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6 AWG Crimp Lug Anarchy


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I need to crimp some Ancor 6 AWG lugs onto Ancor 6 AWG wire.

I want to use the crimper in the picture which is from Harbor Freight (but also available from other places).

I have a full set of hex dies with it from #0-10. 

The die marked #6 seems small. Has anybody used this, and if so, which die worked for you.

Alternately, when crimping #6 gauge lugs, what should be dimension across the flats when finished? 

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I think it's a bit more complicated by the type of lug used, since some are thicker than others.

I have the same tool, but mine are just labeled 0-10 with no "AWG". 

Ultimately you have to experiment.

good information here, but ultimately they don't like that tool.  But I think you can make it work.  The alternative is find a west marine - they have a crimp tool in the shop you can use for free (that's what I ultimately did)

https://marinehowto.com/making-your-own-battery-cables/

 

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24 minutes ago, SimonGH said:

I think it's a bit more complicated by the type of lug used, since some are thicker than others.

I have the same tool, but mine are just labeled 0-10 with no "AWG". 

Ultimately you have to experiment.

The lugs and the wire are labeled 6 AWG but the crimp dies are only 0-10 so I am not making any assumptions.

I looked on the Ancor site and did not see any dimensions for their dies. If nobody here has the answer, I plan to call Ancor and find the dimension across the flats on their die. (Of course, I will post it here.)

Experimenting is normally good, but I need to make 3 crimps and only have 4 lugs available. My “sample size” for the experiment would be very meager :-(

 

 

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20 minutes ago, longy said:

I have never seen any specs for a finished crimp. I doubt any is possible given the absence of spec for the lugs.

I appreciate that there are many variables involved but there has to be at least some sort of baseline number.

I don’t think that a manufacturer can require that ONLY their hex crimper can be used.

I just spoke to Ancor Tech Support but they had neither the information available, nor a crimped lug that somebody could measure. The rep was very nice but not overly encouraging and said that an actual dimension might take as long as “a month.”

I thought that buying brand-name products from a USA (WI) company was a good and prudent way to go, but I might have to rethink that ...

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did you look at the website link I provided?  I think they gave some pretty good info, or at least what a "good" crimp should look like...

also you can clearly see the "AWG" in the picture where you're holding the dies around the lug...

Based on the experience they described in the website link, I would say start 2-3 sizes bigger than the 6 and see if you get a good looking crimp.

Ultimately this isn't an exact science.  You need a sufficient crimp to hold tightly but not so tight that it starts breaking the wire strands.  The following gives a very good overview of all the crimping you could ever want (including the battery lugs).  Ultimately it says #6 should resist 100 lbf for normal spec, and 300 lbf for mil-spec.

https://media.digikey.com/pdf/data sheets/molex pdfs/tbo quality crimp handbook.pdf

I think the other issue you're running into is that every crimp shape is different - each tool produces a different profile.  Some are true Hex, others just squeeze either side (like the harbor freight tool), and some even dimple the middle.  All of it is covered in this manual, but it doesn't seem like there are any general go/no-go dimensions.  From what i've seen, any go/no-go dimensions are supplied with the tool itself (if it's a calibrated tool).  Unfortunately the $59 harbor freight special isn't a calibrated tool.  So if you want exact, then you have to spend $1000 for a calibrated tool.  That's because the tool maker then does lots of tests and basically determines the correct resulting dimensions needed to achieve the pull out specification.

If you really want to be scientific, you crimp the extra lug with the tool and create the best looking crimp you think will work.  Then you figure out how to hang 100 lbs from the wire and see if it separates.

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31 minutes ago, Gabe_nyc said:

I appreciate that there are many variables involved but there has to be at least some sort of baseline number.

I don’t think that a manufacturer can require that ONLY their hex crimper can be used.

I just spoke to Ancor Tech Support but they had neither the information available, nor a crimped lug that somebody could measure. The rep was very nice but not overly encouraging and said that an actual dimension might take as long as “a month.”

I thought that buying brand-name products from a USA (WI) company was a good and prudent way to go, but I might have to rethink that ...

You can't fairly expect Ancor to warranty swages made with a (non-Ancor) Harbor Freight crimper. There are massive liabilities in play. Ancor no doubt views their connections as a system, from wires to terminals to tooling to the training of the person who squeezes the handles. 

