cutting cable

ionized_gwFebruary 5, 2013

I need to repair some copper, automotive battery cables so I am looking at cutting them without mangling them too much.. Seeing that this is one-time thing, I am not looking to buy an expensive, specialty tool. What common or inexpensive tools might work best for this. Clearance is an issue so a hacksaw might not work well even it it would work well otherwise. Right now, I am thinking maybe a tubing cutter or a rotary (Dremel) tool.

Thanks for looking.

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randy427

A tubing cutter wouldn't work at all.
A dremel would do it, though the soft copper will tend to clog the teeth of a fine-toothed blade. A rotary stone on a dremel would also clog with copper.
If you have enough clearance for a dremel, how about a hacksaw blade, without the hacksaw frame.
You can also use multiple snips with wire cutters and then use pliers to squeeze the cable back into decent shape.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:08PM
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btharmy

Ask a friend who has wire cutters if you can borrow them for a day.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:32PM
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ionized_gw

Thanks,

I have wire cutters, but I don't think they wiill even fit around the 2.0. I see that cable cutters are available online for not so much.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 4:29PM
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Ron Natalie

I've got a cute tool called a HackZall from Milwaukee. It essentially is a very small reciprocating saw (baby sawzall).

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:34AM
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ionized_gw

Thanks for all the suggestions. Randy, I think that I blocked a hacksaw blade out of the mind because a couple of weeks ago I spent some hours sawing nails off the back of baseboard to remove it. They could not be pried straight off because newer flooring had been installed higher than the bottom. I had to pry the top a little and reach in with the blade to cut the nails and then lift them up a bit.

I have a store near enough to my home, but not on a usual travel route. It might take a couple of weeks because the poop hit the ventilator at home, but I think I will try one of these. (I have to pick up the hardware to do the splice too.) As long as it works well for a few cuts, it should last me a lifetime:

http://www.harborfreight.com/10-inch-cable-cutter-40507.html

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:10AM
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alan_s_thefirst

Those should do it, although if they're not super-sharp, they may flatten the cable a bit. I like ones whose blades are more circular, they don't crush as much.

I'm assuming you're cutting battery clamps off and replacing them? Those things should work, if you're careful.

I know a lot of people have negative things to say about Harbor Freight stuff, but those don't look too bad, and 'cheap' tools are a lot better than they used to be.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 3:39PM
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ionized_gw

It is an automotive battery cable. I have to splice the cable rather than cut and install a new clamp. It is too short to stick into a new clamp and there are two cables that go onto that post. I am not yet sure what kind of splice to use. I'd rather solder it than simply crimp it.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 4:22PM
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kalining

What is the cable being used for ? Is it an automotive cable going onto an automobile battery in an automobile and it is a bit too short ?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:51PM
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ionized_gw

Yup, it's my Mercury.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 8:20PM
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kalining

go to your parts store and buy the proper length cable and
replace it as a whole. Splicing with solder is a bad idea. Crimping it is even a worse idea with the amp load that will be placed on that wire.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:02PM
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alan_s_thefirst

Agree, you can't solder it. Solder connections are great, but not in this instance. Too much heat, solder joint goes dry, increased resistance = more heat, etc.

Try to replace it, rather than splice.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:04AM
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ionized_gw

$ Stealership item $ Not a cable, but a harness.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 7:47AM
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ionized_gw

Dry out solder? How does that work? The vapor pressure of that metal has to be much, much higher than underhood temps.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:18PM
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Ron Natalie

You don't need to go to the dealer. Lots of independent from the manufacturer parts suppliers out there. Unfortunately, these days the guys working the stores aren't likely to be able to find a cable unless you give them the year and model so they can look it up in thier computers.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:23AM
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ionized_gw

Trust me. The harness is a costly dealer item.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 5:49PM
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ionized_gw

The alternatives are to splice it myself, buy from a stealership, or have one made at an auto electric shop. The latter two are quite expensive for a 15 YO car.

