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MG MGA - Bullet Connectors - The Bane Of My Life

During my recent indicator modification the biggest problem I found was high resistance bullet connections. Yet again this morning I noticed my right hand head light was down on brightness. This was traced to a loose bullet.

I always take great care when wiring these connectors but it seems my success rate is only about 90%. I have attached a photo of the type of bullets I use and also my crimping tool. Are there better bullets and crimping tools out there?

Steve

Steve Gyles

Do you solder them Steve or just use the crimping tool. I always solder mine with no probs.

AR Terry

I am competent with soldering but never had much success with bullet connectors. I need a master class in the technique.

Seve
Steve Gyles

Crimped bullets are complete rubbish! The crimps never seem to grip the wire well enough to get a decent connection and they don't even fit the rubber covered connectors properly. Soldered bullets every time, and if you are really keen, some silicon grease to keep the damp out.
Lindsay Sampford

Lindsay

I am happy to accept your comment that crimped joints are rubbish - I find that out all too often. But just saying solder them does not help me. As I said above I would appreciate a master class. I find getting the heat into the body of the bullet underneath the shielding sleeve is bit of an issue.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Steve, I always solder all the bullet connectors and spade connectors that I fit on my car, mainly because I have had a few crimped ones fall off!

It is not easy with the small electric soldering iron I have but I recently watched James at Bob Wests use a tiny gas soldering iron to solder two wires together and it only took him a couple a few seconds. I am looking to get one to keep in the car.

Colyn

c firth

Steve, Moss sells an excellent bullet to wire connector tool, part number 161 - 751, but its pricey at $169. It does make a very tight hex crimp on the bullet connector, and when used with the wiring installation tool, makes a trying job almost enjoyable!

George
George G.

S,
I think that you might be better off with what are now called 4.7mm bullets (as per original). Your image looks very much like what I think are often called 'Japanese bullets', but are certainly not the 4.7mm ones. If I am allowed to say it, I get mine from AutoElectricSupplies but others can supply, I am sure (search '4.7mm bullets'). I am no great fan of soldering: it seems to introduce an additional rigidity and potential weakness through vibration / connecting and disconnecting. There is a range of crimpers available, but as G suggests, a hex crimper seems good (I am sure there will be less expensive ones, and a good squeeze with pliers often seems to be good enough.
D
D Smith

PS, I use a crimper like the one to which G refers. It works well, but wish my handspan was greater!
D Smith

The insulated bullet connectors are best suited to use with their respective female partners.

The red bullets measure 4mm diameter, whereas the blues and yellows are both 5mm.

They are designed for different current ratings and wire diameters. One of the reasons for them being loose is that the wire is not a snug fit in the connector.

I use a lot of them at work, but I don't like to use them for automotive applications, preferring to use the original type solder bullets.

Dave O'Neill 2

I also use a Draper ratchet crimper, which exerts much more force and also has a wider contact area on the body of the connector.

Dave O'Neill 2

If I were fitting a lot of automotive bullets, I would buy one of these crimping tools. This one is sold by Autosparks for 40.50

http://www.autosparks.co.uk/electrical-components/wiring-tools/high-quality-rachet-action-bullet-crimp-tool-giving-a-professional-hexagonal-crimp-finish.html

They also sell a range of bullet terminals in either crimp or solder fitting.

Dave O'Neill 2

The crimp tool posted by Dave O. seems to be the same as supplied by Moss, but at less cost. The Moss item does include the snap connector tool, and a supply of three different wire size bullets. I think the key here is the hex crimp that this crimper applies, and this tool claims to have a ratchet action.
George G.

