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Butt Connectors or Solder?

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Forum Name: General Discussion
Forum Discription: General Mobile Electronics Questions and Answers
Printed Date: December 08, 2022 at 8:03 AM

Topic: Butt Connectors or Solder?

Posted By: foltzy
Subject: Butt Connectors or Solder?
Date Posted: July 30, 2004 at 10:52 PM

I got a call while I was in the shop today from a customer that got his radio installed a few months ago by me. When the car came in for a new radio, the old wire harnesses were butt connected together. Like every other install, I went ahead and redid the wiring to the new radio using solder and tape. The guy called in today saying when he was changing out a burnt out bulp in his Saturn SC2 he noticed that I used solder and tape for the install. The customer got real irate and demanded to come in and me redo the install using butt connectors(he also told me he works at a hole in the wall shop that lives by the butt connectors and T-tapsposted_image). I straight up told him that thats not our standard, then asked if there was anything wrong with the radio. When he said no, I told him that I refuse to waste both of our time redoing the radio just to throw in some butt connectors. Due to the fact that wasnt what he wanted to hear I was hung up on, and that was the end of that.

So let me know all you fellow installers, do you use butt connectors, or do you tape and solder your joints, and why?



Posted By: auex
Date Posted: July 31, 2004 at 12:31 AM
Solder is definately a better connection when done correctly. The ONLY time I use butt connectors are on larger wires such as starter kills. Personally I hate butt connectors because eventuall the wire will come out and I have seen the wire pull out too many times to count.

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Date Posted: July 31, 2004 at 12:44 AM
I agree with you guys I do not use butt connectors. I use solder on every connection plus heat shrink and as auex said I have seen the wires coming out of the butt connector one too many times as well. It may take a little longer but it is well worth it. Plus I think that it is a cleaner look to the install.

Sound Pressure

You know you have the right amount of pressure when your eyes start to water! Now you've got Juice!

Posted By: NINsane18
Date Posted: July 31, 2004 at 9:59 AM
I used butt connectors on my first install, and it is a pain having to take the deck out a few months later to find out why the left rear speaker has quit working. With a little practice, it seems faster to solder anyway. Solder is so much cheaper than the butt connectors. I am still working on getting rid of the big dog roll of solder I bought 7 years ago. That would be cool to show that guy who was irate about butt connectors not being used the tug test (tugging on a soldered connection as opposed to the butt conn, and seeing which one comes apart)


Posted By: NowYaKnow
Date Posted: July 31, 2004 at 11:45 AM
I use butt connectors (company standard) when doing a radio harness or whenever else needed. Quick and easy.. If you tape your whole harness up real good the "theory" is that in order for one to pull out and fail they all have to fail. Haven't had any problems..


Posted By: archemedes
Date Posted: July 31, 2004 at 12:34 PM
I prefer solder, I've used butt connectors and they work ok for some things. One shop I worked at just twists the wires, then tape, no solder except on alarm installs, I thought that was asking for trouble

Posted By: TownAndcountry
Date Posted: July 31, 2004 at 2:08 PM

Read The MECP study guide. Period.


Posted By: GalpinAudio
Date Posted: August 03, 2004 at 10:00 AM
I definately agree that solder and tape is the best quality connection, the only problem I've ever seen or heard was the tape unraveling over time but that can be prevented by putting a zip tie around the tape.  However in my opinion butt connectors are alright too if they are crimped correctly.  We use both in the shop I work at.

Never Let Those Who Say It Cant Be Done Stand In The Way While You Do It!

Posted By: hotwire77
Date Posted: August 17, 2004 at 12:16 AM

 a crimped connection is never as reliable as a clean solder joint but to solve your problem with "tard" I would have agreed to use butt connectors only if he was willing to negate any install warranties since its not up to your shop's standards or mine for that mattter

 p.s. the worlds full of idiots and you just met another one i geuss

Posted By: Ravendarat
Date Posted: August 17, 2004 at 4:41 AM
Im a fairly big guy so whe I am working in a tight dash, like a VW for example, where the deck was stollen and the wires are all cut and set back in the dash, thats when I butt connect, but I never butt connect harnesses and have never once found an excuse to use a t-tap. I dont even stock those things.

double-secret reverse-osmosis speaker-cone-induced high-level interference distortion, Its a killer

Posted By: switch_hitter
Date Posted: August 17, 2004 at 2:29 PM
I use butt connectors most of the time..from my experience, as long as you use a good crimping tool, wire and know what your doing that can be almost as effective as soldering.....of course not taking anything from soldering. Another thing i do its wire tie all the wires real neat and tight so keep any perspective pressure off the connections.

