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Author Topic:   Wiring: Connecting Together Three Wires of Different Size
JMARTIN posted 03-07-2008 09:33 AM ET (US)   Profile for JMARTIN   Send Email to JMARTIN  
The bilge pump wires, the water sensing device wires, and the already installed battery positive and negative wires are all different gauges. Worst Marine did not have anything other than put them all under a cap or combine the two smallest ones for one side of those [butt splice connectors] with the big wire in the other. Is there a better way? John
Bella con23 posted 03-07-2008 10:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bella con23  Send Email to Bella con23     
John - I'm sure you will find what you are looking for in West Marine or equiv.
There is a wide variety of water resistant butt-splice connectors in two and three way type.

Here is a post talking about the same thing.

JMARTIN posted 03-07-2008 10:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
Solder, poop I hate to solder. Too hot. melt wire, too cold, doesn't flow, little ball of the stuff stuck to the iron. I have a little pen iron and some really thin solder wire. Is all solder wire stuff the same as regards to conductivity? John
Bella con23 posted 03-07-2008 11:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bella con23  Send Email to Bella con23     
John - soldering will make the best electrical connection. The little pen type soldering iron is fine and the solder needs to be rosin core. You will know right away when you get the components hot and the solder doesn't flow.
jimh posted 03-07-2008 12:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It is not a particularly good wiring practice to make in-line splices of wire using butt connectors. Of course, some times this is unavoidable.

Although three-way butt splice connectors are sold, I don't think that their use should be encouraged unless there is no way to avoid them.

deepwater posted 03-07-2008 01:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
jimh is right, take the time to sort it all out while on solid ground and you wont have to worry about that area for a long while
Chuck Tribolet posted 03-08-2008 05:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
There's no way a soldering iron is going to melt the wire.
The insulation maybe, but if it does, you want different
insulation or a defter touch with the iron.

A little pen iron may be marginal above about 16 ga. wire.
I've got three (at least, who knows what's in the junk drawer)
soldering irons, including a nice thermostatic iron that's
nice for working on the insides of electronics. On the boat,
I use the bad-boy 200 watt+ weller. (And it's four irons, I just
found my old Sears 200 watt that's hard to find tips for).

I use thin solder (because years ago I acquired a couple of
HUGE spools of it) and cuss it on the boat. The thicker stuff
is easier to use with thicker wire because it doesn't take
four inches of solder to get a joint.

Rosin core. Acid core is for copper pipe, or galvanized
sheet, and is the wrong answer there too (use solid core and
brush on flux). Acid core will eventually rot your wiring.


davej14 posted 03-08-2008 11:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
It used to be easier before everyone went nuts over the lead content in solder. The very best alloy for electrical connections is 63% Tin and 37% Lead if you can find it. This ratio has the characteristic of going from liquid to solid instantly so your chances of getting a "cold" = "poor" solder connection due to movement are greatly reduced. Other alloys have a temperature range during which the transition from liquid to solid takes place. Most new solder alloys have had to add a small percentage of silver to be able to eliminate the lead. This results in a higher melting temperature as well and the "wetting" action is not as good as the old 63/37 alloy. It is less forgiving for us non professionals.

There is nothing wrong with using a rosin core solder. This is quite common and less messy than brushing on the same flux and using solid core.

jimh posted 03-08-2008 11:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Some old electrical instruments made by Techtronix--or was it H-P--used silver solder for their unusual wiring and circuitry. Because silver solder was not generally used in electronics, there was a small roll of silver solder wound on a spindle on the inside of the case. If you needed to make a repair, you were to use the silver solder.
Bella con23 posted 03-08-2008 06:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bella con23  Send Email to Bella con23     
Those were the days huh! Now your lucky to get everything you paid for.

I like to use silver solder for connecting copper pipe. It's much more forgiving than having to clean everything spotlessly for acid core or brushed flux. It requires a hotter flame such as acytelene, but the joints become one with each other.

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