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Crimp or sorder


GlennWest
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I know the general opinion is sorder will stiffen to point of breaking wire. In my lifestyle, welding, I constantly see crimp welding ends failure. Moisture gets in, corodes the wire and crimp joint and it fails. See them catch on fire from the heat. So on our camper so, hooking up batteries, inverters, etc, wouldn't sorder work better? Our use won't see any or very little movement. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Every crimped end I ever had failed. Maybe I'm just too hard on stuff. All battery ends we use on the farm are soldered with heat shrink tube. So far several trucks, a D 6 dozer, and numerous tractors. Have not seen one fail yet. These are not highway trucks either. They are bounced around in fields and washboard roads. They take more pounding in a week than a highway truck does in a year.

Following advice I got on here I did get a crimped end on cable from the battery to my inverter. It pulled out. I even had the guy at the welding store crimp it on with his fancy crimping machine. Another crimped end on my generator pulled out. The main power to the solenoid. That is a soldered end now also. Any of the mechanics around here make battery cables with soldered ends.

I needed a new one for my Pete. I didn't have the cable to make it so I called a shop and picked it up. Sure enough soldered ends. I gave him some grief over it. It wont work. Soldered ends fail. He must have heard it before because he came back with, How many hundreds have I made? Not one came back.

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There's always one.  Every vehicle standards body agrees on crimping (done right).  The National Marine Manufacturer's Association says you should crimp.  The American Boat and Yacht Councils says the same.  Both say that if you have some reason you want to solder anyway, you must also crimp over it for durability.  No boat comes from the factory with soldered connections.  I've never seen or heard of any RV with soldered connections.  When a car manufacturer had to do a harness repair on my friends vehicle, guess what the official documentation from the manufacturer said to do?

What can go wrong with solder?  I had an old Honda trail bike catch fire under my butt because the soldered-on battery terminal was mechanically sound, but electrically unstable inside.  You couldn't see it, but the cable was kind of floating in crap that sort of carried power, but got really hot doing so.  The soldering process had created a void and it got worse over time.  I had a boat with a weird electrical problem that would come and go.  A soldered connector had caused some slight jacket damage and hardening of the cable and jacket so water got in and corroded the wire.  The end looked good, but six inches in the wire was powder.  My dad taught me how to work on electricity and electronics, he was a solder guy.  When he moved from CA to FL and a very corrosive environment in a slip in the ICW, he started having solder connections just fall apart.  The solder was more easily corroded than the wire.

I've never had a good heat shrink waterproof connector fail in any way.  I've had a few of the cheap junk butt connectors fail when first tested, and you remove/replace it and start over.  I've never seen the end crimps, caps, or Dolphin splices fail out of thousands I've encountered in my job.  The instant-sealing Dolphins are great for small wires on RVs.  I used a few for my battery monitor and other signal wires.

https://abycinc.org/blogpost/1678504/293794/Does-Your-Boat-s-Wiring-Meet-ABCY-E-11-Standards--Ed-Sherman

 

Another common misconception dictates that the best of all connections is a soldered connection. However with stranded wire, the solder bonds the individual strands together, making a solid, inflexible wire. ABYC standards prohibit soldering as the sole means of making a connection because the newly solid wire is subject to cracking or breaking through vibration and flexing. A more practical solution is to use a crimp connector described above. Wires should never be joined simply by soldering and taping (or heat shrink); however, if solder is used, use only 60%/40% rosin core or solid solder, soldering after the butt connector is crimped. Acid core solder as used in plumbing may never be used in any electrical wiring.

 

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If you test it by pulling hard when you first crimp it, they may fail, and you go back and do it right.  I've never seen one fail after being done right and being in service.  And like I said, I haven't seen one of the caps or Dolphins ever fail, even on initial test, because it's almost impossible to do those wrong.

 

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I use the belt and suspenders approach.  Put a new piece of waterproof shrink tubing over the end of the wire, then slip it back over the insulation a few inches to keep it out of the way.  Use a bare crimp terminal and crimp it in place.  Heat the terminal and the wire protruding out of the lug end of the terminal and flow a small amount of solder into the end of the exposed wire, making sure the wire is hot enough to let the solder flow smoothly into the exposed end strands. 

The idea is to form a bond between the wire and the terminal at the front edge of the crimp while keeping the back end cool enough so the solder doesn't flow far enough to stiffen the wire after it leaves the back of the crimp.  Let it cool, then slip the shrink tubing over the connection and shrink it in place. 