2 Memphis HPO 12s
1 Memphis 1000D
2 Memphis 8s
1 Memphis MC200
4 Memphis 3way 6 1/2s
1 Memphis MC3004
4 Memphis Tweeters
1 Memphis 3-way electronic crossover
2 Memphis 5 1/4
2 Memphis 4s

Posted By: atwageman
Date Posted: August 20, 2004 at 12:21 PM
I mainly use solder and heat shrink.  If I do use butt connectors I use heat shrink over them as well to provide some strain relief and moisture proofing.  Also using a good crimper made for what you are crimping (insulated or uninsulated) helps.  Stay away from the $5.00 crimper special you find at autozone, etc.

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

Posted By: vdubmk4
Date Posted: August 20, 2004 at 2:13 PM
SOLDER, that way you will have the best connection there is and then use heat shrink to cover or if you must then use electrcal tape. Butt connectors can come disengaged and half the time not all the wire is exsposed to the clamp good enough. Solder you can't go wrong, well unless you suck at soldering, posted_image.

Fortune: You will continue to take chances, and be glad you did.

Posted By: switch_hitter
Date Posted: August 23, 2004 at 8:17 PM

I use bell caps, all of my installs are clean, wires tie wrapped, and like atwageman said, use quality crimpers..and you will be good to go....

2 Memphis HPO 12s
1 Memphis 1000D
2 Memphis 8s
1 Memphis MC200
4 Memphis 3way 6 1/2s
1 Memphis MC3004
4 Memphis Tweeters
1 Memphis 3-way electronic crossover
2 Memphis 5 1/4
2 Memphis 4s

Posted By: chasesaccessori
Date Posted: August 24, 2004 at 1:14 PM
I have never ever had a problem with a crimp cap or butt connector. Like others have said, if you twist the wires good and use a real good quality crip tool you'll have no problems. I also neatly bundle wires together and tie them up.

Chase's Accessories
Ridgecrest, CA
in business since 92

Posted By: dpaton
Date Posted: August 25, 2004 at 9:48 PM
hotwire77 wrote:

 a crimped connection is never as reliable as a clean solder joint

That's not really true. There's a reason that the military uses crimped terminations for nearly all of the connections in the F-16. Properly done, a crimp forms a cold weld, where the pressure of the crimp actually forces a very small, but extremely important layer of each metal to turn into an alloy of the two metals. Good crimps are gas-tight, which means that the wire will never ever oxidize in the crimp. Finally, in a good crimp, no solder wicks up into the wire and makes it more brittle. That's also why crimps are preferred for the multipin connectors that touring sound companies use. The're much more reliable when used in connections that take a hard beating.

That said, making perfect crimps takes the right tool, the right jig, the right crimp connector, and a buttload of experience (for a high yield anyway). I've done some mil-spec crimping and it's a completely different animal from the ultra-crappy red-blue-yellow crimps and that stupid GB tool you get at your local Home Depot/Lowes. It requires a connector sized almost exactly to the wire used (or vice versa), a crimp tool designed for that exact connector, and able to provide the proper amount of compression in the right places (ie, a die matched to the connector AND the wire size) and a jig to hold the connector, wire, and crimp tool in the proper relationship to each other. Machines do it best, because they do it the most reliably. It's pretty easy to make one good crimp, but you usually have to do a dozen or two to get that one good one.

Soldering is widely accepted as better because it is supremely easier and is successful much more often in the hands of beginners and professionals alike. That little blob of liquid Sn/Pb covers a multitude of sins.


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Posted By: mobilevt
Date Posted: August 26, 2004 at 6:15 PM

In the Emergency Vehicle business, it is critical to ensure that connections are done correctly.  Having a bad connection can cause a death of an officer due to lighting malfunction in a high-speed chase, a radio going dead in a officer down situation, the shotgun lock not operating when the button is pressed, etc...

