Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
  To crimp or solder, that is the question?

Post New Topic  Post Reply
search | FAQ | profile | register | author help

Author Topic:   To crimp or solder, that is the question?
David Livingstone posted 12-03-2005 11:27 AM ET (US)   Profile for David Livingstone   Send Email to David Livingstone  
I watched a Ship Shape TV show a few years ago about wiring a boat. The host recommended crimp connectors and heat shrinks. I think you can now buy them in one unit. He stated that soldering breaks down the tin in tinned copper wire and makes it more accessible to corrosion. I’ve used crimp connectors since than. I haven’t had a problem with them, as long as they’re sealed with a heat shrink.

From your experiences, which connecting method do you find more effective?


andygere posted 12-03-2005 01:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I have had very good luck with the Ancor brand crimp connectors that have integral heat shrink and glue inside the plastic sleeve. These things are expensive, and only seem to be available at marine chandleries charging outrageous prices, but provide the best electrical connection. Use a good quality crimping tool and a heat gun to seal the splice for best results.
Jerry Townsend posted 12-03-2005 01:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
I have always favored a GOOD soldered connection - because of the decreased resistance and little chance of the connection loosening up. A crimped connection will work - if there isn't a solder gun, power, available - but a crimped connection is totally dependent on the tightness of the crimp and nothing loosening up. The crimp connection is, of course, a lot faster, which is a principle reason that many use it.

I emphasize the word good - because a 'cold' solder joint is a guaranteed problem. Have enough heat so that the solder easily flows into the joint.

Sealing the joint - with heat shrink, a silicon sealant - or plain grease (in a pinch) should also be done - on all such connections. Some may already be aware - but there is a heat shrink tape product available.

I do not see the 'breaking down of the tin' issue as there is tin (in various percentages in different alloys) in solder. That host's comment could just be 'smoke'. --- Jerry/Idaho

Chuck Tribolet posted 12-03-2005 08:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Either must be strain-relieved. The hot melt glue lined
heat shrink will do that in both cases, besides keeping them

For splicing wires, I prefer solder with hot melt glue lined
heat shrink. For connectors, I prefer crimps.

Crimps should be done with a good ratcheting crimper with
the right die for the crip.


bigjohn1 posted 12-04-2005 07:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
David - for me, its solder all the way, but that's just me. Also, I don't buy the host' ascertion that solder - when done properly - breaks down the tin in tinned wires.

There is a difference between simply "soldering" and "soldering correctly". I see too many try and replicate how their dad showed them how to solder that leaky pipe under the kitchen sink. In electronics soldering, heating the "work" up first is much more critical. This is so the tin will be drawn (or sucked) into the strands of the wire.

Actually, the show host is speaking a half-truth (1/2 right and 1/2 wrong). When a tinned marine wire is properly heated up for soldering, some of the internal tinning will be broken down. But it is more than replenished once the new solder is drawn into it.

Regarding the heat shrink, it should be used on soldered or crimped connection alike.

BW23 posted 12-04-2005 10:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for BW23  Send Email to BW23     
ABYC does not recommend solder because the wire becomes stiff and is prone to failure due to vibration.

A crimped connection is still flexable. Both termination need to be supported to prevent movement.

I personally use ANCHOR adhesive lined crimps/terminals. I also add another section of adhesive lined shrink tubing overtop.

Chuck Tribolet posted 12-04-2005 01:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
ABYC standards (E-, “Solder shall not be the sole means of mechanical connection in any circuit”.

I see three forms of mechanical connection in my soldered
joints: Twisted wires, solder, and the heat shrink.


Jerry Townsend posted 12-04-2005 04:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Chuck - Wow! A Standard statement like that really surprises me - and I have seen a LOT of 'standards'. Do you know what the basis for that decree is? I can't think of any reason for such a requirment. --- Jerry/Idaho
David Livingstone posted 12-04-2005 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Livingstone  Send Email to David Livingstone     
"Ancor brand crimp connectors that have integral heat shrink and glue inside the plastic sleeve." Thanks Andy, I think that I'll pick up some of those connectors.

Whether I solder or use crimps, I make a connection I'm pretty please with until I have to cut out the connection, slide on the heat shrink that I forgot and do it all over again:)

Thanks for input folks,


davej14 posted 12-04-2005 04:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
A properly crimped connection will NOT be flexible in the area of electrical contact. The wire within the crimp should form a "gas tight" seal between the strands and the connector. Solder will not flow into this area so it will not enhance the connection mechanically or electrically.

The problem with solder is that is will bond the wire strands outside the crimp and lead to premature mechanical failure unless it is supported. Since it will not enhance the connection I see no reason to solder.

where2 posted 12-04-2005 09:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
Anyone ever use the 3M heat-shrink insulated butt connectors (instead of Ancor)? A box of 250 of the 3M connectors would last me another 10 years, and make them affordable at $0.26 per connector.
Chuck Tribolet posted 12-04-2005 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Do the 3M connectors have hot melt glue inside the heat shrink? Most don't. Are they marine grade?

