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Old 07-14-2008
Stenn Stenn is offline
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It was said a few pages back, regarding liquid insulation...that it does have it's uses.

I think that answer touches on the real answer to crimp vs. solder....it completely depends on your application.

As an Air Force electronics tech, I was taught in Tech School to always crimp, then solder, all connections to lugs, with non-corrosive, electronics-grade solder, NOT the stuff you find at Home Depot.

As for the threat of creating a solid conductor by allowing solder to flow/wick up into the conductor, ...as another poster here tried to state (although doing so with a typo "...use a heat shrink" ...I think he said)...we were taught to use a heat sink such as an alligator clip, or an actual solder heat sink, clipped just ahead of where the bare wire goes into the insulation, to absorb heat, cool the wire beyond that point, and prevent the wicking of liquid solder into the wire, thereby preventing creating that solid wire we all agree would be bad due to vibration eventually cracking it.

But the key here is the application....I was being taught electronics repair of radios and antenna wires that would be exposed to the elements, not doing auto and boat power wiring. We can not issue unequivocal decrees about what should and should not ever be done....we must consider application.

I can attest to the vibration my Newport 27's Universal 5411 diesel creates in and around the engine compartment, so will take under advisement the information shared here on this forum....the vibration from that diesel, especially with all my ground wires attached at a shared engine bolt, is likely to cause some of those connections to fracture, because I'm sure I did not adequately prevent the wicking of solder down the conductor.

But away from the engine compartment's vibration, crimping, along with solder, and then shrink wrap or silicone grease or dielectric paste, would definitely seal that connection against corrosion if done right...sealed more perfectly than crimping and shrink wrap alone. Those cracks and corrosion observed by CruisingDad? were likely the result of cold solder joints (improper/inadequate heating of BOTH the lug and the wire), which would then result in those cracks, which would then allow corrosion from inside the connection. But RF(radio frequency)/antenna connections should definitely be soldered, for example.

But I think one of the final points mentioned, that crimping is easier, is the real reason why nobody's been willing to discuss applications first, before declaring as Gospel that solder should never be used, only crimping.

By the way, someone (maybe as a joke?) asked what's a good soldering iron to use. I use a butane-refillable, variable-heat (10 to 60 watts) soldering iron that also has varous tips like a mini blowtorch tip that is excellent at shrinking shrinkwrap, and have even carried it with me up the mast in the bosun's chair, to repair my running light. Up there, corrosion and moisture are the biggest threats to a poor connection, not vibration, and micro-sealing those conductors in solder is a sure way to prevent moisture from getting into the connection and corroding it again, as long as adequate heat is applied to actually bond both conductors to the solder. Personally, I would not have confidence in a crimped connection up there....I'm sure I'd be repairing it again. But I will certainly stop soldering connections that will be subjected to severe engine vibration...

...and maybe go whole-hog and buy one of those outrageously expensive ratcheting crimpers.

By the way, speaking of going whole-hog/overboard...you guys that have been so strident in your ONLY CRIMP declarations have not taken into account that you are also talking about doing the perfect job, with the perfect tool, with the perfect materials.....like the $1 per lug, seamless, copper-lined stuff and the $50 crimpers. Come ON !!! Do you really think the majority will actually go out and look for and buy all that stuff.....like the expensive, adhesive-lined shrinkwrap...when we could just buy a $5 can of liquid insulation (and it DOES provide strain relief....but YES, it's VERY messy!)...or an assortment of non-adhesive shrinkwrap from Harbor Freight Tools.....

...maybe each skipper answering needs to declare first whether they read "Good Old Boat" or "Cruising World," so we know what kind of money your answers presuppose? (If you can't tell, I'm a "Good Old Boat" guy

Stenn on the Chesapeake

Last edited by Stenn; 07-14-2008 at 11:09 PM.
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