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TECH:Quick little beginers guide to terminating wires for beginners

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Dreddybear, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. 55willys
    Joined: Dec 7, 2012
    Posts: 1,615


    I use a Thomas&Bates crimper, got it from Waytec where I also get my other wiring products. Jim (55willys)
  2. one37tudor
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 146


    When you use a crimp type connector then solder the joint you are inviting a problem unless you also use the shrink wrap. Using the shrink wrap minimizes the vibration impact and may also meet the requirements that you not rely on solder alone?

    I use connectors from They sell connectors that are made to be crimped and others that are designed to be soldered and shrink wrapped. You also can by the connectors without the irritating plastic pieces on them.

  3. mammyjammer
    Joined: May 23, 2009
    Posts: 506

    from Area 51

    Good write up! That little torch is on the list for my next Home Depot run.
    I have had good results with Kline crimpers and strippers. Not cheap but they should last a lifetime in hobby use.
  4. iroc409
    Joined: May 24, 2012
    Posts: 93


    So very true! :p

    It also says if you do use solder, it must be fixed/supported. They want you to minimize vibration of the joint. In applications such as headlight plugs and stuff, you're not going to be able to really effectively minimize vibration to the joint.

    I have heard anecdotal evidence of breakage once or twice.

    I don't think it's the end of the world if you solder, but if it's a vibration-prone location or a critical circuit it should probably be properly crimped.

    These days you can buy some pretty good crimp tools for cheap. They don't compare to Knipex and the like, but they do OK for occasional work. I have the Channellock ones mentioned and they are awesome for regular old barrel connectors. The rest I have inexpensive ratcheting/non-ratcheting crimpers.

    ETA: I also love using adhesive-lined heat shrink. I don't generally like using the generic insulated barrel connectors and terminals. I have bad luck with the crimps (though I picked up a cheap ratcheting tool that helps). Instead, I use non-insulated with the channellock tool. Slip on the special shrink tube and hit it with the heat gun. It shrinks, the glue melts, and it seals the connection. It also helps keep the connection together (like the secondary mechanical connection with solder) and seals out the elements from corrosion.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2013
  5. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,884


    You all know I'm clueless on electrical stuff, right? Just wonder why 15 MILLION Model T Fords had soldered connections, were there road vibrations 1908-1927? Bob
  6. As a retired electrician and 'the guy' everyone brought their vehicle wiring problems to, I've seen every wiring connection sin you can imagine plus a few....

    I quit soldering on vehicles years ago. The heat required to get a good solder joint will destroy the annealing in the copper and make the metal brittle, as well as promoting faster corrosion. If you insist on soldering, using heat shrink over the entire joint is critical to help transfer any stress to the insulation. Avoid the insulated connectors like the plague as it's nearly impossible to get a 100% crimp with those. They were never intended for vehicle use in the first place. If you use the 'correct' crimp tool that gives a 100% crimp without badly deforming the connector you'll never have a failure. Avoid the single-size crimp tools, get one that does two sizes; generally 18-14 and 10-12. Klein, Ideal, T&B all sell models for about $30. I've got a Thomas & Betts crimper that's probably older than I am that goes to 22 gauge.

    Soldering has been illegal for at least 50 years in inspected electrical installations (except for 'approved assemblies', i.e. UL or CSA says it's ok) and there's multiple reasons for that. Almost all field connections are supposed to be mechanical, and on the very rare occasions where something more is wanted, we used a 'cadweld' which involved a carbon mold and a copper/bronze/magnesium mixture that you lit like a firework. Every once in a while one would blow up too....
  7. olcarguy
    Joined: Mar 23, 2008
    Posts: 85


    Copper cannot be heat treated. Heating copper only anneals it, doesn't mater if you quench it or let it cool slow it will still be soft. Copper does however work harden, hammering, flexing or vibration will cause it to become brittle.
  8. So ,what about heat shrink tubing ?? Whats the best type,lining, thickness, etc.etc.etc??
  9. outlaw256
    Joined: Jun 26, 2008
    Posts: 2,023


    that's a good tech dreddy.i like the look of it the done wires. I crimp everything. I never had one come apart well not yet.but I have had a soldered one come apart on me but I think that was my work not the
  10. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 4,122


    Have done both but prefer crimped connectors. Use the bare ones with shrinkon tube even inside--never use the plastic coated ones. My crimp tool is a Thomas and Betts stacon tool that I carried in the utility job for 30 plus years and works well. For battery ends I use an old overhead line compression tool that crimps all the way around the barrel--never had a failure yet. Good tech !!
  11. If it's in a dry environment and 'loomed'/supported well, most anything will work. Anywhere else, the shrink tube should have 'finished' thickness equal to the wire insulation and having an internal glue/sealer is good too.

    One last thing to consider... Most of your commercially available crimps are tinned copper. The ring/spade terminals are a bit delicate and can break off rather easily. Nearly all OEM and aftermarket 'blade' terminals are tinned brass and much tougher.

    I really like Deutch connectors personally. Once you buy the needed 'special' crimper, these are easy to assemble/disassemble, weatherproof, and offer excellent strain relief for the wire. Not cheap, but very nearly bulletproof.
  12. Skeezix
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 845

    from SoCal

    The components on our ECUs at work are soldiered - as are our engine harnesses. The work fine.
    We make LeMans and Indy Car engines and electrics ( Honda )

    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
  13. 62nova
    Joined: Jul 13, 2008
    Posts: 340


    I'll add that a soldering gun and a hot air gun, instead of an open flame ,will make life easier when you're on your back under a dash
  14. '51 Norm
    Joined: Dec 6, 2010
    Posts: 726

    '51 Norm
    from colorado

    I don't like the plastic sleeves found on most connectors and have found that a wire wheel will quickly remove a "stripe" of plastic so that the sleeve will drop off.

    Of course if you aren't careful the wire wheel will also quickly remove your fingernail.
  15. Ramblur
    Joined: Jun 15, 2005
    Posts: 2,101


    I have had a soldered connection fail and it was a ROYAL BITCH to troubleshoot.
    Female spade connector on the overdrive circuit in my 49 Hudson. Pretty work,
    shrink wrapped and all. No relative movement in the wires either. Just way overkill on the solder joint (from a PO). Solder had wicked up the wire nearly a half inch and
    thats were it broke,inside the insulation,under the shrink wrap. No outward sign of a problem just a really frustrating intermittent OD engagement issue. Easy fix,just took forever to find it.
    Still,I like to solder/shrink wrap my stuff, just don't overdue it.

    '51 Norm brings up a good point too,if I'm soldering up a wire end I only use
    non-insulated ends or remove the plastic sleeve from the insulated ones

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