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wire soldering

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by Nonesuch, Dec 8, 2001.

  1. Nonesuch

    Nonesuch 1/2 ton status

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    this is something i have never done. It sounds like it would be pretty easy to do though. can some of you give some hints, tips, and tricks on how to do it! thanks
    Justin
     
  2. Triaged

    Triaged 1/2 ton status

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    For stuff in cars you don't want to solder any conection. It makes it brittle and more likely to fail.
    Crimping is the way you want to do it. If you really want to do it right find a pair of the crimpers that won't release it till you have gotten it tight enough...those crimps are often stronger than the wire.

    '71 Blazer CST w/ a 400sbc, 4" lift, 36" Supper Swampers, and alot of rust
    <a target="_blank" href=http://community.webshots.com/user/triaged>See it Here </a>
     
  3. Skigirl

    Skigirl 1/2 ton status

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    I would use connectors instead of solder, it works fine and is easier, but for the record, here's how to do it.

    Use a 60/40 rosin core solder, or 60/40 solder with a rosin flux. The flux cleans the joint and removes stuff that would prevent the solder from sticking well. Don't ever use acid core solder or acid flux on electrical connections.

    Make sure the soldering iron is at least 50 watts. Most are 100/140 watt capacity.

    Use a thick piece of wood under what you're soldering, if you use metal, it'll take heat away from the solder area.

    Take some heat shrink wrap and slide it over one of the wires and move it up the wire out of the way. Then twist your wires together, so that the exposed wire is connected like this: =, where the exposed wire and the insulated part stay parallel to each other, not like this: _II_ where the exposed wires stick up perpendicular to the insulation.

    Then take the soldering iron, heat it up (don't ever touch the tip) and then heat the twisted wire but touching the solder tip to the wire. When it's pretty hot (guess, I guess), touch the solder to the wire (not the soldering iron, the iron should be underneath the wires, and you should be touching the solder to the wires on the top side). The solder will flow into the wire gaps and seal it. Don't use too much solder, all it'll do is form a big glob. If the solder beads up on the guin tip and doesn't flow onto the wire, then the wires are not hot enough. Heat them some more.

    When the wires are sealed, let them cool, then slip the heat shrink over the soldered connection and use a lighter to pass under the shrink tubuing, it'll shrink up and insulate the wires. Take care not to put the lighter too close or for too long, otherwise you'll burn the heat shrink wrap.

    It's also a good idea to wrap electrical tape around the heat shrink wrap, just for some extra protection.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    I solder every single connection in my truck. It may be brittle, but I have yet to have one fail on my like most crimp connectors do. You have less resistance with solder than you do with crimp on connectors AFAIK.

    None of the wires on your truck should be moving much anyways. Obviously you don't want to use solid copper wiring for your trailer wiring harness connector, but soldering cut sections together is a sure way to assure that corrosion isn't going to affect the join and that it won't fall apart, like cheap crimp on connectors.

    Soldering is easy. Strip off appropriate length of wire from both ends, cut piece of shrink wrap tubing to the right length, slide it up one side of the wire. Don't be cheap and use tape (unless its a 3 way join) you do NOT want these things grounding out down the road and then try to track it down. You can flux the wire if it looks dirty, I don't always if the wire looks "clean", but I probably should. (if the solder won't stick, I know I need flux : ) Put the bare ends of the wire together, and wrap them over each other. Straight line, not at an angle, and no "overhang" of the wire on the insulation. Once the wires are twisted together, put the solder gun somewhere on the join, like the center, and hold the solder to the wire nearby. When the wire gets hot enough (don't use the gun tip on the solder) the solder will flow right into the wire, and completely penetrate. It will absorb solder like a sponge. Then pull the solder gun off, let it cool, slide the shrink wrap over the joint, pass a match or lighter over the shrink wrap (all sides) until it shrinks to fit, and you are done.

    Don't take shortcuts, do it right so it doesn't bite you in the rear later.

    Dorian
    My tech/links page: <a target="_blank" href=http://www.dorianyeager.com/index2.html>www.dorianyeager.com/index2.html</a>
    Why insist on counting when the ring gear has the tooth counts stamped in?
     
