Crimping versus Soldering - Page 14 - SailNet Community

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  #131  
Old 05-26-2009
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"The only other thing I can think of is that the salt might affect the solder in some way, but I doubt that is true since it is mostly lead."
You've been misinformed. Electrical solder *was* usually a tin/lead mix 60/40 ratio, so it was only 40% lead. But lead has been discouraged and often banned for quite a while now, lead-free solder has become the norm. So yes, there are galvanic effects and corrosion possible between the wire and the solder and the fittings.
On the other hand, NASA and the USAF use solder-filled fittings made by 3M for wiring that goes up up up. The fittings are soldered by heat gun or IR gun and they shrink-fit over the wires, the solder comes from internal rings in the shrink sleeve. The fittings are waterproof and gas (atmosphere) proof when properly made. But, those aren't cheap fittings. :-)
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  #132  
Old 05-26-2009
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Its a bunch of hogwash - crimps fail just as much as one does that is soldered. There is no such thing as a perfect solder job as nor is there the perfect crimp. What protects the connection is the shrink tubing. A few things to consider:

1. crimp is a mechanical connection only.
2. solder is chemical connection if done properly.

Neither of the two work properly without concerns for connectivity and prevention of corrosion.

None of the two account for the type of connections being used. I have said this time and time again - soldering is a great agent for connections and the result is often stronger than the gauge of wire required to connect. Heat shrink connections offer that mechanical buffer that is all. Crimp - solder, do both - the weakest point will still be the quality of connection or quality of the wire. Just that simple. A boats electronics - the wiring doesn't move or get stressed out any more than a car does - seriously. If you have a boat that flexes that much then stop putting electronics ins a West Marine dinghy.

The factor in longevity is preventing corrosion from the latent salt air. Whether you crimp or solder - its the application of covering to prevent intrusion of elements that defines the bond. Just like you can't take a LCD and place in the cockpit - you first have to do some sealing to marinize it...I've seen both suffer death throws... try hard enough you make even the most respected solution fail..
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  #133  
Old 05-26-2009
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While I have always preferred a nicely soldered connection, I will say that my mind has been changed (and not by this discussion). I friend brought his '32 ford hotrod into my shop for an intermittent no stall/no start. When the problem occurred the fuel pump was not running. After much hair pulling I traced the problem down to a connection he made by soldering 3 wires together. The wires were first twisted together in such a way as to make a strong connection even without soldering. Then they were soldered. The solder was shiny and bright, and none of the wires were the least bit loose. When the problem occurred I could touch this connection and the fuel pump ran again. I replaced the solder connection with a crimp connector and the problem was solved for good. The solder connection worked perfectly for 2 years before the problem, and I still can't tell you what was wrong with it. It looked great to me.

I'm sold. I don't solder anything together unless there's a very good reason to do so.


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Originally Posted by artbyjody View Post
Its a bunch of hogwash - crimps fail just as much as one does that is soldered. There is no such thing as a perfect solder job as nor is there the perfect crimp. What protects the connection is the shrink tubing. A few things to consider:

1. crimp is a mechanical connection only.
2. solder is chemical connection if done properly.

Neither of the two work properly without concerns for connectivity and prevention of corrosion.

None of the two account for the type of connections being used. I have said this time and time again - soldering is a great agent for connections and the result is often stronger than the gauge of wire required to connect. Heat shrink connections offer that mechanical buffer that is all. Crimp - solder, do both - the weakest point will still be the quality of connection or quality of the wire. Just that simple. A boats electronics - the wiring doesn't move or get stressed out any more than a car does - seriously. If you have a boat that flexes that much then stop putting electronics ins a West Marine dinghy.

The factor in longevity is preventing corrosion from the latent salt air. Whether you crimp or solder - its the application of covering to prevent intrusion of elements that defines the bond. Just like you can't take a LCD and place in the cockpit - you first have to do some sealing to marinize it...I've seen both suffer death throws... try hard enough you make even the most respected solution fail..
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  #134  
Old 05-27-2009
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Nigel Calder recommends soldering.

I have had to backtrack on this one.
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  #135  
Old 05-27-2009
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Just because Nigel Calder recommends it, doesn't make it right. For instance, Don Casey recommends that you tighten deck hardware partially, until the sealant cures and then finish tightening it after it has fully cured, which is also clearly wrong... and leads to more expensive repairs than properly countersinking the fastener holes and tightening it down once. While Don and Nigel are highly respected, some of their recommendations have since been disproven by real-world experience.

I'd also point out that soldering requires a deft hand and knowledge of how to do so properly to get a decent connection and requires a mechanical connection as well afterwards.

