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How To: Properly Using Crimp Connectors For Automotive Use
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 Posted: Sat Nov 25th, 2017 07:48 pm
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TheArcticWolf1911
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If you know me, you know I don't like crimp connectors. Some will call me a 'soldering snob' or the like, but there is a good reason or two why I chose this way. I'm going to tell you why, and I'm going to show you how to build a better mouse trap by improving upon crimp connectors as they are today.
Let's talk about the 'why' first. Why complicate things?
Well, to start with, crimp connectors are not the be-all-to-end-all, plain and simple. No matter how tight you crimp them, a wire can always be pulled loose, and they are always susceptible to corrosion, causing problems in your projects.
Several years ago, my father worked for a tow truck company. The cab lights were installed using crimp type connectors. Frequently, they'd find the lights stopped working and would need to be redone. These problems stopped after he ditched the crimp connectors in favor of a soldering iron. Anecdotal evidence? Yes, but my point remains. A job worth doing is one doing right.
When it gets down to it, a crimp connector is a piece of metal squashed onto another piece of metal. No more, no less. Unfortunately, we can't get around using them in some cases, so what's a guy to do?
Grab your soldering iron and follow me.
 
Good, you made it. Plug in your soldering iron and let it come up to temperature while we prep the connector and wire end to be soldered. First thing we need to deal with is this pesky plastic piece. A set of needle nose pliers can be used here. One pair gets put inside the plastic piece, gripping only the plastic, and the other on the connector itself. Simply pull and the plastic will come off. It can be cut off, but it is a chore and a half to do. This process will work for any connector similar in design to the one shown here, whether it be red, blue, or yellow, which indicates connector gauge size.

Note: This process does not work well with 'butt' connectors. Twist and solder your wires together using either the Western Union or NASA technique. Choice is yours.

PSA :giveup: I've seen a few videos, namely by Scotty Kilmer on youtube, where he has used wire nuts to join wires together. These types of "connectors" are not even close to suitable for automotive applications, even for a prototyping scenario. The connection is weaker than crimping and just as susceptible to corrosion. Wire nuts are not designed to be jostled around in a vehicle. They were meant for home applications, such as connecting fixtures.




Next, strip the end of the wire. I prefer automatic wire strippers, but any kind will do. With the end of the wire stripped, I recommend tinning the wire first. This will make the process go quicker, but not strictly necessary.

Remember: Slide your heat shrink over the wire BEFORE you solder on the connector, while keeping it far enough away that it does not shrink prematurely. This will protect against the elements and short circuits. In the case of spade connectors, ensure the heat shrink slides up over the entirety of the female connector. Slide the heat shrink only over the solder lug on the male side. An extra layer of heat shrink can be used on top if desired. This is a good idea to do when the connection will be exposed to the elements.
 
Slide the connector over and crimp it down over the wire. This will hold it steady while we solder. Use the tip of the iron to heat the connector, allowing the solder on the wire to melt. Add more solder if desired, the end goal being a nice fillet of solder inside the connector. Once the connector is cool enough to touch, slide the heat shrink over and shrink with either a lighter or hairdryer/heat gun.
The end result is a connector that is much stronger than crimping alone, and will also fair better in the elements.



Last edited on Sun Nov 26th, 2017 12:08 am by TheArcticWolf1911



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 Posted: Sat Nov 25th, 2017 07:52 pm
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I would like to add please that if an appropriate Zippo lighter is not available OR you ran out of fluid to drip in the cotton when you open the lighter up, a heat gun or butane soldering iron (most have heat shrink tubing adapters) will work also :)



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 Posted: Sat Nov 25th, 2017 10:47 pm
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I have a butane portable solder torch. I also do not like crimp connectors. The only exception is the crimp, heat-shrink all in ones used for splicing wires together and I use them sparingly.



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 Posted: Sun Nov 26th, 2017 12:07 am
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Already got that part covered, Jamman. In all truth, a heat gun is probably better (or hair dryer) as it doesn't seem to scorch the heat shrink as easily as what a flame can.



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 Posted: Sun Nov 26th, 2017 01:32 am
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Some of us APPRECIATE fellow soldering snobs just FYI.. lol



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 Posted: Sun Nov 26th, 2017 01:35 am
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Good to hear! I see so many wiring jobs crimped together and it just makes me cringe. Esspecially when I see a heavy wire going to a thin wire on the same circuit, but that's another story.



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 Posted: Sun Nov 26th, 2017 01:39 am
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Agreed, although I will admit, with the right tools and done the right way they all are a working connection but I prefer my soldering and military splices [still soldered] for long term use and abuse.

It never fails when I see an install of something and I question it as if it was a trail-rigged-get-me-home and they look at me like whats wrong with it? Aye aye ayee...



