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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Making Reliable Battery Cable
|Author||Topic: Making Reliable Battery Cable|
posted 10-11-2005 12:25 AM ET (US)
[Seeks] a good solution for terminating battery cables when shortening them. To do a proper crimp requires a die set and a crimping tool matched to the ring terminal. If you don't do this right you will have an unreliable connection.
The battery cables in my Dauntless 14 are about five feet longer than necessary and I would like to shorten them. I am installing a battery switch and will take this occasion to shorten the battery cables.
posted 10-11-2005 01:56 AM ET (US)
My West Marine has the crimp tool and dies. I suspect if you
bought the terminal from them, they'd crimp it. Since
you'd be a small sale, I'd do it on a slow day.
posted 10-11-2005 09:31 AM ET (US)
There is a well-known corollary to Murphy's Law which states:
"Any cable cut to length will be too short."
posted 10-11-2005 11:05 AM ET (US)
The battery lugs can be crimped onto the cable with a blunt cold chisel and a hammer. Basicly that is all that the crimping tool is. Seal the connections with heat shrink.
posted 10-11-2005 11:07 AM ET (US)
Sort of like "I cut it twice and it is still to short"?
I was trying to find a solution that would not require me to pull the cables out of the tunnel. I didn't really expect there were any options but you never know. Maybe I can rent or borrow a crimper somewhere.
posted 10-11-2005 11:42 AM ET (US)
My local West store let me borrow the crimp tool and take it home overnight. Of course they know me well as there is hardly a week I'm not in there for something or other. BillS
posted 10-11-2005 12:16 PM ET (US)
I made my own battery cables for my kicker installation.
I used the Heavy Duty Lug Crimper, Ancor #701010 tool:
The crimper worked very well, a light smack with a hammer is all that was needed. I ran the battery cable first through the rigging tunnel, cut the cable to size, and did the crimps right on the boat.
I purchased the tool, I forget how much it was.
posted 10-11-2005 12:37 PM ET (US)
I'm rewiring right now and am making up my own cables by crimping the lugs with a heavy duty crimper I already have and then soldering each connection before shrink wrapping. I've seen no one mention soldering. Is it ok to solder battery cables? The connections seem to be plenty strong.
posted 10-11-2005 01:21 PM ET (US)
A quote from the Ancor website, tech section:
ANCOR recommends crimping vs. soldering. Per ABYC standards (E-126.96.36.199), “Solder shall not be the sole means of mechanical connection in any circuit”. Further, crimping provides a solid mechanical connection resistant to “cold joints”, breaking under fatigue and removes strain when using ANCOR double crimp nylon connectors."
The terminals are made to be attached to the wire by mechanical means. If you are using tinned marine cable, and the proper terminal end and crimper, there is no need to solder the connection.
posted 10-11-2005 02:25 PM ET (US)
I bought the Ancor heavy-duty lug crimper tool at West Marine for $40. I use it in my bench vise, and it works well.
I wanted to crimp the lugs at West Marine using one of their tools, but apparently they tell people to use their swage tool, which is not designed to crimp battery terminals, it's designed to swage rigging sleeves. You can in fact crimp battery terminals with some success using a number of improvised tools, such as a swager or center punch, but I'd recommend using a tool designed for the job. The proper tool has a carefully designed amount of compression for a given lug and wire size, and the results will not be optimum without the right tool. Despite rumors to the contrary, the West Marine in my area did not have a publically-accessible crimp tool available. Perhaps your indivudual store will have one, but I wouldn't recommend using the swage tool if that's what they tell you to use.
posted 10-11-2005 03:53 PM ET (US)
davej14 - Where in upstate NY do you live? If you are close I have a hydraulic crimper you can use. They work much better than the hammer type.
posted 10-11-2005 04:15 PM ET (US)
I live in Cazenovia, NY and store the boat near Cazenovia, NY. Thank you for the offer. Let me know if you are nearby. In the mean time I'm going to check Boat US in Cicero since we don't have a West Marine nearby.