If you wish to use your own tooling and perform your own non-certified crimps at home, great! It's what I'd do. But that means you are also your own QA department. ;) Buy a couple more of the same lugs, make some crimps, and pull-test them to your own satisfaction. Maybe heat-cycle them with a torch a few dozen times. 

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43 minutes ago, Gabe_nyc said:

I thought that buying brand-name products from a USA (WI) company was a good and prudent way to go, but I might have to rethink that ...

When you bought that crimper from Harbor Freight did you really think it was a quality tool made in the USA?

A quality crimper made in the PRC is around $200. A quality crimper made in the USA is around $800. 

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5 minutes ago, DDW said:

When you bought that crimper from Harbor Freight did you really think it was a quality tool made in the USA?

A quality crimper made in the PRC is around $200. A quality crimper made in the USA is around $800. 

^^ this is correct.

I think the reference is to the Ancor wire and lugs.  I appreciate that they could just say "final lug size should be xx mm".  However just from a few minutes of google searching, there are so many different crimp shapes that it becomes a very complicated mess.  So ultimately the specifications are based around destructive tensile testing.

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Am I missing something here?

When I had to re-do the battery cables on my boat I simply bought the lugs that fit snugly on my cable and crimped them with my swaging tool - big bolt cutter style Nicopress "pliers". 

Don't those lugs only fit one size of wire each?

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1 minute ago, SloopJonB said:

Am I missing something here?

When I had to re-do the battery cables on my boat I simply bought the lugs that fit snugly on my cable and crimped them with my swaging tool - big bolt cutter style Nicopress "pliers". 

Don't those lugs only fit one size of wire each?

Yes.  I think the issue is that the hydraulic crimpers he wants to use have a lot more variables.  Multiple die sizes, plus how much you actually crimp.  So it's easy to over/under crimp with them unless you know what you're doing.

I will say my new boat suffered an under crimp on the primary ground to the engine.  So even the production guys get it wrong.  That was a $5 fix that took almost $3000 in warranty effort to find and rectify! 

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I'm a bad person. I've done crimps with vise grips, gradually tightening adjustment screw and squeezing. Totally bad idea but when covered with heat shrink tubing they look the same as a proper one. I did have to shorten one cable once and cut off the lug with a dremel and looked inside. Looked very compressed but probably not as airtight as a hydraulic tool. Was it really stuck on? Yes, and I think it did have lots of contact area with the lug/wire interface. I've also used the hand nicropress tool you use a wrench to tighten slowly. 

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7 minutes ago, SloopJonB said:

Am I missing something here?

When I had to re-do the battery cables on my boat I simply bought the lugs that fit snugly on my cable and crimped them with my swaging tool - big bolt cutter style Nicopress "pliers". 

Don't those lugs only fit one size of wire each?

It's somewhat the difference between a crimp and a swage (swedge). A crimp is generally less symmetrical and a small one can be done with a pair of fencing pliers in non-critical applications. A swage does not flatten the join but rather reduces it cylindrically using wire-specific dies. The best swagers, like those used on standing rigging, use rollers to get even compression.

A solid crimp should be good enuf for most electrical cabling needs. Except: you get a bit more water/corrosion in them, heat cycling can loosen the wire, and a hard pull on the cable (sliding battery box, something heavy landing on the wire) may be more likely to fail if crimped vs. swaged.

I use a lot of mechanical terminals in our home DC system. They are reliable and easy to snug up periodically. Not sure they are suitable to a bouncing boat, tho. Likewise solder joints: commercial applications often drop a measured solder pellet into the lug, crimp (optional), then heat the lug to fuse and exclude water/air. But solder creates a hard point subject to fatigue in vehicles.

 

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Several of you raised valid questions.

I have worked in broadcast for a long time and spent much time around connector specs, crimp tools, pull tests etc (although much smaller stuff than #6 ga).

I appreciate both the “system” aspect of this and the liability issues concerned. I was NOT asking them to warranty anything.

ALL I asked for, is what was the dimension of the finished lug across the flats. The tech support guy did say that their 2-sided tool leaves “ears” so this would introduce a degree of “fudge factor” but I think that this measurement would be a good starting point. I was surprised that it was seemingly unavailable.

My plan now is to start with a larger size and work my way down. If it appears funky I might just solder it and use double layers of heat shrink for strain relief at the discontinuity.

