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Old 06-12-2012, 10:19   #1
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A few small detail questions

Hi:

I have been studying and figuring for weeks now, and am getting close to getting together my final wiring ideas, and ordering parts. A few relatively simple questions if folks don’t mind ...

Is there anything wrong with making a buss bar out of copper bar stock and silicon bronze screws? Blue Sea 2104, a quad 3/8 stud 600A buss bar is about $70 and I’d likely be looking at 3 of them. $200 seems like much money for what is essentially $15 of copper and some fasteners. A torch and solder and it is plated too. I am really looking to spec the 250A bus bars, but can’t find them anywhere so far, people only seem to carry the 3/8 600A series, or the 1/4, 150A series. Maybe anyone that carries Blue Sea will get in any Blue Sea product whether they normally carry it or not.

Is it worth while to have disconnect circuit breaker panels for charging sources like solar panels, shore charger, wind generator, and the 24 hour circuits like bilge pumps and maybe the refrigerator, or are fuse blocks maybe a bit buried in the bowels of the boat adequate for the odd time you have to troubleshoot something around the charging stuff? Many people seem to put everything on it’s own breaker, but how much granularity do you really need?

Is there a reason to have a preference one way or the other between ATO/ATC blade fuses and the more traditional AGC/MDL cylindrical glass fuses?

For large crimps, is the hammer (or vice) style ~$100 crimper adequate, or should one really want the long handled shear shaped (for lack of a better description) crimper at ~ $300. Calder says they are fine, so I suppose they are fine. Supplemental question, does the expensive style of crimper need to match a particular manufacturer’s crimp connectors, or is everything more or less standardized? I see expensive crimp tools are available from (at least) Deka, Ancor, and Blue Sea. This is much money for what is likely only some 4 dozen lifetime crimps needed. Ideally I’d beg to borrow one, but my club is 2 hours away, even if someone does have one.

Thanks,

Boulter
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:25   #2
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Re: A few small detail questions

I have made a few bus bars out of solid copper. You just have to know the cross sectional area and its equivalent to the same gauge wire, which will then tell you the bus bars ampacity. There is a really good non-ferrous metal recycling place near me where I get metal like this inexpensively.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:25   #3
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Re: A few small detail questions

Aluminium makes a great bus as well no surface treatment required. Most power lines are ally now.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:33   #4
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Re: A few small detail questions

For the small crimps I think it is well worth the money to get a good quality, ratcheting crimper. I have seen cheaper versions at the local hardware store than paying top dollar for an Ancor, but don't even think about using one of the cheapo tools that comes in the little crimp kits you get at the auto parts store. Also might want to try eBay for a used one.
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Old 06-12-2012, 15:37   #5
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Re: A few small detail questions

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
For the small crimps I think it is well worth the money to get a good quality, ratcheting crimper.
Yes, I agree. I don't begrudge $100 in a tool that will be used 100s of times and get it right every time without thinking or hand strength.

Boulter
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Old 06-12-2012, 16:05   #6
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Re: A few small detail questions

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Yes, I agree. I don't begrudge $100 in a tool that will be used 100s of times and get it right every time without thinking or hand strength.

Boulter
For the big crimps, like 00 battery cable I bought a small, cheap hydraulic crimper from Harbor Freight. Doesn't make a pretty a crimp as the expensive but I've cut one apart and the crimp was very tight and the copper wire bundle almost looked fused together. I think the tool was only $40-$50 and should work for the dozen or so battery cables I'll make with it.
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Old 06-12-2012, 20:05   #7
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Re: A few small detail questions

I cct. breaker or fuse for each cct.

If you are going to use ancor fittings use an ancor crimping tool.

The vise type heavy gauge crimpers should do a good job. Do a test one and see what it looks like. The cable should look solid afterwards.

You have to polish the copper bus bar before making the connection, every time and use an anti oxidant on the connections. The Ancor/Blue Sea bus bars are silver coated I believe.

Edit: if you make up a list of everything you need you may get a good price break. Ask for quotes from different vendors.
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Old 06-12-2012, 20:39   #8
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Re: A few small detail questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boulter View Post
Hi:..........
Is there anything wrong with making a buss bar out of copper bar stock and silicon bronze screws?