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"The slave is held most securely when he is held by the chains of his own will and of his own fears, and when he is locked down by his own slavish desires for a comfortable life." - Michael Bunker

"Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur. Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur" - ~ attributed to Petronius (Gaius Petronius Arbiter (ca. 27–66 AD))
Roman courtier during the reign of Nero.

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 Posted: Tue Nov 28th, 2017 04:31 am
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They make a special ratcheting crimpers that will curl the terminal more for added grip. 



I have switched to using flag style terminals. More expensive, have to custom order terminals, and the crimper has to be ordered but it's the closest to OEM you will find. The pull out force is insane (you will break wire strands before the terminal releases).






Last edited on Tue Nov 28th, 2017 04:31 am by sheltonfilms



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 Posted: Tue Nov 28th, 2017 05:29 am
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I will admit, that is a very nice looking connection. If I was doing this for a living, I'd probably invest in that kind of tooling.

Makes me feel like I should find something to wire up, perhaps.



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TheArcticWolf1911 wrote: I will admit, that is a very nice looking connection. If I was doing this for a living, I'd probably invest in that kind of tooling.

Makes me feel like I should find something to wire up, perhaps.


Crimper wasn't that bad. I paid $25 for it at the time. I bought it when I rewired my daughters powerwheels mustang. I added a 24V scooter controller.


Here is the one I got: 
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0050KDKUC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1



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 Posted: Tue Nov 28th, 2017 11:02 am
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I remember those, I worked at a stamping place that made terminals. A place called interlock in michigan. After I left they were bought by T&B. That's what the big guys use evidently since all they did was automotive.

They had a testing lab where they would slowly crank the amperage on the terminals while taking a vid with some infrared camera similar to the modern day flirs. Would determine the weak spots and we would change the dies to leave more material in those areas.



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I have to admit, I would be confident in that crimp. It looks strong and reliable. In this case, you *DO* get what you pay for!



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Hello to all, Sorry for any confusion I had nothing to do today and started reading through some of the How-To's and came across this posting about Proper Crimping... (can of worms) !

I.e. the picture:



IMO..., When looking at the crimped lug you can see the actual contact point is to left side about 1/2 the length of the crimped area, not a lot of contact.
All lugs should be crimped with the wire unsoldered, the wire can be twisted, not super tight, but have a good mechanical bond before adding solder, which isn't a bad idea, IF cleaned properly after soldering, which would mean cleaning with Alcohol, not the booze.  Residue after soldering can corrode, even with Heat- Shrink, causing a bad connection.
This picture shows a good solder flow in the wire BUT minimal wire to Lug Contact, which will create a resistance, even after soldering; IF this Lug were to heat up, from a shorted condition, and the solder melting, the wire could slip out and if hot, could create a fire.

Always, crimp wire in lugs before soldering, get a good mechanical bond, pull on the lug to see if it stays on the wire, THEN... add solder to the connection as a bonding assist.
Note:  A solid mechanical bond, (crimped properly, will allow the most wire to Lug contact and the most conductivity in the connection), and using heat shrink with Adhesive on the inside, will last and be water-proof... !  
Also, double check your Lug Crimpers, there should be a Nub on one side, that Nub should go against the solid portion of the Lug, not the split, and impress inward, spreading the wires within the indent without separating the split, allowing full contact, so using the correct crimpers make a big difference too.

When using Heat Shrink in an automotive circuit, you should strive for a water-proof connection when ever possible, use the Heat Shrink type with adhesive on the inside, and make sure once the Heat Shrink is shrunk, you can see the adhesive coming out of the end of the Heat Shrink, this makes it water-proof.

These steps make for a more secure, water-proof connection with less worries about corrosion and a bad connection.

So where so I get off stepping in here and saying things about someone else hard word at a writeup... I know, what an A-Hole !
I base my comment on a long-term Quality Assurance/Control Methods Writing, within many Military/Government Facilities, and on a longing of doing things so they do not have to be "EVER done over".   I love my Ranger and all of the info on these Ranger Sites but I an not trying in any way to cause a problem of call anyone wrong... everyone has THEIR way !
I agree with "TheArticWolf1911" is his methods, I do things the same way except for his crimping, and believe me everyone definitely has their own way of crimping.

My apologies to TheArticWolf1911, if there is any conflict, it wasn't meant to be.

Ltr

Last edited on Thu Apr 11th, 2019 11:10 pm by Scrambler82



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 Posted: Mon Dec 2nd, 2019 06:41 am
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No harm done, Scrambler. I would have answered sooner, if it weren't for my hiatus.

