Stripping Wire and Cable (Part Two)

in Engine Ignition and Electrical Systems

Copper Wire Terminals

Copper wires are terminated with solderless, preinsulated straight copper terminal lugs. The insulation is part of the terminal lug and extends beyond its barrel so that it covers a portion of the wire insulation, making the use of an insulation sleeve unnecessary. [Figure 4-103]

Figure 4-103. Preinsulated terminal lug.

Figure 4-103. Preinsulated terminal lug.

In addition, preinsulated terminal lugs contain an insulation grip (a metal reinforcing sleeve) beneath the insulation for extra gripping strength on the wire insulation. Preinsulated terminals accommodate more than one size of wire; the insulation is usually color coded to identify the wire sizes that can be terminated with each of the terminal lug sizes.

Crimping Tools

Hand, portable power, and stationary power tools are available for crimping terminal lugs. These tools crimp the barrel of the terminal lug to the conductor and simultaneously crimp the insulation grip to the wire insulation.

Hand crimping tools all have a self-locking ratchet that prevents opening the tool until the crimp is complete. Some hand crimping tools are equipped with a nest of various size inserts to fit different size terminal lugs. Others are used on one terminal lug size only. All types of hand crimping tools are checked by gauges for proper adjustment of crimping jaws.

Figure 4-104. Inserting terminal lug into hand tool.

Figure 4-104. Inserting terminal lug into hand tool.

Figure 4-104 shows a terminal lug inserted into a hand tool. The following general guidelines outline the crimping procedure:

  1. Strip the wire insulation to proper length.
  2. Insert the terminal lug, tongue first, into the hand tool barrel crimping jaws until the terminal lug barrel butts flush against the tool stop.
  3. Insert the stripped wire into the terminal lug barrel until the wire insulation butts flush against the end of the barrel.
  4. Squeeze the tool handles until the ratchet releases.
  5. Remove the completed assembly and examine it for proper crimp.

Some types of uninsulated terminal lugs are insulated after assembly to a wire by means of pieces of transparent flexible tubing called sleeves. The sleeve provides electrical and mechanical protection at the connection. When the size of the sleeves used is such that it fits tightly over the terminal lug, the sleeves need not be tied; otherwise, it should be tied with lacing cord [Figure 4-105]

Figure 4-105. Insulating sleeves.

Figure 4-105. Insulating sleeves.

Aluminum Wire Terminals

Aluminum wire is being used increasingly in aircraft systems because of its weight advantage over copper. However, bending aluminum causes “work hardening” of the metal, making it brittle. This results in failure or breakage of strands much sooner than in a similar case with copper wire. Aluminum also forms a high-resistant oxide film immediately upon exposure to air. To compensate for these disadvantages, it is important to use the most reliable installation procedures. Only aluminum terminal lugs are used to terminate aluminum wires.

All aluminum terminals incorporate an inspection hole that permits checking the depth of wire insertion. [Figure 4-106] The barrel of aluminum terminal lugs is filled with a petrolatum-zinc dust compound. This compound removes the oxide film from the aluminum by a grinding process during the crimping operation. The compound also minimizes later oxidation of the completed connection by excluding moisture and air. The compound is retained inside the terminal lug barrel by a plastic or foil seal at the end of the barrel.

Figure 4-106. Inserting aluminum wire into aluminum terminal lugs.

Figure 4-106. Inserting aluminum wire into aluminum terminal lugs. [Click image to enlarge]

Splicing Copper Wires Using Preinsulated Wires

Preinsulated permanent copper splices join small wires of sizes 22 through 10. Each splice size can be used for more than one wire size. Splices are usually color coded in the same manner as preinsulated, small copper terminal lugs. Some splices are insulated with white plastic. Splices are also used to reduce wire sizes [Figure 4-107]

Figure 4-107. Reducing wire size with a permanent splice.

Figure 4-107. Reducing wire size with a permanent splice.

Crimping tools are used to accomplish this type of splice. The crimping procedures are the same as those used for terminal lugs, except that the crimping operation must be done twice, one for each end of the splice.