If I use those type of ballet connectors, I always use the male and female together. I also solder them on. I use a small lighter to heat the sleeve and remove and toss in the bin. I slide a bit of heat shrink on the wire then crimp to hold the connector on the wire, then use the iron and a dab of electronic grade solder. After soldering, slide the heat shrink up to cover the solder joint, and shrink. Leaves a good neat job.
... CR
C.R. Tyrell

Steve - First thing to do is get rid of the bullet connector you have pictured - I think that someone else said it - "they are rubbish" and I agree. Go to AutoSparks at http://www.autosparks.co.uk/ and get the proper bullets. AutoSparks also carries the proper crimper at about 32 and will put an excellent hex crimp on the bullet - you can also solder the wire into the bullets that AutoSparks sell - just make sure that the solder flows into the wire and the bullet (at the risk of preaching to the choir). You won't have any more problems with bullet connectors in the future - I make up various items to sell, such as brake light relays and use the products that AutoSparks (British Wiring on this side of the pond) and I have never had one of them fail. Also, be sure that the bullet is seated fully in the female socket or it can work loose. Someone on this thread mentioned coating the bullet with some silicone gel. That is a good idea as it will keep moisture from corroding the bullet and socket.

Regarding the crimper, it is a professional tool that is well worth the money if you do more than a few bullet connections in a year. Prior to retiring, I worked at the Trident submarine facility in the electronic shops. One of the shops was trying to find a crimper for some bullet type connectors in one of the systems used on the boats. I took a look at the connector and told them to order the one from British Tools, which they did and as far as I know, they are still using it. Cheers - Dave
DW DuBois

Thanks all for the very useful guidance. I will research with the vendors named.

Steve
Steve Gyles

S,
For the avoidance of doubt, those of us who are advocating 'bullets' are, I think, pressing the case for those without the trailing fold-over 'tails': just a bullet head (if I can put it that way) - a bit like an elongated .22 air rifle pellet (or possibly closer to .177 for the purists). The bullet itself is crimped at about the last quarter of its length, and this version has no fold-over 'tail' shown on some on-line variants.
Based on my own experience of ineptitude, it is fair to note that until you get the hang of finding the right sized internal diameter for the bullet / wire combination in question you may end up over-crimping / cutting straight through the whole ensemble. So you may want to carry out a few practice runs on spare bits of wire just to get the hang of it before going for the crimp on a wire which you cannot afford to be shorter ...
Well worth 'biting the bullet' and buying a kit of parts with a collection of various internal bullet diameters (in my view) and be ready to write off c.10% to experience with trial runs.
D
D Smith

Bullet conectors pictured above are rubbish...I agree with the oher two posters.

I noticed on some of the old extra wiring MGA harnesses I had hanging around for repairs....that when desoldering the bullets off to reuse them in a repair that they are not crimped and slide right off.

I found that I could cover the old bullet in flux or cleaner and reuse them with a new wire to make a repair.

Ive always found the to work well as they are much better then the cheap manufactured stuff today.

I use a propane torch to heat the bullet just enough to melt the solder put the new wire in the old bullet and add solder. Works for me everytime.

I found the flux was the key both peices being soldered must be clean.

Just my 2 cents.
Steven Devine

D Smith - "I use a crimper like the one to which G refers. It works well, but wish my handspan was greater!"

I was going to comment on your statement earlier but my 72 year old brain can't hold a thought that long. Yes, the handle on those crimpers takes a gorilla's hands to span the handles when they are open. What I do is to grip the handles down where my hand span will grip it and close the crimper on the bullet, then move my hand out to the end of the handle and finish the crimp. Cheers - Dave
DW DuBois

Steve,

Since I am too cheap to buy an expensive bullet crimper I have been soldering my bullet ends. The US Moss bullets for soldering (162-200) have worked well for me. My process has been to first flux and tin the wire end. Then I slide a piece of shrink wrap onto the wire and out of the way.

Turning to the bullet, I first put a small dab of flux inside and hit it with the propane torch or my soldering gun. From there I drop a very short length of solder into the bullet. Heat it again and slide the wire in until the wire begins to come out the hole at the tip of the bullet. Finally slide the shrink wrap into place, heat for a moment and you are done.

I am using solder which has a diameter that is slightly smaller than that of the bullet.