Edited by Lou Schneider
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That is a pretty good approach.  Excessive in my opinion, but safe.  Just one minor note--per standards, you should put a through-crimp and self-sealing heat shrink on the wire, and move them away from the joint.  Then solder the wires, then put the crimp OVER the solder.  The reason is that soldering to the crimp itself creates a weak spot and/or vibration point.

 

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Carlos is spot on. A good mechanical crimp is the way to go in a vibration environment except for very small wires, that are too difficult to crimp. Like 22ga, etc. A PROPER crimp will not fail. Period. I've seen LOTS of very "experienced" shops crimp stuff and do it totally wrong - typically with the wrong equipment, or dies that are wrong, or dies that are 50 years old and never adjusted, etc. It all depends on the competence and training of the person doing the work. The crimp and solder routine that Lou describes is the way I did it for a long time....but it is overkill and takes way too long if you are doing it for money. Just my opinion, but the "science" is pretty strong on this point, anecdotal evidence not withstanding.

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Cold solder joints are more common than one thinks. A  solid solder joint requires much more than knowing how turn on the iron and melt the solder. As Jack said, it takes time and experience to do it correctly. As to crimping, IMO a hydraulic crimper is much better than a hammer-type crimper; then soldering with high-quality solder  to insure a low-resistance connection. A soldered connection seldom breaks if properly supported.

Then what do I know? I'm and amateur-at everything.

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33 minutes ago, GlennWest said:

 You guys might just have talked into buying a hydraulic crimper. Been looking at them. Any tips on what to get or avoid. Looking at one that does 4.0.

Glenn, it mostly depends on how much money you want to spend, and how often you use it. When I was doing solar installs and actively working on electric in RVs I had both a hand hydraulic crimper, a hammer crimper, and a nifty electric (battery) hydraulic crimper that really did a nice easy job. You can get a decent hydraulic crimper at Harbor Freight - but I'll tell you that the 4/0 die on the one I have is not accurate and makes it difficult to crimp 4/0. The rest of the dies are fine. So buyer beware.

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Hah!  Good old Harbor Freight.  They seem to only randomly get things right.  I once bought one of their medium utility trailers.  The bolt heads were metric, and the nut heads were SAE.  But they fit together.  Their ratcheting crimper for 18-10 wire also has bad dies.  I don't recall the details, just a few connectors pulled out before I realized my buddy was using that.  A proper set of dies makes all the difference.  In fact, the rest of the tool is probably unimportant.

I was lucky to get into telecom long ago and learn about crimping.  As Jack said, soldering small wires is fine because the inertia is low so they won't break.  They are also small enough for good flow.  Soldering a large connector properly requires specialized tools, including an oven.  Taking a torch to a large wire/connector and flowing it that way may or may not work.  You can never know since you can't see the area where the faults would be.  On the small connectors, if you ever need to do them, look at self-sealing Dolphins (no stripping needed), or end cap crimps.

Again, not my opinion...there are standards bodies for all this stuff. 

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2 hours ago, Jack Mayer said:

Glenn, it mostly depends on how much money you want to spend, and how often you use it. When I was doing solar installs and actively working on electric in RVs I had both a hand hydraulic crimper, a hammer crimper, and a nifty electric (battery) hydraulic crimper that really did a nice easy job. You can get a decent hydraulic crimper at Harbor Freight - but I'll tell you that the 4/0 die on the one I have is not accurate and makes it difficult to crimp 4/0. The rest of the dies are fine. So buyer beware.

With the volt battery I intend to use 4/0 wire. Thanks for the heads up about harbor freight. Most of the ones I see on Amazon are metric. Will the metric one work on 4/0 connectors here? They priced 50.00-100.00

Edited by GlennWest
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A properly done crimp compresses the wire until it is solid.....thus there is no room for solder.

I use to solder welding cables and the strand broke clean across the edge of the solder. Now I crimp welding cables and they still break but I can do 3-4 crimps in the time it took to solder 1. There a lot being asked of the wire and connectors that have 30lb swinging off it or worse when it is used to pull the welding machine around.

Problem with solder is the flux that is introduced. The jacket on a wire is not waterproof. Even with heatshrink the flux continues to corrode the wires which reduces the codutivety of the wire.

 

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3 hours ago, GlennWest said:

Thanks for the offer but I have seen too many premade cables fail. 

Yeah, I probably would too, after all, you see Pete's and KW's littering the roadside all across the country from their cable ends coming off. Now if Scrap had access to Volvo cable part numbers that could be used to wire up your camper batteries, I'm sure they would work. :ph34r:

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