Splicing Wires

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by trscott, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. trscott

    trscott Been here awhile

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    Glad it was helpful to you.

    The trouble with that is that you are depending on the solder for strength, and we all know solder isn't all that strong. If you want to convince yourself of that, grab a piece of solder and pull it apart with your bare hands and then try to do the same iwth a copper wire. You really want a strong mechanical connection before you solder and then use the solder to lock it together and keep the oxidation out. Think of the solder as a conductive sealant.

    Cheers!
    #21
  2. MossBack

    MossBack North side of the tree

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    Nice writeup tr.

    I've been using the fan and twist method for years. Your explanation of the difference between your method and the fan method makes sense to me.

    I also like the double layer heat shrink, as it forms a sort of strain relief for the solder joint.

    Nice talking to you at M+S thursday.
    #22
  3. trscott

    trscott Been here awhile

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    If you have your temperatures and soldering iron wattage correct, and solder quickly, you won't find this necessary. This is usually a problem when you are trying to solder something with just barely enough heat, so that you have to heat it a long time. A good solder joint should use enough heat that it only take a few seconds, and then when you remove the iron tip, the solder is still hot enough that it re-flows to its own heat. The "peaking" is a result of barely enough heat so that as soon as you remove the iron, the the solder instantly re-freezes, not having enough heat to stay melted while it re-flows.

    Ironically, many soldering problems that seem like too much heat are actually a result of not enough heat. For instance, melting a plastic connector body or cheap thermoplastic wire insulation. If you have an iron that is too low wattage, you will have to hold the iron on the joint so long that the heat has a long time to travel and equalize throughout the parts, wasting a lot of heat getting too hot in the places where you aren't soldering. With a higher wattage iron you can heat up the solder joint much more quickly, get your solder to flow, and remove the iron, before the heat has spread to places you don't want it.

    I am not a fan of soldering guns (the big black things that look like a 1950s B movie ray gun and a metal loop for a tip), because they are off until you pull the trigger, and there is no easy way to tell when they have reached optimum temperature.

    The ideal iron is a temperature controlled iron with interchangeable tips of different shapes, some even have a dial and a temperature display. But these are pretty spendy. If you do enough soldering to need one of these you probably already have one. The next best is the temperature controlled type with interchangeable tips that have different shapes and use a magnetic effect to control the temperature. I use two of these, one with a large blunt hot tip in it for wires and connectors, and another with a small needle tip of lower temperature for small electronic components. The big advantage of these regulated irons is that they have a great deal of excess capacity so that as you take heat out of the tip, they switch into full power mode and replace that heat very quickly.

    Perfectly acceptable also though are the low cost irons that you plug in the wall directly and they have a heater with a set wattage. At least in this case, once the iron heats up, anytime you pick it up it will already be hot. Just be sure you get a big one for wire splicing, probably 35 to 40 watts or more is pretty good, though it has been years since I've used one.

    If you do very much electrical work, the imported temperature controlled irons are not that expensive and once you use one, you will never go back.

    Donate the big black soldering gun to your local college film department for use as a ray gun in a Sci-Fi spoof (not that I have an opinion on the subject...). Or, if you must use one, get in the habit of counting to yourself before touching your would-be solder joint, to give the gun time to heat up fully. Let it get real hot first, and then get in and out quickly. You will see markedly better results with this technique.

    Cheers!
    #23
    Splat! likes this.
  4. NBeener

    NBeener Long timer

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    Good addition. Good idea. Good enough, in fact, that I'll take this advice in the morning.


    Got the Centech in place today, and hard-wired the GPS. Got the Terra Nova in place, but didn't receive the "pry bar" for the Hellas (to rotate the lenses for pendant mounting). I'll be dealing with the Hellas tomorrow, setting up the hi and low HID's ... and then taking off for somewhere in the Sonoran Desert for a few.....
    #24
  5. trscott

    trscott Been here awhile

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    My Hellas didn't come with the tool for snapping open the lens, but I was able to do it very carefully with a small screwdriver. I would recomend something like a plastic picnic knife. You just have to slide something into that curved notch that looks like a thumb press spot. The lens ring fits into the shell and has snap features that snap out into recesses in the shell. By sticking something in at that curved seam, and wedging it between the lens ring and the shell, you dislodge the snap features and they snap apart. Just go slow and don't force anything and it comes apart pretty easily.

    While you are inside, make sure the friction connectors inside the lamp housing are all tight. I found one that was just a bit looser than it ought to be.
    #25
  6. NBeener

    NBeener Long timer

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    Many thanks for that. A little visibility into what was inside, and what I was trying to accomplish, was exactly what was needed.

    Got the CQ HID's in and working today . May have to let the fogs wait until my return ... unless I get really ambitious after dinner ... and ... that's historically extremely unlikely :bore
    #26
  7. Truckin_Thumper

    Truckin_Thumper low profile

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    the only thing I do different is make a "Y" on both leads.
    Then I join them where the two (interlocking) and twist.
    seems to make a smaller joint.
    #27
  8. BrShootr

    BrShootr Been here awhile

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    Nice tutorial but how about then you're connecting a wire to a center section of an existing wire in a "T" connection?
    #28
  9. trscott

    trscott Been here awhile

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    There are several ways to do this, but I generally want to get the connection double heat-shrunk aftwards, so in order to get the heat shrink on, I just cut the wire first, strip both ends, strip the end of the new wire, twist the new wire to one end of the wire I cut apart, then proceed as above. Works great. This splice is so good, that I don't mind cutting the existing wire.