John
John Backman

Crimp tools made from flat metal plate have never been any good for properly securing a wire in a connector, they just squeeze from opposite sides. I have two ratchet crimp tools that also put a dimple into the crimp, which guarantees a perfect connection every time. I also try and use the correct solder connectors every time instead of crimping. I get much better results when I am forced to use the modern crimp connectors by cutting away the plastic sleeve and using a smaller crimp tool directly onto the metal inner. I also always use the correct diameter heat shrink to support the join and provide insulation. If you buy the heat shrink in five meter lengths on eBay it is pretty cheap.

The proper tool for the bullet connectors is also essential to getting a good clean joint without any damage to the bullets or sleeves.
dominic clancy

I appreciate all the comments. I was amazed at the response for a Sunday - normally a quiet day on the forum. Some good stuff there that will no doubt be of great use to others also. I am quite reasonable at fluxing, soldering, heat shrinking etc but have usually struggled with bullets. Plumbing house copper pipe water joints are more my forte! The other issue of course is that doing these jobs in an uncluttered 'rebuild ' car is one thing. Doing it (as I had to do yesterday) through the grille opening and back behind the 4" heater piping is quite another.

Worth mentioning here that my grille quick removal modification worked an absolute treat. It took me about 3 minutes to remove it to gain access and a similar time to replace. Then had to do it all over again 30 minutes later after finding I had disturbed another dodgey bullet while moving the loom around for access.

Steve

Steve Gyles

Steve, way down the page now but I wasn't suggesting soldering crimp connectors but the use of proper solder-type bullets. The brass bullets are readily available from auto electric suppliers but I find that re-cycled ones from old wiring harnesses are even better. Soldering them is much easier with the addition of soldering flux and you need a powerful soldering iron, not one of the little baby ones used for printed circuits. Gas powered soldering irons are quite useful for the job.
Lindsay Sampford

John Backman has it right. Gas for the soldering heat, Shrink wrap to reinforce/insulate the wire.
Art Pearse

There's a recent thread in MGB Technical board titled Bullet connector pliers.
Geoff_MGB


Steve the problem isn't with the connectors it's with your crappy crimping tool. Every crimped connector I made with the same tool was always suspect. I bought a high end crimping tool (Klein tools) and have never had a problem since. A little expensive but worth every penny.

Andy

Andy Preston 1

Andy

I am sure you are correct about the crimping tool. I am putting a good one on my Christmas list. That one in my opening post is the most commonly available one in the UK. I have always thought the jaws were too thin.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Steve,
If you need to recrimp urgently, I have a tool similar to that posted by Dave O'Neil on 4th October, if you want to borrow it.

Regards
Colin
Colin Manley

For crimping bullets,(the type used on our cars) you need the correct type of crimpers none of which any of you seem to have, this is the type you need, and are made by Ripaults, the people who make the bullets and connectors, the work very well indeed and hold the bullet in the correct position that is needed to crimp them in the right place, and are much better than trying to solder a bullet up the back of a dash upside down standing on your head, which takes a lot of practice to do, without melting the cable, I have had these over 40 years and have never had a problem with any of the hundreds of connections I have made with them, A.T

andy tilney

Just looked on the internet you can buy these crimpers made by ripaults for between 35-00 to 50-00, you can also buy a complete kit with all the connectors, and both tools,
andy tilney

Andy

I think that the red handled crimping tool, sold by Autosparks, puts the correct hexagonal crimp on the bullet.
Dave O'Neill 2

Dave
I think you may well be correct, I have not used that type, and not a bad price, Thank you
andy tilney

Colin

All is 100% at the moment. I am not touching anything for the while.

I am taking time to consider the options above. Some 15 years ago I ordered 10 each of various types of connectors from my local factor in Kirkham, Lancashire. Unfortunately the owner got the order wrong and I ended up with 100 of each. I have got through a good number over the years on various jobs and it seems a waste to bin the rest.

Steve
Steve Gyles

While waiting for the Vulcan flypast at Farnborough yesterday I nipped into Maplin and B&Q to look at their crimpers. Interesting price differences for what seems to be the same product as the Draper (blue handle) shown in Dave's photo above. Maplin had it listed with their own logo at 19.99 whilst B&Q had it in their own packaging but without logo at 9.99.

Tested it in Maplin. Did an excellent job.