Crimping a connection is far easier for most people to do, and provides both a mechanical and electrical connection at once. Using the proper crimp tool and decent crimp connectors makes it very simple to get a solid and consistent connection.

I'd also point out that adhesive lined heat shrink tubing is really a good idea regardless of whether you crimp or solder.
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  #136  
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War stories aside;

Mechanical (crimping) connections are formed by plastic deformation of the metals. The resultant connection starts out tight and then loosens over time. Once the connection loosens slightly, its conductivity plummets; this is why high power DC connections often overheat - they become poor conductors, and the current increases over time - until the connection is hot to the touch, or your boat burns to the waterline. Exposure to humid air and salt increases oxidative degradation. Crimped connections are a perfect candidate for crevice corrosion - the interstitial spaces between wires and between the wires and the connector pull in water by capillary action. Oxidative and galvanic corrosion increase the looseness of the connection.

Vibrations, and harmonic frequencies of all of the primary vibrations on a sail boat concentrate naturally at stress risers - the crimped connection is a huge stress riser, and will often fail through vibrational induced brittle fracture at the connection point.

Silver solder, with at least 3-4% silver, and rosin core flux, makes a poor mechanical connection (it is not glue) and an excellent electrical connection. A properly soldered mechanical connection is immune to crevice corrosion, it can corrode on the outside surface only. Vibrational analysis has proved over the last century or so that a properly soldered connection will last many orders of magnitude longer than a mechanical connection.

Many of the horror stories of soldered connections are no doubt from uninformed boaters using acid core solder that he had left over from the plumbing project to solder wires. The acid flux will eat the copper and tin in about a week. And of course, it is perfectly easy to make a solder joint look great and be useless; cold solder joints are difficult to detect - you have to know how to solder. Mechanical joints are easier to test (pull on the wire) but you will never make acceptable crimped connections with the Wal-Mart crimper that came free with the 12 feet of 12 gauge wire.

Anyhow...

The best of both methods can be had, and the drawbacks of each reduced, by soldering a connection first and then adding a mechanical connector.

The advantage of the ring, spade, etc. mechanical connector is that it makes a much better connection to terminal blocks and connection to devices than a soldered wire, and it is removable.

The soldered connection prevents loosening of the mechanical connection and corrosion beyond surface corrosion.

Best Regards,

e


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  #137  
Old 05-27-2009
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"Crimping a connection is far easier for most people to do,"
And perhaps not, since most newbs will go down to the auto parts store and buy a $5-with-500-pieces crimp set that looks just like the $50 set but is doomed to fail. In crimping, just as with soldering, folks need to be aware of the details. The cheap sets are often just dimensioned wrong, and the cheap sleeves made incorrectly. They'll get you home, they just won't last ten years. Or they'll fall apart a good percent of the time.

Acid-core solder is a good suspect for a failed connection. Or maybe wires that weren't clean to start with. Or maybe just a cold solder joint, that problem affects production lines as well as hand work. If a 3-wire connection really had a perfectly solid mechanical twist under the solder--it wouldn't have failed even if the solder had. Obviously the solder had not wetted out and penetrated the wires, making that a failure due to a cold solder joint.

And since it was in a hot rod--we have to assume the wires were all proper stranded wires, not solid ones, to begin with. Right? That would be another failure mode, regardless of connection type.
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  #138  
Old 05-27-2009
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In car stereo installation we learned NOT to solder if we didn't want to see an install come back. Crimp it right and it stays solid.
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  #139  
Old 05-27-2009
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Do we think were going to change any minds at this point
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  #140  
Old 05-27-2009
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Can a professional electrician or electrical worker make a consistently good solder joint? Probably.
Can a professional electrician or electrical worker make a consistently good crimp? Probably.
Can a doctor, lawyer, or whoever owns a boat make a consistently good solder joint? Probably not.
Can a doctor, lawyer, or whoever owns a boat make a consistently good crimp? Probably with the proper tools and connectors and the proper instructions.
The proper crimper is not very expensive nor are the connectors. Adhesive heat shrink must be used afterwards to seal out moisture or connectors with adhesive heatshrink can be used. Tinned marine wire should be used. Even if you are making battery cables the tools are not that expensive when compared to getting the cables professionally done. As to the proper instructions see Mainesail's links below for some of the best information available with an easy to follow pictorial and tool model numbers as well.
All About Marine Wire Termination Photo Gallery by Maine Sailing at pbase.com
Making Your Own Battery Cables Photo Gallery by Maine Sailing at pbase.com
If crimping is standard with the FAA, USAF, and ABYC it should work for you.
Brian
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