Please Visit: www.marinehowto.com
This old format has run its course and the new site is now up and running. Articles here will no longer be kept current, or up to date, and eventually this site will go the way of the buggy whip.
Please change your bookmarks and visit the new site. See links below.
Pick Your Crimper
I own both the Ancor hammer crimper and the FTZ 94284 pictured here. The FTZ 94284
makes a beautiful 360 degree crimp that is very solid. In testing I have conducted it exceeds US MIL Specs. A full 360 degree crimp makes a truly cold formed connection between the wire and the lug.
I also own the industry gold standard AMP lug crimping tools, namely the AMP Bantam Rota-Crimp #601075 and the AMP Rota-Crimp #600850. Hands down the FTZ is the closest performing tool to the AMP tools out there. The AMP tools are the tools I use everyday but they cost 10-15X what the FTZ tool does which makes the FTZ tool a tremendous value.
I don't actually use the Ancor hammer crimper at all because in testing I conducted it performed rather poorly. For a DIY the FTZ rotating die crimper is just that much better and for not that much more money.
The Ancor tool makes a "dimple" crimp, also called a "staking" or "indent" crimp. Indent type crimp tools can damage conductors and still not make the best electrical connection. When I'm crimping cables that will start 800HP diesels there is simply no room for an "indent crimper" in my tool box.
I consider the Ancor tool an emergency, get you home, tool but not much more. Nice to own if you have extra boat bucks floating around but it's not a tool I'd use either professionally or personally. Marinco claimed/claims this tool makes a UL crimp. However, when I called them and asked them to furnish documentation of this, or any other testing conducted with this tool, there was a complete lull in any data coming out of them. I made three calls and got nothing out of Marinco to support thier UL crimp claims..
If someone can get this UL documentation, or any legitimate testing data from Ancor/Marinco on this tool, please forward it to me.
As I always say; "Tools are free if you DIY."
When you figure that an Ancor hammer crimper would cost you nearly $80.00 and the cost savings in battery cable from a place like Genuinedealz.com is so huge that the high quality crimper is almost no additional expense. This is man math at its best. Do not run this scenario by your spouse.. Wink!
The FTZ 94284, which is the non-ratcheting version of this crimp tool that I recommend using. I do not recommend the ratchet version, model 94285, especially for working on boats. The FTZ 94284 can be purchased from:
is a very, very good source and one of my most a trusted and reliable chandlers. I buy LOTS from them.
The FTZ & AMP Rota-Crimps
So why is it that I believe the FTZ 94284 lug crimping tool represents one of the best values out there for the DIY or even professional electrician? It's simple, the FTZ 94284 is about as close as you'll get to the industry gold standard AMP Rota-Crimp 600850 pictured here with the blue handles.
The FTZ is an amazingly good deal & no one else has made a tool comparable to the AMP Rota-Crimp for anywhere near what the FTZ sells for. Sure in pull testing the AMP tools beat the FTZ slightly but the FTZ beats every single Chinese or competitors crimp tool I've tested it against using my 5000 pound rated digital load cell.
All one needs to do is a quick google search typing in; "AMP Rota-Crimp 600850" and you'll see why the FTZ 94284 is an incredibly good deal. Yes, the FTZ 94284 is now made in China, it used to be made in the USA, but in order to deliver value FTZ moved production overseas. If you desire the crimp consistency, pull out strength, repeatability & overall crimp quality the FTZ delivers you'd need the AMP/Tyco tools. Yes the Rota-Crimp tools are made in the USA, yet at a price of $1200.00 to $2000.00+ depending upon the source. Ouch!! Sure I love my Rota-Crimp tools & I paid dearly for them, and I use and abuse the hell out of them, but the FTZ is no slouch at all.
Pictured from bottom to top are my:
FTZ 94284 (6GA to 4/0)
AMP Rota-Crimp 600850 (8GA to 4/0)
Amp Bantam Rota-Crimp 601075 (8GA to 1/0)
Rennsteig Hand Held Crimp Tool - Red, Blue Yellow Insulated Terminals (for size comparison only)
Pick Your Lugs
This battery lug is the wrong size for this starter terminal post.
Pick Your Lugs 2
This lug is the correct size for this stud.
