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Old 09-06-2011, 13:54   #1
tsl
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Proper Battery Connections

I quickly diagnosed my intermittent starting problem when the cable lug slid of the end the cable while I was removing it from the starter solenoid.
The cable was only crimped on not tinned at I was expecting. I searched for instructions on the proper installation method and I got this page telling me tinning was not required. How to Install Marine Battery Lugs | eHow.com

What gives. Why do i bother soldering the small (control wires) just to leave the the big power cables to corrode?
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Old 09-06-2011, 14:43   #2
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Re: Proper battery conections

Hi , Some here say solder other say no. The most important part would be the crimping tool for the right size lug and gauge cable. there is alot of talk about this in other theard here o yes and a good srink tubing with the glue in side
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Old 09-06-2011, 15:01   #3
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Re: Proper battery conections

Thank you CC for pointing me in the right directions. I now see the other discussions. I just went back to the boat and pulled a few more lugs off (by hand). Each one done with a different crimping tool. I'm now thinking I need to start from scratch and size every wire /cable in the start and charging circuit. Crimping vs. solder my be the least of my worries.
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Old 09-06-2011, 15:54   #4
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Re: Proper battery conections

If the cables are old and you value your labor time, it might be cheapest to have new cables made up. This guy (who also sells on ebay) will crimp and heat shrink for $1 an end - the crimps are a work of art.

GenuineDealz.com - Marine Electrical, Boat Wire & Cable, Custom Battery Cables

If you decide to just re-crimp the old cables, you have to get them really clean of corrosion before crimping. I prefer using chemical cleaners or wire brushes since it keeps the copper surface smooth for more contact area. My favorite is DeOxit. Even though this is meant for electronics, I find it great for all 12v wiring. Many baffling electrical mysteries just go away

Amazon.com: CAIG DeOxit Cleaning Solution Spray, 5% spray 5oz: Musical Instruments

Carl
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Old 09-06-2011, 18:22   #5
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Re: Proper battery conections

for battery terminals, you need access to the proper high performance crimp tool. Otherwise you get teh effect that you witnessed. proper crimps should never need to be soldered.

Dave
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Old 09-06-2011, 18:35   #6
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Re: Proper battery conections

The lugs sold by genuinedealz.com are heavy duty lugs. If you have a proper crimper for the lugs you couldn't pull them off with a tractor. They also sell a good quality heat shrink with glue inside. You can't make good connections untill you get good heavy lugs to work with. They also have tinned marine battery cable.
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Old 09-06-2011, 19:45   #7
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Re: Proper battery conections

Make sure you have the lugs lined up with the terminals before crimping because it is almost impossible to twist the cable afterward.
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:57   #8
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Re: Proper battery conections

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsl View Post
The cable was only crimped on...
No, it wasn't "only" crimped on. It was crimped on INCORRECTLY! Had it been crimped on correctly, there would have been no problem, and there would be no need for soldering.
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:20   #9
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Re: Proper battery conections

Thanks all for the help. A bit of background:
The boat is an O'day 39. twenty some years old . The boat was originally in a charter fleet and it appears that the charter company may have added the addition house battery since the crimps look different. They too are loose.
I'm not at the boat now but I think the cable is 00. The battery selector is about 10 feet (cable run)away.
I haven't calculated the wire size but my guess it's undersized. Engine cranks a bit slow. That could be the connections but I'm not going to waist time with new lugs without checking wire size.

About solder or not. Look at the photo. I'm not a crimp expert but it looks good to me.
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:34   #10
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Re: Proper battery conections

I just had to to a comlete re wire due to this same incidence, and found alot of potential other issues that were in the begining stages so I bite the bullet and re wired the boat.
Also installed GFI's as who ever did my house system did not .
While you have it open may as well go inspect it at minimum.
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:26   #11
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Re: Proper battery conections

I'm way off, the cable is 2 AWG. Way undersized for the run to the battery selector switch and back. I'd like to get at 3/0 cable from my battery selector switch to the starter but it mat be too stiff to pull. What is everyone's opinion/comments on pulling multiple smaller cables?
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Old 10-06-2011, 18:01   #12
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Re: Proper battery conections

Multiple cables are not recommended. I suggest you bite the bullet and do a proper job.
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Old 10-06-2011, 18:44   #13
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Re: Proper battery conections

20 years old and unknown quality wire to start. Those crimp lugs are lightweight unplated crap. There also could be lots of corrosion under the insulation that you can't see. Bend the wire along it's entire length. Is there any section that makes a "cracking" feel?