Alas, though I am in a large port city, it is not very “boat-y” and I cannot just run down to Fisheries Supply or similar (:-)

Simon, I have not looked at MarineHowTo because I’ve been on a phone all morning. I know the site because I have a Universal engine (:-)

I am not sure what the price of the Harbor Freight tool has to do with anything. An expensive, higher-quality tool would last for many thousands of crimps, and its dimensions would be guaranteed to be accurate.

With my cheap tool, I don’t need for it to make more than 30 crimps in 10 years (if that). I am willing to measure the resulting size of the crimp and decide if I am happy with it.

In any case, a .312” hex crimp is a .312” hex crimp regardless of if it was made with an $800 tool, a Vise Grip or anything in between.

This current project is for a 30-ft sailboat called “Better Angel” but I also own a boat called “TLAR”. Those of you who deal w lot of TLAs and FLAs may find that funny (:-)

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TLA = Three-Letter Acronym 

FLA = Four-Letter Acronym

TLAR = That Looks About Right

(My “TLAR” was a damaged 20-ft catamaran that I am (very slowly) turning into a powerboat of some kind. There is a thread on SA called “Ditch the Rig” about several such projects.)

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Given all the variables I would think the pull test (100 lbf for AWG 6) would be much better than a dimension-based test. I suspect even the mechanical size, strand fineness, and ductility would be a significant variables.

 

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I am only looking at the resulting crimps, but from the images on the Marinehowto site the more expensive tool produces more of a swage (compression around the entire fitting) than the crimp you get with the harbor freight hydraulic.  With the HF tool, even though the mandrels are hex shape, you'll find that resulting crimp will not be uniform in shape as material squeezes out between the dies.  But it will do the job.  I've even used it to crimp the ferrule fittings on big galvanized cable for my kid's zip line.

The good news is that you can use the same tool for those nice wire railings people are using on their home decks - the #4 is perfect for the turnbuckle fittings.

 

 

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You can crimp a connector with a good blow from a hammer. But you can't do a reliable crimp that way. Yeah, cover it with heat shrink and it'll look the same, but it won't perform the same. 

Asking Ancor for a dimension across the flats for your PRC HF crimper, what exactly did you expect them to do? Crimps can be square, hexagonal, anvil type and several other shapes. The widths and dimensions can be all over the place. The only thing you could expect is for them to tell you the dimensions of a crimp done with an Ancor branded crimper. 

There is a mystique around here about crimpers, just buy one and operate it till the handles close and you have a good crimp. No. Tyco (AMP) has some pretty good technical literature on this, the crimper has to be calibrated to the wire and terminals being used, and recalibrated periodically if you want to maintain mil spec crimps. If you are mixing and matching, the only way to ensure a good crimp is to test one with the mix and match you are using. Pull testing is only one test, you really should resistance test them as well. Absent that, the Ancor hammer crimper does a decent job, costs even less the the HF, and is much quicker to use. 

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41 minutes ago, DDW said:

Asking Ancor for a dimension across the flats for your PRC HF crimper, what exactly did you expect them to do? ... The only thing you could expect is for them to tell you the dimensions of a crimp done with an Ancor branded crimper. 

As I’ve said twice already in this thread, the dimensions of THEIR crimper is the ONLY thing I asked for and the ONLY thing I think would have been reasonable data for them to provide.

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45 minutes ago, DDW said:

the crimper has to be calibrated to the wire and terminals being used, and recalibrated periodically if you want to maintain mil spec crimps. If you are mixing and matching ...

I was NOT mixing and matching exactly to try to stay with components that were designed to work together.

I have worked with plenty of NIST-traceable instruments etc, but mil-spec is completely not at issue. I was just looking to make the best connection possible with the components and tools I had.

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52 minutes ago, DDW said:

Pull testing is only one test, you really should resistance test them as well. 

It’s funny that nobody else mentioned this. I agree with you completely. It may be that in an ideal crimp deforms the wires enough that any oxidation etc is rendered moot, but I’d working with non-pristine wire and with improvised procedures, it makes a lot of sense to measure the resistance.

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One thing I forgot to mention: the HF crimper, and any others like it, will leave two little "ears" where the two die pieces meet.  It usually makes a neater installation if you turn the terminal so that the ears are in the same plane as the lug.  Don't ask how I learned this!

