Introduction: How to Do a Western Union Splice

This the solder splice that offers the least resistance I've ever found : less than a hundred micro ohms! My Ohmmeter doesn't read less than that, so I'm happy with it.

It's quite easy to do and offers great mechanical resistance for virtually no electrical resistance :)

Step 1: Wire Wrapping

First you want to remove a good 5 cm (2 inches) of insulant on the wires, then twist them on themselves to make a single thick brand.

There's a great scheme here that came from wikipedia and sums up the following:

1) Fold in the middle and give one or two turns

2) Wrap tightly around the other wire using pliers or your fingers if you feel strong today

Step 2: Drown It in Solder

Finally, heat the wires with the tip of the soldering iron and then apply the solder by touching the wires with your soldering wire.

Once the whole thing is soaked in solder, you're done!

You can easily slide on a piece of heatshrink and the splice should withstand the strongest of tugs while guaranteeing incredicle electrical contact.

Comments

author
LawrenceH8 (author)2016-08-12

Use detail "D" with no solder. IF wrapped tightly, ZERO air will get between the wires (non visible part. Solder WILL provide a Breakpoint - at each end! This splice is well over 100 Years old and works every time - IF TIGHT! There is also a "T" splice also. I have provided many links to this, for many years. Search; "Western Union Splice" and/or "W.U. Tee Splice". Soldering needs to be quick - Use a Weller Expert (model 4100 for example) 100/140 Watt Gun. Clean tip, apply a bit of rosin core solder THEN touch the wire, add a bit of solder. remove gun. Antennas and wires that move or are in Tension, should NOT be soldered! As that is were the break WILL OCCUR. I've used this method - since 1957 - wires are STILL shinny, where they were TIGHTLY wrapped = virtually ZERO OHMS. NASA approved!!!

author
rictic (author)2016-08-11

There is also this Heatshrink solder splice connector. Heat shrink tube with solder inside. Only ever used it when I was training 40 years ago. http://www.calcentron.com/Pages/elektralink/elektralink_sealed_solder_splice_kits.php

author
JohnH513 (author)2016-08-09

Remember to slide enough heatshrink tubing onto one end before soldering, or use heat shrink tape.

author
GeoffN4 (author)JohnH5132016-08-09

Let it cool before you slide the heatshrink on, otherwise it will shrink before you get it in place.

author
Rick velocity (author)GeoffN42016-08-10

No kidding!

author

Chill bro, this is s a place for learning, and some folks might not think of this little "Gem" that GeoffN4 dropped on us. A lot of folks don't have your years in soldering and electronics, I do, but not everyone has.

author

Thank you. Took the words right out of my mouth. I didn't know about this before, but I'm thirsty for knowledge! ? Soldering.....I think in Girl Scouts we used a soldering gun. But for sure once or twice in middle school technology. ? Thanks to anyone with constructive criticism and willingness to share your knowledge. ????

author
John T MacF Mood (author)GeoffN42016-08-10

Very good point, GeoffN4 Keep them coming! (Your good commments that is!)

author
mdeloor (author)JohnH5132016-08-09

Wait a second...did you just say that there's heat shrink TAPE? I've only ever seen/used the tubes. Where can I find the heat shrink tape? I prefer the tubes, but there have been a few times when the tape would have come in very handy!

Nice *ible* by the way!

Been doing my splices like this since high school ? and that's going back more than just a few decades!?

author
gcabelo (author)mdeloor2016-08-10

Here is an example

http://www.coolice.com.au/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=7675

author
JohnH513 (author)mdeloor2016-08-10

Hadn't seen in a while, but my quick amazon look showed some examples.

author
AngeloG28 (author)2016-08-10

the splice part is easy, but if you dont know how to solder ( like the guy in the pic) youll come up with a cold solder joint, this will corrode!

author
sappha58 (author)2016-08-10

I didn't know this had a name! My father taught it to me when I was a child, doing electronics projects.

author
KimberlyL45 (author)2016-08-09

This is my favorite splice - it is very strong/secure, very compact, and has the potential for cold welds to be created (you are essentially wirewrapping two wires together) with the solder shielding the splice from corrosion.

It drives me nuts when people use crimp connectors (escpecially scotchlock splicers) or do a butt splice; strip the ends, put the wires together so they're both facing the same direction and twist them together, so when you lay the line back out, the splice is jutting off to the side (which seems to be the most common method - especially when hacks cut the stock wiring harness to install car audio and alarm systems). Just what the heck are you people doing? Put down that soldering iron, step back from the vehicle and never hack apart a wiring harness again. Ever.

Also, what John said. Forgetting to slide the heat shrink tubing on before making these splices is the worst!

author
Johanna_W (author)KimberlyL452016-08-09

This is actually kind of funny to me, I work for the oldest and largest telecommunications company on the internet installation side and scotchlocks are all that are used - primarily because it is a time and weather proofing thing.

author
KimberlyL45 (author)Johanna_W2016-08-09

For phone signals, sure. I have no problem with the 110 and similar terminal blocks or even crimp connectors. Phone systems are very low current and there is little risk involved.