    You can also remove a section of insulation from the first wire without cutting it, and twist the new wire around that, but then you generally can't get the heat shrink on and you're stuck with tape which is not nearly as good.

    If the existing wire has a lot of slack, you can strip some insulation off the middle of this wire, twice as long as a normal splice, double it over so that it is like two wires twisted together (but you never had to cut it), then splice as above with the new wire. But it isn't usually the case that there is this much slack in the wire you are tieing into.
    #29
  10. Makalu

    Makalu Long timer

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    Thanks for the helpful tutorial. But since we both have the same bike and you live just up the road from me, I think I'll just stop by your house next time I have a soldering project. :D
    #30
  11. trscott

    trscott Been here awhile

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    Will work for Single Malt Scotch!

    <GRIN>
    :clap <GRIN>
    #31
  12. johnjen

    johnjen Now, even more NOW!…

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    An alternative to heatshrink for this, is self vulcanizing tape. This stuff, once stretched, will bond to itself to form a watertight seal and is as effective as heat shrink. I usually add a final layer of electrical tape over the top because it 'slides' better over the stuff next to the splice.

    JJ
    #32
  13. Scrubs

    Scrubs erm

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    That stuff is great. I hate the way electrical tape makes everything so gooey.
    (by the way it's also known as self amalgamating tape if anyone is trying to
    source any this side of the pond)

    Great Tutorial! Very neat and thorough. Thanks

    I find 3M Scotchlocks very good for semi-permanant jobs:

    http://www.3m.com/product/information/Scotchlok-Connectors-Tools.html
    #33
  14. mutineer

    mutineer pierpont lives

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    my experience with a soldering iron lead to this

    [​IMG]


    I have since moved on to these little dudes - you can get them at WalMart and/or Tractor Supply

    I would not want to rely on them for a the headlight on an XR650 for a desert run

    but for asphalt based applications I have been using these

    [​IMG] they work like this [​IMG]


    used them to install a car stereo in my 67 Galaxie as well - under dash connections are easy
    for a hack like me whose soldering skills are non-existent these are a life saver

    they have tap style ones as well

    makes tapping into a accessory wire a 10 second job

    [​IMG]

    the watertight ones are new but I have used the non weathertight ones without problem on road bikes for off road stuff I think TRScott's method is the plan

    posi-locks are damned expensive though


    [​IMG]
    #34
  15. DaveF-

    DaveF- Adventurer

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    That was an excellent tutorial, trscott.

    Stripping the wire is sometimes a problem because the individual strands can become nicked and/or broken. This is especially easy to do with the cheap hand-held strippers that can be bought for a few bucks.

    For this reason, I like to use a straight razor blade. My technique is to score the insulation, or cut most of the way through it, around the circumference of the wire where the strippers would normally cut. A slight bend or two to the wire will then cause the insulation to split where the cut was made and then it can be pulled off by hand. No damage to the wire strands this way.

    I've also had good luck with the Ideal Stripmaster wire strippers. The cheap look-alikes from Harbor Freight are junk, though, and do not work well.

    The military has used thermal strippers with teflon-insulated wire to prevent damage to the wire strands. Not to be used with PVC insulation, as PVC insulation will become highly corrosive if burned.
    #35
  16. Bimble

    Bimble In giro in moto

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    Great thread. I installed the Euro-switch on my 1100 a few months ago and used mechanical crimp taps into the left-hand switch-gear wiring. All worked great until on one very dark night the tap for the aux low beams came loose. An intermittently energizing relay and light in pitch black makes for a nasty headache.

    I went back and soldered the connection like I should have in the first place.

    Which leads me to my question: I spliced into the side of the stock wire forming a T-connection by exposing enough wire to wrap the end of the relay wire around it then soldered the splice. I used liquid tape to seal it. The finish is a little cobby, but is that basically the proper way to do it?
    #36
  17. GreaseMonkey

    GreaseMonkey Preshrunk & Cottony

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    Bimble,

    That sounds good except that liquid tape is not that abrasion resistant. I'd just "fold" a piece of elecrical tape over what you have done and call it good, as the tape will not get worn off over time like that "liquid 'lectric tape" can.
    #37
  18. Bimble

    Bimble In giro in moto

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    Make that another reason I'm glad I installed quick-disconnects.

    :thumb
    #38
  19. KLboxeR

    KLboxeR Back in the game again

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    Wow, how did I miss this :eek1 A most excellent tutorial, thanks .

    Chris
    #39
  20. bigtex

    bigtex Rocky Mountain High

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    Can I extend this thread with only a slight hijack? Back a page or two, you guys talked about soldering guns and berated my wonderful black 50's ray gun.

    Can you also talk about the butane/portable torches? Seems like a very handy tool; any reason they won't do a quality solder job?
    #40