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Make Your Own Inexpensive Battery Cable

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 43gman, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. Solder connections should be fine providing you can get all the flux removed. You'd have to pre-tin the wire and the lugs, unless they already tinned. After soldering, again, clean and clean to remove the flux. You also have to have a pretty good sized iron or induction means of soldering.

  2. unkledaddy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2006
    Posts: 2,865


    The dielectric grease is great for high-temp, high-voltage spark plug boots. It allows for easy installation and removal of the boot while sealing it.

  3. Yeah and no matter how careful you are this shit will end up every where, 3 days after use you will find some behind your ear.

    but it is good shit used for more than bolts

  4. Dielectric grease is to keep electrolysis from happening in a situation where electrolysis is a problem like where you have a connection with unlike metals that are non compatible, like steel and brass etc. Also helps to ward off electrolysis where you have an electrical connection. IE it will conduct but it keeps corrosion away.

    Battery cables for welding lead is a good idea I have been using it for years when I have the opportunity. I may have used a heavier ground lead if it were me but single 0 should be OK.

    Good tech to use welding lead for battery cables.
  5. stevechaos13
    Joined: Sep 11, 2008
    Posts: 419


    Yep they're damn good cables, very heavy duty.
    However I've only used em on my BMW E30.
    Not sure how useful they would be for other applications. The ground would be fine I suppose, but the positive might not be long enough for most cars from engine to trunk. Would work fine in this application though I suspect.
    Kuddos to everyone for turning this guys attempt at an insightful tech thread into a pissing match.
  6. Topper
    Joined: Feb 2, 2010
    Posts: 90


    I use 00 welding wire and then cut to length,solder and crimp. I go to Northern Tool and usually let the salesperson do the measuring, while I watch and ask questions. I asked for 20 feet and when I left I could barely carry it to the truck. I like their math better than mine.
  7. "Inexpensive" is a relative term. When compared to cable that is marketed as "battery cable" of the same gauge and strand count, the welding cable is quite a bit cheaper.

    The dielectric grease/silicone isn't what is conducting the current, however. Where it gets wiped away between the metal conductors during installation is where the conduction occurs.
  8. belyea_david
    Joined: Sep 21, 2010
    Posts: 134

    from Regina, SK

    Beep Beep Back the bus up. When you say current flows on the surface of a conductor, you are referring to the "Skin Effect" ( The Skin Effect is only applicable to alternating current. From the wikipedia article, the skin effect at household AC frequency (60 Hz) is 8.5 mm. In other words, at household frequencies, the complete cross-section of the conductor is carrying current.

    As you get into radio frequencies, the skin effect becomes much more important. Many shortwave radio antennas are made of copper clad steel wire (something like 1 - 2 thousandths of actual copper), these antennas act exactly like pure copper wires.

    For DC current, the most important thing is to get a high quality electrical connection. Solder, tape and heatshrink are your friends.
  9. 53sled
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 5,818

    from KCMO

    that is too much info for cheap bastards like me. When i made mine a couple years back,
    i used propane torch heat on the end of my cheap home depot cable (a little stiff but thats ok) and the $1 copper end, melt a bunch of solder in, dip it down and let cool. I can start my 350 from the trunk with a 400 amp battery. two 10' leads. one is wrapped in red vinyl tape i got as a sample roll at work.
  10. It's funny that with all of the knowledge that we have here on the HAMB that we haven't solved world hunger or found a cure for cancer yet... :)

    But I can make a hot rod use a lot of gas and make awesome black stripes on the blacktop, so that's a start!

    Thanks for the info though! I hadn't thought of getting the local tractor shop to make my cables. I never was all that good at soldering.
  11. seventhirteen
    Joined: Sep 21, 2009
    Posts: 721

    from dago, ca

    a 6' cable with ends from autozone is 12.99, i'd forget the inexpensive part and just call them cool
  12. JEM
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 1,040


    Harbor Freight sells a hand-pump hydraulic crimp/swage tool that works quite nicely for putting lugs on welding cable to make battery cables.

    Provides crimping dies for everything from 10AWG up to 2/0 though you've got to use a little judgment in selecting the die based on the terminal you're crimping, not just pick it out of the box based on the number on the die.
  13. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,482

    Atwater Mike

    I like these lugs, I'd use them on this gauge cable. I DON'T like the imminent acid corrosion from large soldered joints this size. Doesn't happen overnight, more when you least expect it.
    The resistance it causes is detected under load, in voltage. (a ways down the road, usually far from home!)
  14. rainhater1
    Joined: Oct 5, 2009
    Posts: 1,147

    from az

    I have seen the solder melt from the connector because of a high restant load on the wire ? Crimp is the way to go.
  15. Stink63
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 70

    from coumbus,Oh

    this folks is the correct answer. Done.
  16. davidbistolas
    Joined: May 21, 2010
    Posts: 962


    Yeah, but that's cos we'd suggest feeding the cancerous to the hungry...
  17. Bigdaddyhemi
    Joined: Sep 1, 2010
    Posts: 361


    I would be more concerned about sitting with a battery under my ass than connections
  18. AllSteel36
    Joined: Jul 20, 2009
    Posts: 562

    from California

    I wouldn't worry about soldering the connections, they'll out last your life time.

    I soldered the connections on my Dad's Peterbilt for al 4 batteries and they ran that way for 20+ years, under extreme conditions as well...he pulled bottom dumps, bouncing and jarring around all day.

    PS...someone in the thread mentioned using dieelectric grease under HEI modules. It's not advised (although I never tried it) but the white pasty stuff underneath a module is not dieelctric grease, buta heat sinking compound of some sort.
  19. JEM
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 1,040


    I guess my thing is that with a properly-done crimp and some glue-lined heatshrink over it, solder adds nothing but complexity to the assembly process and, however slight the possibility, the potential for problems down the road.
  20. J&JHotrods
    Joined: Oct 22, 2008
    Posts: 549


    I did NOT expect to learn much from this thread other than the choices(or opinions) for making battery cable connections. The HAMB rules. Thanks to all for the learnins.
  21. Dielectric grease is not designed for heat transfer. It has a very low shear strength and while it can withstand high temperatures, it is not designed as a heat sink. It is better than nothing, but I have seen it ooze out after relatively little time. It just doesn't really want to stay put, it liquefies with heat. What you really want is Thermal Grease (aka Thermal Paste or Heat Paste among other names). It is designed for this purpose and will not only with stand high temps but has higher levels of strength for staying where you put it. Dielectric will work, it's just not the best. Believe it or not, if you are in a jam putting in a new HEI module, toothpaste works very well for this also!
    Dielectric Grease is destined to keep moisture, dirt etc out of electrical connections to ward off corrosion. Because it has a very low shear strength, it is not a big deal to put it over electrical connections directly as the act of putting the connection together will squeeze it away from the electrical connection. While it is true that it cannot enhance an electrical connection, because of it's low pressure strength it will generally not impede an electrical flow either (contrary to the definition of the word Dielectric).
    As for the original post about welding cable, it is a good way to go. The reason for flexible multi stand has as much to do with the flexibility that allows easier installations and higher resistance to breakage, especially in cold weather. The "Skin Effect" does not come into play one bit in DC, you have to be in the megahertz range before there is any effect at all. There is a slight difference in the amount of overall ampacity of fine multiwire vs heavy six strand (for instance) for a given size, but it is really insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
  22. low-n-slo54
    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,920


    I learned that I'll keep going to O'Reilly's for my cables.
  23. Steal your wife's jumper cables, their color coded and sweat on battery terminal ends and
  24. I tired that, but when I asked her where her jumper cables were she just showed me the AAA card.:eek:

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