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In a previous article, we looked at some of the manually operated hand tools for crimping terminals and splices. Some of them would crimp sizes up to #2 AWG. Not bad. But when you get into the heavier electrical work, such as building transformers and other more industrial type work, a hand tool may not cut it … excuse me … crimp it.

Putting a Crimp in Your Style – Part Two

Steve Maurer, IME
In a previous article, we looked at some of the manually operated hand tools for crimping terminals and splices. Some of them would crimp sizes up to #2 AWG. Not bad.

But when you get into the heavier electrical work, such as building transformers and other more industrial type work, a hand tool may not cut it … excuse me … crimp it.

That's when you need to move to something with a little more power.

Of course, long handled cutters can still cut large cables with a little bit of grunting. Some will cut conductors up to 1000 kcmil in both copper and aluminum.

But when it's "crunch time," nothing beats a little power assist.

You have several options, and what you'll choose is often based on where you'll use them. Here are some examples.

Battery powered crimpers for onsite work
The first time I saw one of these bad boys at work, I fell in love. We were replacing a ground mounted transformer for an industrial plant. Once we got the old one out and the new one set in place, it was time to hook things up.

Because it wasn't an exact match, we had to shorten a few of the conductors. My buddy pulled out this drill looking device and proceeded to crimp the daylights out of the conductor lugs. With an 18 VDC battery, it had plenty of crimping power.

In fact, I believe that one could apply up to 15 tons of force. Very cool.

Weighing in about 16 pounds, it could be operated with one hand, and it was ergonomically balanced. I checked out the specs and it would work with aluminum as big as 1500 kcmil and up to 1250 kcmil in copper.

It could even be used on ground rods from ½" to 1" in diameter.

For use in the field, it's definitely a go-to device. Won't fit in your pocket … but definitely in your toolbox.

But what if you need a little more power or have a lot of shop work?

What then?

Bring in the big guns, Bubba!
Sometimes you need a little air, right? And by that, I mean a pneumatically operated tool is the way to go. This is really helpful if you're making up connections in a shop or assembly line.

A pneumatic bench press crimper fits the bill. The one I reviewed has adequate safety features and guarding (so you don't crimp your fingers) and guides to ensure a perfect crimp.

Once you line up the conductor and connector, a simple tap on a foot pedal starts things in motion. Quick and easy, and ergonomically perfect for you.

This type of tool is available for conductors ranging from #8 AWG, clear up to 4/0 AWG and possibly larger. The "jaws" of crimp accommodate UM, U, and W dies to get just the right fit. There's a cycle counter to make sure you do that all important preventive maintenance chore.

Back in the field with one more option
There is one more power source for crimping I haven't mentioned yet: hydraulics. Hydraulic crimpers are available in both handheld self-contained models, and in remote heads that connect to a hydraulic pack.

The handhelds normally have a rotating head so that you're not tied up in a pretzel, trying to get attached and make your crimp. And with both handheld and remote options, some use specific dies while others are die-less models.

One reason a hydraulic crimper might be used is that oil doesn't compress. No bounce back or cushioning is possible as opposed to air.

With hydraulic crimpers, or any other tool for that matter, make sure to do your due diligence and get the right tool for the job.
Photo courtesy of BURNDY
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