You make a very valid point, and I'm not one to turn my nose up at constructive criticism. I make no claims that my methods or my opinions are in the mind of greatness, I only say what works for me and what I've learned through my experiences.

Of course different people have different experiences and therefor different opinions.

I normally do crimp more solidly than that, and my methods have evolved with time.

Never apologize for adding more useful information. Anyone who reads this can read both my ideas and yours and draw their own conclusion best suited to their application with the most information.



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Eight months, not too bad for a response time.

When you look at Crimping within the electronics Industry, there are so many difference opinions it is almost funny.

When I looked at my method, right or wrong, I always think that why don't people do it my way, it is the RIGHT way, look at it, LoL, but everyone has their own opinion on what is the BEST way.

People just need to understand that soldering a lug and using a good quality Heat Shrink with adhesive inside, is the best way to make and keep good connections.

Ltr

Last edited on Mon Dec 2nd, 2019 05:23 pm by Scrambler82



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When I started to do the wiring on my 69 Mustang I invested in a nice ratcheting crimper to do the connections & I used a heat gun on the shrink tubing to cover the connections. Here is the crimper I purchased.
https://www.amazon.com/Astro-9477-Professional-Interchangeable-Tool/dp/B0045CUMLQ/ref=sr_1_1?gclid=Cj0KCQiAiZPvBRDZARIsAORkq7fU_rylxCkGur54jygJ3xTzLcSF0gNtEjDenim9qbtR7sM0mW1DZRkaAi3yEALw_wcB&hvadid=198231259671&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9003992&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=5731816383734968268&hvtargid=aud-840076997981%3Akwd-297532904393&hydadcr=29011_10168378&keywords=astro+9477+crimper&qid=1575320239&sr=8-1



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Woohoo! That's a pricey crimper! Looks to be very well made and heavy duty. My guess is that you are pleased with the tools performance.



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mhoward wrote:
Woohoo! That's a pricey crimper! Looks to be very well made and heavy duty. My guess is that you are pleased with the tools performance.
Yes, very happy with its performance.



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Mike69 wrote:
When I started to do the wiring on my 69 Mustang I invested in a nice ratcheting crimper to do the connections & I used a heat gun on the shrink tubing to cover the connections. Here is the crimper I purchased.
https://www.amazon.com/Astro-9477-Professional-Interchangeable-Tool/dp/B0045CUMLQ/ref=sr_1_1?gclid=Cj0KCQiAiZPvBRDZARIsAORkq7fU_rylxCkGur54jygJ3xTzLcSF0gNtEjDenim9qbtR7sM0mW1DZRkaAi3yEALw_wcB&hvadid=198231259671&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9003992&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=5731816383734968268&hvtargid=aud-840076997981%3Akwd-297532904393&hydadcr=29011_10168378&keywords=astro+9477+crimper&qid=1575320239&sr=8-1


The Racket Crimpers work well as long as you don't solder first.  

I know there are a lot of Crimping Tools out there, some generic, and some universal, my favorite is the Stake-On Crimper with the Nub on one Die, cutting tip with a deep reach.

Nice Crimper you bought, you will have that for a while.

mhoward wrote:
Woohoo! That's a pricey crimper! Looks to be very well made and heavy duty. My guess is that you are pleased with the tools performance.
If want to do the job right and a second time with the same tools then you buy good tools.



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2003 EDGE, Std Cab, Steppie, E4 Red, 5sp, 4x
Large Tube Rear Axle, 31 Spline - FX4, 4.56 Gears, OX Locked
5" SuperLift, 33" x 12.50 x 15" BFG ATs,
Hurst Shifter w/Longer Replacement Shift Handle with (Homemade) Mounting Adapter; 1.5" up x 1" back.
Backrack mod'd to fit Steppie, Front and Rear Bumpers by Custom 4x4 Fabrication, OK.
Working on more Mods, just need more time, longer days would work !
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"If want to do the job right and a second time with the same tools then you buy good tools."

I couldn't agree more!



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What’s everyone thoughts on shirk tube/soldier connectors? I’ve had great luck with them just curious.



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mhoward
Hey look ↓ they ↓ bounce!


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Name: Michael
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I always prefer solder / shrink.  Only exception is when there is no room to work.  The whole gist of this thread is when you *DO* use crimp connectors, there are good and bad crimps and good and bad (spelled CHEAP) connectors.  Also, in one example, you can crimp AND solder... that is also quite acceptable.



____________________
-- Michael

2003 Ranger Edge / Extended Cab / Flareside / 3.0L FLEX / Auto / 2WD / 8.8 Open 4:10 / Sonic Blue Pearl

So many mods... so little time...



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Ford-Rangers.com Ranger Forum > Tech Section > How-To Section > How To: Properly Using Crimp Connectors For Automotive Use

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