  5. mike reeh

    mike reeh 1/2 ton status

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    I disagree, there is no better connection than soldering, and when you gotta use a crimp on connection, solder the end first and it will hold SO much better.. then after, I even solder the crimp to the wire again.. it will be nearly unbreakable. NEVER had an ounce of problem with "brittleness" .. wish I could say the same about crimped connections!!

    the key to soldering is that you have CLEAN wire.. thats what soldering flux does, clean the wire. with out the wire being clean, the solder will not spread evenly (or stick at all).. I used to have a bottle of real old school soldering flux that my dad used when he used to make stained glass (years ago).. I have since used it up but that stuff was the BEST... it was acid flux, and was part hydrochloric acid.. I dont think you can get that stuff anymore (except maybe at a stained glass specialty shop or something) but man it worked great. just dip the wire once and it was good to go. The flux-core wire pretty much sucks in my opinion, there is never enough flux to actually make a difference. About a week ago I was at Sears of all places and in the tool section they had two different types of fluxes. One was for electrical connections and one was for NON electrical, BUT it was "acid flux" ! so I bought some (it was only a $1.99) but I havent tried it yet. I dont see what would make it "not for electrical connections" but I have a feeling it will be great.

    as for tools I have a couple of irons, a gun, and I even use a handheld propane torch for some stuff.. depends on what you're soldering and where, etc.

    I have found that silver based solder makes a hell of a strong connection but I dont know any of the technical properties of it, its just what Ive found.

    if you solder the connection right and then shrink tube over it, its good to go for a 100 years. I personally despise crimp connections and most of them are done wrong anyway. Soldered, it WILL be as strong or stronger than the original wire. If you pull on it until it breaks, it will break somewhere else, especially in a splice connection. Well thats my $0.02... if you wanna know something else let us know

    mike
     
  6. pcorssmit

    pcorssmit 1/2 ton status

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    Another thing that helps, especially when soldering smaller wires, is to use real thin solder, I think the stuff I usually use is .032" (?). Soldering irons work for joining smaller wires, bigger ones will require more heat, like from a soldering gun. Or, if you're a cheap bastard like me, you can use a propane torch.

    Pete

    '83 K5, 350 TBI (ex 6.2), 700R4, NP208, Dana 60/14 bolt, 4.56s, Detroits, 3" lift, 15-39.5x15 TSLs
    '97 Dodge 2500 4x4 CC LB Sport, Cummins 5 spd
     
  7. Skigirl

    Skigirl 1/2 ton status

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    Mike I think the reason acid flux isn't generally recommended is that it could cause some corrosion of the wires.
     
  8. bee32

    bee32 1/2 ton status

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    I will agree with the soldering. Crimp Connectors are good for fast fixes but can and eventually will break. Soldering is 100% and will not break under more than usuall circumstances. It will hold up longer than any other way. And with the heat shrinks it is corrosion resistant and water proof. And they are showing how to do it on trucks right now.

    Brian
    83 K-5 4" on 35's
     
  9. Waxer

    Waxer 1/2 ton status Author

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    Soldering is the only way to go. I have just replaced all the wiring on my K5 and I used plenty of soldering, heat shrinks up the yink yang. I will have pics and writeups on it soon enough. I previously ONLY used to use crimps and god did they suck. Yah they work for a bit, but try pulling the crimp and it will eventually come off. Pull on a soldered connection and it just laughs at you. Slap the heat shrink with glue inside and you have a water tight connection that will not come apart unless you use a pair of dikes. Assuming you soldered it right ofcourse.

    Crawlin the rocks with my K5
    <a target="_blank" href=http://www.rockreadyk5.com>http://www.rockreadyk5.com</a>
     
  10. taterblazer

    taterblazer 1/2 ton status

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    As far as soldering being brittle I'm not sure what that is about. Possible could be problems with cold joints or to much solder. Some of the posts up above are really good about soldering. One hint, get a sponge and wet it. Use it to clean the solder iron when your soldering. Don't use to much solder. The solder should flow smoothly when applied to the wire. One issue that I've heard of is that solder joints won't flow as much current. I don't know if this is true and would suspect it doesn't matter on car electrical. Was thinking more of car audio issues there. Here's a good soldering url:
    http://www.allsands.com/HowTo/howtosolder_cc_gn.htm
     
  11. taterblazer

    taterblazer 1/2 ton status

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    Oh yeh, a good pair of crimpers can be gotten at an electrical parts house. Should be nice and heavy duty looking. Have two crimp sizes on it. Think Klein makes a nice one.
     
  12. Nonesuch

    Nonesuch 1/2 ton status

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    some very good info here. thank you all very much. I am reworking my 85 camaro TPI wiring harness and everyone i have talked to has said to solder all connections. I just spent 3 hours on my front porch checking each and every wire for damage. Only a few will need reworked. But to save myself alot of spaghetti coming through the firewall of my blazer, i am combining alot of the +12v and common grounds into one. That is the main area were i will need to solder wires. These ganged wires will be quite large and there isnt a connector out there that would be big enough to do this. Also this is my engines new life and soul so i want it to be PERFECT. I dont want any shorts or loose wires leaving me stranded in the middle of an outing. Thanks again!
    Justin
     
  13. Michael

    Michael 1/2 ton status

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    Rather than soldering a "gob' of wires together you might want to pick up a quality terminal strip and combine them that way.....it makes parts removal much easier. You can still solder the end of the wire and then crimp a quality(again) terminal on the end. I would go with the soldering also.....I've been doing it for 30 years with no (ok, very few) failures. Not do to brittelness however.....