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1 hour ago, Gabe_nyc said:

measure the resistance

Really? Is there a spec? Would even a POS crimp have resistance a DMM could reliably measure? Maybe a four wire / Kelvin setup with a substantial current?  Maybe ask it how pissed off it is and take a measurement of its response? :)

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7 hours ago, Son of Hans said:

I used that exact tool and that exact wire, going by the number on the die.  It worked fine. Those lugs too.

So I used the tool w the #4 die and it worked great. Very easy and felt very solid.

After I finish the current project I might dissect one of them to see the cross-section but for now I’m content.

1 hour ago, Son of Hans said:

One thing I forgot to mention: the HF crimper, and any others like it, will leave two little "ears" where the two die pieces meet. 

Yes, I ran into this too. The “ears” were thin enough that I was afraid they would slice through the heatshrink.

I trimmed them with a Stanley knife and smoothed everything with an emery board and all was good.

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Ears like that are usually a sign of overcrimp.  I believe Ancor's branded crimper (which is Chinese sourced and can be bought with a few different labels) is 4 sided, so would have no relationship to your 6 sided crimp. I do agree they should have been able to give you the spec for theirs. 

The easiest way to test resistance of a large cable connection is to run a large known current through them (let's say, from an inverter running a heater) and measure the temperature of the joint. This is a comparative measure, though with a large enough current you may be able to measure the voltage drop. 

A lot of very useful testing can be done comparatively with very little equipment. A pull test for example: crimp a 1' cable on one end with one die and the other end with another than you are comparing. Pull them apart with anything - a car with a trailer hitch for example - and see which fails. 

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Having worked in aerospace for a while, the procedure they use is to develop a crimp schedule for each batch of terminals and batch of wire (all aerospace grade and traceable) using calibrated crimpers and pull testers. The resultant crimps are specified in the schedule to include a certain number of additional wire strands to adjust the fill to meet the required pull spec.

Then every crimp is inspected by pulling again.

The pull test confirms a solid fill, which excludes corrosive moisture and insures minimal resistance (far lower than most meters can measure)..

Yes, this takes a lot of terminals, but somebody's ass is on the line.

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On 7/13/2021 at 8:38 AM, Diarmuid said:

The best swagers, like those used on standing rigging, use rollers to get even compression.

The best swager for standing rigging is a rotary hammer swager, not a roller swager.

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A pro grade lug crimper  is expensive 

I don’t own one 

if it’s a big job , I run the cables then hire an electrician to install the lugs 

for small jobs I avoid crimp lugs and use compression lugs 

you might consider compression lugs if your project is small 

 

 

 

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I heard from Ancor Tech Support (less than 24 hrs). Their dimensions for the flat to flat crimp of 6 AWG lug is .245” +/-.005.

I measured mine at .230.”

Next time I will leave out the final squeeze, but I am happy with how it turned out. 

It may not be mil-spec, and might not be suitable for starting 800 hp diesels, but I think that it will work fine for me, and that it will be at least as reliable as what was there before (right side of the picture).

(Yes, I used heat shrink on all joints - this one is bare because I intend to slice it off and see what a cross-section looks like.)

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On 7/14/2021 at 12:43 AM, Gabe_nyc said:

So I used the tool w the #4 die and it worked great. Very easy and felt very solid.

After I finish the current project I might dissect one of them to see the cross-section but for now I’m content.

Yes, I ran into this too. The “ears” were thin enough that I was afraid they would slice through the heatshrink.

I trimmed them with a Stanley knife and smoothed everything with an emery board and all was good.

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Wrong size crimp die

your lug will probably work 

if a contractor performed those terminations he wouldn’t get paid 

 

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What is this for anyway?

On second look it probably is a bit over-crimped, but your destructive test looks very solid.  

perhaps a #2 vs a #4 would have been a little less heavily crimped, but depending on your application it will likely outlast many other things

 

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1 hour ago, SimonGH said:

What is this for anyway?

[ ... ]

depending on your application it will likely outlast many other things

 

For connection of house battery to house panel. There is no equipment on the boat other than UHF, new Raymarine nav and lighting.

The run is about 18 ft long on a 30-ft boat. I followed the run of the previous cable. I might re-route it in the winter to shorten it, but it would not be a significant gain and prob not worth the hassle.

