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View Full Version : Crimping vs. Soldering



Dr Tweak
01-24-2006, 05:33 AM
For the past year or so I've been giving a lot of thought to soldering vs. crimping. While soldering wires is an effective method, and what I've always done, there are a few problems with it. It's a little messy, you have to deal with a hot iron, it's a slow process, and over time a soldered connection can corrode or crack. (Of course, that's why we shrinkwrap, but still.)

After reading Jeff Hartman's recommendation to use a crimper, I decided to look into it. Now, make no mistake! I'm not talking about those little baby crimpers that you buy at Pep-boys with the little insulated terminals. I'm talking about a full-fledged, expensive, professional, racheting crimper with non-insulated crimps. The other day I finally got the set that I needed (after ordering a set and getting the wrong ones!), and today I got to put them to use. :)

Check these baby's out:

http://www.phoenixtuning.com/hosting/crimper1.jpg

Crimp one wire...

http://www.phoenixtuning.com/hosting/crimper2.jpg

Then the other...

http://www.phoenixtuning.com/hosting/crimper3.jpg

Completed crimp! This thing is SO strong, that the wire will tear before the crimp fails. And it'll never corrode.

http://www.phoenixtuning.com/hosting/crimper4.jpg

All ready for heat shrinking:

http://www.phoenixtuning.com/hosting/crimper5.jpg

One last thing. These things crimp so hard, that I have to use both hands!

:)

alltracman78
01-24-2006, 05:35 AM
why wouldn't it corrode?

Dr Tweak
01-24-2006, 05:47 AM
It won't like a soldered connection will. Solder can get really brittle over time and crack, and something about the soldering process can allow it to corrode.

Of course, if you're using the right tools and methods, soldering is a very good process and I will still use it from time to time for some things, probably. I've never had one of my soldered connections fail. But this is better, at least, a lot of the major names in engine tuning use this method. (Bob Norwood and Jeff Hartman come to mind).

-Doc

TheNefariousOne
01-24-2006, 05:54 AM
How much does that crimper and the crimps cost?

TNO

Dr Tweak
01-24-2006, 05:57 AM
I shopped around for a while and got that particular one for around $60. The super-duper Molex ones go for around $300, but that's a little out of my range for a marginal improvement. I mean, it can't get much better than this! :)

The crimps aren't bad at all, I can't remember at the moment what the cost, but it's not too much.

-Doc

Lagos
01-24-2006, 08:10 AM
looks good.... tho the word "crimp" makes me cringe! ....lol

Azzazzyn
01-24-2006, 08:17 PM
yeah, i was like who the fuck solders their hair???

Slider
01-24-2006, 09:01 PM
Where can I get those? Looks faster then messing around with solder inside the car.

Rick89GTS
01-25-2006, 12:07 AM
Hmmm, interesting. I've always soldered but maybe now I'll look into crimping. Faster, easier.

Punisher
01-25-2006, 01:08 AM
pfftt.. crap. I could solder two wires together faster than you could crimp them together with that 60 dollar kit.

I crimp on connections where the wires need to be disconnected from time to time.

However, on engine harness/permenant wires or lengthening wires.. it's solder all the way.

Cold solder joints crack.

Solder does not corrode, it is generally tin/silver.

I use a mini torch to solder wires in a car.. not an iron. I use an iron when I work with circuits.

Sometimes I do melt some of the wire insulation, big deal I always heatshrink.

Soldering small wires with the torch is damn easy, larger wires are a little bit harder and sometimes you can burn the wire which can lead to corrosion. However it is a LOT better connection than you are going to get with those crimps. The simly reason is because you wrap/twist the wire together first and then solder to keep them together. The solder is used for more of a means of fastening the wires together.

It is just more professional to solder them.

My alternator wire was really corroded.. the power line. So i ripped it all apart, it's two wires that run into one crimp at the alternator. I had to take a foot of each wire off to get back to non-corroded wire. I then took some high grade copper wire, put both smaller wires together with the single wire and soldered them. Then I heat shrinked it all. I took a gold plated ring terminal and crimped it onto the wire and then heated it up and shoved solder wire into the open space inside the ring to make sure of the contact and integrity of the connection. Then I heatshrinked that connector.

I've been doing car wiring for a long time now.. engine harness work, hybrid harnesses etc.. It's much better to solder.

Actually one time I did a set of injectors for a friend.. soldered wire into the pins and then I put quick disconnects on the other end.. that worked out nice but I also shot hot glue into the end of the quick disconnects to make them water proof from that side. And then I filled the plug hole on the injector up with hot glue.

But yea.. solder on permanent shit.. and quick disconnects (crimp) on wires that need to be disconnected. I quick disconnect a lot of wires.. specially when I'm lazy..

alltracman78
01-25-2006, 01:16 AM
I would tend to agree on the solder not corroding.
If you do it right [I use the silver/tin also].

The crimp would make less of a connection, and would seem to be more apt to corrode....

MoralWarfare
01-25-2006, 01:33 AM
i'll take a quality crimp over solder any day of the week. Solder, being a dissimilar metal than the wire generally causes a higher resistance. Not to mention if overused it creates even more resistance. Add to that its tendency to get brittle and corrode over time and it's simply ruled out of use in our shop/anything I work on.

The connectors we use at BMW are like Dr. Tweak's, and they have an equal, if not lower resistance than the wires we connect. Not to mention, as Tweak stated, they don't corrode and are extremely strong. We use heat shrink around the crimp to keep unwanted contaminants out, and all is welll.

alltracman78
01-25-2006, 01:39 AM
why again would they not corrode?

slvrblt
01-25-2006, 01:44 AM
The one thing that will make any soder join corrode is if any type of acid flux is used in making the joint.

MoralWarfare
01-25-2006, 01:54 AM
why again would they not corrode?
the connectors are coated usually and we use heat shrink over them.

ChrisD
01-25-2006, 02:05 AM
cool.

I'm going to look into this. When doing engine harnesses, saving a few seconds per wire could end up saving hours in total.

Crimps aren't as bad as some people make them out to be. Toyota uses them from the factory. There are *many* important grounds, switched +ive power, even fuel related wires that rely on crimps. When I do a harness, do I cut them and solder them to my liking? Hell no! Those crimps are SOLID. They will basically never break. There are a few that may corrode if your harness is exposed, but those ones are on the very edges of the harness. Stuff on the inside isn't going anywhere.

So where did you pick that crimper up?

MoralWarfare
01-25-2006, 02:14 AM
I know I can get them through BMW (the crimper and crimps), but you can also go through http://www.harborfreight.com/ i believe.

Dr Tweak
01-25-2006, 04:15 AM
I've never seen a really good pair on Harbor Freight, but these Paladins are from a company called Willy's Electronics I think... found them after a google search. I can get the URL if anyone wants it, it's in my email.

Ah heck, I'll get unlazy:

www.willyselectronics.com

Imagine that... lol

Punisher
01-25-2006, 04:52 AM
Solder won't break either.. And it takes me less time to solder than it does to crimp.

That plus crimping costs a LOT more than soldering...

Also you twist the wires together, i'm not talking about a butt joint either.. once you twist them together, (I.E. Wrap one around the other) and solder it.. it's a perfect connection that won't corrode or come apart and the wire is in direct contact with itself, so there is no extra resistance.

Those crimps are made out of probably aluminum and tin or something.. and aluminum is a poor conductor of electricity.

Dr Tweak
01-25-2006, 05:01 AM
Solder won't break either.. And it takes me less time to solder than it does to crimp.

That plus crimping costs a LOT more than soldering...

Also you twist the wires together, i'm not talking about a butt joint either.. once you twist them together, (I.E. Wrap one around the other) and solder it.. it's a perfect connection that won't corrode or come apart and the wire is in direct contact with itself, so there is no extra resistance.

Those crimps are made out of probably aluminum and tin or something.. and aluminum is a poor conductor of electricity.

Actually, you're totally wrong. You shouldn't be spreading poor info like this around. If you want to argue the point, argue with someone like Bob Norwood, who uses this crimping method, if you want to talk about a professional.

While you're talking about resistance, soldering a connection actually increases its resistance, and this method does not.

Further, the extra cost is not much (other than the tools). That said, most of the time better methods do cost more.

The comment that the crimps are probably made of aluminum or tin is a clear sign that you are not familiar with this process.

I've made thousands of connections with solder, and while it's a good process, this one is more than twice as fast and just as effective.

-Doc

TheNefariousOne
01-25-2006, 05:10 AM
I'm assuming you still use the soldering iron for the heat shrinking?

TNO

Dr Tweak
01-25-2006, 05:15 AM
I'm assuming you still use the soldering iron for the heat shrinking?

TNO

I'm actually going to start using a heat gun.

Hugo4
01-25-2006, 05:20 AM
If done properly with good crimpers and connectors you can get an excellent connection. Crimped connections are not any less likely to corrode than soldered connections, though. If you compare corrosion on a quality solder job to a quality crimp job the difference will likely be negligible. I have personally seen lots of crimped connections fail because of poor crimping and corrosion.

Properly soldered connections are equally good. Most people don't do enough wiring to justify buying good crimpers, so soldering is the preferred method for a lot of do it yourself types.

I have worked in the Electical/Electronics field for a loooong time and have done soldering on the surface mount technology level so I am pretty confident in my soldering. I have also done a lot of radio & installation work and used crimped connections all the time with good results. It all boils down to what kind of equipment and experience you have and what your needs are. I would be hard pressed to rate one as better than the other but if I had to do a lot of wiring I would definitely look into quality crimpers.

Sean
01-25-2006, 06:00 AM
Thank you for chiming in Hugo.

Doc, I believe you need to explain your rationale a bit more instead of scolding Punisher. I read over exactly what Mr. Hartman said just a few moments ago, and its not enough for the world throw away Soldering iron's.

Dr Tweak
01-25-2006, 06:16 AM
Yes Hugo, very good post.

Sean, I wasn't scolding him, if it came out that way then I was just reacting to his comment that this method is "crap"...

And as far as the world throwing away their soldering irons:



Of course, if you're using the right tools and methods, soldering is a very good process and I will still use it from time to time for some things, probably. I've never had one of my soldered connections fail.

-Doc


I've made thousands of connections with solder, and while it's a good process...

-Doc

Punisher, let me ask you this. Have you actually used a professional crimping tool like this one, with the correct die for non-insulated crimps?

-Doc

presure2
01-25-2006, 01:52 PM
looks like a handy-dandy tool, tweek.
i may have to look into that..
i normally use silver/tin solder...

david in germany
01-25-2006, 02:14 PM
Ok there is no clear cut "this is better than that" in the world of wire connection there is no king. Each one has its place PERIOD. I have had crimp connections fail (not done by me) and I have had sodier connections fail. A cripm caused me to loose 2 cylinders on the 4runner because a factory crimp did not seal the wire and it corroded. I personaly have never had a sodier connection fail that I have done. I think that what Dr. Tweak is using it for is optimal in the harness though (as long as the heat shrink job is also well done) If you want to get the best of both worlds try Waytek wires "heat shrink but connectors" they crimp inside of a heat shrink insulator with a resin glue to seal it. you crimp it then hit is with the heat gun.. DONE FOREVER! \
http://order.waytekwire.com/IMAGES/M37/catalog/218_023.PDF
I used them to repair the EFI harness on my 4runner and coudn't ask for anything better! For stereos I woud say sodier and heat shrink is the best and cleanest to do.
David

alltracman78
01-25-2006, 03:38 PM
What the hell?
Why can I not just look at the damn thing without saving it?

Punisher
01-25-2006, 03:52 PM
If done properly with good crimpers and connectors you can get an excellent connection. Crimped connections are not any less likely to corrode than soldered connections, though. If you compare corrosion on a quality solder job to a quality crimp job the difference will likely be negligible. I have personally seen lots of crimped connections fail because of poor crimping and corrosion.

Properly soldered connections are equally good. Most people don't do enough wiring to justify buying good crimpers, so soldering is the preferred method for a lot of do it yourself types.

I have worked in the Electical/Electronics field for a loooong time and have done soldering on the surface mount technology level so I am pretty confident in my soldering. I have also done a lot of radio & installation work and used crimped connections all the time with good results. It all boils down to what kind of equipment and experience you have and what your needs are. I would be hard pressed to rate one as better than the other but if I had to do a lot of wiring I would definitely look into quality crimpers.

Very good post and that's how I roll too.. When I do stereo installs I used quick connects .. so that the speakers and what not can be easily disconnected. My entire radio harness is quick connected (crimped) together.


-Tweak
No, because non-insulated crimps are crap too.

They require you to waste money on the crimp connector and then heat shrink. When I buy quick connects (crimps) I buy the insulated type.

I don't have a box of crimps around me.. so why don't you tell me what they are made out of, if it isn't tin or aluminum? Steel? Copper? Don't look like copper to me... Don't appear to be gold plated either.. Hmm...

When I do things that don't need to be disconnected at some point (I.E. Repair or lengthen a wire) I solder it.. and heatshrink over it.

I guarantee I can solder a wire and heatshrink it faster than you can put a crimp on the end of each wire and connect it and then heatshrink.

But it's not an arguement or a "my penis is bigger than yours contest" ... They each have their own place and I use crimp on connectors as well as soldering..

Like I said, I use quick connects more when I'm lazy and don't want to get my mini-torch and shit out, or I just wanna do a quick job that isn't permenant.

I use Rosin core solder that does not corrode, get brittle or anything.

Dr Tweak
01-26-2006, 02:36 AM
I have done thousands of connections with the soldering processs, and a little under a thousand with the crimping process. Since you have ZERO experience using a professional non-insulated (yes, there is a BIG difference) crimp setup, I have nothing further to discuss with you on this subject. You have no frame of reference for me to use.

I did about 100 connections today with this tool. Every single one was solid and perfect, and MUCH faster than soldering. Being that I have several thousand solder connections behind me, I'm no slow-poke, and this is much faster. Since you have never used one, you have NO IDEA of the difference between the two.