In any case, I'd install new cables made up by someone like Genuinedealz and never have to worry about it again.

2AWG cable may be fine. Check the wattage of your starter. I'd be surprised if it is more than 150amps. Use the calculator. 5 percent voltage drop is OK with starters.

Genuinedealz - Technical - Calculators

Attached is what you'd like to see.

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Old 10-06-2011, 18:45   #14
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Re: Proper battery conections

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
for battery terminals, you need access to the proper high performance crimp tool. Otherwise you get teh effect that you witnessed. proper crimps should never need to be soldered.

Dave
They don't need to, but for a "perfect" 20 year + connection, with 100% continuity, they CAN benefit from it. (It is best to start out right, with finely stranded "tinned" copper wire).

On my own boat, I do both, CRIMPED & SOLDERED... then heat shrink. Then Scotchbrite the battery lug screws and cable eyes bright.

Next I wash both with iso alcohol, and let dry.

Then I apply "Jet Lube" electrically conductive grease, (with copper powder in it), to the mating surfaces, and screw the cables down TIGHT.

Now I wash again but with mineral spirits, to get ALL excess Jet Lube off of the NON mating surfaces. Followed by another alcohol wipe to get the mineral spirits off.

NOW, I have a "perfect" electrical connection with conductive grease "in" the interface, and the outside metal is shiny clean. This is followed by 6 coats, (30 minutes apart), of "Liquid Lectric Tape", black vinyl coating. I coat the cable eye, several inches up the cable, battery post, and a 1" ring on the battery top around it.

A decade or so later, when I peel off the coating, the metal is as shiny as day one, and the connection still perfect. Only by looking at hundreds of 20 year old connections, do you see how inferior "crimped connections" are, compared to "crimped & then soldered"! Yes, it's a lot more hassle...

This is time consuming enough that I don't often do all of these steps for clients, but do "go for it" on my own boat... At least on the most important, really long term connections, like house batteries and lightning protection.

BTW, there are a couple of often repeated myths about soldering somehow being a bad thing...

The one about "hard spots" being created at the eye are irrelevant, if you do it right, not TOO much solder, and don't let the wire flex back and forth. All boat wiring should be kept motionless. I fasten mine every 6" for the entire length of the boat. If you flex "crimped only" fittings for decades, they will also fail at the eye!

Another myth, is that in an electrical short situation, a soldered eye can let go. This is also not true if it is a crimped first, THEN soldered connection. Even if the solder DID melt, you would be left with a standard "crimped connection". Besides... as a back up safety, I have high A. fuses for both the house and engine batteries within 1' of the connection, which would melt long before the solder in the eye does.

Mark
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Old 10-06-2011, 19:31   #15
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Re: Proper battery conections

The only acceptable way to attach a marine wire terminal is by crimping. This is to ensure a good mechanical grip on the wire.
- - Once that is done there is the issue of keeping corrosion in check by either using adhesive lined heat shrink which seals the terminal and wire to prevent any sea water atmosphere from working its way into the crimp.
- - An alternative is to solder the crimped terminal and wire. This is only done to fill the voids so the sea water atmosphere cannot get into the crimp. Then cheaper heat shrink can be used.
- - Solder should never be considered a structural joint in marine wire terminals.
- - Problem with large thick cables is that it is really difficult to heat them sufficiently to allow solder to flow into the crimped joint.
- - A new alternative to adhesive filled heat shrink is to liberally coat the terminal/wire crimp with dielectric silicon grease and then use normal heat shrink. As with all the methods the purpose is to keep sea water atmosphere from working it way into the wire/terminal crimp.
- - Specifically for battery terminals and connecting them to the battery lugs - I make sure both are mechanically and chemically clean then tighten down the battery cable lug to the battery terminals. Again I use chemicals to remove any hand grease, etc. and then use liquid electrical tape or tree pruning liguid to paint a thick coating over the whole cable lug / battery terminal. This seals the area from any sea water atmosphere or liquids/fumes getting to the battery terminals and corroding them.
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