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How to splice 4 Conductor 18AWG Cable?

Jan 13, 2015
60
Hunter 34 Deep Bay, BC
The cable from my masthead instruments is a 4 conductor (+ground) shielded cable, with tiny 18AWG wires. I had to replace the compression post (this is a Hunter 34, and apparently everybody else with one of these has already had to do this), and in that process had to cut all the masthead wires including this one.

The only solution I've found to reconnect it is to solder and heat shrink each wire, but that seems pretty primitive. Surely there is a connector of some kind for this? If there is, I haven't been able to find it.

Thanks for any help.
 
Oct 24, 2010
2,281
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
There are connectors that would work. Check out digikey.com, but a good solder job with heat shrink, overlaid with shield (also soldered in at both ends) also the addition of self sealing heat shrink around the outside should make a more robust repair.

Ken
 
Jan 11, 2014
6,322
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
If you have access the December 2016 issue of practical sailor has an article on connecting small wires.
 
May 25, 2012
3,094
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
soldering is not primitive in my book. its prefered. of course i have very good skills. youtube, and learn how.
 
Sep 14, 2014
978
Catalina 22 Pensacola, Florida
Go to a computer parts supply , they have butt connectors (crimped type) for down to 22 gauge wire, better than trying to solder also stagger the splice with one side shorter ,matching with other side longer so connectors are physically separated, makes the bundle smaller too.
 

leo310

.
Dec 15, 2006
318
Catalina Catlina 310 Campbell River BC
soldering will give you the least problems down the road as connectors can cause other problems ie location, size, etc
 
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Jan 11, 2014
6,322
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
soldering is not primitive in my book. its prefered. of course i have very good skills. youtube, and learn how.
soldering will give you the least problems down the road as connectors can cause other problems ie location, size, etc
From the Dec 2016 Practical Sailor Article on connecting small wires:

The US Coast Guard and AYBC forbid soldering as the sole means of wire connection because of the risk of separation if overheated. This disqualifies solder-only connections from being among our top picks. We’ve been told fatigue is an issue with soldered connections; perhaps this is true, but we didn’t see that in testing, and certainly not after covering the connection with heat shrink. However, no soldered connection survived seawater exposure without severe corrosion damage. Additionally, since the solder triggered severe galvanic wire corrosion, we do not recommend soldering crimped connectors, even though some favor this as an “improved” method. In a saltwater environment, it is quite clear that solder actually makes things worse.
 
Sep 25, 2008
5,879
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
From the Dec 2016 Practical Sailor Article on connecting small wires:

The US Coast Guard and AYBC forbid soldering as the sole means of wire connection because of the risk of separation if overheated. This disqualifies solder-only connections from being among our top picks. We’ve been told fatigue is an issue with soldered connections; perhaps this is true, but we didn’t see that in testing, and certainly not after covering the connection with heat shrink. However, no soldered connection survived seawater exposure without severe corrosion damage. Additionally, since the solder triggered severe galvanic wire corrosion, we do not recommend soldering crimped connectors, even though some favor this as an “improved” method. In a saltwater environment, it is quite clear that solder actually makes things worse.
I have always found this funny.

To say "sole means of wire connection" is stating the obvious as no one does that. Solder isn't intended to withstand strain. To a means of electrical bonding, not strain relief.
Further, they say "we've been told fatigue is an issue .. but we didn't see that..." is a contradiction based on rumor rather than results. A properly supported connection doesn't fatigue.
Lastly, "solder triggered galvanic corrosion" implies the connection is in saltwater.

Common sense isn't their strong suit.and apparently neither is experience.
 
Jan 11, 2014
6,322
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
I have always found this funny.

To say "sole means of wire connection" is stating the obvious as no one does that. Solder isn't intended to withstand strain. To a means of electrical bonding, not strain relief.
Further, they say "we've been told fatigue is an issue .. but we didn't see that..." is a contradiction based on rumor rather than results. A properly supported connection doesn't fatigue.
Lastly, "solder triggered galvanic corrosion" implies the connection is in saltwater.

