Wiring Installation – Lacing, Tying, and Terminating Wires (Part One)

in Aircraft Electrical System

Lacing and Tying Wire Bundles

Ties, lacing, and straps are used to secure wire groups or bundles to provide ease of maintenance, inspection, and installation. Straps may not be used in areas of SWAMP, such as wheel wells, near wing flaps, or wing folds. They may not be used in high vibration areas where failure of the strap would permit wiring to move against parts that could damage the insulation and foul mechanical linkages or other moving mechanical parts. They also may not be used where they could be exposed to UV light, unless the straps are resistant to such exposure. [Figure 9-147]

Figure 9-147. Wire lacing.

Figure 9-147. Wire lacing.

The single cord-lacing method and tying tape may be used for wire groups of bundles 1 inch in diameter or less. The recommended knot for starting the single cord-lacing method is a clove hitch secured by a double-looped overhand knot.

Figure 9-148. Single cord lacing method.

Figure 9-148. Single cord lacing method. [click image to enlarge]

[Figure 9-148, step A] Use the double cordlacing method on wire bundles 1 inch in diameter or larger. When using the double cord-lacing method, employ a bowline-on-a-bight as the starting knot. [Figure 9-149, step A]

Figure 9-149. Double cord lacing.

Figure 9-149. Double cord lacing. [click image to enlarge]


Use wire group or bundle ties where the supports for the wire are more than 12 inches apart. A tie consists of a clove hitch around the wire group or bundle, secured by a square knot. [Figure 9-150]

Figure 9-150. Tying.

Figure 9-150. Tying. [click image to enlarge]

Wire Termination
Stripping Wire

Before wire can be assembled to connectors, terminals, splices, etc., the insulation must be stripped from connecting ends to expose the bare conductor. Copper wire can be stripped in a number of ways depending on the size and insulation.

Aluminum wire must be stripped using extreme care, since individual strands break very easily after being nicked. The following general precautions are recommended when stripping any type of wire:

  1. When using any type of wire stripper, hold the wire so that it is perpendicular to cutting blades.
  2. Adjust automatic stripping tools carefully; follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid nicking, cutting, or otherwise damaging strands. This is especially important for aluminum wires and for copper wires smaller than No. 10. Examine stripped wires for damage. Cut off and restrip (if length is sufficient), or reject and replace any wires having more than the allowable number of nicked or broken strands listed in the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Make sure insulation is clean-cut with no frayed or ragged edges. Trim, if necessary.
  4. Make sure all insulation is removed from stripped area. Some types of wire are supplied with a transparent layer of insulation between the conductor and the primary insulation. If this is present, remove it.
  5. When using hand-plier strippers to remove lengths of insulation longer than 3⁄4 inch, it is easier to accomplish in two or more operations.
  6. Retwist copper strands by hand or with pliers, if necessary, to restore natural lay and tightness of strands.

A pair of handheld wire strippers is shown in Figure 9-151. This tool is commonly used to strip most types of wire. The following general procedures describe the steps for stripping wire with a hand stripper.

Figure 9-151. Wire strippers.

Figure 9-151. Wire strippers.

  1. Insert wire into exact center of correct cutting slot for wire size to be stripped. Each slot is marked with wire size.
  2. Close handles together as far as they will go.
  3. Release handles, allowing wire holder to return to the open position.
  4. Remove stripped wire.

Terminals are attached to the ends of electrical wires to facilitate connection of the wires to terminal strips or items of equipment. [Figure 9-152] The tensile strength of the wire-to-terminal joint should be at least equivalent to the tensile strength of the wire itself, and its resistance negligible relative to the normal resistance of the wire.

Figure 9-152. Ring-tongue terminals.

Figure 9-152. Ring-tongue terminals.

The following should be considered in the selection of wire terminals: current rating, wire size (gauge) and insulation diameter, conductor material compatibility, stud size, insulation material compatibility, application environment, and solder versus solderless.