I've seen those crimp connectors misused for power for CCTV and AV systems, in autosound systems, and in higher power applications as well.

Also when I went to insure a ZR-1 Corvette, the insurance company required me to have an aftermarket alarm installed. They would not insure if I installed it myself (they demanded a receipt, not just a demonstration at an insurance agent), so I had a shop install it. What did they use? Scotchlock splice connectors. Guess what? They killed the car - after a little over a year the computer started acting up, it intermittently would not start, etc. - after ripping out the dash I discovered their hack job. I was pissed - PISSED - that they basically ruined a wiring harness in an exotic car.

author
jamesrook (author)KimberlyL452016-08-10

Not defending a hack job by the installers by any means here but, installing any aftermarket electronics in today's vehicles requires specialized knowledge and equipment specifically designed to be compatible. LANs and CANs and PCMs and ECMs and all sorts of relays and computers all interact with each other and are dependent on very precise data and feedback. Tapping into the wrong wire or system can wreak havoc. Not saying you can't install aftermarket electronics but you need to be very careful and do research on the product and the installers.

author

KimberlyL45 :

You could not be more RIGHT.... I hate quick connects. if you're going to do it, work so you don't have to go in a again later and fix your work, or that of some rookie who uses those damnable quick connect plastic crap things.

author
paulbsa (author)2016-08-09

Step #1 needs to be slide the heat shrink tubing down one length of wire before splicing them together. I don't know how many times I've forgotten to do that first.

author
KISELIN (author)paulbsa2016-08-10

Me too. appr. 3 times of 10 I forget the shrinking tube.Me worked on industrial & telecom for decades, (now retiered). In the industrial we "allways" used a heatshrink that had glue inside the tube. This glue melted at the same temperature as the shrink, thus giving an absolutely isolation against water and so. Can't find these shrinks anymore? anyone? Course they'll be much more expencive..... but anyway.

author
rlstanton (author)KISELIN2016-08-10

Harbor Freight has what they call "Marine Heat Shrink Tubes" that have the adhesive lining, shriks at 257f and it shrinks to 1/3 original size!

author
irootsk (author)paulbsa2016-08-09

Well...you are not alone :)

author
skylane (author)2016-08-09

I remember learning this splice along with others in the 9th grade "Electricity" class.

It's always been my favorite splice. Probably because I could imagine those workers up there on a pole repairing wires in the hot sun, cold wind, etc. The properly done splices never failed.

The Western Union / Lineman's splice wasn't designed to be soldered. It's design would tighten with tension from the wire and with age and the connection would improve due to the cold flow of the metal.

Soldering copper wire will anneal the wire, softening it and make it weaker at that spot. That's why we often see photos of how "the joint is stronger that the wire", the wire is broken right next to the joint... weakened from the soldering.

However, not many people these days are splicing tension wires with this splice.

author
thoms_here (author)2016-08-09

Anyone doing DIY electrical work should learn and do this splice. There are some very good YouTube videos of DIY "Nasa" certified splices as well. Just look it up in the search box.

author
HumanJHawkins (author)2016-08-09

In the line drawing at the top, getting from steps A through D is clear. But what exactly happened between D and E, and then between E and F? And how is it improved to solder at point E or F over simply soldering at point D in the drawing? Thanks.

author
ctlarson (author)HumanJHawkins2016-08-09

E and F are style variations of D, and it isn't.

author
blamothe (author)2016-08-09

I've been doing for decades and didn't know it had a name until this Instructable. It's my favorite splice, it keeps my wiring neat and professional looking. I never use butt connectors, only solder.

author
GTElectro (author)2016-08-09

With stranded wire flatten out the strands at crossover point and wind flat to make neater joint that does not have lumps under heatshrink when it is finished.

Just use the barrel of soldering iron to heat the heatshrink.

author
John T MacF Mood (author)2016-08-09

I do think your splice would not ever fail, the wire around it might break but it's done very strong. KUDOS on that!

author
John T MacF Mood (author)2016-08-09

One of the best things about your Instructable it is very well done. Excellent technique. And the cautions about running the shrink wrap onto the wire before you get all wrapped up in performing the joint & solder are well placed! I have no doubt that is because we all may have forgotten and have had to start over. (The best teacher is your own mistakes, at times.)

Two points,: #1: Never try to quick cool a solder joint with water or anything else. It doesn't add to strength and may add more chance of developing corrosion and "cold" joints. I just never do it. (My Grandfather was a lineman for a power and later a communications utility company.) He was an old school expert and taught me the Western Union splice when I was a very young boy. (You didn't mention this, but it does bear mentioning. I've seen rookie soldering 'experts' do it and cringed.)

Telecommunications both voice and Morse code, in the old days was always a pair of wires bringing me to point #2: the idea behind PART of that Western Union technique was to make a paired wire splice with the two joints offset by at least an inch or two to avoid possible short circuits if insulation failed due to friction. I don't see mention of that at all... It is in the Western Union manuals.

Offset!

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Bio: I'm a French student of chemistry who enjoys woodworking, tiny crafts and tinkering as pastimes.
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