Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Crimpers: the Good and the Bad

Over at Sail Delmarva, Drew holds forth on a tool that should be in every boater's toolbox:
The second article I wrote for Practical Sailor was a 1-year salt environment chamber test of anti-corrosion greases and sprays, terminal blocks, wire types, and crimp connections. Over 300 crimps and 200 screw connections made for the test without a single failure or increase in resistance with time (some quick-connects failed). Credit goes to proper tools; ratchet crimpers make reliable connections time-after-time because they do not release until a preset compression is met. And tired hands.

Proper ratchet crimpers. Most are good, but skip Harbor Freight;
I looked at theirs and the action was sloppy. Required features
are adjustable tension (small wheel near hinge marked +/-)
and dies that make 2 crimps. Proper strippers are important too.
While it is certainly possible to use a knife,
with stranded wire it is important not to nick strands.

Today I faced a home repair task; an oven with a fried selector switch. After 40 years there was also some failed wire and connectors, so a dozen crimps would be required. I keep my good crimpers on the boat, so I pulled out a pair of cheap ones I've thrown away and then recovered from the can a few times. I've been meaning to pitch them for years, but I'm cheap and good ratchet crimpers cost. And squeeze as I might, I couldn't make a crimp that wouldn't pull of the wire if given a good forceful yank by a helper. Not good enough.

Gone for good this time.
Their very existence should violate the electrical code.

Home Depot and Lowes don't carry ratchet crimpers, only the plier-type, which I dislike very much. Electrical supply houses do, but they're not open after five. Advance Auto Parts carries a perfectly acceptable pair for $29.00, which is quite an acceptable price when you're heading out of town and your wife would like to have her kitchen put back together. They also get thumbs-up for quality, whatever that's worth. Not quite as nice as my Ancor crimpers (for 2.6 times the price) but very, very close.

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