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Old 05-04-2012, 20:46   #1
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Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

Just want to share another thought on this contentious subject.

Some of you might know that I have been a strong advocate of tinned wiring (in boats) and I have been wondering why we have our own and different viewpoints.

For me, I have been messing (professionally and recreationally) with tinned and untinned copper wire most of my life in one form or another. In some fields, untinned in the norm (telecoms) and in other fields tinned in the norm (aviation). It seemed a no-brainer to me that only tinned wire should be used on board a typical sailing (cruising) yacht but from the multitude of post on CF about this subject, I have to re-consider why I thought it was so cut and dried.

It occurred that I had never seen a good example of boat wiring using untinned wire. In every case that I had personal experience of, there were significant problems with wiring (when using untinned wire). However many of you have posted about good examples of untinned wire and it lasting well without issues.

I reason that it probably depends more on the quality of the workmanship and design of the looming rather than the tinning of the wire. Said another way, I believe untinned wiring doesn't suffer fools while tinned does!

So my current thinking is:
Untinned is OK if done probably.
Tinned remains best practice.
If yer skills aren't up to scratch, use tinned.

Of course this only applies to those who don't want future electrical problems while cruising. If your boat is a harbour queen, or you can pay others to sort out your problems, or you don't mind a fire or two, then use whatever is nearest!
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Old 05-04-2012, 21:28   #2
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

I always use tinned boat cable, from 14 awg to 4/0.

On many boats I have worked on the existing non-tinned wire is black with corrosion, often a long ways up the wire from the end. Any tinned wire I have cut into has been in good condition, although in many cases the tinned is newer.

For the small price difference I don't see any reason to not use tinned wire, properly crimped and heat shrink covered at all connectors.
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Old 05-04-2012, 21:48   #3
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

I just think of tinned wire as one more thing to help me get a good electrical connection in an environment sometimes hostile to electrical connections. The more things you can do to reduce the chance of a connection going, the better. Is it worth the additional cost for the gain?...that's debatable.
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Old 05-04-2012, 23:44   #4
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

Crimping works but why not solder the connections. It will make any untinned connection last longer and it makes a tinned joint total pro. Do others make this a habit?
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Old 06-04-2012, 00:04   #5
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

ABYC E-11 states that solder should not be the only means of connection, meaning a crimp is required in any case. If the crimp is a good one, made with the proper tool for the job, solder adds nothing.
The connection should be covered with adhesive heat shrink.
From E-11:
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:14   #6
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

I dont buy that. Just really yank hard on any non battery size wire and it will pull out. Solder is more like a weld or brazing. Soldered copper pipes can hold 200psi. And yes I have the proper tools. Hey not trying to be an wise a** but quoting that ABYC crap is a little lame. I dont need a gov'ment manual to tell me how to hook 2 wires together. Maybe some people do. Its pretty tricky stuff.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:33   #7
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

Quote:
Originally Posted by RabidRabbit View Post
I dont buy that. Just really yank hard on any non battery size wire and it will pull out. ....... And yes I have the proper tools. .....
Hmm.... something wrong here. A crimp done with correctly calibrated tool should not pull until after the terminal deforms (I am talking ring terminals here).

Correct calibration procedure measures the tensile strength of the joint as well as the resistance of the crimp / wire join. At least it does so in our part of the world.

Having said that, we do receive so called calibrated tooling that does not meet the specification. I can only assume not all calibration shops do the job i.a.w. all the parameters.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:23   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RabidRabbit
Crimping works but why not solder the connections. It will make any untinned connection last longer and it makes a tinned joint total pro. Do others make this a habit?
Never solder and crimp. If you want solder terminals use proper ones. A good crimp,never needs solder , then slider work happens the joint a d under vibration. Fails. Not to mention few people solder well ( they think they do) and this creates high resistance joints. You'll never see a crimp and solder joint in a car harness, which is subject to far more vibration.

Dave
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:25   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wotname
Just want to share another thought on this contentious subject.

Some of you might know that I have been a strong advocate of tinned wiring (in boats) and I have been wondering why we have our own and different viewpoints.

For me, I have been messing (professionally and recreationally) with tinned and untinned copper wire most of my life in one form or another. In some fields, untinned in the norm (telecoms) and in other fields tinned in the norm (aviation). It seemed a no-brainer to me that only tinned wire should be used on board a typical sailing (cruising) yacht but from the multitude of post on CF about this subject, I have to re-consider why I thought it was so cut and dried.

It occurred that I had never seen a good example of boat wiring using untinned wire. In every case that I had personal experience of, there were significant problems with wiring (when using untinned wire). However many of you have posted about good examples of untinned wire and it lasting well without issues.

