Powered crimping tool equivalent to COPALUM tool

Thanks to everyone who's responded to my last question about aluminum wiring. I thought I'd investigate the option of using a hydrolic
pressing or crimping tool to add copper pigtails onto the aluminum wires. Apparently that's how aluminum wire connections are made by the utility companies.
I know there's a tool available and certified for residental wiring, called COPALUM, unfortunately the company who offers this tool has very strict rules and regulations, etc. regarding who can use it, etc. ... making it quite expensive to actually use, not to mention that no one in Canada is actually certified at the moment to use this tool.
However, electrical utilities obvioulsy have tools that they use also for such things. Hence I'm wondering if anyone could help me dig up some information on other powered crimping tools that can be used to attach copper to aluminum wire.
Thanks, Harry
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Harry Muscle wrote:

That would be "hydraulic"...
I've notice this pretty consistently and it grates on my eyes... :)
For ordinary household wiring don't think you'll find anything that would be practical.
I think what you've found is that the perceived potential liability has essentially prevented the introduction of anything for consumer/end user use. Don't foresee this changing.
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Sorry about the spelling. I thought the word looked a little off ... should have run spell check I guess :)
Thanks, Harry
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There are many crimping tools designed for wiring (not necessarily house wiring but any) that will work with #12 wire no problem. I have also seen copper sleeves (Ferrules?) for use in crimping wire in the electrical section at HD and other hardware stores.
Hydrolic is probably overkill if you are doing only one house (maybe if you are thinking about going into business but....) A simple mechanical ratcheting crimping tool will work fine. The cheaper one that come with the connector kits will not be able to give you enough mechanical advantage and the crimp is too narrow. There are many brands and can be found in the electrical tools section of almost any hardware store probably right next to the copper sleeves.

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PipeDown wrote:

You could make a perfectly good crimper out of a cheap pair of bolt cutters by drilling or grinding the right sized hole in the blades.
The bigger problem is finding crimp sleeves that are appropriate for joining copper and aluminum. Tin plated might be compatible with both metals, I'm not sure.
Bob
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zxcvbob wrote:

...
That's where I'd think the problem lies, too...and if one is looking for NEC-approved or equivalent as I thought OP was, that could be a problem.
I guess NicoPress would be one place one could start looking...we use them on electric fence, but that's not the same thing by any stretch as for residential wiring...
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There are indeed _many_ crimping tools and sleeves. But few of them are UL/CSA/NEC/CEC approved for work on AC power wiring. And secondly, _none_ of them (except the COPALUM device _with_ the hydraulic crimper) are approved for connecting aluminum wire to copper.
So, telling people to just wander into the automotive section, and use whatever they find there on their AC power wiring (whether Aluminum or not) is a very bad idea.
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See http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/knowhow/electrical/article/0,16417,562098-8,00.html

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Newsgroups: alt.engineering.electrical, alt.building.construction, alt.home.repair, misc.consumers.house
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 19:09:50 GMT Local: Wed, Aug 10 2005 3:09 pm Subject: Re: Powered crimping tool equivalent to COPALUM tool
See http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/knowhow/electrical/article/0,16417,56 ...
*****
Thanks. I know about those, however, even though they are UL approved the CPSC has apparently shown in tests that they do in fact fail under normal conditions ... hence they do not approve of them. Therefore I was hoping to find a solution that both testing agencies approve of ... the only one I'm aware of is the COPALUM tool. They don't seem to have as negative a view of CO/ALR approved devices (even though they do say that they also have failed in tests). But since not everything is available as CO/ALR compatible you're back to having to use pigtails, at least for some things.
Harry
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Harry Muscle wrote:

As I say, I'd start w/ Nicopress. www.nicopress.com
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Harry Muscle wrote: If you use crimp/compression connections the crimper has to be one that the manufacurer says can be used.
My experience is that solid wire does not work in a crimp (#14-#10 range) - partly because too much torque can be applied from the wire the crimp connection. Looking at a panduit catalog I didn't see any limitation on solid wire. Make sure crimp connectors are listed for solid wire if that is what you have (small gauge stranded aluminum wire probably does not exist).
My suggestion would be to use copper/aluminum rated wire nuts; crimp in small wire sounds like a pain. In general I look for wire nuts with a 'live spring' - the spring deforms over the wires making a tighter connection.
In the trivia department, in compression connections on larger wire, the sleeve is compressed so tight there is a cold weld between the sleeve and wire.
Bud--

(link doesn't work)

