Date: 2 December 2015. Waterproof 8 Gauge Butt Connectors (make your
This is the way I make 8-gauge
butt connectors. Should you follow in my wake realize it is your
choice. I am not responsible for any errors, omissions, overt or
unintentional mistakes, etc. If you want to be 100% safe get a
house. Or buy the "real deal" waterproof butt connectors sold in
retail stores. Thank you.
Do you remember when you got knocked down and broke
a rib it was an accident and nobody sued anybody? I grew up in
those years and resent mightily the implication that every
occurrence that is not 100% positive is someone else's fault.
During a recent project I was using
8-gauge wire. I did not have a long enough piece so needed to join
two shorter pieces of wire together. Aboard Seaweed there were no *butt connectors of
that size. Rather than buy the expensive heat-shrink variety sold
online I opted to make my own. These are inexpensive, easy to make
and work well. Here's how I do it on my boat.
*Butt connectors join two pieces
of wire together. They "butt up against" each other and a covering
connects and seals them together. For a boat, buy the more expensive
waterproof ones or make them waterproof yourself by the addition of
heat shrink tubing.
I can make
8-gauge butt connectors for lots less than retail!
Red 8 Gauge Heat Shrink Butt Connectors 10 pieces.
On Amazon I can buy a package of ten 8 gauge heat shrink butt
connectors for $20.
Instead I opted to save money and make my own.
First I went to a local hardware store and purchased some 1/4" copper
pipe. I bought a foot (12 inches) for a dollar. Also needed was a
small pipe cutter. I had heat shrink tubing large enough to go
around the copper pipe so all components were at hand.
mini-pipe cutter works for copper and PVC pipes
Ridgid 32975 1/8-Inch to 5/8-Inch
Close Quarters Tubing Cutter
←Affiliate link (and recommended product)
This or one similar that will cut 1/4" copper pipe
is needed for the do-it-yourself 8-gauge butt connectors.
Mine's an off brand however my usage will be such that a "Best
Quality" product is unneeded. Good Enough is actually
Mine was $10 at a
small-town hardware store. Just make sure whatever one you
chose will cut 1/4" copper pipe.
Side Note: Some of the expensive pipe cutters will
cut stainless pipes. This one will not do that. Then again,
I'm not cutting any stainless rails so that caveat is not
important to me.
These little pipe cutters are important to have if you use 8-gauge
wire aboard your boat. It's a handy-to-have item though I would not
rush out and get any in advance of need. When you buy your 1/4"
copper pipe, then purchase the gizmo.
Here's how to use
the pipe cutter: Look on the side for the
cutting blade. Line up the pipe at the blade where you need it cut.
In the following picture the blade is on the bottom. The rolling wheels are on the top
of the copper pipe holding it in place.
Turn the knob at the top until the pipe is secure in the slot.
You're tightening the black knob about the way you'd close a jar of
pickles. This is not a test of strength. The tool will do the
work for you.
You can see I've started the cut in this picture
Next, rotate the mini-pipe cutter around the pipe two
times. Then retighten the knob on top. Repeat until your tool has
completely cut through the pipe.
Once you have a bunch of little pieces
cut you're ready for the next step. Mine are
approximately 1" long, give or take. I didn't measure as precision
was not required.
Slide a piece of heat shrink
tubing on your 8 gauge wire. Strip off the plastic cover at the end
If your wire looks like this,
Your stranded wire should be coppery and shiny, not
dull and icky like the one above.
Yes, I replaced the full run of
that dark green wire. But first I took a picture while the camera was in the
The heat shrink is ready to slide
up and cover the copper pipe aka butt connector. Then a quick back
and forth with a lighter and I'm done. The wires are protected from
Sometimes I wish I owned a
ratcheting wire crimper however a pair of vise grips does suffice. A
couple of squeezes and the copper pipe/butt connector is firmly attached.
Vise grips are a wonderful tool. I use mine for a lot of things.
Slide the heat shrink up over
where you've joined the wires. Using your lighter move the flame
back and forth. You will see the heat shrink squeeze and enclose the
copper pipe and wires like a second skin. Voila: you're done.
Except me. I had to buy more green
wire and replace that awful dark green stuff on the right. That's done and now
another job is out of the way. Whew.
Vise Grips are galley gear too!
If you're fortunate enough to
live near pecan trees you will absolutely LOVE having vise grips
in the galley. They make the perfect nut cracker. Adjust them to
the proper point and you'll be cracking perfect pecans with
Stuff to know about pecans:
They start falling from the trees in Pensacola where my Kidlet
lives in October. Pensacola is roughly at the
Florida and Georgia line. The dark or oily pecan shells are bad. Light weight
ones encase papery pecans that are not edible either. The rest
are absolutely wonderful.
Most pecans are perfect. I'd
say less than one percent of ours were not edible. A half dozen
bad ones in a grocery bag full of yummy nuts is the ratio we
Using your vise grips to open
pecan shells does have an unintended consequence: I always ate the broken ones and so few break when using vise grips I was
forced to eat the perfect ones. It's a tough life, I tell you...
May your bilges be clean and your wires all in perfect condition.
Have you any pecan trees? Our old house did and I still
miss those trees.
Did yours have pecans this year? Ours only had nuts every other
In the Bilges,
Tate's Hell (dwarf cypress trees)
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Christina O. (Aristotle Onassis' yacht)