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Old 18-05-2022, 12:09   #1
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Better Wire Splices

I spent a frustrating half day trying to rewire my sidelights (so-called, but mounted in my pulpit like on most sailboats).



I've struggled to keep my sidelights working for years. I sail in a lot of rough weather and the lights get under green water from time to time.


I replaced the original AquaSignal incandescent ones with expensive AquaSignal LED ones, which were beautiful and gave on fantastic beams of light, but they had a fatal flaw -- the wiring is connected by by push-on connectors. So seawater would get into the connectors and you can guess the rest. Molex Permaseal connectors helped the wire side, but then the tabs would corrode and fall off. I had endless grief with these.


Now I have Hella ones which are cheaper, flimsier, optically worse, and dimmer. But they have a killer advantage over the lovely AquaSignal ones -- the power cable is sealed and built-in, there are no connectors. The whole assembly is waterproof.



Now I'm trying to get them connected. With difficulty I pulled the new power cable of the port one through my pushpit, and got it through the deck gland fitting. But then I failed because I couldn't get a crimp to hold on the thin below decks cable. I've already cut it back several times because it was getting rotten from seawater, and there's not much of it left. Pulling a new cable through the watertight bulkhead which separates the anchor locker from the forecabin is a bridge to far -- this project isn't worth that much trouble -- I would have to dismantle cabinetry.



So what other variants besides a crimp splice connector do I have? I understand there's some kind of solder connector inside a heatshrink tube. Are there mechanical connectors, preferably waterproof, which would do the trick? Grateful for tips.
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Old 18-05-2022, 12:15   #2
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Re: Better Wire Splices

I've used these for other applications:


https://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-El...a-702543986770


Haven't done much research but assume they come in various sizes.
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Old 18-05-2022, 12:16   #3
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Re: Better Wire Splices

Did you try folding the wire over double before onserting it into the crimp connector? Properly sized crimp connectors crimped withthe correct tool are the wat to go. Anything else is a step down.
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Old 18-05-2022, 12:38   #4
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Re: Better Wire Splices

Crimp or low heat solder with heatshrink connectors. Worked fine for me.
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Old 18-05-2022, 13:17   #5
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Re: Better Wire Splices

Yes with doubling the wire if needed in a crimp connector. Also consider liquid electrical tape for waterproofing:

https://www.amazon.com/Star-brite-Li...29106520&psc=1
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Old 18-05-2022, 13:20   #6
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Re: Better Wire Splices

If I remember correctly, I ended up folding the wire to double it up for my Hellas. Otherwise it was too small for a crimp connector that would fit the boat side wiring. Heat shrink over the connection (or use the heat shrink connectors) to seal it after installation (use adhesive lined heat shrink). It'll also provide strain relief to the crimp.
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Old 18-05-2022, 13:25   #7
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Re: Better Wire Splices

There are step down butt connectors that might help if the wires are different gauges.
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Old 18-05-2022, 13:44   #8
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Re: Better Wire Splices

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
... I failed because I couldn't get a crimp to hold on the thin below decks cable. I've already cut it back several times because it was getting rotten from seawater, and there's not much of it left.
What's the location of the desired splices? Is that area watertight?

And what gauge and how rotten is the thin belowdecks cable? If the copper is green and corroding... not much will connect to it. rotten electrical cable should be replaced; you already know this.

When it comes to crimping, the best results on iffy cable come from using bare connectors (no coloured plastic sleeves; just twist or cut off the sleeve if that's all you have. Once you have that bare connector, you can then use crimpers meant for them that often have more aggressive crimp profiles, like having a nub on one side that crushes into the connector (#3 below). If you can't get a proper-sized connector crimped on in this fashion... no crimp's likely to work. As mentioned, doubling thin wire can help with oversized crimp connectors.


I'm not a huge fan of crimp butt splices, for the reasons you're finding: they can only be reworked by cutting them out. If it was possible in your situation, I would crimp on ring terminals, as well protected as possible (heatshrink, sealant or grease) then make the connection on a terminal strip. If the location isn't watertight, you could put a small terminal strip inside a small plastic box with glands for wire entry. And spray protectant or grease on the connections before closing up the box.
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Old 18-05-2022, 13:51   #9
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Re: Better Wire Splices

If the connection is in a dry location, I have used these with great success.



https://www.bluesea.com/products/cat...uous_Rating=20
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Old 18-05-2022, 14:26   #10
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Re: Better Wire Splices

I use these:

https://www.amazon.com/haisstronica-...st_sto_dp&th=1
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Old 18-05-2022, 14:49   #11
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Re: Better Wire Splices

We've managed to rip the top off our aqua signal lights that live on the top of the pulpit by going through waves. We also have secondary lights molded in the hull and they've continued to work in adverse weather but are very low to the water and hard to see when condo jumping. For offshore work I prefer our mast head running lights, we haven't broken those...yet.
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Old 18-05-2022, 15:50   #12
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Re: Better Wire Splices

First, slide the heatshrink on the wire.

Skin back the insulation so that you can make about a one inch splice. Splice it together tightly. Solder the whole connection, so that a little solder runs up inside the wire. Slide the heatshrink over the wire and heat it till it has shrunk.

****

There are gel filled connectors, with silicone gel in, that you crimp, break the sealant box and the sealant is supposed to seal and make waterproof the connection. I've only seen them for light gauge wire, though. Seem to work okay, but I don't know about repeated salt water immersion with them.

******

You might want to replace that small gauge wire with tinned wire, I bet it will save you hours of frustration if you're going to be keeping the boat. If you leave the sire a little long, you may be able to fix it so that it is at the top, and will drain, rather than staying immersed.

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Old 18-05-2022, 16:18   #13
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Re: Better Wire Splices

Dockhead, I can only agree with you regarding the old Aqua Signals - ours finally crapped out after getting dunked the umpteenth time.

Bought the new ones (very expensive) after noting in the company's literture that the new ones would seat perfectly on the old typs mounting plates.

excellent I thought.

Only they didn't and when I called I was told - well they were meant to and they probably would be making some new mounting plates at some point. Then surprise - the customer service rep said he would send me their prototypes. A pair of old ones someone had hacked the edges off with a hacksaw.

Oh well - we also had your problem with old wiring.

I cut back ours back and crimped them, them I filled an oversized heat shrink tube with silicon and heat shank it. Perfectly water tight and excellent connection.

When I'm making a connection on anything that has even a chance of corrosion - I fill the heat shrink with silicone - then shrink it
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Old 18-05-2022, 17:27   #14
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Re: Better Wire Splices

If crimps are pulling off, that means you are not pull-testing them, which is a basic part of the procedure (code). Pull testing a sampling is the only way to be certain the fitting/wire/crimper combo is properly mated.


I have tested many of the solder/heat shrink in one fittings and found them unreliable. If you want to solder, then solder properly and then pull the heat shrink over it. Much better and no more difficult.
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Old 18-05-2022, 17:51   #15
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Re: Better Wire Splices

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
If crimps are pulling off, that means you are not pull-testing them, which is a basic part of the procedure (code). Pull testing a sampling is the only way to be certain the fitting/wire/crimper combo is properly mated.


I have tested many of the solder/heat shrink in one fittings and found them unreliable. If you want to solder, then solder properly and then pull the heat shrink over it. Much better and no more difficult.
Soldering while hanging head down in an anchor well can be a bit difficult.

jus' sayin'
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