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Date:         Sat, 1 Dec 2001 09:09:59 +0800
Reply-To:     Julian Burden <jburden@CONSULTANT.COM>
Sender:       Vanagon Mailing List <>
From:         Julian Burden <jburden@CONSULTANT.COM>
Subject:      Re: wire splicing
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Someone was after some advice about wire splicing - other messages have offerred some good advice, I'd like to add my $0.02 and my preferred method:

1. A good wire splice is both a mechanical and electrical joint - if the solder is taking any strain minute fractures can occur within the joint, increasing resistance.

2. Solder is not as good a conductor as copper, there should be minimal distance between copper strands as possible (the strands should be touching). "Tinning" the wires (applying solder before the wires are joined) means the wires cannot be twisted around each other and that there is a relatively thick layer of solder between the two wires (when joining one wire to a clip etc is another story). Ideally the wires would conduct current and hold together without the solder - the solder's job is to hold the wires in place and stop impurities getting between the strands.

3. Solder should never be applied to the iron and then taken to the wires - the flux evaporates before the joint is made (you do want the flux out of there, but only after it has done its job), and the copper is not as hot as it should be when the solder is applied.

Now, my method:

1. A hot iron should be used (40W is ideal for most auto work, thicker, high current wires need even more) - too cool an iron will result in a crystal like solder joint, with unwanted air-gaps.

2. The existing harness should not be simply cut as a whole, it is far better to stagger the cuts in each individual wire, about 1/4" to 1/2" appart is ideal depending on the length available - this will avoid a large bulge in the harness.

3. Strip at least 1/2" of the insulation of each wire (longer for thicker wire).

4. (This is hard to describe without a diagram, sorry . . .) make an X with the wires so that the centre of the stripped wire is at the intersection of the X (the insulation should be about 1/4" away from the intersection). Tightly twist the wires around each other so that each free end is wrapped towards the insulation of the other wire - you should NOT end up with a T shape, imagine a single wire with 1/2" of the insulation stripped off the centre of the wire.

5. Heat the wire with the iron. Once the wire is HOT, apply the solder to the wire rather than the iron (really close to the iron) - the copper should suck up the solder.

6. Let the joint cool and then wrap with one or two turns of insulation tape - don't cut the tape yet. It is far easier and neater to make one joint, wrap it, make the next, wrap it, etc than to join all of the wires and then weave the tape through the individual wires.


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