And 3M has been on my bad guy list since they came out with
those dumb insulation displacement splices. Talk about a
stress riser on the wires.


high sierra posted 12-14-2005 07:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for high sierra  Send Email to high sierra     
I solder all wire joints and cover the joint with shrink tubing and then give it a coating of liquid rubber if it's a really serious connection. (Bilge pumps ect.) I usually forget to put on the shrink tubing on the first joint and have to redo it. high sierra
bigjohn1 posted 12-15-2005 07:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
HA! Its good to know I'm not the only one who continually makes that mistake!
kingfish posted 12-15-2005 08:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
I was quietly laughing at myself about that one too; guess I'll come out and admit it...
Chuck Tribolet posted 12-15-2005 11:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Yep, me too.

I was very proud that when I installed the new trailer lights
recently, four splices, no forgotten heat shrink.

Two other stupid splicer tricks:

- Sliding the heat shrink over the joint before the solder
cools off, and the hot joint shrinks it in the wrong place.

- While shrinking one joint of the pair, accidently shrinking
the other one because it was a few inches behind.


high sierra posted 12-15-2005 09:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for high sierra  Send Email to high sierra     
yep yep and yep! I guess I'm not the only one. high sierra
David Livingstone posted 12-16-2005 06:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for David Livingstone  Send Email to David Livingstone     
I feel better now that I know that I'm not the only one that forgets the heat shrink :0)


swist posted 12-16-2005 08:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe most boat manufacturers crimp only when assembling the boat. That includes high end recreactional boats, not to mention large ships, navy vessels etc. I doubt it is simple matter of saving time. Capillary action can indeed draw solder quite a distance up the stranding of the wire and turn it into solid wire, which is a no-no in any stressed environment. Yes you can "support" it, but what does that mean - the support would have to consist of something that would prevent the stranded part of the wire from flexing at the point where it becomes "solid" due to entrained solder - I'm not sure heat shrink is adequate for this.

I will admit it is a little counterintuitive to those of us with a electronic background - soldering makes the connector and the wire into one continuous piece of metal and it seems it has to be better than any other connection technique but it's just not that clearcut in an environment where stresses are present.

Jerry Townsend posted 12-16-2005 01:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Swist - I suspect that the manufacturers are making all crimped connections - but I would bet the reason is simply a matter of time and convenience. Making a crimped connection is going to be a lot faster than making a good soldered connection - and time is money - and a lot of money when making many, many connections. ---- Jerry/Idaho
Chuck Tribolet posted 12-16-2005 01:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
More importantly, it takes way less skill to do a good crimp
connection than a good solder joint. That's why NASA uses
crimps in a lot of cases.


swist posted 12-17-2005 08:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Chueck, if NASA crimps, doesn't that tell you something? Talk about a critical application and extremes of environment!
Chuck Tribolet posted 12-17-2005 09:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
But no salt water.

And I'm a fair to middling solderer, though nothing like a
fellow I went to college with. When NASA does use solder,
the person who does it has to be NASA-certified. They guy
worked summers doing just that. He built a big Heathkit
receiver, and every solder joint was a thing of beauty.

I think part of is having a thermostatic soldering iron. I
have a little tiny one for PC board work, and those joints
always look better than the heavy gauge stuff done with my
200W gun.

Stupid splicer trick #4: My underwater strobes use a Nikon
propriatary battery pack that's no longer available (and was
quite pricey when it was). So I had make
up a new pack (more than twice the mAH of the 1990 technology
batteries Nikon used). Turns out that what I thought was a
fuse was a thermal fuse, and soldering got it hot enough to
trip it.


davej14 posted 12-17-2005 03:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Actually all fuses are thermal fuses. A fuse depends upon resistance to heat up and melt the fuse element. It just melts before the wire heats up enough to become hazerdous.

Most battery packs today have two forms of protection. One is a protector in close proximity to the battery cells. This one opens with temperature and protects against a cell reversal or an internal cell short. The second protection device is designed to protect against overcurrent. More sophisticated battery packs will use auto-resettable protectors for both applications.

Chuck Tribolet posted 12-17-2005 07:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The part in question says 94C, 10A on the side. It looks
just like the thermal fuses that protect hair dryers. I suspect
I got it hotter than 94C.

Funny story: Hair dryers used to have to have one thermal
fuse to pass UL inspection. It's now two, in series. If
either goes open, the hair dryer quits. The reason is a
white hair dryer where the thermal fuse didn't work. 20
years ago it was hanging in UL Santa Clara's "wall of shame"
The white plastic had gotten soft, and it had blown up to
the size of a beach ball, and looked just like a Schmoo (remember
Little Abner?).


deepwater posted 12-25-2005 06:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
ok ,,,so how many of you guys work at nasa,,come on now fess up,, how much flex ??how long is the wire length including th splice where in this length of wire is the splice ,,are we talking any G forces hell yes pos and neg,,its a boat and its going to get its paint beat off,,in line splices should be soldered sealed and suported,termanal ends are crimped and dilectricted
erik selis posted 12-26-2005 10:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for erik selis  Send Email to erik selis     
Any type of crimp connection to a wire end should be crimped using the correct tool. It should make (as others have mentioned) a gas-tight connection between wires and crimp connector.
What you definitely should not do is solder the end before crimping the connection or solder the wire-end and screw this into any terminal or strip. This is a big no no, as this type of connection will come loose rather quickly.


Post New Topic  Post Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | RETURN to ContinuousWave Top Page

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Freeware Version 2000
Purchase our Licensed Version- which adds many more features!
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 2000.