Over the last year, Jeremy Goodspeed has become an asset to 1967beetle.com. Here’s another fantastic article from Jeremy in regards to wiring connector basics. If you’re doing electrical work on a vintage Volkswagen, go ahead and pick up this fantastic non insulated German electrical connector crimp tool he’s been able to bring to the market.
After many years of use, even the best electrical connections can develop resistance or connectors can work loose, both resulting in improper conductivity. Anyone repairing vintage VW’s knows the value in using the proper connectors. However, finding both proper and correct electrical connectors when restoring or repairing an air-cooled VW can be frustrating. However, with some basic understanding you will be able to correct circuits and keep your VW alive!
VW used brass open barrel electrical connectors for many reasons. First, brass is very resistant to corrosion, resulting in long service life. Second, non insulated terminals hold very well and make great contact with the conductor. Third, by crimping the insulated portion of the wire creates both strain relief and keeps contaminants out of the wire. These open barrel connectors also make the most effective crimp assuring stable electrical performance. Generally these connectors result in a service life of at least 25 years. Also with VW making their wiring harness with extra slack, an old terminal can be trimmed off and a new one can be installed essentially doubling the wires service life.
The correct terminal is only half of the equation. Having the correct crimping tool is essential for proper installation. Over the years I have purchased well over $1500 of tools, some of which were as much as $150, only to find out the crimp jaws did not correctly crimp the terminal without distortion. In addition, a poorly crimped terminal has air pockets that will draw moisture within the wire strands. Moisture causes corrosion, corrosion causes resistance, resistance causes heat and heat causes fires. The usual fix is to re-do the connection by shortening the wire and putting on a new terminal. You can see where this problem will lead as the wire becomes shorter and shorter. So getting the crimp correct the first time is very important.
So after a lot of frustration, I made an effort to find crimping tools to properly attach open barrel connectors without distortion. I found not one, but two very nice crimping tools. The first is a simple tool that makes great crimps and can even crimp those tricky flag terminals for headlamps. The only downfall is that it cannot crimp the large terminals for voltage regulator and generator connections. But if you want a simple tool that does 14-18 AWG (0.5-2.5mm squared) wires this is a nice choice. The second tool was found in Europe and claimed to be the best tool for open barrel connectors. So I spent the enormous shipping fees and purchased one to try. Well it is truly a great tool.
Although it cannot crimp flag terminals, it crimps all other terminals from 8-18 AWG (0.5- 6.0mm squared). This second tool is more costly than the first mainly due to the costs of importing the tool from Europe, however having both tools is essential to crimp the whole array of open barrel terminals.
German open barrel connectors and crimping tools are available at: