thanks jon for the link. while it is helpful to visualize the pieces of the connector, i'm still struggling with separating it.
the cable isn't the issue... it is very light gauge, and appears to have a foil shield, which is part of what made me want to replace it, with something both heavier and more flexible.
the question in my mind is whether the rubber strain relief goes all the way through the connector to insulate the plug end from the body, in which case perhaps the issue is one of melted insulation in there.
and what's especially frustrating is that years ago know i soldered up one of these. it's the details that have been lost in the mists of time.