I don’t know if it meets ABYC standards and I don’t know where it ranks on a scale of 1-100, but I am certain that it’s a significant improvement over what was there before.

I asked / post on here because I am looking to learn. Many answers were very helpful, others ... less so.

I might make up some more test pieces next week and I will post any results here for anybody who is interested.

Happy Sailing and Happy Anarchy!

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3 hours ago, slug zitski said:

if a contractor performed those terminations he wouldn’t get paid 

If a contractor asked for answers to simple questions on a public forum, I probably would not hire him to begin with.

So it’s a good thing that I have a real job and that this is just a simple-hobby for me (:-)

Happy Sailing and Happy Anarchy!

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5 hours ago, Gabe_nyc said:

 Cross-section view.

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That'll do!:) That's what I meant about being your own QA, which you were, and now you know. Some people scoff at the "Something else will fail before this item does" approach to boat work, but used steadily and honestly, it improves the whole boat by increments.

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18 minutes ago, Diarmuid said:

Some people scoff at the "Something else will fail before this item does" approach to boat work,

Also known as "Perfection is the enemy of the good"

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2 hours ago, Gabe_nyc said:

If a contractor asked for answers to simple questions on a public forum, I probably would not hire him to begin with.

So it’s a good thing that I have a real job and that this is just a simple-hobby for me (:-)

Happy Sailing and Happy Anarchy!

With the incorrect die . Too small …you have compressed the lug wall and greatly reduced its  wall thickness 

this has consequences 

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1 minute ago, slug zitski said:

With the incorrect die . Too small …you have compressed the lug wall and greatly reduced its  wall thickness 

this has consequences 

I am unclear. 

Do you think that my incorrect procedure with the incorrect tool resulted in a better or a worse connection than what was there before?

Sports in “real HD” (at 1.485 Gb/s) looks SPECTACULAR and every single blade of grass on the field can be clearly and wondrously seen. What you receive at home is compressed down to (at best)  12 Mb/s with the grass a smeary mess and all sorts of artifacts and JNDs that a trained eye will pick up on.

Does that mean that you should no longer watch your TV where the transmission path is chocked down by limits of cost and practicality, or should you continue to enjoy what is a vastly superior quality to the SD of just a few years ago?

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3 hours ago, Borracho said:

I simply solder them on the stovetop. No fancy tools. All sizes, same tool. No failures in 50 years. :popcorn:

This ↑↑↑  Maybe without the stovetop unless you are careful or have an understanding wife.  It can be done with a normal soldering iron in good condition or a propane torch.  Put heat shrink on the wire and slide it well back.  Hold the eye with vice grips.  Tin the wire.  Melt solder into the wire receptacle about 1/3 to 1/2 full, and while it is still liquid put the wire in.  Make sure you keep heating until you see the solder amalgamate with the wire strands and eye walls.  Cool.  Slide the heat shrink onto the eye and use heat gun.  Done.

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3 hours ago, slug zitski said:

With the incorrect die . Too small …you have compressed the lug wall and greatly reduced its  wall thickness 

this has consequences 

Will it be okay if I put a hose clamp on it?

 

Sorry, really. I just like being lippy and have actually learned  good stuff from your posts. Don't let it go to your head though...

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9 hours ago, Gabe_nyc said:

I am unclear. 

Do you think that my incorrect procedure with the incorrect tool resulted in a better or a worse connection than what was there before?

Sports in “real HD” (at 1.485 Gb/s) looks SPECTACULAR and every single blade of grass on the field can be clearly and wondrously seen. What you receive at home is compressed down to (at best)  12 Mb/s with the grass a smeary mess and all sorts of artifacts and JNDs that a trained eye will pick up on.

Does that mean that you should no longer watch your TV where the transmission path is chocked down by limits of cost and practicality, or should you continue to enjoy what is a vastly superior quality to the SD of just a few years ago?

Don't mind Zitski.  He's not especially good at people.

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MIL-T-7928G

I prefer crimp then solder, but it should be strain relieved and supported.

In higher vibration situations there is a potential for the strands to start breaking where the solder stops, since you go from flexible to stiff very abruptly.  A crimped connection actually is slightly less abrupt, which is also the concern with an over crimped terminal.