Typically a repair would be done with a repair harness which are typially crimped. I will probably come up with a way to use a similar repair harness or some clamps and in addition, solder the connections for better electrical characteristics. An additional complicating factor is that I am working on the positive side so any modification that I make to the repair harness will have to be insulated with some robust heat-shrink tubing or some alternative.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 5:59PM
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yosemitebill

Regarding the cable cutters, I actually have both a pair of Klein pliers and a pair of the Harbor Freight pliers - as much as I can't believe it, the HF pliers actually have held up much better.

Regarding your battery cable, whether it is a "cable" or "harness" appears to be semantics unless there are other conductors involved.

As a teenager, I worked in an auto-parts store where we routinely made up hydraulic hoses and battery cables for industrial customers - we also sold packaged battery cables by application or simply by length.

I'm having a hard time understanding the difficulty here in finding a replacement cable at a reasonable cost.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:01PM
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weedmeister

If you are going to crimp 2ga cable, you will need a proper crimping tool. If you are going to solder it, you will also need a fairly large iron.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:18PM
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ionized_gw

I've got a big iron, but I'll probably use a torch. (The battery will not be close by, though it is probably not necessary to move it.) I noticed that auto parts stores sell standard-size (color coded) "solder slugs" for attaching clamps to cable and some clamps are sold pre-loaded with solder.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:34AM
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brickeyee

Even if it is part of a harness with other wires, you can always just add another cable into the bundle and leave or remove the old one.

Buy a piece of the correct gauge and length and rent the cutter to trim it to final fit.

Route the cable, trim one end, hook it up, trim the other end then hook it up.

unless this is a collectable car you are trying to keep OEM there is no reason not to just add another wire.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 4:30PM
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alan_s_thefirst

It doesn't take that much heat to make solder joints go dry, CRT TVs are notorious- they put out a fair amount of heat, and solder joints under these conditions warm and cool, warm and cool. They start to look dull, and the connection becomes unreliable. Sometimes you can even wiggle the component lead and see it's loose.

That leads to resistance, which leads to heat, which leads to more resistance.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 2:57AM
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brickeyee

"It doesn't take that much heat to make solder joints go dry,'

Sound like they have not been made correctly from the start.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 10:52AM
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ionized_gw

This does not seem like it could be a drying process. Perhaps the differential expansion and contraction of elements is causing a problem in your equipment.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:53PM
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saltcedar

More likely today is leadfree solders that degrade over time.
See tin whiskers and other intermetalic failures.

Here is a link that might be useful: tin whiskers

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 10:24PM
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yosemitebill

The term "dry solder joint" is sometimes used but "cold solder joint" is much more common and descriptive.

In electronics, when hand soldered, the two wires, components, or components to circuit board, must be brought up to the proper temperature for the solder to flow into and over them - known as wetting.

When only the solder itself is heated and melted, it never really makes a good electrical or mechanical connection between the wires or components and will soon fail. It's commonly referred to as a cold solder joint and is dull and gray rather than shiny and bright.

Cooling of the solder too rapidly also leads to the same type of failure. I'm not sure why, but when ever I've been training electronic technicians, they've always wanted to blow on the solder joint after they've made it - it's the worst thing you can do and will lead to failure.

The problem with soldering the large battery cables is getting them just hot enough and then also evenly all around. Too little heat will create a cold solder joint, and too much heat will oxidize the copper, which will resist the wetting action of the solder, or melt the insulation. A mechanical bolt-type wire clamp would work much better.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 7:01AM
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ionized_gw

Thanks for the too little, too much detail. That makes sense.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:48AM
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brickeyee

"cold solder joints" are an error in soldering technique.

It generally means the base metal never got hot enough for the solder to form an actual atomic level bond onto the material.
This bond is exhibited by the solder 'wetting' the base material during soldering.

it can be due ti inadequate cleaning, flux, temperature, or material incompatibility (tin-lead or tin based solder does not 'wet out' and bond to certain metals and materials).

Having any type of joint in a starter motor line is asking for trouble.
The peak currents are just to large.

The cable should go from battery to relay or battery to starter directly with no other joints.

.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 1:45PM
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