or plastic) outer jacket; I was able to carefully slice through the outer jacket and retrieve a lot of the wires inside, but it was a very large PITA.

Getting a big box of CAT5 would be a lot easier, less messy, and less likelihood of slicing your hands up.
 

mmckenna

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Modern CAT 5, as well as CAT3 25 pair will have a "rip cord". If you strip back a few inches of the outside jacket, you'll find a piece of string in there running linearly along the cable. Grab that and pull, it'll often tear the outer jacket of the cable off easily.
 
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