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Old 02-06-2008, 16:28   #1
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Tinned Wire:

Hello All:

Just to start a new and shocking thread. I woulld like to ask peoples opinions on tinned wire. The back cover of this months Practical Sailor has an article on Tinned Wire. Rather than reproduce the entire article I'd like to just give the highlights 1)Tinned wire is not requried by the ABYC 2) It was an excellent marketing move by Ancor, and 3) More important than tinned wire is sealed connections.

Given this info I was wondering if people had opinions on the importance of tinned wire. One of the recomendations of the PS article was that if you find your copper wire going black one of the best things that you could do would be to peel the insulation back till you came to clean wire and then to put on a new connector that seals the end of the wire.

I know that Gord May wrote a nice article that showed a properly done splice using quality parts did not cause much if any decrease in resistance. Perhaps Gord could link back to that article. If that is the case than the idea of just stripping wire back a few inches till the bad wire can be removed and then splicing a new piece of wire on the end and a sealed connector seems like a reasonable idea.

Would you do that?

"I can scan the article but do not know if that is legal. If a moderator woudl give me approval I am willing to do that.
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Old 02-06-2008, 16:45   #2
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Firstly I doubt that tinned wire was just a marketing ploy. I would bet it was a military spec. (however I could be wrong in that). Given the choice I would use tinned wire rather than non tinned. I remember Gord's thread but don't remember if any of his tests were done with non-tinned wire or not, however I do remember that marine grade connectors made connections with less resistance, compared to non-marine grade. I do agree that sealed connections are important in the marine environment. I would also say that using the proper crimping tool is extremely important.
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Old 02-06-2008, 16:46   #3
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Oh No! Not the tinned vs not tinned debate again! Tell me it isn't so!

Good one Charlie. I've scanned (read through many times) the standards both ABYC and Transport Canada and you're right no mention of tinned wire that comes to mind. The do specifiy marine cable with the proper chemical/oil resistance and temperature ratings though.

Personally I use marine cable in the engine compartment where the extremes of temperature and humidity can corrode bare copper in days. I imagine it's worse in salt water. Anytime I have a cable that goes near the bilge, such as to the starter, I use tinned wire & sealed lugs and two layers of shrink wrap. Call me anal but that's the way I like it. If I can get tinned wire at a reasonable price I prefer to use it over plain copper wire. It's got more individual conductors for the gauge and is usually more flexible. I've got a decent online supplier for Pacer marine cable, PM me if you want the details.

Having the proper tools goes a long way to getting good low resistance splices and crimped lugs. I bit the bullet after fixing so many screwed up crimp connections on our old boat. It was a small investment, think I paid $70 for the Ideal double crimper and another $100 or so for the battery lug crimper. They've practically paid for themselves now. I've started to use dialectric grease in my lugs, no solder there, with a double crimp and then the shrink wrap, the heavy wall type with the adhesive on the inside. They make a good moisture proof connection every time.

Just think two years ago I didn't even know how to cut battery cable! Now I can rewire an entire boat!

As for scanning and posting materials we generally don't advise doing that. Violating someones copyright or intellectual property rights is something we'd rather avoid. You're welcome to do a report of this document and post what you think are the most relevant points for discussion.
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Old 02-06-2008, 17:34   #4
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Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
Hello All:

Just to start a new and shocking thread. I woulld like to ask peoples opinions on tinned wire. The back cover of this months Practical Sailor has an article on Tinned Wire. Rather than reproduce the entire article I'd like to just give the highlights 1)Tinned wire is not requried by the ABYC 2) It was an excellent marketing move by Ancor, and 3) More important than tinned wire is sealed connections.

Given this info I was wondering if people had opinions on the importance of tinned wire. One of the recomendations of the PS article was that if you find your copper wire going black one of the best things that you could do would be to peel the insulation back till you came to clean wire and then to put on a new connector that seals the end of the wire.

I know that Gord May wrote a nice article that showed a properly done splice using quality parts did not cause much if any decrease in resistance. Perhaps Gord could link back to that article. If that is the case than the idea of just stripping wire back a few inches till the bad wire can be removed and then splicing a new piece of wire on the end and a sealed connector seems like a reasonable idea.

