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    • Tools #3

      Electrical Connections

      Authored by Wes Vann, last revised on May16, 1997​


        Lug connectors; These are the connectors that are held in placewith a screw. Most are full circle and require that you remove the screwto add a wire, some are just part circle and can be added by just looseningthe screw.

        Butt Splice; This is where two wires are connected together.The photo shows a soldered crimp connector. The upper wire has had theheat shrink tubing put in place and shrunken using a heat gun.

        Cable Technology Electronic device Electronics accessory Networking cables

        "3M Scotch-Lok" connectors; These little guys are agreat invention. There are various types and options, but the idea is thesame. They enable you to splice a wire into an existing wire without cuttingit. How they work is that there is a metal piece that cuts through thewire insulation. What you do is insert the wires (they have to be the correctsize for the connector used), use a set of pliers to depress the metalpiece in, they fold over the plastic cover.

        Wire Cable

        "Molex" connectors; Just like Kleenex, this is botha company name and generic name for a type of connector. The connectorpins are round pins. There are various pin counts possible and the nylonblock is keyed so that it can't be connected wrong.

        Auto part

        Weather-pac connectors; These have a rubber boot to seal outmoisture. They are used on fuel injection wiring. (I can't find a photo)

        "Mil-spec" connectors; Military Specification. Theseare the most positive connector that you will find! They are also the mostcostly!

        Tire Auto part Automotive tire Tool accessory
        Plumbing fitting Auto part Steel Metal

        Crimp connectors; These are the type connectors that you buyat your auto parts store. They could be spade, lug, or butt connectors.Normally there is a plastic cover on the part that is crimped. There arethree different colors and the colors are for different size wire. Redis the smallest, blue is the standard size, and yellow is the largest.

        Relays; The most common relay that is added to a car for thingslike fog lamps and such is the 30 amp BOSCH. This little guy is great andVERY usefull. The one problem is that most places that sell them don'tknow that there is a connector with a mounting tab right on it. This makesit easy to replace a questionable relay. There is a slot on the side thatenables you to mount several together! When you get the relay, make surethat it's one of the ones with 5 connectors. The 5 connector relays haveboth a "normally open" and a "normally closed" input.


        Solder; When soldering, a metal (solder) that is a combinationof tin and lead is melted into the joint of the two base metals. Soldercomes in different percentages of tin and lead. Rosen core solder is asolder where there is a flux core inside the solder.

        Flux; This is a mild acid used to clean off any corrosion. Itcomes as a paste that is put on the wire prior to soldering. It is alsopossible to get "rosen core" solder that has the flux in it.I have the best luck with the paste type flux.

        Tinning acid; This is a fairly strong acid that is used if thereis a fair amount of corrosion on the item to be soldered. Tinning acidis used when soldering the copper pipes in your house.

        Soldering Iron; A soldering iron stays hot as long as it's pluggedin. Used for soldering wimpy things..

        Handheld power drill Tool Cable Heat guns Drill accessories

        Soldering Gun; Used for soldering and is only hot while the triggeris pulled and held in. Most have two heat ranges that are controlled byhow far you pull in the trigger. The tip on the soldering gun in the photois reversed from the standard. I just like it that way.

        Heat shrink tubing; This stuff is great. As you could guess,when heated, it shrinks to about 75 percent of it's diameter. The pro wayto shrink it is to use a heat gun (much like a hair dryer), however, it'salso possible to use a lighter or match.

        Comments and Ideas;

        How to do a good solder connection:

        • The metal of the wire and the terminal has to be clean and free of corrosion.This is the reason that flux is used. Normal flux for soldering is a mildacid. If needed, try tinning acid.

          Put a light coat of the flux paste on the connection.

          Heat the connection with the soldering gun until the connection is hotenough to melt the solder. The idea here is that the connection melts thesolder and not the tip of the gun!

          The solder will flow into any area where the metal is hot enough tomelt the solder. A good job will have a smooth shiny solder surface.

          Any excess flux should be wiped off.

        Heat shrink tubing:

        • When using heat shrink tubing, you have to have several sizes. The tubinghas to be slid on the wire prior to attaching the terminal due tothe fact that normally the correct size tubing will not fit over the terminalafterward.

          While soldering the connection, you have to be careful that the tubingdoesn't get heated.

          After the connection has cooled off, slide the tubing into place andheat it up with a heat gun or lighter.

        Molex connector crimpers;

        • A special crimper is required for molex connectors. The crimper isn'tall that costly, but it's special. There is also a special tool for removingthe pins out of a Molex connector. Once again, it's not really costly,it's just special and you will need it.

          If you look at the photo of a molex connector, you will notice thateach connector has two crimps on it. One crimp is on the exposed wire andthe other is on the insulation.

        Mil-spec connectors;

        • You have to solder the wires into these connectors. The connectors canbe gotten in all sorts of configurations of connector count and wire size.It is possible to purchase used connectors and reuse them (really savesmoney thanks to our government).

          The connectors have a barrel that rotates to hold the two sides together.It's kind of like a camera lens.

          Are they worth it? Look at any Indy race car for what type connectorsthey use.
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