I have enough experience with crimping die to know the lug has to be sized for the cable AND match the tool to achieve success.
posted 10-11-2005 04:16 PM ET (US)
Should have said "store the boat near Canastota, NY"
posted 10-11-2005 04:22 PM ET (US)
I'm in Lowville and will be going through Utica/Syracuse on Thursday, maybe we can meet. What size cable so I can check the dies I have.
posted 10-12-2005 08:40 AM ET (US)
Instead of buying a heavy duty lug crimper a cheaper alternative would be to purchase a crimp tool (usually between $10-$15.00.
These simple and cheap tools work with the assistance of a vise. You simply align the wire and the lug in the proper size hole/end of the tool. Then place the tool/wire/lug in your vice and tighten.
Looking very quickly I found one of these tools:
Also, I have been told that locking vise grips can be used in an emergency.
posted 10-12-2005 09:42 AM ET (US)
Apply some die-electric grease to the wire before crimping the connector on.
Only ues adhesive lined shrink tubing.
posted 10-13-2005 12:33 PM ET (US)
Another thing about "do it yourself cables". It is best to get a cable with as many strands in the conductor as possible (if you ever get a chance to see welding cable you will see what I mean, the conductor looks like it's made of hair, known as "flex"cable in the wire industry). Tinned copper is light years better than just copper wire. This type of cable costs a lot more but if your going to go thru the trouble of re wiring you might as well do it right.
posted 10-13-2005 10:46 PM ET (US)
The local West Marine in Falmouth, MA will let you use the crimp table. They prefer to do the work but on a busy day they let customers they deem competent do their own. My guess is that other West Marine stores have a crimp table too and will help customers.
Jim’s corollary to Murphy’s Law is right on the money. Give yourself a little extra. You could easily go from 5’ too long to a few inches too short.
posted 03-30-2008 06:55 PM ET (US)
Here are some things I have found WORK well.
As far a battery cables and wires are be very be very carfull what you put on the conector and cable before you crimp it or connect it. Pressure crimping is best hammer crimp is ok (die-electric grease may act as a insulator) It is best to use a high grade anti oxident / inhibitor made for copper to copper connections such as Burndy made penetrox-E, GB made OX-GARD, Kearny made Kearnalex the list goes on the point is use it and YES always use adhesive lined shrink tubing heavy wall is best make it so any stress is past the crimp, some terminal ends are NOT sealed nor make a good seal some for the most part are copper tubing pinched and drilled some are sealed when they tin them get it done right the first time also it is GOOD to put a protectant on the conection once it is made silicon grease may be used but due to heat may not work as well as the anti oxident / inhibitor made buy people like pandute, thomas & betts, burndy, which is enginered to handle extream conditions they make the stuff power companys and electricans use to protect there connectons if you use this you will not be able to solder as a secondary means of conection.
posted 03-31-2008 04:07 PM ET (US)
On another thread the CENTERPIN mechanical connectors were mentioned, and they look pretty good. Here is the URI:
posted 04-07-2008 09:08 PM ET (US)
I`ve made a few battery cables, and never crimped them. I just soldered them in the same way you would a copper pipe. Make sure the end piece fits the cable snugly. Cut back the insulation enough that you can push the copper all the way in the fitting. Sand the copper wire and the inside of the fitting, coat with flux, heat the fitting with a torch, and melt the solder into the fitting. Makes a neat clean job, with never a failure, and is a better connection that crimp.
posted 04-17-2008 02:31 AM ET (US)
I've used CENTERPIN for years. Got them at West Marine.
posted 04-23-2008 05:05 PM ET (US)
Just use a set of Vise-Grips to crimp it. I think you'll find they work excellent.
posted 04-23-2008 11:07 PM ET (US)
I agree with EIKNIB, I do pretty much the same, I place my lug/terminal in a vise, measure how much insulation to cut of the wire, place some cleaner on the lug/terminal and wire, heat with a hand held torch, fill the lug/terminal with solder and holding the heat on the lug/terminal with my other hand push the wire in the lug/terminal. Hold the heat on for a couple of seconds and the wire sucks up the solder and makes s solid bond with the lug/terminal, remove heat, After the lug/terminal cools off I cover it with heat shrink and a little marine grease, The connection looks like a factory job, clean and smooth, and never no problems. My battery cables are 1/0 have used the same ones since 1985 and never had to replace any of the lug/terminal ends and no corrosion...good luck
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