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Old 04-09-2009
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How to join big wires to little wires

Hi everyone,

I've got to join some big wires to little wires. For example, I've run 12 & 10 awg to some lights which have pigtails that look like 16 awg. The one I've done, I twisted, soldered and then heat shrinked. Is there some sort of mechanical crimp connection like a butt connector that connects different sizes wires? What's commonly done? Soldering is a pain (and controversial). I've also got some lights, the wires are tiny. Short of a wire nut, how do I connect to that!!??

Any advice appreciated.

Preserved.

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Old 04-09-2009
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Use a bus bar..
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A terminal strip is one option. A step-down-butt splice connector would work as well. However, a terminal strip is simpler in some ways and allows you to disconnect the light in the case you need to replace the fixture.
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Pig tail

Why not use a twist on pig tail connector if you're afraid of soldering, which I would do.
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Twist on pig tail type connectors are really not a good idea on a boat. They can trap moisture and cause corrosion issues.
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Why not use a twist on pig tail connector if you're afraid of soldering, which I would do.
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Yes, but they are the easiest to replace if they fail. And you can always use some of that special sealing grease on the connector and inside of it. Unfortunately I can remember what the grease is but it is used inside of electrical and electromechanical equipment to keep out moisture.
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Old 04-10-2009
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step down butt splices are good. If you don't have any - use regular butt splices of next larger size and put both wires inside one end - it crimps well, and creates just as good of a connection. It is probably a good idea to close the other end - I use liquid electric tape for that.
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Crimp on boats, not wire nuts.

Last edited by floatsome; 04-10-2009 at 05:07 PM.
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Well,

Thanks Sailingdog, I was able to find some step-down butt splices today at Battery World here in Portland Maine. Just what I was looking for. I thought something like that must exist, I'd just never seen any.

I must say, this rewiring project is way more work than I anticipated. A big part of this for me has been collecting of materials. I can go to a supply store (hour away) stock up on what I'm sure will be enough, and of course it's not. I wasn't good enough to buy everything I need at once. At this point I've replaced every wire and fixture on the boat, except for the engine harness. Next time (never) I'll be much more efficient. And, for those thinking of undertaking this project, expect it to cost much more than you think. Take no shortcuts, use good materials, good tools, and you'll be surprised how much all these little parts add up.

Killick
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IIRC, that Battery World is the one Maine Sail shops at... they're a good source for FTZ heat shrink terminals and Berkshire wire—both of which are superior to and less expensive than Ancor's equivalent.
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Originally Posted by preservedkillick View Post
Well,

Thanks Sailingdog, I was able to find some step-down butt splices today at Battery World here in Portland Maine. Just what I was looking for. I thought something like that must exist, I'd just never seen any.

I must say, this rewiring project is way more work than I anticipated. A big part of this for me has been collecting of materials. I can go to a supply store (hour away) stock up on what I'm sure will be enough, and of course it's not. I wasn't good enough to buy everything I need at once. At this point I've replaced every wire and fixture on the boat, except for the engine harness. Next time (never) I'll be much more efficient. And, for those thinking of undertaking this project, expect it to cost much more than you think. Take no shortcuts, use good materials, good tools, and you'll be surprised how much all these little parts add up.

Killick
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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