I reason that it probably depends more on the quality of the workmanship and design of the looming rather than the tinning of the wire. Said another way, I believe untinned wiring doesn't suffer fools while tinned does!

So my current thinking is:
Untinned is OK if done probably.
Tinned remains best practice.
If yer skills aren't up to scratch, use tinned.

Of course this only applies to those who don't want future electrical problems while cruising. If your boat is a harbour queen, or you can pay others to sort out your problems, or you don't mind a fire or two, then use whatever is nearest!
I don't dispute your comments that tinned is better, but thousands of beneteaus, jeaneaus etc have been built with unpinned wire. In the main European builders don't see the need. Having owned several, some very old , I be not seen any deterioration in the internal wiring. For external wiring I would agree and I beleive most builders use tinned.

Dave
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:39   #10
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

Quote:
Originally Posted by RabidRabbit View Post
I dont buy that. Just really yank hard on any non battery size wire and it will pull out. Solder is more like a weld or brazing. Soldered copper pipes can hold 200psi. And yes I have the proper tools. Hey not trying to be an wise a** but quoting that ABYC crap is a little lame. I dont need a gov'ment manual to tell me how to hook 2 wires together. Maybe some people do. Its pretty tricky stuff.
The average human can load up a terminal to about 10-14 pounds by pulling on it before finger pain sets in pretty good. Using a good quality crimp tool, on a 12GA wire for example, with yellow crimp terminal, can easily hold around 130 pounds. Using an excellent quality crimp tool the same wire will sustain about 190 pounds plus/minus or the wire breaks....

The reason for the ABYC standard is that there are far too many bad solderers out there and far to many fractured wires from improper soldering techniques and improper strain relief. I see lots of failed solder joints on boats just as I see many DIY failed crimps from the wrong tool being used...

Many people use the wrong crimp tool but I find many more are totally clueless as to proper soldering technique.

The ABYC is not a Government organization.
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:43   #11
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

Shiva is 1985 vintage built in Holland and included a a fair amount of copper (non tinned) wire. Most of it has been replaced over the years as part of upgrades. Yet you do see some marine mfgs supplying equipment with non tine wire... Rule pumps.. Espar heater... various fuse blocks (inline).

I suppose one would need to test the resistance or the conductivity of blackened non tinned aged wires. I've had problems with this in sensitive monitoring equipment wiring years ago (Quad Cycle) which cause malfunctions. Not good.

Best practice is to use tinned wires... properly crimped. Maine Sail is an expert on this.
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Old 06-04-2012, 06:10   #12
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

Wotname,
I've read a number of your posts and respect your opinion highly. Your post here only goes to show that you are open minded and can admit that everything isn't black and white.
If I was in an airplane I would want Tinned, gold plated, back up to a back up systems that cost was no object. That's becouse if something happened I couldn't get out and find the problem at 10k feet in less than a few minutes.
Would I prefer the Tinned wire on board, by all means. Do I worry about it, not at all but then I take a look at the distribution systems every once in a while, not just when I smell smoke as some do.

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Old 06-04-2012, 06:39   #13
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wotname View Post

So my current thinking is:
Untinned is OK if done probably.
Tinned remains best practice.
If yer skills aren't up to scratch, use tinned.
Yep. There will be those who will tell untinned wire is fine. You cannot help this. People tend to think they gain anything buying the cheaper wire. But having boat wired with a mixture of the two I can confess the tinned lasts 10+ years, the untinned does not last.

To each their own. I go the tinned wire way. Untinned OK but only inside and in permanently dry locations.

b.
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:05   #14
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

Maine Sail is a recognized (by other experts) expert professional, with an excellent internet presence.
He has a well deserved reputation for providing informative “How To” photo essays.
Compass Marine's Photo Galleries at pbase.com
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:34   #15
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Re: Tinned & Untinned Wire (Again).

My boat was built in S. Africa in '97. Wired with #12 untinned wire. The strands are all black no matter where I cut them. I measured a pretty big voltage drop on some high amperage circuits. Switching to led lighting helped a lot. I wonder if there is a major quality difference between brands of untinned stranded wire. What about quality difference between brands of tinned? Could a good quality untinned wire be almost as good as a crappy quality tinned? What about the number of strands a wire has. Does anybody have any real experience trying solid wire? I know this is not recommended due to vibration issues but many boats suffer very little vibration. It seems like solid core wire wouldn't suffer at all from corrosion. I wouldn't try it in the mast, or for engine wiring but what about cabin wiring where all of the runs are well supported and non movable?
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