I use BOTH crimping and soldering.  With audio equipments like intercom systems in firetrucks where 2-way radio are infused with other equipments, etc... I use solder mainly for two reasons...  the wires are too small for butt connections and they make good consistent, clean audio than butt connections.  I don't use standard heat shrink tubing, I use glue lined heat shrink tubing.

With crimp connections, I use mostly molex connections to enable servicing of equipments, harnesses, etc.  The rest I use standard terminals.  Nowhere do I make connections that also serve to support the wire.  I use proper sized wire ties, loom, wiring, and serviceability in the equipment with service loops.

I ground sensitive equipment direct to the battery and have a common ground point, I fuse as close as possible to the power source. 

I never use wire nuts (Nuts!), caps, crimp-overs, or T taps.

Sean - EVConcepts

Emergency Vehicle Technician
Got Freedom? Thank a vet!

Posted By: flynntech
Date Posted: August 30, 2004 at 10:02 PM

That is interesting, I was in the military, but I did not know that. I didn't work on F-16s though, so I wouldn't have known anyways!

I agree because CAT-5 and punch-down terminations are gas tight and perfectly reliable. I've done about enough of those to memorize A & B connection color codes and then forget it all over agian.

I just prefer to solder in cars because there is pretty much nothing that can go wrong with it. I'm sure that veteran installers can make perfect crimps like it is nobody's business. I've seen enough 'bad crimps' in my time from both novice and pro installs to be convinced that crimping should be banned from mobile electronics altogether....unless it is soldered too.

I'll throw a crimp in there here or there, but I've been soldering all of my systems since the beginning and I don't plan on stopping now.

I learned soldering in high school and one more class in college, I actually learned more in 3 weeks, than my entire time in HS.

One interesting fact is that NASA requires all of thier connections to be soldered. Since none of thier problems have been from connection problems, I assume this is a good thing. Go NASA!

Posted By: atwageman
Date Posted: August 31, 2004 at 1:57 AM
Yea NASA knows best most of the time.  They don't use wire strippers to strip their wires either.  They use a heat type stipper that burns the insulation off the wire.  That insures no nicks in the wire itself.

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

Posted By: Asmodeus
Date Posted: September 02, 2004 at 10:23 PM

I prefer to use solder when I have the time..But most of the time in my shop the kiddies want their boom boom and they want it NOW...If you have a good set of crimpers and buy good butts, and dont just slap the wire into the connector it shouldnt (under normal circumstances) Falter...Solder and Shrink tube are definatly better...

I just butt them and then Form the harness into a nice tight wad straight wad O Wires then about 2 Zip Ties and I'm done...

I have done this for about 5 - 6 Yrs now and have never had a single connection (To My Knowlege) Falter....

Making the World A Louder Place

Posted By: BoominRolla
Date Posted: September 06, 2004 at 12:50 PM

To me its mostly a time issue... the faster I work on a car and get it done the more I get paid in theory... I would much rather solder but where I am most people don't want to pay (poor economy). We were trying to do the whole solder of a harness into the car that way when the customer is done with the unit when we pull it out we just pull the brain and leave all harnesses and bypasses in... and have them buy new ones but my boss wasn't for it... We use butt connectors for all appropriate connections if its vats wiring in a gm car or something really small i'll use solder... I use solder in my own vehicle with glue heatshrink. Certain harness i'll use solder with to hold resistors/diodes better.

I also agree solder may be more reliable in the LONG run. but we've had installers using butt connectors and t-taps for 8+ years and no problems yet... I KNOW Y'ALL GONNA HATE ME FOR THAT!! Its not me, its my job... SORRY!!!


Posted By: /R7
Date Posted: September 06, 2004 at 11:02 PM
i think if i had to take one over the other, in any situation, i'd choose sodering, if i can pick up a friend of my brothers while hes holding onto a loop of wire i test soldered, and keep him dangling, i think thats safe enough to say that soldering probably would outlast any other option under these same or more extreme conditions.

now obviously 150lbs is not going to be put on a wire under normal circumstances, but if it doesnt fail then i can safely say it wont happen down the road :-).

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