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Thread: How to Clean Corroded Wires

  1. #1
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    Default How to Clean Corroded Wires

    I saw this on another forum and thought you guys would appreciate it. I don't know how many times over many years I've scraped each strand to make a good connection. This looks way easier regardless of whether you solder or crimp to make your connections (ABYC doesn't like soldering alone so better yet, both crimp and solder).

    http://www.instructables.com/id/How-...es-in-minutes/

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    Very interesting. I have never heard of this method of cleaning wires. A tech from Sierra Bullets told me to try using Kool-Aid in a small amount of water to clean reloading brass and it works well also. I wish I had heard of this about 35 years ago. I am sure I could of used it several times.

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    I don't think it's a good idea to clean up a corroded wire and reuse it for the following reasons.
    Corrosion it not just on the end of the wire it can travel several inches or feet up the wire. The wire is being eaten or if you prefer rotting away and will have high resistance causing you all kines of problems, that is extremely hard to find.

    If you don't want to replace the wire at least cutout and replace the area that is bad.
    By the way soldering a wire will not stop water from creeping up the wire it still need to be seal.

    Good news, Polar wire carry heat shrink CRIMP and SOLDER BUTTS (connector). After it crimp, you heat the connector up this will seal and melt the low temp solder making a perfect connection.

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    I totally agree with MacGyver on this one. Cut the wire and splice it back until you find solid quality copper. Marine wiring is not like your car or house.

    Bring a full wallet with you when you buy the solder/shrink/crimps. They are sweet though - and labor saving. Unless I am really busy, I usually crimp, solder, and glue heat shrink in separate steps.

  5. #5
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    ...And always use quality marine spec. wire! Untinned copper wire has no business being on a boat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    I totally agree with MacGyver on this one. Cut the wire and splice it back until you find solid quality copper. Marine wiring is not like your car or house.

    Bring a full wallet with you when you buy the solder/shrink/crimps. They are sweet though - and labor saving. Unless I am really busy, I usually crimp, solder, and glue heat shrink in separate steps.
    What are the USCG regs on soldering connectors? I heard they didn't like it at all, but I've never seen the reg. I was told that the solder stiffens up the wire, and it can break with vibration. ABYC forbids just soldering alone. I say with good wire, and good heat shrink, you should be go to go for awhile, but I'd never consider it maintenance free. Stay on top of your wiring. It can really put you in a tough spot if it isn't done right.

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    I am not sure what the standards are. For the record - I have not actually read the marine wiring standards myself.

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    I agree tinned wire is the way to go, but it's not what is on all our boats or the electrical equipment we're trying to keep running reliably. I disagree that cutting back to clean copper with an added splice is better in most cases. Most losses are in the terminal connection so splicing back and adding a connection can cause more losses than it would avoid. If I remember my electrical engineering course (forgive me, it was over 45 years ago and I'm a mechanical engineer not an electrical), the current carried by wire is mostly near the surface, not at the surface so the black discoloration typically found that prevents making up a good connection has little if any effect on the ampacity (voltage drop) of the conductor along it's run as long as the terminal connections are clean and good. If you can clean it up and make a good connection, preferably using the crimp, solder and glue heat shrink suggestion above, I'd do it. Now if the corrosion is severe and affects the cross sectional area of the wire or could cause breaks in the strands, that's another story but I've rarely seen that on my boat wiring. If the insulation properties have been affected, and corrosion at the terminal connection could have caused overheating, that would also affect my rationale and you'd have to go back to get to a section unaffected by the heat. The fact is our wiring is not easily accessible in many of the boats we have (I sold my last boat partly due to poor accessibility of the things I need to get to) so getting to that shiny bright clean wire is not easy. Going back several feet and adding a splice connection in a spot you can't see is also asking for trouble locating the cause of a voltage loss in the future. Sorry for the rant here but I just have to disagree with some of the above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fish Witch View Post
    Sorry for the rant here but I just have to disagree with some of the above.
    This is so funny you are mad it me because I question the idea that a wire that is corrode it a boat need to be replaced. IMO

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    ...And always use quality marine spec. wire! Untinned copper wire has no business being on a boat.
    Balancing cost versus performances is always a factor. The best wire you can use is marine grade tinned copper wire. The reason for using tinned wire is there is less problems with water creep. If a wire is sealed or in an area where water can not get to the wiring/ electronics it does not matter what is used. Lot's of boat builders use automobile grade wire when wire size is not a problem and they still need the protection of good quality insulation. Automotive battery jumper cables and welding cable are also used with no problem again, as long as the connections are seal.
    Be leave me when I say if you seen the wiring jobs Iíve seen in boats using copper wire and not sealing the connectors is the least of there problems.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver View Post
    Be leave me when I say if you seen the wiring jobs Iíve seen in boats using copper wire and not sealing the connectors is the least of there problems.
    +100 on that.

