Quantcast Aluminum Terminals and Splices creep. Aluminum has the tendency to actually move away from the point where pressure is applied. ">

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Terminals that are used with aluminum wire are made of aluminum.

Proper crimping is more difficult with these terminals because of such factors as aluminum creep and softness. Aluminum wire has an undesirable characteristic called aluminum creep. Aluminum has the tendency to actually move away from the point where pressure is applied. This is not only true during the crimping operation but also takes place during temperature changes. The aluminum wire is softer than the terminal lugs and splice connectors and contracts faster than the connector when the temperature drops. This causes the wires to creep away from the crimped connections, which, in turn, causes loose connections. The softness of aluminum wire also makes it subject to being cut or nicked during stripping. You should be careful never to use an aluminum terminal with copper wire or a copper terminal with aluminum wire because of electrolysis. Electrolysis is the chemical action that takes place when an electric current passes through two dissimilar metals. This chemical action corrodes (eats away) the metal. Also, never use the aluminum crimping tool for crimping other than the aluminum terminals. Aluminum terminal lugs and splices are not insulated, so you must use spaghetti or heat-shrinkable tubing for insulation as discussed earlier.

The barrels of several styles of larger size aluminum terminal lugs are filled with a petroleum abrasive compound. This compound causes a grinding action during the crimping operation. This removes the oxide film from the aluminum. It also prevents the oxide film from reforming in the connection. All aluminum terminals and splices have an inspection hole to allow checking the depth of wire insertion. This hole is sealed with a removable plug, which also serves to hold in the oxide-inhibiting compound (figure 2-17).

Figure 2-17. - Aluminum terminal lug and splice.

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It is recommended that only power-operated crimping tools be used to install large aluminum terminal lugs and splices. (See view A of figure 2-18.)

Figure 2-18. - Power crimping tools.

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The steps used for crimping an aluminum terminal or splice to an aluminum wire (view B of figure 2-18) are as follows:

  • Carefully remove the conductor insulation. Do not cut or nick the aluminum conductors. Do not wire-brush or scrape the aluminum conductor (the compound in the terminal or splice barrel will clean it satisfactorily).
  • Remove the protective foil wrapping from the terminal or splice and check the amount of compound in the terminal barrel. It should be one-fourth to one-half full.
  • Slip the spaghetti or heat-shrinkable tubing over the wire and back far enough to be out of the way of the crimping operation. Insert the stripped conductor the full length of the terminal or splice barrel. While doing this, leave the plug over the inspection hole. This allows the compound to be forced in and around the strands.
  • Center the terminal lug or splice in the crimping tool.
  • Actuate the power crimping tool.
  • Wipe off the excess compound. Inspect the joint with a probe through the inspection hole. The end of the conductor should come to the edge of the inspection hole.
  • Slip the tubular insulation down over the terminal or splice barrel.
  • Tie it in place if spaghetti is used. If using heat-shrinkable tubing, shrink with a heat gun.

Q.15 Should aluminum wire be cleaned prior to installing an aluminum terminal lug or splice? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.16 What tools should be used to install large aluminum terminal lugs and splices? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.17 Why should a lockwasher never be used with an aluminum terminal? answer.gif (214 bytes)

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