But we’re talking about very low margin aerospace stuff.  Your cable will be fine.

MIL-T-7928G.pdf

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Another consideration for the perfectionists out there is leaving the end of the stranded wire unsealed for moisture to wick into the wire.

Ancor wire is fully tinned to minimize corrosion (and help soldering).

The gap between a crimped terminal and the insulation on the wire is difficult to seal with shrink tubing due to the irregular shape left by the crimper and a non-perfect crimp can wick moisture right through the crimp.

A soldered terminal (without crimp) seals nicely but will pull apart if (seriously) overloaded current-wise.

The vibration issue would seem to be trivial in most marine applications (engines excepted) and can largely be alleviated by proper strain relief and cable clamping.

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An interesting thread, 

Yes over crimped by one die I think, but for our use it wouldn't make that much difference.

Soldering is not permitted on this type use under our local regulations, which unfortunately seem to have been taken from full blown commercial marine specs, not hobby sailing/ motorboating inland...

I could measure the resistance ..at work, We routinely measure to point one part in a million on resistance, run up to 1200V or 120A, but the cable resistance per metre would have to be taken into account which may well be a significant part of the total.

But for home use my dmm only has 5 1/2 digits.. (an old Dayton 1061) bit over the top for on a boat though so I just use something that bounces is reasonably water protected, and cheap.

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2 hours ago, The Q said:

An interesting thread, 

Yes over crimped by one die I think, but for our use it wouldn't make that much difference.

Soldering is not permitted on this type use under our local regulations, which unfortunately seem to have been taken from full blown commercial marine specs, not hobby sailing/ motorboating inland...

I could measure the resistance ..at work, We routinely measure to point one part in a million on resistance, run up to 1200V or 120A, but the cable resistance per metre would have to be taken into account which may well be a significant part of the total.

But for home use my dmm only has 5 1/2 digits.. (an old Dayton 1061) bit over the top for on a boat though so I just use something that bounces is reasonably water protected, and cheap.

Soldered terminals are inferior 

when working with pro electricians I only see double crimp nylon terminals , single crimp heat shrink terminals and wire ferrule crimp terminals  used 

solder terminals are rare and only used on plugs , electronics and small wire diameter splices 

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2 hours ago, The Q said:

An interesting thread, 

Yes over crimped by one die I think, but for our use it wouldn't make that much difference.

Soldering is not permitted on this type use under our local regulations, which unfortunately seem to have been taken from full blown commercial marine specs, not hobby sailing/ motorboating inland...

I could measure the resistance ..at work, We routinely measure to point one part in a million on resistance, run up to 1200V or 120A, but the cable resistance per metre would have to be taken into account which may well be a significant part of the total.

But for home use my dmm only has 5 1/2 digits.. (an old Dayton 1061) bit over the top for on a boat though so I just use something that bounces is reasonably water protected, and cheap.

The high resistance is typically in the mechanical connection , not the wire termination 

After many cycles they become loose and create heat 

sometimes this heat exceeds the melt point of solder 

 

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3 hours ago, Feisty! said:

The gap between a crimped terminal and the insulation on the wire is difficult to seal with shrink tubing due to the irregular shape left by the crimper and a non-perfect crimp can wick moisture right through the crimp.

A soldered terminal (without crimp) seals nicely but will pull apart if (seriously) overloaded current-wise.

I made sure to trim back the “ears” and to sand them smooth to the touch. (Yes, I know that removed some of the zinc coating, but I’m aiming for “practical” rather than “perfect”.)

The store I bought the stuff had 2 thicknesses of heat shrink. I bought the heaviest one available and heated with very hot Weller gun until it shrunk tight and until I saw a bead of glue peeking out at both ends.

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2 hours ago, The Q said:

Yes over crimped by one die I think, but for our use it wouldn't make that much difference.

I was afraid that if overdone the crimp sleeve would crack and possibly fall off.

I do not have dye penetrant available, but I looked and felt VERY carefully for cracks and did not detect anything of concern.

For my next tests, I will try to put a .031” (1/32”) shim between the jaws to keep them from closing fully. I will try feeler gauged or whatever till I find a size that will get me to the Ancor spec size of .245”, +/- .005”

I left enough extra wire at all ends that if I find a reason and / or method that results in more sound connection it will be easy to chop off the old ones and redo them.

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