    One thing that needs to be remembered when working on marine wiring is if its going to be in an enclosed space with bilge fumes and other possible sources of ignition it needs to be marine rated. The reason marine alternators and starters, and distributors, etc are 'marine rated' is that they have been ignition protected to prevent possible explosions from gas fumes and electric spark. Shoddy 12v work is no exception to this.

    That being said adding a map light or a red/green combo on the bow of an open boat presents a lot less risk in the explosion catagory, but still should be done with the best materials possible and in the best possible way as to preserve your investment and prevent the hassle of having to go back and correct things later that could have been done better in the first place. Nobody likes doing something a second time. Espescially when that time could have been spent on the water.

    FWIW. I have a 35 year old sportfisher. Its got dual stations and both AC and DC systems. There is A LOT of wire on my boat. I have seen much of it, and spent a considerable amount of time cleaning up contacts and getting things to stay running nicely. As such, I have quite a collection of different colored insulator tinned marine wire now. Whenever I am in doubt about the strand in my hand at the time, I generally err to the side of caution, and replace the run. With four tachs, four volt meters, EIGHT fuel gauges (4 tanks, 2 stations), and a bunch of other stuff going on, even slight drops in voltage or irregular current flow can give all kinds of false readings, etc. The risks that come with that is just something I am not willing to deal with.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver View Post
    Balancing cost versus performances is always a factor. The best wire you can use is marine grade tinned copper wire. The reason for using tinned wire is there is less problems with water creep. If a wire is sealed or in an area where water can not get to the wiring/ electronics it does not matter what is used. Lot's of boat builders use automobile grade wire when wire size is not a problem and they still need the protection of good quality insulation. Automotive battery jumper cables and welding cable are also used with no problem again, as long as the connections are seal.
    Be leave me when I say if you seen the wiring jobs Iíve seen in boats using copper wire and not sealing the connectors is the least of there problems.
    From a previous life, I have a little experience with aerospace electronic manufacturing. I know from experience that no matter how meticulously AR you are, it is literally impossible to completely seal any wire connection. And regardless of the quality of components used, once corrosion begins underneath wire insulation, it is virtually impossible to stop it, even in the clean-room environment with the best available chemicals and technology. Marine grade wire and components are specified for marine applications with good reason. Inevitably, electrical connections will fail at the least opportune time, when the chips are down, and loss of maneuverability or nav/com could mean loss of life. Just be sure to keep those things in mind on the warm, dry, bluebird day when making your cost/benefit decisions, and while working on your boat in safety and comfort of the harbor or your driveway.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SockeyeOne View Post
    +100 on that.

    One thing that needs to be remembered when working on marine wiring is if its going to be in an enclosed space with bilge fumes and other possible sources of ignition it needs to be marine rated. The reason marine alternators and starters, and distributors, etc are 'marine rated' is that they have been ignition protected to prevent possible explosions from gas fumes and electric spark. Shoddy 12v work is no exception to this.

    That being said adding a map light or a red/green combo on the bow of an open boat presents a lot less risk in the explosion catagory, but still should be done with the best materials possible and in the best possible way as to preserve your investment and prevent the hassle of having to go back and correct things later that could have been done better in the first place. Nobody likes doing something a second time. Espescially when that time could have been spent on the water.

    FWIW. I have a 35 year old sportfisher. Its got dual stations and both AC and DC systems. There is A LOT of wire on my boat. I have seen much of it, and spent a considerable amount of time cleaning up contacts and getting things to stay running nicely. As such, I have quite a collection of different colored insulator tinned marine wire now. Whenever I am in doubt about the strand in my hand at the time, I generally err to the side of caution, and replace the run. With four tachs, four volt meters, EIGHT fuel gauges (4 tanks, 2 stations), and a bunch of other stuff going on, even slight drops in voltage or irregular current flow can give all kinds of false readings, etc. The risks that come with that is just something I am not willing to deal with.
    Well said.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It
    #Resist

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Well said.
    Thanks.

    Here is some albums of the boat in question in case anyone has some time to burn looking at pictures or just wants to see what my main boat project has been the last two seasons.

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/#photos/...90245160425585

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/1...80668145505217

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/#photos/...50132914881329

    Anyways...... Sorry for the off topic tangent. I get a little carried away when it comes to boats.

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    I only use marine grade wire on my boat.
    I splice wires with a crimpted stainless butt connector I buy from McMaster.com I do not sollder connections.
    http://www.mcmaster.com/#butt-connectors/=py7q3g
    I cover the connection with di-electric grease.
    I cover this with heat shrink tube.
    I cover this with a longer piece of heat shrink.
    I use the di-electric and heat shrink on every wire connection or end terminal.
    There are a couple of plug connections on my boat. I filled those plugs with the di-electric grease.

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    I would cut back the wire to good/uncorroded wire and recrimp with a heat shrink butt connector. Otherwise I would replace the wire. Good Cobra-wire is less than a dollar a foot, and is one of the least expensive things on a boat. Cleaning the corroded end of a wire to reuse it just sounds comical and foolish to me.

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