Common sense isn't their strong suit.and apparently neither is experience.
If you read the whole article, they waffle a bit. It would be unwise of them to make a recommendation that was counter to ABYC or the USCG. No doubt their lawyers have advised them to never go against standards or regulations, if they did some fool would sink his boat and then sue PS because they said it was OK to do whatever.

When confronted with a similar situation, joining a bunch of really tiny wires in a cable, I soldered each one, sealed it in shrink tubing, sealed the whole joint in clear shrink tubing and then secured the cable on each end of the joint. I'm not saying that this is the best way to do this or to recommend this method. It is just how I dealt with the problem of running a VHF remote mic cable. But I also know how to solder, taught by my father who was forever tinkering with electronics.
 
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Sep 25, 2008
5,879
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
If you read the whole article, they waffle a bit. It would be unwise of them to make a recommendation that was counter to ABYC or the USCG. No doubt their lawyers have advised them to never go against standards or regulations, if they did some fool would sink his boat and then sue PS because they said it was OK to do whatever.

When confronted with a similar situation, joining a bunch of really tiny wires in a cable, I soldered each one, sealed it in shrink tubing, sealed the whole joint in clear shrink tubing and then secured the cable on each end of the joint. I'm not saying that this is the best way to do this or to recommend this method. It is just how I dealt with the problem of running a VHF remote mic cable. But I also know how to solder, taught by my father who was forever tinkering with electronics.
I've done the same thing as you described and interestingly learned to do it that way in the Coast Guard. The ETs all soldered connections rather than use any fasteners requiring crimps which invariably never lasted due to corrosion or vibration or both.
 
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Jan 11, 2014
6,322
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
I've done the same thing as you described and interestingly learned to do it that way in the Coast Guard. The ETs all soldered connections rather than use any fasteners requiring crimps which invariably never lasted due to corrosion or vibration or both.
The wire's purpose also plays a role here. Small gauge wires don't carry much current and in the case of a masthead fly, it is just a signal wire. Connecting them by soldering or using a terminal block should be OK. The worst that can happen is the instrument doesn't work.

In a current carrying wire, following the ABYC standards is probably the best practice.
 
Sep 25, 2008
5,879
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
The wire's purpose also plays a role here. Small gauge wires don't carry much current and in the case of a masthead fly, it is just a signal wire. Connecting them by soldering or using a terminal block should be OK. The worst that can happen is the instrument doesn't work.

In a current carrying wire, following the ABYC standards is probably the best practice.
The converse is also a consideration regarding higher current connections. If they heat up due to high(er) resistance, bad things can happen. It's obviously just an opinion but the only way I am confident in the current carrying capacity of connections is to avoid mechanical connectors wherever possible by using properly soldered joints which cannot flex.
 
Aug 1, 2011
3,908
Catalina 270 255 Wabamun. Welcome to the marina
Solder is a weak point if you happen to be using that 22ga wire to tow your boat. I'd be more likely to lean towards agreement with the topic if said joint was at the top of the mast. It's not. Properly soldered wire with dual wall heat shrink in this application is so close to the original installation that it's almost not worth talking about.
 
Oct 24, 2010
2,281
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
How important is the shielding? There will only be ~4" of unshielded wire.
The shield may be vital depending on adjacent electrical noise. If you decide to not sleeve it with shield, make sure to electrically connect the separate ends of the severed shield. Also it's important to be sure the connections are protected from corrosion.

One of the problems with improper solder is wicking solder up the wires. It makes them stiff and easily broken. That possability of poor workmanship is a big reason ABYC doesn't recommend solder. In my experience it's actually a better method if done properly. Look inside any electronic device and you will see it's the most common method, but needs to be done well. Too many people don't actually know what a good solder looks like. Practice a lot with scrap wire if you aren't proficient.

Ken
 
Jan 11, 2014
6,322
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
One of the problems with improper solder is wicking solder up the wires. It makes them stiff and easily broken.
The wire will work harden and then break. With a proper crimp connection that has a heat shrink seal the heat shrink helps to strengthen the connection and prevents work hardening of the wire at the crimp. Cheap automotive crimp connectors don't do that, so in many respects they are just as weak as a solder only connection.