Would you do that?

"I can scan the article but do not know if that is legal. If a moderator woudl give me approval I am willing to do that.
I haven't seen the article, but the comments you posted do nothing to suggest that tinned wire is not a great idea.

So point by point:

1) Tinned wire is not required by the ABYC.
So what? THe ABYC recommends what they believe to be minimum standards, not best practices.

2) an excellent marketing move by Ancor.
Again, this is irrelevant. Ancor is not the only manufacturer of boat wire. There are many other sources. Sometimes good ideas are just that good ideas, even if they are prompted in sales literature.

3)More important than tinned wire are sealed connections
Also an irrelevant comment. Of course good connections are vital. No matter if your wire is tinned or not.

Tinned wire is significantly more corrosion resistant (not corrosion proof, mind you) than plain copper. The only reason for using plain copper is cost.

If you can find full boat spec wire that isn't tinned, you'll find the price difference isn't large, so why not use the best? You can buy 100 foot spools of 12 AWG full boat spec wire, tinned, for about $25. How much exactly are you going to save by using untinned wire?
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Old 02-06-2008, 18:43   #5
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Given corrosion causing resistance and then outright failure is the greatest hassle about marine electronics, I go with tinned wire always. The price difference is not all the much compared to the hassle difference.
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Old 02-06-2008, 19:29   #6
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Just for curiosity's sake, is there a source for untinned boat wire that meets all the other specs?
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Old 02-06-2008, 20:02   #7
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Originally Posted by GreatKetch View Post
Just for curiosity's sake, is there a source for untinned boat wire that meets all the other specs?
Don't know if it meets all specs (for marine use) but Pacer produces SAE battery cable with these specs.

SAE Grade - General Purpose Marine, Industrial, Automotive and Truck use

Features:


Made in USA - Pacer Marine Brand
Finely stranded (Type II) bare copper conductor
PVC jacket
Voltage Rating: 50V
TemperatureRange -20C to 105C (75C wet)
Resistant to : Acid, Alkalis, Abrasion, Flame, Gasoline, Oil, Ozone, Moisture, Fungus


COMPLIANCES:


SAE GPT J1128 & J378,
Coast Guard: 33CFR part 183.430
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Old 02-06-2008, 20:05   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreatKetch View Post
Just for curiosity's sake, is there a source for untinned boat wire that meets all the other specs?
The number of wire strands per gauge is the tough part for un-tinned wire to meet. Automotive grade has to few strands and speaker wire heas more than enough but the jacket does not meet the spec..


Some cheap wire will allow oxidation (turning black) through the insulation of the wire so even if you seal the ends oxygen can still permeate the membrane.

This photo was the middle of a 15 foot run of cheap DIY wire! It was black the entire length and was NOT due to wicking..

Where I cut the wire:
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:44   #9
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Not really sure why you want fine strands. The finer strands allow for a very flexible cable. You don't want too stiff a cable, but you don't need a flex either. I use bare copper. The reason is cost and availability. I think the later affects the prior. Certainly if it was cheaper and readily available, I would use Tinned. But I ensure well sealed ends, and all connections made in a small IP66 plastic connector box. It doesn't matter if it is Tinned or not, if the connection goes underwater, it will fizz away in seconds.
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:54   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knottybuoyz View Post
Don't know if it meets all specs (for marine use) but Pacer produces SAE battery cable with these specs.
SAE Grade - General Purpose Marine, Industrial, Automotive and Truck use
Features:
Finely stranded (Type II) bare copper conductor
Stranding & Wire Gauges:

Stranding refers to the number of individual wires in the conductor, and their gauge. Example: 19/29 means 19 individual wires of 29 gauge make up the 16 gauge conductor.

SAE automotive wires are Stranded Type II;
whereas
Marine Wire is Finely Stranded Type III.
SAE wires are about 12% smaller rthan AWG, for the same gauge, requiring larger “number” sizes for the same application.

