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Architectural Railing & Hardware FAQs

What is a Turnbuckle?
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A turnbuckle is a metal coupling device consisting of right and left hand threaded members screwed into an internally threaded body which when rotated expands or contracts.

What is a Machine Swaged Fitting?
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A machine swaged fitting is attached to the cable by a swage machine which cold forms the fitting directly to the cable. A swaged fitting should not be confused with Hand Crimp fittings or other hand tool applied fittings. A specialized swaging machine is the only way to attach swage fittings to cable. Swage fittings can not be Hand Crimped, welded, glued, hammered or attached to a cable by any other means other than a swage machine.

What is a Hand Crimp Fitting?
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Hand Crimp fittings are attached to the cable with a Hand Crimp Tool. Hand Crimp fittings should not be confused with a Nicopress fittings. Nicopress fittings have sleeves that are made from soft copper alloy and compress very easily. All Hand Crimp fittings are made from stainless steel and cannot be swaged, welded, glued, pressed in a vise or with vice grips or attached to the cable by any means other than tool #53-215

What is a Mechanical Fitting?
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A mechanical fitting attaches to cable in the following way: the fitting compresses the cable with a cone inside the fitting and/or cable. Mechanical fittings are assembled to the cable with simple hand tools. Mechanical fittings are larger in diameter than Swage and Hand Crimp fittings and can be reused with a new cone but carry a hefty price tag.

What type of cable do I use?
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Generally 1 x 19 cables should be used for all railing applications. 1 x 19 cable is stiff with minimal stretch, perfect for railings with runs up to 50 feet. 7 x 7 cable is more flexible with more stretch and can be used for railings with short runs. 7 x 19 is very flexible, but will kink if tensioned on a 90 degree corner.

What size cable do I use?
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3/16” cable is the most popular size and good for railing applications. In high traffic applications such as airports, stadiums or amusement parks, ¼” cable is highly recommended. For residential applications where view and unobtrusiveness are paramount, 1/8” cable works well.

Do I need a turnbuckle in my cable assembly?
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Yes. Cable works great for railing but only if you have the ability to tighten it with a turnbuckle or with a through-bolted threaded terminal. Even if you had some way of pre-tensioning the cable and attaching it without a turnbuckle or threaded terminal, the cable would eventually stretch through people leaning against it, children climbing, the building settling, etc… You want the ability to go back six months later and tighten up the cable.

How much tension do I need?
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Lexco Cable recommends 350 lbs. of tension on each cable assembly for a cable railing. 350 lbs. of tension is based on following the guidelines in our Basic Framework section for railing framework. If one follows Lexco’s guidelines, Lexco knows through in-field experience that code will be satisfied.

Can I take 90º corners?
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No. A true 90 º corner will tweak the cable no matter what construction of cable is used. The physics of the cable does not allow the tension to be equally transmitted from one side of a corner to the other side. Tension has to be maintained throughout the entire length of the cable run to meet code. Tension in a cable is not like electricity in a wire. An end fitting should be used to make the corner transition and keep the cable tension in a straight line.

What end attachments do I use?
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End attachments are the designer’s personal choice. There are many ways to accomplish the same thing with different fittings. End posts and aesthetics are the most important factors in determining end attachments.

What grade of stainless steel does Lexco use?
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For all major components Lexco uses Type 316 stainless steel. Type 316 is low-carbon “18-8” chromium-nickel stainless steel modified by the addition of molybdenum, which greatly increases its corrosion resistance. T304 stainless steel cable may also be used indoors or where the envrionment is mild.

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Wire rope products are utilized in vastly diverse industries and environments. Our job at Lexco Cable is to guide our customers' decisions in selecting the optimal combination of wire rope products for their unique applications.