Splicing speaker wires

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by BrianRS, Aug 16, 2001.

  1. BrianRS

    BrianRS Stunt Coordinator

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    This may be a dumb question, but I wanted to check before I
    actually run the wires. Is there any problem with splicing 12 gauge flat speaker wire if it is not long enough to reach your surrounds? Anything special or different I need to do?
     
  2. GaryM

    GaryM Agent

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    Flat wire is a little more trouble. I try to avoid splices wherever possible and make sure if they are unavoidable that they are never in a visible spot.
    1) Peel back and seperate about 6" of the insulated conductors on each piece. Now cut off 3" on the hot wire for one piece and 3" from the ground wire of the second piece. (This staggers the splices 3" apart so there is less chance of a short between wires.)
    2)Strip the insulation on all four ends back 1" and twist togather then tin the strands with a soldering iron.
    3) Slip a 2" piece of heat shrink tubing over each longer wire.
    4) Twist the two tinned ends around one another (lengthwise, not in a "T") and solder each each pair of conductors togather.
    5) Clean the soldered joints with a 99% alcohol solution to remove solder flux. Let the alcohol evaporate and seal the container before the next step!
    6) Slip the heatshrink down over the soldered splice and heat it to shrink it down - I like to use a butane lighter which gives a clean shrink with no soot.
    7) Optionally, if the heatshrink does not match the wire color, wrap the splice with matching vinyl or cloth colored tape.
    Gary
     
  3. RonM

    RonM Extra

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    Gary...
    I've got to do some splicing myself and had planned on just using twist caps. Sorry to be so basic here but I've got some questions on soldering (only tried once many years ago):
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    2)Strip the insulation on all four ends back 1" and twist togather then tin the strands with a soldering iron.
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    What is meant by "tin"ning the strands?
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    5) Clean the soldered joints with a 99% alcohol solution to remove solder flux. Let the alcohol evaporate and seal the container before the next step!
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    ....seal the container?
    Thanks for the help.
     
  4. GaryM

    GaryM Agent

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    "Tinning" the stranded wire means you heat it and touch the solder to it and effectively make the end of the wire one solid piece instead of individual strands. This avoids the stray strand that may cause a short.
    By sealing the alcohol and letting the fumes evaporate before using an open flame on the heat shrink tubing, you avoid an alcohol-fed fire. (One should flambe' cherries, not one's self.)
    Gary
     
  5. RonM

    RonM Extra

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    Thanks Gary....so I need to let the alcohol evaporate but what is the "container" I'm sealing?....are you referring to the heat shrink?
     
  6. RonM

    RonM Extra

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    Gary....any help for the splicing impaired????
     
  7. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Bryan, Ron,
    Twisting a pair of 12ga. wires together gives the equivalent of 9ga. wire, and it is never good to solder wire this large. It will take a high-wattage soldering iron, and the excessive heat required to get a splice this large to the correct temperature (where the solder melts) will cause oxidation to the wire and damage to the insulation.
    The best way to splice large-gauge speaker wire is a crimped connection using butt splices. This will give a reliable, air-tight connection. Even a budget crimper costing less than $10 will do the job, using the proper (yellow in this case) butt splices.
    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
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  8. RonM

    RonM Extra

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    Thanks for the update Wayne....I assume the same would hold true for splicing 14 gauge wire?
    Will my local hardware store have the yellow butt connectors?
     
  9. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Ron,
    14ga. would be pushing it, but if you had a heavy-duty soldering gun (50-100watts) you could probably pull it off.
    But why bother? The soldered splice will be butt ugly when you finish, as will a splice using wire nuts. The crimped connection is in-line and therefore streamlined and much more attractive. Basically it looks like a speaker wire with a yellow section, not a big, black wart like you’ll have with a soldered connection with heat-shrink on it (okay, you can get heat shrink in other colors besides black, but you get the point).
    You should have no problem finding butt splices at a hardware store. If not, try Radio Shack or an auto parts store.
    The colors are referenced to different sizes of wire: Yellow for use with 10-12ga. wire, blue for 14-16ga. wire, and red or pink for 18-20ga. wire.
    By the way, twist-on wire nuts are designed for use with solid wire, i.e., romex. It will work if one of the spliced wires is stranded, but not as well if both wires are stranded. Typically what you find is that the nut twists and twists and never gets tight.
    Regards,
    Wayne Pflughaupt
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    [Edited last by Wayne A. Pflughaupt on August 21, 2001 at 04:24 PM]
     

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