Twiddle Method Of Component Replacement

Over the years I've discovered that removing component wire leads from half century old solder lugs on terminal strips and tube sockets can cause the lug to break if care is not taken. When the lug breaks, you've just added a few more hours to the project you're working on.

I've come to use the "Twiddle Method" of component replacement. Don't ask me why it's named twiddle; I didn't name it, nor did I invent the technique, but it does work nicely.

This method requires that the old component is removed such that the wire leads are snipped at the ends of the component body. This really isn't critical; the idea is to have enough remaining lead to "twiddle" the replacement component onto. Since most new components are physically much smaller than the old components, snipping the leads at the old component's body works great.

Center the new component between the two old leads. Just beyond the overlap point (towards the lugs), bend each lead of the new component 90 degrees or so. At the bends, wrap the bent leads around a small screwdriver. Make several turns; you can use anything you want (a small dowel rod for example); the only requirement is that the turns need to be big enough to fit over the legacy wires.


Once again center the new component between the old leads making sure the coiled ends of the new leads overlap the old leads. Adjust as necessary. Clip most (not all) of the excess length of the new leads.

Slip the coiled ends of the new leads over the remains of the old leads; you'll have to do some bending here, but be careful not to crush the coiled ends. Once the leads are overlapped, center the component and lightly crimp the coiled ends of the new leads. You can of course really crush the coiled ends, but lightly crimping them will facilitate removal of the new component in the future if need be. A light crimp will provide more than ample mechanical strength.

Finally, clip all excess lengths off the new leads (if you haven't had to use them....), and solder all the turns of the new leads.

And the final result is:


Not only will this technique save you from busting solder lugs, but it also indicates to a future owner of the radio that someone's been doing some repair work, and that the component may not be original. Of course, just seeing a Sprague Orange Drop in a 1940's Hallicrafters is a pretty good indication by itself that the component isn't original !!

A closing thought. Don't discard the old components. If you have no need for them, just put them in a box and save them. Most hams have no use for fifty year old wax paper capacitors, but the next owner of the radio may want to restore the radio back to original cosmetic condition. The new owner may indeed want to spend the time to restuff the old wax paper capacitors with new components!!

Copyright (c) Mark S. Bell 2005 - 2006