    Michael[​IMG]
    <a target="_blank" href=http://www.jmartin.net/parker/goose.htm>www.jmartin.net/parker/goose.htm</a>
     
  14. Parf

    Parf Registered Member

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    Do you trust your truck with your life? If it were an airplane, would you fly in it with your family? Please continue reading, and I ask that you keep an open mind. With that said... [​IMG]

    The best way to make electrical connections in your vehicle, is to crimp them. If you crimp, using a RATCHETING crimper, you can achieve connections that are stronger than solder, and most importantly, 100% repeatable every time. You don't need the experience it takes to make a good solder connection every time. You do need a ratcheting crimper. Amazingly enough, I found that Autozone, on Kipling Ave in Arvada, CO sells one for about $25.00 that is decent quality, and adjustable. Another thing you need, are good quality connectors. A good quality connector has a metal sleved insulation grip inside it. Thats another metal tube inside the connector that gets crimped down onto the wires insulation, not like the cheap ones that just have plastic that eventually loosens. I buy all my connectors from E&amp;G terminal in Denver. They cost a little more, but are worth it. I crimped a ring terminal onto a short length of 12 gauge wire, stuck a screwdriver through the ring, wrapped the other end of wire around my other hand, and pulled with all my strength. I couldn't pull the connector off. Neither could any of my friends to their disbelief. Crimping is standard practice in building airplanes. You won't believe how quickly you will convert to this method. It is fast, and very strong, and has the least chance of error. For more information, check out <a target="_blank" href=http://www.aeroelectric.com/index.html>http://www.aeroelectric.com/index.html</a>

    Here is a quote:

    Dispelling a Myth
    Some folks recommend a combination of soldering in
    addition to crimped joints for reliability. Keep in mind that
    the Boeings, Beeches, Pipers and even the lowly Cessnas
    haven’t soldered a terminal on a wire in over 30 years.
    People like AMP and Molex have carved an honorable
    place for themselves in the aviation marketplace selling
    termination systems that do not require solder to achieve
    the highest levels of reliability. Please forget the solder.
     
  15. BurbinOR

    BurbinOR 3/4 ton status

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    Wow. Good info. Thank you.

    <font color=blue>'79 ONE TON TPI K5 - See it at---&gt;<a target="_blank" href=http://www.blazzinor.rockcrawler.com>www.blazzinor.rockcrawler.com</a>
     
  16. Michael

    Michael 1/2 ton status

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    I agree that there are very good crimp connectors made....problem is people generally don't want to spend a few extra bucks to get them or they don't have access to a good electical supply house. Soldering is not rocket science and can be picked up fairly easy. I have used both procedures with little or no problems. Either system, done well, will last the life of the vehicle. Most failed connections in a Blazer are not going to be life threating situations....just aggravating. I would never recommend soldering or crimping a group of several wires together...which is what Justin was asking about. Do it like the "big boys" and get some type of terminal and crimp rings.....GOOD ones. I don't think you will find that GM or anyone else solders any wires, but they do use good connectors.

    Michael[​IMG]
    <a target="_blank" href=http://www.jmartin.net/parker/goose.htm>www.jmartin.net/parker/goose.htm</a>
     
  17. Nonesuch

    Nonesuch 1/2 ton status

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    actually a GM TPI wiring harness has alot of common ground and +12v wires soldered together already, and its from the factory this way. up to four wires in some gangs. This is the way I will do it as well. I am trying to reduce the size of the hole i have to cut in the firewall of my truck and keep alot of the wires under the dash. I may try using connectors in some areas where i will have to lengthen wires but i will also be using solder in my gangs. it just seems easier and more reliable. Besides a big terminal to connect up four wires just takes up more room and if you have done any heater core work you already know that room is not available. another advantage i like is that a soldered connection covered with shrink wrap just sounds like it will look better than a clumpy connector. IMHO
    Justin
     
  18. Pugsley

    Pugsley 1/2 ton status

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    I actually prefer crimp connectors over soldering, but like everyone said, use a good crimper - If it doesn't say "Klein", or "Thomas and Betts", it is questionable IMO. As for connectors, T&amp;B are about the best in the business, and really aren't that much more expensive over the cheapo parts house variety. Wesco, Grainger, and other electrical supply shops can outfit you with the best for very little.

    ......And knowing is half the battle
    <a target="_blank" href=http://pugsley.alloffroad.com>pugsley.alloffroad.com</a>
     
  19. Nonesuch

    Nonesuch 1/2 ton status

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    thanks, grainger, i cant believe i didnt think of them. i also cant believe how much controversy there is on this topic. If you have read much on the TPI conversions, everyone says you have to solder the connections. I think thats what i will do!
     

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