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Author Topic:   Connecting Old Wire
Tom Hemphill posted 02-02-2008 04:09 PM ET (US)   Profile for Tom Hemphill  
I'm re-wiring navigation lights on my 1966 13-foot Boston Whaler. A previous owner ran a new duplex cable to the bow light under the rubrail, and it's still in serviceable condition. Where it exits the hull near the console, it only protrudes about two inches, and the outer sheathing has been stripped from most of that. The insulation has been stripped from the individual conductors, which are pretty black from corrosion.

I'm favoring soldered connections in this case, since butt connectors are permanent and add more bulk (especially since there isn't enough room to stagger my joints). I'm usually good at soldering, but have had problems when black corrosion exists. It's difficult to clean every strand of the wire with emery paper. Would acid flux or some other product help?

If going the soldering route, I plan to insulate the individual conductors with electrical tape and use adhesive-lined hot-shrink tubing over the entire cable. Does that sound like a good plan?

roloaddict posted 02-02-2008 07:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for roloaddict  Send Email to roloaddict     
If you can, comb out the strands and try an eraser first or clean them with alcohol or somthing like DeoxIT (R-Shack?). I have used a small wire brush with good results. A small piece of cardboard behind the wire strands will help support them. Pull from the center toward the ends. A little clean beats a lot of flux.

I would stick with the Rosin Flux. If you think things are corroded now, using Acid Flux will really show you corrosion 6 months from now.

Safety first. Good ventilation and all that. Enough Lead injestion and you will forget we had this conversation. Be careful of the alcohol fire hazard. Eye protection is a must, we will be flinging molten metal.

Your iron should be big enough to complete the joint in 2-3 seconds. Any longer and you risk wicking the solder under the insulation, losing the flexability of the wire.

Use a sponge or a damp paper towel to "shock " the contaminates off the iron just prior to soldering.

Always cut you solder, don't strech and break. It messes up the Rosin/Solder mix.

If needed set up a wind break to keep the heat on you project.

Don't blow on the joint to cool it. This will make a "Cold Joint".

You can use the solder as a washing agent but you have to be mindful of the heat on the wire and insulation. You can do this by "tinning" the wire a few times and allowing the excess to be pulled off aroud the iron. Start by placing the iron at the insulation end of the wire, feed solder into the junction untill you have a nice "bubble" of solder, then skid it down and off the end to a waiting damp paper towel.

Smaller heat shrink around the conductors would be better that tape. Making that work will require the fast on/off technique I described to avoid the tubing shrinking in the wrong spot.

Double check that you tubing is on the wire before you complete the joint. I have never forgotten it, and won't ever do it again.

Good Luck,


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