Custom Battery Cables

Tech information furnished by Herb Payerl

From: Herb Peyerl     hpeyerl@beer.org

On Tue, Feb 19, 2002 at 09:09:24AM -0800, Mike Trippett wrote:
> Now for the question...what is the best way to fab one's own battery cables?
> I have everything together for my dual batteries (thanks to Jeff Z. and
> others!), with the exception of the wiring. I'm looking at 6&0 gauge cable,
> depending on where it's going. I'm not sure whether soldered terminals or
> crimped would be better, (I've read arguments for both), but the soldered
> would seem easier to do. Any recommendations on a crimping tool for a HD
> cable terminal?

Here's what _I_ do.

First, I use 1ga cable. Not by any specific choice but I happen to have a relatively significant stockpile of 10ft lengths from some old decommissioned cellsites. I've been working my way through this pile making battery cables, jumper cables, and winch cables for my 3 cruisers...

Second, I go to Princess Auto (canadian discount junk store) or a welding supply place, and pickup some copper lugs. They're basically just a thick copper tube flared out at one end, squished flat at the other with a hole drilled in the flat end.

I trim about .75" of insulation off the cable, clamp it in my vice and with my propane torch, I saturate the exposed end with solder.

Then I put the flat end of the lug in my vice, I take my propane torch and heat up the lug and fill it about 2/3 full of molten solder, and while applying heat, I dunk the exposed and tinned end of the cable into this molten solder and continue heating for another 20 seconds or so, so that I'm sure the previously cooled down solder in the end of the cable has a chance to re-melt and 'join' with the molten solder...

In theory, you now have one solid hunk of copper/lead. I once screwed up one of my ends so I had to cut this joint off, so on a lark, I sliced right into the lug and the cross-section was very nice. No voids. It was like solid copper/lead.

Once sufficiently cooled, I then spin the lug against the back of my vice while tapping the flare down with a hammer until it's pressing into the little bit of rubber insulation entering the lug. Now you've sealed the solder in the lug so corrosion can't even get a foothold in there.

Next, once it's really cooled, I take self-fusing tape from an electrical supply store and wrap it tightly around the insulation and all the way down the lug until just the hole is exposed. Do _not_ use that cheap-azz electrical tape. It blows goats. Go out and buy self-fusing tape. you will _not_ regret it.

I did this to my '72 about 3 years ago when I got my Optima Gold tops. I've never been stranded even in the deadest of cold temperatures, there was plenty of cranking life there, due in part to the cables.

For battery clamps, I got some of the military style to bolt my cables to. Coat with some of that grease that I can't remember the name of right now.

Posted February 19, 2002

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