Nothing wrong with this ... I always prefer DIY if you know what you are doing. Tin it with solder as you suggested or even better (IMO), use silver solder if you have the torch and flux.


Many people seem to put everything on it’s own breaker, but how much granularity do you really need?

As much as what suits you. I like a lot, others not so much. I even have a separate fuse for each nav light (port, stbd and stern) all via a single 3 pole switch.

Is there a reason to have a preference one way or the other between ATO/ATC blade fuses and the more traditional AGC/MDL cylindrical glass fuses?

No real reason I suppose, blade fuses probably cheaper to make and take up far less room but I prefer glass tubular ones and there is a greater variety of holders available for them

For large crimps, is the hammer (or vice) style ~$100 crimper adequate, or should one really want the long handled shear shaped (for lack of a better description) crimper at ~ $300. Calder says they are fine, so I suppose they are fine.

OK this is a curly one; a dozen genuine points of difference and a million opinions out there. I use calibrated top end crimpers but mainly because I have free access to them. We also calibrate many styles of crimpers and find some of don't make the grade. Some 'cause they are old and worn out and some that are new and have manufacturing defects. We find this in both medium and high end units.

The only real test for any crimp is that they have a certain mechanical strength (pull out) and conductivity (low resistance). If you are satisfied with the mechanical strength of the resultant crimp, then you can always add solder to the crimp to ensure very low resistance and provide sealing "inside" the crimp. Finish off with adhesive filled heat shrink and the crimp is good.



Supplemental question, does the expensive style of crimper need to match a particular manufacturer’s crimp connectors, or is everything more or less standardized? I see expensive crimp tools are available from (at least) Deka, Ancor, and Blue Sea. This is much money for what is likely only some 4 dozen lifetime crimps needed. Ideally I’d beg to borrow one, but my club is 2 hours away, even if someone does have one.

Best practice dictates using the same manufacture of crimp and tooling (and have the tooling in calibration) - they are not standardised - normal practice is just to use high quality tooling and crimps - your choice .

Again I use calibrated tooling but mainly because I have good access to them


Thanks,

Boulter
Good luck with this project
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Old 07-12-2012, 01:58   #9
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Re: A few small detail questions

For those unable to get copper bar stock, copper water pipe is often a good option.
Squash it in a vice to make a flat sheet. Cheap and you can get it anywhere.
I would not use aluminium it's too difficult to maintain a low resistance connection. Large power distribution systems use aluminium but they are using very high voltages that will successfully jump even an air gap.

If you are making battery terminals and don't have a good crimper. A combination of crimping and soldering is a reasonable way of making the connections as Wotname says.
Soldering on its own is not ideal because if the joint overheats the solder may melt releasing the wire, or a dry joint may do the same thing. Crimping first ensures you get a mechanical join. If you then solder it you get a good electrical join which occurs anyway with a good crimp, but not always with the cheaper crimp tools.
To solder battery terminals you need a large soldering iron at least 80w and higher is much better. Irons like this can be purchased cheaply.
At a pinch you can use a blowtorch.
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Old 07-12-2012, 03:07   #10
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I can't in all fairness support the squashed copper pipe. If you want low cost bus bars go into any electrical trade supplier. They are as common as mud. Or look at electronics trade supplies ( element14, Newark farnel etc).

Remember try and use preferably copper studs or brass and copper nuts. Avoid stainless bolts


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Old 07-12-2012, 03:35   #11
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Re: A few small detail questions

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I can't in all fairness support the squashed copper pipe. If you want low cost bus bars go into any electrical trade supplier. They are as common as mud. Or look at electronics trade supplies ( element14, Newark farnel etc).
People that have not been long distance cruising underestimate the difficulty getting these common supplies.

I have not seen a shop selling one for over nine months.
Unless I am desperate and change my plans I am not in one place long enough to receive deliveries.
This is typical. You often have to improvise. It's nice to know the improvisation tricks that work well.
Squashed water pipe does work well.
It's a much better than alumnium.
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Old 07-12-2012, 05:15   #12
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Re: A few small detail questions

I don't know if there are West Marine stores in Central Ontario, but if there is, most of them have crimpers for large lugs that are free for customer use in store. They look like a big bolt cutter with different sized crimper ends on them.