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Apparently the COPALUM tool I mentioned in the original post does in fact create a cold weld to the aluminum and copper. Which means the equivalent tool I'm trying to find would also have to be able to create enough pressure to do the same ... am I correct in assuming that that rules out hand operated crimping tools and only leaves powered ones?
Thanks, Harry
P.S. According to some of the information available on the COPALUM tool, it creates 10,000 pounds of pressure.
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At least it would need to be as big as a pair of bolt cutters if it did exist.
Any luck finding approved wire nuts?
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Small lugs and connector pin crimping tools, such as those by AMP and Amphenol for signal cables (e.g. 18 AWG and smaller) also create 'coldweld' crimps, using just hand tools. But for anything larger such as 12AWG and larger, I think you'd pretty much have to use something with a lot of mechanical advantage such as hydraulic.
daestrom
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the bottom line is that for the type of aluminum wire that is a problem, there is no real good solution. the tool is indeed never sold (only rented) and only rented to electricians and then only after you take a class and get certified to use the tool (and probably sign a bazillion waivers).
there are some wire nuts available that have some antioxidant compound in them but purportedly they are not a good solution either.
since you mention canada, i gather you are there and there are no certfiied users there anymore. that should tell you a lot.
the aluminum wires now in use are a different alloy than the small gauge wiring that caused some fires a few years back, so the tool used for that particular wiring is probably not appropriate for what you want to use it for. utilities do not use small gauge wire in any case.
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john weaver had written this in response to http://www.thestuccocompany.com/maintenance/Re-Powered-crimping-tool-equivalent-to-COPALUM-tool-21503-.htm : Harry Email me at snipped-for-privacy@tycoelectronics.com if you have any questions on Copalum or termination methodology
All, you should all know that in this business, you do get what you pay for. Cheap connectors are cheap connectors. Been in this industry for long enough to see the tricks people play.
Thanks John
daestrom wrote:

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ratching crimpers are what I would and do use.
The biggest issue is to find a crimp that is AL/CU rated. After much googling I found this http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml03/03120.html
"COPALUM connectors are available from Tyco Electronics under the AMP brand. Consumers can check to see if the COPALUM connector system is available in their area by calling the company at (800) 522-6752. To order a list of authorized electricians in their area, consumers can write to: Tyco Electronics Corp., Attn: Aluminum Wire Repair Program, P.O. Box 3608, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3608. If no authorized electrician is currently located nearby, consumers can have an electrician interested in repairing their home contact the nearest supplier of AMP- brand COPALUM connectors for training and other repair information."
Seems no one is going to sell parts,,,, tools yes.
Have fun anything that is this "closed" I have serious suspicions about.
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COPALUM is the tool I mentioned in my original post. Unfortunately, it's virtually impossible for one to get their hands on it ... first off you have to be a licensed electrician, then you need to get certified (apparently only one guy in all of Canada is certified, but he no longer works with this tools and wants nothing to do with it due to the costs associated), then you can finally get the tool, but they only rent it, never sell it ... way to much hassle and cost to go thru.
Thanks, Harry
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replying to SQLit, fish on wrote: Anytime there is s solution to the problem everyone wants to find a way to circumvent the fix.Aluminum wiring is a problem,cheap homeowners and handymen and Mr.Fix it ate bigger problems when it comes to aluminum wiring.There's a reason why you need to be a licensed electrician and certified in this process.Aluminum wiring because of it's characteristics needs to be handled gingerly with proper syrippers so as not to nick wire which is an altogether different problem than joining 2 dissimilar materials.Anyway would you use a janitor to to perform surgery or terminate high voltage cables .don't think so.I am an electrician certified with Tyco Amp for copalum remediation.I have seen so many botched jobs from homeowners and uneducated electricians when it comes to aluminum remediation using purple twisters and alumicon connectors because of nicked wiresand trying to jam more wires than the allowed by these 2 methods.Wires are burnt and then cut shorter because of previous fix attempt. Get it done right once and hire a qualified electrician.What price do you put on safety?
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I didn't see your previous post, but if you are joining two dissimilar metals, be sure to use a joint compound to prevent moisture from touching the connection. If you were to join copper to aluminum with no means of preventing moisture from bridging the joint, corrosion loss will occur over time. This is the accelerated corrosion (loss) of the least noble metal (anode) while protecting the more noble (cathode) metal. Copper, in this example, is the more noble metal.
The aluminum will pit to the copper leaving less surface area for contact. The connection could be become loose, noisy, and even allow arcing. These corrosion problems can be prevented by using a joint compound, covering and prevent the bridging of moisture between the metals. The most popular compounds use either zinc oxide or copper particles embedded in silicone grease. As the joint pressure is increased, the embedded particles dig into the metals and form a virgin low resistance junction void of air and its moisture. My electricians use nolox, but I'm sure there are other brands out there that work just as well.
just my .02 S.

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