Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Spokane, WA
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Crimping should only be done with the proper tools. For a large diameter cable such as a battery cable the proper crimper will have a mechanical advantage such as a screw, lever or hydraulic mechanism to exert enough pressure to insure a good crimp. I have seen for sale a “crimp” device you use with a hammer or mallet. While it will compress the metal of the connector it will not provide a gas tight joint. The ONLY crimp tools I have seen that will perform correctly are professional, heavy duty, tools and are not available from Home Depot, Radio Shack or the like.
I routinely crimped connectors to wire from 24 AWG to 750MCM (cable about 1 ½” in diameter) and have taught crimping in a manufacturing facility. Crimping is one of the best ways to make an electrical connection.
Crimping IS swaging the wire to the connector. A proper crimp leaves nothing in the joint but metal. In a good crimp, the metal of the wire strands and the metal of the crimp connector cold flow together to eliminate everything else. So if you have room for solder paste you have not done a proper crimp. A proper crimp is extremely reliable under most conditions, definitely under all conditions found on a sailboat.
I suspect that those of you who insist on soldering or think that crimping is not good enough have experienced only poor crimps. Crimping is a skill that would behoove those of you who do your own electrical work to invest in the proper tools and practice, practice, practice. Many maintenance technicians I have met in the auto, marine, or most other general public repair facilities have never had a class in crimping and simply squeeze the connector onto the wire without knowing the why or how of the process. Many also use the tools that you can buy at, you guessed it, Home Depot and Radio Shack. The proper tools should be available on the internet, almost everything else is. Make sure it has a mechanism to insure enough pressure for the crimp, sometimes a ratchet, sometimes a mechanical stop that must come together before the crimp can be considered compete.
If the crimp is in a very moist environment I have been know to put some silicon marine calk inside my heat-shrink tubing as I slide it over the joint. This will waterproof the crimp and prevent water migration along the insulation of the wire. This is functionally the same as the adhesive lined shrink some of the marine connectors have.
I’m not trying to create an argument, just pass on some of my expertise. You are invited to listen or not, that is obviously your choice. I don’t expect to change anyones methods if they “know” better. But please don’t confuse the issue to those who are trying to learn.
Last edited by dave.verry; 08-19-2006 at 08:46 PM.