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Old 07-12-2012, 05:59   #13
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Re: A few small detail questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
f you are making battery terminals and don't have a good crimper. A combination of crimping and soldering is a reasonable way of making the connections as Wotname says.
Soldering on its own is not ideal because if the joint overheats the solder may melt releasing the wire, or a dry joint may do the same thing. Crimping first ensures you get a mechanical join. If you then solder it you get a good electrical join which occurs anyway with a good crimp, but not always with the cheaper crimp tools.
To solder battery terminals you need a large soldering iron at least 80w and higher is much better. Irons like this can be purchased cheaply.
At a pinch you can use a blowtorch.
Has anyone here tried solder slugs for this purpose?
Genuinedealz > solder pellets, solder slugs, rosin core, solder lugs
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Old 07-12-2012, 16:44   #14
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Re: A few small detail questions

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
People that have not been long distance cruising underestimate the difficulty getting these common supplies.

I have not seen a shop selling one for over nine months.
Unless I am desperate and change my plans I am not in one place long enough to receive deliveries.
This is typical. You often have to improvise. It's nice to know the improvisation tricks that work well.
Squashed water pipe does work well.
It's a much better than alumnium.
Heck, I have used copper water pipe to make the lugs as well a long time back. Takes awhile but time is often abundant in remote areas.

Concur with your thoughts on Al vs Cu.
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Old 07-12-2012, 17:26   #15
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Re: A few small detail questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boulter View Post
Hi:

I have been studying and figuring for weeks now, and am getting close to getting together my final wiring ideas, and ordering parts. A few relatively simple questions if folks don’t mind ...

Is there anything wrong with making a buss bar out of copper bar stock and silicon bronze screws? Blue Sea 2104, a quad 3/8 stud 600A buss bar is about $70 and I’d likely be looking at 3 of them. $200 seems like much money for what is essentially $15 of copper and some fasteners. A torch and solder and it is plated too. I am really looking to spec the 250A bus bars, but can’t find them anywhere so far, people only seem to carry the 3/8 600A series, or the 1/4, 150A series. Maybe anyone that carries Blue Sea will get in any Blue Sea product whether they normally carry it or not.

I have no opinion on the homemade buss bar issue other than if there is a problem on the boat what will an insurance company surveyor say. If you install a Blue Sea or other "marine" product there should be no issue.

Is it worth while to have disconnect circuit breaker panels for charging sources like solar panels, shore charger, wind generator, and the 24 hour circuits like bilge pumps and maybe the refrigerator, or are fuse blocks maybe a bit buried in the bowels of the boat adequate for the odd time you have to troubleshoot something around the charging stuff? Many people seem to put everything on it’s own breaker, but how much granularity do you really need?

I do have a breaker on my wind generator wiring since it is connected directly to a 10 kw battery bank. But, none for my solar panels since they go through Morningstar Controllers which have protective circuits built into them. I can disconnect the panels easily enough with the solar panels waterproof connections if I needed too also.

Is there a reason to have a preference one way or the other between ATO/ATC blade fuses and the more traditional AGC/MDL cylindrical glass fuses?

I like AGC/MDL fuses might be easier to find in remote areas since they are used in a lot of land based electronic systems (tv's, radios etc....).

For large crimps, is the hammer (or vice) style ~$100 crimper adequate, or should one really want the long handled shear shaped (for lack of a better description) crimper at ~ $300. Calder says they are fine, so I suppose they are fine. Supplemental question, does the expensive style of crimper need to match a particular manufacturer’s crimp connectors, or is everything more or less standardized? I see expensive crimp tools are available from (at least) Deka, Ancor, and Blue Sea. This is much money for what is likely only some 4 dozen lifetime crimps needed. Ideally I’d beg to borrow one, but my club is 2 hours away, even if someone does have one.

I'm a little bit more picky about using a ratcheting crimper for heavy duty power connections as opposed to the hammer type. But, then I have an electric propulsion system on board. So for me having the right tool and the ability to replace any broken/corroded jumper cable to keep the motor running is a priority. You can find cheaper ratcheting crimpers that don't have the brand name attached to them for a lot cheaper if you look around places like EBAY.
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I've used one for the past five years and have had no problem with any of the crimps and interconnect jumpers. For me a ratcheting crimper and heatshrink on the lugs is cheap insurance that the motor will start when I really need it to.


Thanks,

Boulter
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