American Autowire Crimp Tools
Crimper – Splice Clip. $94 Part number 500649
Crimper -Double. $96 Part number 500523
Not quite sure how to start this, either the background to the scenario or the tools. I needed to rewire my car, it was dead, had it, finito, duff, sabotaged, neglected or what ever you want to call it. I purchased the American Autowire kit and it’s brilliant. I reviewed it here if you need to know how I got on with it. Anyway, I knew about these tools and thought I would give it a go without them. I mean they are the best part of $200. That’s around £120, a lot of money for 2 tools. Do I need them, could I do it without them? Read on…
These tools are recommended by American Autowire to install their kits and made by Delphi. They can be purchased or hired, I assume that the hire is only available in the USA as I am pretty certain there is no scheme here in the UK to offer the same facility. Hiring is about a third of the cost to buy them but you have 30 days to use them plus 2 weeks grace. If you don’t return them they assume you want to keep them and charge the full amount.
The tools work in an identical fashion to each other but hey deal with different sizes of connection. They are designed for “F type” open connections. This is the open-ended uninsulated connection, for male or female various styles, for plugs or single clips etc. This is a close up of the open-ended terminal that has not been crimped yet.
What’s In the Box?
There was no box, they came pretty well wrapped to be fair, and yes I had to pay import duty on these too. Any tips on import or export? Leave a comment or email me.
I digress, you can buy these separately or together as the pair should do all the connections you will need for the rewire of a car.
What are they like to use?
Before I answer that, let’s go back a bit to the original purchase of the AAW (American Autowire) kit, I thought I would give it a go without the proper tools. I found some old wire, found the extra spare pack of terminals and started to play. I sort of managed to get a single wire crimped but that was with needle nosed pliers and patience of a saint. Result was it looked crap, I was hacked of it took me 5 minutes for one crimp. I wasn’t convinced that the connection would be good enough for the like of the ignition where massive currents could run through it. Did I need them?
Yes, in short.
I looked on the net for various alternatives and they basically had to have different jaws in place for each different type of thickness wire, or there were some generic I can do all crimps type tools. I wasn’t to sure of those as I didn’t see any reviews for them, apart from the companies own pages and they could be a little biased!
Splice Clip (500649) deals with wires 20 to 14 gauge, these are the thinner wires.
Crimper Double (500523) deals with wires 10 to 18 gauge, these are thicker or for double wire to single connection point when a spur is required, headlights etc.
They are made from a solid steel at the top for the jaws that fit together with very close tolerances. The handles are folded style with a comfortable rubber/foam grips on each handle. Tools are heavy from the weight of steel and the centre clips keeps the handles and jaws together when not in use for storage.
I will refer to the crimps as one until I explain otherwise, the principle is the same for both tools. You will need to practice to get it right, once you get it, it’s a connection in under a minute and they look professional. A nice rounded over grip on the wires and a nice clasp on the wire sleeve. The length of the wire stripper is crucial to the connection, review of my wire strippers here. The tool has a bar that keeps the handles together when not in use, when you slip the clip out-of-the-way they spring open to open the jaws and the handles. The open-ended part of the terminal faces up to the double curved part which forces over the legs onto the wire gripping it tight. The bottom part will then curve the underneath to finish the form and nip it tight, all in one action. I found squashing the handles together tight did not over crimp the connection as the size for the terminal made sure that everything was seated how it should be. With the wire itself done, flip the crimps over to use the larger size to crimp the sleeve and hold the wire in place. Both the wire and the sleeve crimps are the same process. A damn site easier than trying to fold over the legs in place with a pair of pliers I can promise you. To top it all the connections give you that professional factory stock look.
Where you spur of one connection to take a wire somewhere else you use the larger Double tool, place both wires side by side and exactly the same process, this time each leg holds a wire and then squashed together. A little more fiddly but rewarding once it’s done. Simple.
The not so good now, here you can see my hand (and I have big hands,) you can see the width these crimps open. This took me a while to get to grips with. You can’t hold the wire and terminal in place and try to close the crimps with one hand. The technique is to start near the top of the handles and just nip into place then move your hand down to finish properly. I don’t see why the engineering has to be so close, an extra 1/2 inch on the pivots would open the jaws enough and keep the handles closer together. If you have small hands you might struggle until you develop a technique of your own. anyway, that’s my gripe over!
Professional, easy and consistent results each and every time. They save time, guarantee your connection and don’t leave you guessing if it will hold or not.
If you are gonna do the job right, get the right tools! This is most certainly the case here where rewiring a car. I am glad I bought them to be honest and I will use them again. Will I sell them on eBay? I doubt it, as they are a quality tool and good at what they do. When and if you see them on eBay they go for silly money, I’m sure you will sell them without a problem if I wanted to in order to recoupe some money back. There is always people asking on the forums for them, and not just Mustang owners either.
1) They are pricey. Ok, they will last, but at half the money I suspect the company would still make a profit and sell more of them.
2) The vast gaping chasm once the handles are sprung free. The handles can be controlled with practice and is only a minor niggle.
Not many people sell them and you could be waiting a while or get into a bidding war. Buy your own crimpers and recoup a large lump of your cash back by selling them on eBay perhaps.
Rating – I struggled here a little as I don’t split rating for price and product, maybe I should. But, as the product and price go hand in hand both tools get the same rating. Cost and the awkward handles has reduced the score for what is a really good tool(s). I’m not so sure they are worth that high price, But on the other hand, I bought them didn’t I at their price, and I wont sell them on to get my money back. Look around for alternatives by all means, will they work effortlely? I can’t answer that as I don’t have the tool to compare.
Rating – 8 out 10
Additional tutorial link from American Autowire on how to use the tools:
Don’t I Look after you all! 😀