Ie:
#4 “SAE” Battery cable (Stranded Type II) might have 70 Strands & a cross-section area of 37,360cm;
whereas
#4AWG AWG (Finely Stranded Type III) Battery Cable may have 420 Strands & a cross-section area of42,000cm (about 12.5% larger).

Goto Pacer catalogue:
http://www.pacermarine.com/catalogpa...%20Catalog.pdf
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Old 03-06-2008, 07:19   #11
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Charlie, you have asked for opinions - I am sure you will get many as this is always a hot topic.

My opinion, based on 38 years of terminating electrical/electronic wiring (including 20 years of aircraft and boat wiring), is use tinned copper with Tefzel inslualtion if you want the the longest life from the wiring. It isn't cheap though.

What is often forgotten in this debate is the suitability of the wire to be reterminated at a latter date. Both copper and tinned copper wire is easy to solder and to crimp when new; however, as the wire ages, copper wire fast becomes difficult to reterminate while tinned wire remains relativity easy to reterminate.

While it is possible to mechanically crimp any old wire, the electrical properties can be quite sad if the wire has any degree of corrosion.

A good rule of thumb, if solder will flow on a wire (tinned or copper), it will crimp OK. If it won't solder easily, if won't crimp very well.

And sealing the terminal is important providing the insulation is of good quality otherwise it is a waste of time really.
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Old 03-06-2008, 07:34   #12
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Not really sure why you want fine strands. The finer strands allow for a very flexible cable. You don't want too stiff a cable, but you don't need a flex either. I use bare copper. The reason is cost and availability. I think the later affects the prior. Certainly if it was cheaper and readily available, I would use Tinned. But I ensure well sealed ends, and all connections made in a small IP66 plastic connector box. It doesn't matter if it is Tinned or not, if the connection goes underwater, it will fizz away in seconds.
I think the reason you want more strands is the crimp connector will have more surface area making contact with the wire plus more strands is less likely to pull out because it conforms better to the shaped of the compressed crimp connector.
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Old 03-06-2008, 07:38   #13
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What is often forgotten in this debate is the suitability of the wire to be reterminated at a latter date. Both copper and tinned copper wire is easy to solder and to crimp when new; however, as the wire ages, copper wire fast becomes difficult to reterminate while tinned wire remains relativity easy to reterminate.
This is so true!

This is an interesting photo of a WIRE NUT connection I found hidden on my boat! It was un-tinned wire joined to tinned wire. Notice the difference between the un-tinned and tinned. It speaks for its self! NEVER USE WIRE NUTS ON A BOAT!!



Here's why you must ALWAYS use the proper wire gauge! The brown lamp cord was 18 ga and wired to a pump. Note the melting of the jacket due to over heating!!


If you are using heat shrink connectors these are the crimpers you'll want to use. This pair is distributed by Ancor Products and are called the "Single Crimp Ratchet Tool" Part No. 702010. I paid about $55.00 for this crimper at Hamilton Marine in Portland, Maine. It will NOT rip the heat shrink!!
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Old 03-06-2008, 07:57   #14
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I think the reason you want more strands is the crimp connector will have more surface area making contact with the wire plus more strands is less likely to pull out because it conforms better to the shaped of the compressed crimp connector.
Actually that is NOT the reason for the higher number of fine strands in boat wire. Crimped connections actually work just fine on solid wire. Copper is soft enough that it "mashes" in place.

The real reason is for increased flexibility and resistance to work-hardening and fracture. It is reasonable to assume that on a boat things will move. Finely stranded wire is very flexible and can bend over and over without breaking. The fewer the strands, the fewer times the wire bends before things start to break.

You should always use highly flexible wire on a boat. I don't understand the rational Alan has for doing otherwise. It certainly runs counter to industry practice and all seriously considered recommendations.
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Old 03-06-2008, 07:58   #15
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One point not mentioned here is the shrink tubing. It is imperative that you use the self adhesive shrink. As for tinned vs non-tinned, I have had good success with both as long as the connections are sealed, but I use the tinned because it is more commonly accepted. Better? maybe, but I have pulled SAE wires that have been in service for as much as 10 years, that show no oxidation with the sealed connections.
An aside, that specific crimper is available locally here for $35, so shop around.
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