Pick Your Crimper
I own both the Ancor hammer crimper and the FTZ 94284. 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 really don't use my Ancor hammer crimper much because the FTZ rotating die crimper is just that much better for not that much more money. The Ancor makes a "dimple crimp" which can damage conductors and still not make the best electrical connection. When I am crimping cables that will start 800HP diesels there is simply no room for a "dimple crimper" in my tool box.
I consider the Ancor tool an emergency, get you home, tool. Nice to own if you have extra boat bucks floating around but not a tool I'd use for my own primary wiring.. 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, there was a complete lull in any data coming out of them. I made three calls and got nothing out of Marinco.
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
sells the FTZ 94285 crimper, a ratcheting version, for $231.25. Genuinedealz.com is a very, very good company for marine wire, terminals and other marine electrical needs. I personally do not like the ratcheting version of this tool as you often need to re-orient on a boat and the ratchet becomes a hassle.
The money you save in wire alone, when compared to buying it from a chandlery, will nearly buy the crimper. As an example, as of 2-28-09, West Marine sells 2GA wire for $6.59 per foot, Defender = $6.99, Hamilton Marine = $6.03 yet Genuinedealz.com still sells it every day for $3.25.
When you figure that an Ancor hammer crimper would cost you nearly $80.00 and the cost savings in battery cable from Genuinedealz.com is so huge that the high quality crimper is no additional expense. This is man math at its best. Do not run this scenario by your spouse.. Wink!
It should be noted that the 94284, the non-ratcheting version I use, can also be purchased from Sailboatowners.com (LINK)
My favorite source, & the best price on this tool, is also local to me. KL Jack in Portland Maine (207) 878-3600 also sells this tool in the non-ratchet version for $169.99.
These three options give you plenty of places to find this tool...
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 tools out there marked for 6 GA to 4/0 GA wire that will not work correctly and do not come with the proper 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.
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.
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 cheaper, flimsier 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 avoid starter lugs when I can but there are some applications where their smaller form factor is a better fit, so you can't rule them out entirely.
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.
This is the head of the FTZ lug crimper. As you can see it compresses the lug in a circumferential manner (360 degrees) making the entire lug smaller and creating a true cold formed connection between wire and lug. Proper crimps lead to little to no resistance. A poor crimp can be a point of resistance and heat generation.
You can see the die heads have letters marking them. Each of these heads rotates and there are dies for many sizes of lugs.
Check For Depth
To get a rough idea how far back to strip the wire simply lay the wire next to the lug and mark it with a pen or pencil.
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