I don't think I'll ever go back to soldering except for special situations.

The bottom line is, both PROPERLY soldered connections and PROPERLY crimped connections are very good. For a professional like myself, who does several hundred connections every week, this tool setup is often preferred. That doesn't mean that soldering is not good, or even preferred for the do-it-yourselfer.

Discussion closed, mods, feel free to lock it up.

-Doc

Sean
01-26-2006, 03:16 AM
I am looking into one though Tweak, I am very curious about the tool. I went around yesterday, and none of my local shops, including Sears, carry them.

I think I'll order one the same place you did.

Dr Tweak
01-26-2006, 09:47 AM
Not only could I not find one of these locally, I couldn't even find anyone who had ANY idea what I was talking about. Heck, it took me a while to find one online! Even Waytek Wire didn't have a cut and dry non-insulated racheting crimper, you could only get one with dies for insulated crimps.

-Doc

schmooot
01-29-2006, 01:33 AM
seems like a very high end/overpriced tool for what it does

alltracman78
01-29-2006, 02:34 AM
Screw that.
I'll just keep tying my wires together....

Slider
01-29-2006, 03:37 AM
So which one of these is it? http://shop.willyselectronics.com/browse.cfm/2,710.html

Dr Tweak
01-29-2006, 04:02 AM
This is the one I got:

http://shop.willyselectronics.com/browse.cfm/4,1211.htm

This is a good one too, but not quite as good:

http://shop.willyselectronics.com/browse.cfm/4,1286.htm

The dies are the same, but the frames are different. The first one is a little easier to use.

-Doc

Slider
01-30-2006, 08:01 PM
That's a little pricey for me for the amount of crimping I'm going to do.

Punisher
01-30-2006, 08:44 PM
Eh.. it's personal preference.. I've crimped a lot, but I don't find it necessary to spend money on a "professional" crimper when I have a tool that strips wires, cuts and crimps different sized connectors. I just don't see the need to crimp a wire that never needs to be disconnected.

If crimping is faster for you than I guess that's good. I use different methodes for soldering so it's very quick and it brings the wire back to more of it's nature state... it's slim and it will never come apart.

I guess you haven't crimped a bundle of wires together yet.. you'll see the difference in the size of the bundle. I did a lot of quick connects when I did my last engine swap and a lot of the crimps on the harness were in the exact same spot and it made the bundle a lot larger in diameter, which just looks sloppy and is a pain to get through small holes.. like in the firewall.

I don't think I ever said that crimping was bad either.. I just only prefer it for wires that will need to be disconnected so I can quickly pull them apart. I crimped my replacement O2 sensor wire... if I ever need to remove the sensor I can just unplug it. I also heat shrank over the connector.

The resistance with soldering is lower too.. if properly done. I twist the wires together first so they are in full contact with eachother and then I solder. The solder is just a means to secure the wires together, not to give them continuity.

Different strokes for different folks :)

Dr Tweak
01-31-2006, 12:45 AM
Eh.. it's personal preference.. I've crimped a lot, but I don't find it necessary to spend money on a "professional" crimper when I have a tool that strips wires, cuts and crimps different sized connectors. I just don't see the need to crimp a wire that never needs to be disconnected.

If crimping is faster for you than I guess that's good. I use different methodes for soldering so it's very quick and it brings the wire back to more of it's nature state... it's slim and it will never come apart.

I guess you haven't crimped a bundle of wires together yet.. you'll see the difference in the size of the bundle. I did a lot of quick connects when I did my last engine swap and a lot of the crimps on the harness were in the exact same spot and it made the bundle a lot larger in diameter, which just looks sloppy and is a pain to get through small holes.. like in the firewall.

I don't think I ever said that crimping was bad either.. I just only prefer it for wires that will need to be disconnected so I can quickly pull them apart. I crimped my replacement O2 sensor wire... if I ever need to remove the sensor I can just unplug it. I also heat shrank over the connector.

The resistance with soldering is lower too.. if properly done. I twist the wires together first so they are in full contact with eachother and then I solder. The solder is just a means to secure the wires together, not to give them continuity.

Different strokes for different folks :)

These aren't insulated crimps, they are exactly the same size as a soldered connection... well, a TINY bit bigger but not much. I'll try to get a pic of a bundle when the harness I'm working on now is finished.

-Doc

All4Traction
01-31-2006, 03:43 AM
I like the idea of that, cause those insulated crimps suck :thumbsdow

If i didnt already have a soldering iron i would probly buy one. I cant see one being THAT much better than the other though, it just comes down to personal preferrence.

Ill stick with soldering though, I wouldn't have been able to use the crimper when wiring up my ecu/harness adapter anyways.