Preinsulated crimp-type ring-tongue terminals are preferred. The strength, size, and supporting means of studs and binding posts, as well as the wire size, may be considered when determining the number of terminals to be attached to any one post. In high-temperature applications, the terminal temperature rating must be greater than the ambient temperature plus current related temperature rise. Use of nickel-plated terminals and of uninsulated terminals with high-temperature insulating sleeves should be considered. Terminal blocks should be provided with adequate electrical clearance or insulation strips between mounting hardware and conductive parts.

Terminal Strips

Wires are usually joined at terminal strips. [Figure 9-153] A terminal strip fitted with barriers may be used to prevent the terminals on adjacent studs from contacting each other. Studs should be anchored against rotation. When more than four terminals are to be connected together, a small metal bus should be mounted across two or more adjacent studs. In all cases, the current should be carried by the terminal contact surfaces and not by the stud itself. Defective studs should be replaced with studs of the same size and material since terminal strip studs of the smaller sizes may shear due to overtightening the nut. The replacement stud should be securely mounted in the terminal strip and the terminal securing nut should be tight. Terminal strips should be mounted in such a manner that loose metallic objects cannot fall across the terminals or studs. It is good practice to provide at least one spare stud for future circuit expansion or in case a stud is broken.

Figure 9-153. Terminal strip.

Figure 9-153. Terminal strip.

Terminal strips that provide connection of radio and electronic systems to the aircraft electrical system should be inspected for loose connections, metallic objects that may have fallen across the terminal strip, dirt and grease accumulation, etc. These conditions can cause arcing, which may result in a fire or system failures.

Terminal Lugs

Wire terminal lugs should be used to connect wiring to terminal block studs or equipment terminal studs. No more than four terminal lugs, or three terminal lugs and a bus bar, should be connected to any one stud. The total number of terminal lugs per stud includes a common bus bar joining adjacent studs. Four terminal lugs plus a common bus bar are not permitted on one stud. Terminal lugs should be selected with a stud hole diameter that matches the diameter of the stud. However, when the terminal lugs attached to a stud vary in diameter, the greatest diameter should be placed on the bottom and the smallest diameter on top. Tightening terminal connections should not deform the terminal lugs or the studs. Terminal lugs should be positioned so that bending of the terminal lug is not required to remove the fastening screw or nut, and movement of the terminal lugs tends to tighten the connection.

Copper Wire Terminals

Solderless crimp-style, copper wire, terminal lugs may be used which conform to MIL-T-7928. Spacers or washers should not be used between the tongues of terminal lugs. [Figure 9-154]

Figure 9-154. Wire terminal.

Figure 9-154. Wire terminal.

Aluminum Wire Terminals

The aluminum terminal lugs should be crimped to aluminum wire only. The tongue of the aluminum terminal lugs, or the total number of tongues of aluminum terminal lugs when stacked, should be sandwiched between two flat washers when terminated on terminal studs. Spacers or washers should not be used between the tongues of terminal lugs. Special attention should be given to aluminum wire and cable installations to guard against conditions that would result in excessive voltage drop and high resistance at junctions that may ultimately lead to failure of the junction. Examples of such conditions are improper installation of terminals and washers, improper torsion (torquing of nuts), and inadequate terminal contact areas.

Pre-Insulated Splices

Pre-insulated terminal lugs and splices must be installed using a high-quality crimping tool. Such tools are provided with positioners for the wire size and are adjusted for each wire size. It is essential that the crimp depth be appropriate for each wire size. If the crimp is too deep, it may break or cut individual strands. If the crimp is not deep enough, it may not be tight enough to retain the wire in the terminal or connector. Crimps that are not tight enough are also susceptible to high resistance due to corrosion buildup between the crimped terminal and the wire. [Figure 9-155]

Figure 9-155. Terminal splices.

Figure 9-155. Terminal splices.

Crimping Tools

Hand, portable, and stationary power tools are available for crimping terminal lugs. These tools crimp the barrel to the conductor, and simultaneously form the insulation support to the wire insulation. [Figure 9-156]

Figure 9-156. Crimping pliers.

Figure 9-156. Crimping pliers.