Steve
Steve Gyles

We watched the Vulcan take off from Finningley Airfield yesterday too at 1.00 pm
(also known as Doncaster Robin Hood Sheffield airport using airport transfers sevenoaks! Phew!)

We were hoping to see it and we grabbed some seats outside in the sunshine at a nearby garden centres cafe.

It certainly stopped all conversation as it rattled all the crockery and made all the coffee cups dance around.
We were treated to a high throttle climb followed by a very steep banking turn.

Probably the last time we will see it before it runs out of flying hours.

I bet the connectors on the Vulcan were all soldered!

Colyn
c firth

I have bought the B&Q crimper. So much easier to work than the rubbish in my opening post. Time and time again I guess we all learn that if you want to do a job properly buy the correct tooling, even if it gets used only once in a blue (or deep pink) moon. Trouble is, I was not aware of the better quality crimpers on the market. Not something I had got around to researching until this thread.

Colyn: The Vulcan pilot is Brian Withers who did the Falklands bomb run. We joined the RAF together back in 1965 and went through basic training together on the Jet Provost at Syerston. After that he went multi-engine (heavies) while I went the fighter route - Gnats, Hunters, Lightnings etc. Not seen him since 1967.

Steve
Steve Gyles

I saw XH558 over Gaydon, last week.

It was all ticket and sold out, so I popped down to Warwick Services on the M40.

http://youtu.be/01APJF3b0Bw
Dave O'Neill 2

Pardon a guest dropping in, but in reply to Colyn, I was an apprentice aircraft electrician at Woodford in Cheshire, the home of the Vulcan. I only worked on the Vulcan for 6 to 8 weeks and the connectors were crimped.

Admittedly the tool we used was of a very high quality and regularly inspected to ensure it did the job correctly, and the resulting crimps were carefully checked by independent inspectors before being passed for use.

The "plug" type connectors wires were soldered to the pins but when I moved onto the Nimrod line even those had the wire crimped onto the pin. I can remember the crimps used to connect the large cables to the Generators and Alternators used hydraulic crimping tools. No one had the grip to crimp them by hand.

Cheers

Tony
Tony Oliver

Thanks Tony,
good job nobody took me upon my bet!

So Steve, if crimping, done properly with the right tool, was good enough for the Vulcan.......!

Colyn
c firth

Colyn

Probably why it is being retired at the end of the month. No one left who knows how to crimp the electrics!

Steve
Steve Gyles

If I recall correctly, she's finally being grounded due to the safe life design limit expiring on the wing spar and one has never been replaced nor does one exist, coupled with the 3 technical authorities behind her don't want to underwrite the effort. Let alone anyone finding the funds.

The "Vulcan to the Sky" trust managed to eak out another year on engine life by reducing the thrust limit, thus saving engine hours/cycles. That gave us 2015's season.


Regards
Colin
Colin Manley

Steve: does the crimper you found at B&Q do bullet connectors? It looks, from the picture that is does spades but can't see the usual hexagonal crimp needed for bullets - at least not for the old fashioned style bullets rather than these newfangled things
Graeme W

Graeme

Mine does not have the hexagonal crimp. However, all my millions of bullets and spades have the same cylindrical profile for crimping. I will post a finished crimp tomorrow. About to watch Strictly Come Dancing, then Rugby!!!

Steve

Steve Gyles

So did it turn out to be a good evening Steve?
Graeme W

Graeme

Picture of subject crimper pattern attached. Certainly a good improvement on my rubbish crimping tool in the opener with a tighter and neater crimping pattern.

Fell asleep in dancing. Rugby was bit of a walk over, the Kiwis trouncing France. Best TV was the Goooners beating Watford!

Steve

Steve Gyles

THat looks great Steve. It's the bullets - at least, the old-style-like-I-used-in-the-60's bullets that I have a problem with.
However, I think it was in this post that someone explained how to solder them correctly. I had not tried cutting of a bit of solder and dropping it inside - that might work for me because my current method isn't too successful.
Graeme W

This thread was discussed between 04/10/2015 and 19/10/2015

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