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Author Topic:   Saltwater shrink tubing techniques
17 bodega posted 10-31-2006 11:22 PM ET (US)   Profile for 17 bodega   Send Email to 17 bodega  
I am about to install some new tinned copper wire in my boat and trailer as instructed by some of the knowledgeable members here. I am wondering what is the easiest method of heating the shrink tubing on the butt splices. I don't have a hair dryer handy and don't want to spend a lot of money. I do have a propane torch, but don't want to wind up with a structure fire.

What would be the best way to do this? I looked at Lowes for a hair dryer type do-hickey to melt the tubing but no go. They had these small butane torches also, but I wasn't sure if this was the right tool

Also along the lines of "Ancor" brand wire and connectors at Worst Marine, here are the comparisons to Lowes. Both are big box outfits that buy most of their tools and durable goods from China:

Tinned wire: Same packaging and rating as Ancor. Lowes, $6.99 for 30 feet, Worst Marine, $17.99 for 30 feet of 16 guage. Almost three times as much. The Lowes brand is GB and has all the corrosion ratings....

17 bodega posted 10-31-2006 11:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for 17 bodega  Send Email to 17 bodega     
I also have a question to the members here:

For a 16 classic hull, what is the best gauge wire to use for re-wiring navigation light and stern light, bilge pump, and other low current electronics. I think I am currently using 18 gauge of non marine wire. I am also thinking of using the 18/2 type configuration with the white insulation over the othe two colored insulated wires. This would hopefully add even further protection from saltwater intrusion.


bigjohn1 posted 11-01-2006 06:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
Heat shrink + 99 cent disposable lighter from the corner store works just fine for me.
Moe posted 11-01-2006 08:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
Here's another vote for the disposable lighter.


17 bodega posted 11-01-2006 09:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for 17 bodega  Send Email to 17 bodega     
Uh.. that was easy. Thanks. I was thinking that a normal flame would damage the wiring or the insulation. I gather than you use the edges of the flame.


rtk posted 11-01-2006 09:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
I prefer a heat gun. The lighter will work and I have used one, but the shrink tube gets a bit black.

If you only have a couple to do the lighter will work just fine. My experience has been the heat gun is quicker if you have a bunch of connections to seal.

A hardware store should have a cheap heat gun. They are commonly used to strip paint, so you may be able to locate one in their paint department.


Chuck Tribolet posted 11-01-2006 10:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
I got my heat gun from Sears mail order years ago.
Northern Tool has quite a selection. You don't need a
fancy one.

Be sure to use the hot melt glue lined tubing. It takes just
a little extra heat to melt the glue -- you'll see just a
little ooze out the ends.

Is that GB wire marine grade? Marine grade wire has finer
strands and is thicker for the same numeric gauge.


Chuck Tribolet posted 11-01-2006 10:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet lists several heat guns, some of which are not
marked "internet only" and so are probably in the stores.


contender posted 11-01-2006 11:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
If you are married take your wifes hair dryer and make a funnel at the end of the dryer you can use this, matches ,lighter work fine just remember to rotate the heat shrink and don't leave the flame in one place to long. I remember talking about this here before, the best way to make a seal on the wire, crimp the wire with a crimp, soder the joint, use heat shrink and then coat it with some silicon, no water problems and won't ever come loose. hint off set the wires so you do not have a big bundle in the same place also makes a cleaner look. good luck
cwolf posted 11-01-2006 01:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for cwolf  Send Email to cwolf     
By all means a heat gun is the best method. Avoid flame as it will melt the wiring insulation. Sears carries a good variable heat gun and also sells the metal caps suited for various jobs. The reducer cap works very well for heat shrink tubing. Mine is made by Steinel with Sears branding. I find myself using it a lot for various jobs around the house and it's taken a beating but still starts up everytime.
macsfriended posted 11-01-2006 01:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for macsfriended  Send Email to macsfriended     
This might not work for you right now and right there but keep your eyes open and you will be in good shape next time.

I shopped E Bay and picked up two heat guns that look and work great and were close enough for personal pickup.

Price was very, very right.


Frank O posted 11-01-2006 02:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
I've tried the Bic lighter approach, but it's tough to keep the flame going in any amount of wind at the marina where I do all my work.

I therefore switched to a heatgun. I bought a cheap model from Grizzly, and have also found uses for it in tasks like baitwell repair and dive light battery shrink-wrapping.

BOB KEMMLER JR posted 11-01-2006 02:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for BOB KEMMLER JR    
Heres what i am going to do to ALL butt connections on my 21 Revenge.Solder,cover in 5200,then heat shrink,followed by liquid electrical tape at both ends.I just use a heat gun for the tape,or one of those long barbque lighters
davej14 posted 11-01-2006 04:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I use my soldering iron pretty successfully. If you rotate the heat shrink while in contact or close proximity you will get consistent results and not have to worry about an open flame. No doubt that a heat gun is the best solution, depends upon how many you need to do.
Riptide23WA posted 11-01-2006 09:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Riptide23WA  Send Email to Riptide23WA     
By all means, spend the 20 bucks and get a heat gun. You'll waste more in scorched heat shrink than the cost of a gun if you use a lighter. Lowe's should have 'em. Ask the paint department guys, as heat guns are commonly used to strip paint. Very handy tool. The cone reducer is pretty handy when shrinking on tubing in confined spaces, and near other wire looms...

The butane torches are handy if you don't have access to electricity, though. DO NOT use the lighter.

Binkie posted 11-03-2006 07:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Binkie  Send Email to Binkie     
Heat gun is the only way to do a consistent good job. Just rewired my bass boat last week and made all good connections. Be sure to put it in an empty metal gallon pail after each connection to avoid burn marks on the hull.


Chuck Tribolet posted 11-03-2006 08:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Binkie: The metal bucket is a GREAT idea. I've always been
careful how I placed it, just tossing it in the bucket is
a lot quicker.


Venge posted 11-05-2006 07:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Venge  Send Email to Venge     
Just putting a vote in for the heat gun. I use shrinkwrap alot and my two setting Milwaulkee heat gun is perfect for the job, and liquid tape all over anything metalic and exposed.
Venge posted 11-05-2006 08:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Venge  Send Email to Venge     
I personaly would not use any wire size smaller than #16 AWG which is larger than #18 because #18 can only carry 10 amps of 12 volt current for 10 total linear feet. #16 AWG standed insulated copper wire can safely conduct 10 amps of 12 volt current a total of 25 linear feet. So if you were rewiring the bow light of the 16 foot Classic you would be most likely placing the battery astern, so measureing the footage 16 feet to the bowlight and 16 feet back with the ground, not to mention a few feet to the switch and back, around 35 linear feet. Then figure out the amperage or wattage of the light, if it is a 5 amp or 30 watt light ( wattage = amp X volts ) with #16 your all set with that light. Now you'll have to get the amperage rating on the pump to figure that but I would figure on #14 stranded for that motor load.
And of course every circuit will have it's own fuse right.
I found at Walmart they have these nice rubber booted fuse holders that I just terminated right in the battery box of my sons 13 footer along with leaving some spares, a small pen light and a 12vdc tester right in the extra space in the battery box for him.
I like the marine cable to neatly surface mount along the inside of the boat but it is pricey. You can make your own cable harness if you figure out just what you need with color coded or numbered #16 & #14 stranded copper wire to go here to there and tie one end off and wrap it around good and tight with white electrical tape and some tie wraps.

current chart

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