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astroracer 09-19-2013 04:29 AM

Harbor Freight/eBay Hydraulic Crimper
If you need to do any large cable/terminal crimping you need to look into this dude.
I was holding off crimping all of the big stuff on the van (4ga to 1/0) until I ordered one of these hydraulic terminal crimpers off eBay last week.
Harbor Freight sells this for 70 bucks. I got it for <55 dollars and free shipping from eBay... :)
I got it yesterday and tried it out on a 1/0 cable terminal. I can say it worked very well and I am glad I waited to do these crimps until I got this tool...
Here is the lug I am going to crimp. As you can see this is pretty big. The tool comes with dies to do up to 2/0.
Excellent investment and it makes some nice looking crimps. I am going to look into hard mounting it to the bench. It gets kind of busy trying to hold the cable in place while trying to actuate the hand pump on the crimper.
I clamped the lug in the vise and tested the crimp. It will take a lot of force to pull the lug off...
I finished up the crimp with some heat shrink and called it good...
Of course I have at least a half dozen of these to do on the big cables and as many or more on the 4 ga. stuff. Should be fun now.

dogwater 09-19-2013 06:51 AM

I always wanted one of those. Its one of those tools that won't be used much but when you need it you have it. I usually solder any thing big.

astroracer 09-19-2013 09:43 AM


Originally Posted by dogwater (Post 1772346)
I always wanted one of those. Its one of those tools that won't be used much but when you need it you have it. I usually solder any thing big.

Me too and, by the time you get the lug hot enough, the solder wicks all the way to China up the wire. Makes for an unmanagable 2 or 3 inches of wire with zero bend qualities... This crimper has it done in a few seconds and leaves the cable flexible right up to the lug... :) I like it and it IS money well spent!

1971BB427 09-21-2013 09:14 AM

I own a Greenlee 1981 crimper that is about $350 new, but bought mine for under $50 at a garage sale years ago. They are a mechanical crimper, not hydraulic, but the nice part is they need no dies, and can quickly adjust to various size cables from as small as #6 stranded to 4/0 stranded. I've used it to do thousands of crimps over the years, and it does a great job, and never had one fail yet. It also fits in very small spaces, so easy to crimp cable without taking it out of place.

65ELCMO 09-21-2013 06:22 PM

I have one and it works good. As said before , money well spent.
I put the fixed handle in the vise with the head up. Hold the cable with one hand and pump with the other.

John long 09-21-2013 08:42 PM

I won't need to buy one. I can borrow Astroracer's. I looked at his profile and saw we live in the same town. :thumbup:


1971BB427 09-22-2013 08:28 AM


Originally Posted by dogwater (Post 1772346)
I always wanted one of those. Its one of those tools that won't be used much but when you need it you have it. I usually solder any thing big.

Soldered connections don't make as good a connection as a properly crimped connection. In the electrical trade many installation specs don't allow soldered connections because of the resistance, which builds heat, and breaks down the solder.

OLNOLAN 09-22-2013 09:11 AM

Not too bad for the price
Astro, Thats pretty cool for the price. If you priced a professional brand hydraulic crimper along with a complete set of dies, the price would give you a stroke. It appears the dies are cheap aluminum, if so, they will have a limited lifespan.

I agree with BB427 that a properly done mechanical crimp is perfectly acceptable. The Greenlee and Burndy adjustable mechanical crimpers are a lifetime tool, but because of that, you have to hunt to find one cheap.

Also, I usually bite my tongue when I read about guys soldering all their connections. Its simply a waste of time when high quality compression connectors, properly installed, are every bit as good. Soldering connections has it place on devices designed to be soldered, but 99.99% of automotive electrical connections only need crimp type connections.


1971BB427 09-22-2013 09:22 AM

The only soldered connections I do on cars is splicing wiring. I do soldered splices with shrink tube, and try to never use crimped butt splices in any car wiring.

65ELCMO 09-22-2013 09:25 AM

steel dies. Mine were marked wrong for the sizes. For home shop use it is good.

astroracer 09-22-2013 06:45 PM

Yes, agreed, soldering is not recommended but if there is no way to do a good crimp it is better then an iffy crimp.
Now there is no reason to solder or have a bad crimp. This crimper gives good results and is very consistent.
The dies are steel, not aluminum...

I modified my crimper so it will easily clamp to the welding bench. Frees up a hand for holding the wire in place.
I marked out a pattern for a couple of drilled and tapped holes in the head.
I will be screwing it to this piece of 1/4" plate with a couple of drilled and counter bored holes.
I clamped the tool in the drill press vise and drilled two holes out to .149 for tapping for a #10-32 screw.
Here is the plate getting drilled and counter bored.
Test fit. Bolted up nice and was very sturdy. This will work great when I get to crimping all of the van cables...
Cleaned and painted the plate.
This will be good to go and, if I need it do any crimps in tight places, the plate will come right off.

1971BB427 09-23-2013 07:56 AM

The key to keeping it all in place while crimping is to put the lug in the jaws and then just bring tteension on the jaws until they hold the lug. Then you can have both hands free to get the stripped wire into the lug, and start crimping it. This is where the mechanical crimper has an advantage, as it's single stroke function doesn't move things around as much as the multiple stroke hydraulic.

astroracer 09-24-2013 05:55 PM

Even though I am working 10 hrs this week I got out and did some wiring stuff tonight...
I clamped the Hydraulic Crimper right to the rad support and got busy. This little mod is turning out to be pretty handy...
I hung the relay box and routed the wires in some semblance of how they will be when installed.

I got the power lead for the relay box, the charge/power lead for the battery (from the back), the power lead for the fuse box and the power lead from the alternator all crimped tonight. Once I got going it took about a half hour to do all of the crimps. :) Having the crimper right there, where I was working, was nice!
These are some very tight crimps...

I did learn a bit tonight. The terminals I am using are rolled, with the seam at the top, as you can see here.
After I did the first one (which I got lucky on) I decided to pinch the terminals closed a bit so one edge is "tucked" under the other. When doing this the edge getting tucked will actually "snap" under the top edge.
This guides the crimp into a very tight roll. I think it compresses the wire about half it's diameter, just looking at it...
This ready for some heat shrink. :) I need to get some larger diameter red shrink (this is just the plastic boot that came with the terminal)... I could use black I guess but I am trying to make this stuff look like I thought about it before I did it.
Here is the power block I mounted last week with the cables loosely routed.
Here is a pic of the relay center with the cover in place... This will get painted body color so it will all but disappear after install.
That's what I did.

Dave57210 09-24-2013 06:04 PM

I'm impressed - very good work - nice outcomes . Thank you for the tip on the hydraulic crimper - i need to look into scoring one of those for the bigger stuff. I use a ratcheting one for the "normal" sizes - it won't release until the crimp is done up right and the ratcheting action makes it really easy to use, even up to the 10 ga wires.

1971BB427 09-24-2013 06:15 PM

If you get terminals sized properly for the gauge wire you're using, you wont have to do the modification to the barrel to get a proper crimp. Be careful not to over crimp and compress the wires strands too much, or it will fracture them and reduce it's load carrying capability.

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