We were not aware that these products existed, but when we contacted Wire Care by email, we got a quick answer that there were products we could probably use to make the parking brake cable look original again. They quickly shipped us a box of samples to test for our application. The samples were two-foot long pieces of several types of braided sleeving, plus a color sample.
Wire Care's sample package included two examples of different colors available a two-foot-long samples of black woven sleeving. The packages marked (1) and (2) contain two types of 3/8-in. expandable sleeving, which is what we used. The other package had 5/16-in. expandable sleeving.
The hardware on one end of our cable (see photos) wasn't easily removable, but the other end had a bracket that could be removed with little effort. Once the bracket was off, there were only a couple of collars that the sleeving would have to pass over. When it is pushed against obstructions such as these collars, the end of the sleeving expands enough to make the pass over. Once it is pushed beyond the obstructions, it contracts back down to the 3/8th diameter (without being heated). So, it tightens up around the cable.
Pushing the braided sleeving against a surface or an obstruction expands it like this. The frayed ends can be sealed by quickly passing a flame over them. The sleeving is actually plastic, not fabric, but it has just the right look.
Here the braided sleeving is being pushed on the cable from the right towards the left. It has already passed over the stop nut and is almost pushed up to the collar on the end of the coiled sheathing.
Here's the black expandable sleeving passing over the collar on the end of the coiled metal sheathing that the cable slides through. As we said, it's like watching a snake swallow a fat mouse.
Once the sleeving is pushed onto the parking brake cable, it goes back to 3/8 in. and gives the cable back its original look. If you wanted to you could trim and flame the end. This test worked out well, so now we need to order a piece of the black sleeving long enough to cover the entire parking brake cable.
With our sample pieces, the ends of the expandable sleeving were slightly frayed and the fit around the parking brake cable was just slightly on the loose side. The fraying can be taken care of by trimming and then quickly flaming the end of the sleeve. The loose fit was so slight that we don't think it will be noticeable when we purchase a long enough piece of sleeving to cover the whole cable. If it's more of a problem then we expect, a heat gun may tighten it or some type of adhesive lightly sprayed at certain spots on the cable might help. We could also go to a 5/16-in. expandable sleeving that Wire Car sells. Since it is there mostly for appearance, we think the 3/8-in. will look perfect when the whole cable is covered with it.