Flared Starter Lug vs. Power Lug
Okay this is where it gets confusing. There are many different lug standards. The two most common for marine & trucking use are the Flared Starter Lug as seen on the left and the Heavy Duty Power Lug as seen on the right. Different manufacturers have slightly different names but FTZ calls them Power Lugs and Quick Cable calls them "Magna Lugs". It is important to note that the lug on the left is for 4 GA wire and the lug on the right is ALSO for 4 GA wire.
*WARNING These lugs use DIFFERENT DIES. When buying a crimp tool PLEASE be very careful you buy the right tool. There are many horrible Chinese "knock-off" tools out there marked for 6 GA to 4/0 GA wire that will not work correctly and do not come with the proper sized crimp dies. You are then left guessing which dies to use for the flared starter lugs and which tool for the heavy duty lugs.
The right tool will have labels for "Flared Starter Lugs" and for "Heavy Duty Power Lugs". There are only two relatively affordable tools I know of to meet this lug crimp standard and they are the FTZ and the Quick Cable crimp tools. Most of the other tools out there are made for the industrial lug standard or rather pethetic knock offs made in China that do not even come with AWG dies and are metric..
Heavy Duty Power Lugs will always be marked with a color code and have two letter embossed or stamped into the lug. If your "heavy duty" lugs do not have these colors and letters they are very likely not the proper size for the dies.
Many People have asked me where they can get FTZ lugs from. The answer is Sailboatowners.com
Starter Lug vs. Power Lug
Starter and power lugs are VERY different. The heavy duty lug on the right is significantly more robust and has a much thicker copper wall. There is no flare at the end of a proper lug because they can actually bevel the edge. Due to heavy duty lugs thickness it does not need an external flare like the less expensive & less robust starter lugs do.
Even without measuring these lugs one can visibly see that there is no way to apply a "one size fits all" die to both of them. Tools that do not list the proper die selection for both starter lugs and heavy duty lugs should be avoided.
Power Lug Die Settings
Let's look at the settings for the 1/0 Heavy Duty Power Lug that you'll see crimped later in this article. The chart shows that you pick the lug with BLACK markings and adjust the dies to "E" and "A".
Please take note that in a 2 GA wire with a heavy duty lug the "H" & "H" dies and pink color code are selected..
Starter Lug Die Settings
Here is the same tool and the die settings for "Starter Lugs". If you remembered that 2 GA wire with a Heavy Duty lug took "H" & "H"/pink you'll see here that a 1/0 wire takes "H" & "H"/pink when using Flared Starter Lugs.
That is a two whole die size difference due to the quality and raw thickness of the lug. Same wire 1/0 vs. 1/0 but two whole die settings apart. Be VERY careful to NOT confuse flared starter lugs with true heavy duty lugs.
Once again true "Heavy Duty" lugs will be both color coded and die stamped. Starter lugs are flared at the end and simply marked with the wire gauge.
I personally try and use the heavy duty lugs when I can but there are some applications where their larger and thicker form factor is a poor fit. There are good applications for both flared and heavy duty lugs..
Lug & Die Marking / Settings
Industry standardized battery lug crimpers like the Amp Rota-Crimp, Quick Cable Tools and the FTZ have the die settings and the number of crimps required stamped on the crimp tool themselves. When you use quality marked Heavy Duty lugs like those by FTZ, Quick Cable etc. they will have all the information clearly marked on them as well.
Cheap Lug / Quality Lug
Not all battery lugs are created equal. The one on the left was purchased at an auto parts store and is cheap, thin & made of un-tinned copper. The lug on the right is made by FTZ Industries, generally higher quality than Ancor, and is thick tin plated copper. This FTZ lug is a solid connector with no voids what so ever.
Anatomy of a Poor Connection
In just this one photo we have; non adhesive lined heat shrink, non-tinned wire, wire stranding for battery cable that does not meet the UL Marine spec for number of strands, oxidation already beginning, too much exposed copper from the wire stripping and a rather poorly executed hammer type crimp.
While this fitting did and does work the question would be for how long, and when, not if, would it have let you down? It should be noted that this cable was only two seasons old, located in a very dry area of the vessel and yet already beginning to oxidize.