The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Tools for Repairing Socapex?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Coop, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. Coop

    Coop Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    Hello all, first post.
    I am the house master electrician for a reasonable sized BFA theatre program. A number of my soca cables are starting to age out and are having problems in their plugs. Due mostly to shipping costs my TD has asked that I repair them in house. I am a good solderer, but the high heat nature of soldering soca makes me want to crimp them. I have the budget approved to buy the tools I need (I know they are costly), but there is a distinct lack of information online about exactly what tools I need.

    I know I need a M22520/1-01 Standard Adjustable Indent Crimp Tool
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IAH37TG/?tag=controlbooth-20
    But I cannot find a reference to which turret I need.

    After the turret, I need the tool to insert the the crimped wires into the head. I again cannot find a reference to which tool I need.

    Then, which brands of new soca heads do you all prefer?

    Thanks all.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  2. JAC

    JAC Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Cleveland
  3. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    438
    Likes Received:
    485
    I didn't price the tools out but just want to suggest including precision wire strippers of some kind (I like thermal strippers), good lighting and a magnifier. Oh, and a pan/tilt bench vise...

    @Coop It's probably close to $1k for tooling and accessories to make this job easier. Note that pins, pin blocks, collars, shells, back shells and glands are not necessarily interchangeable between manufacturers/brands so "repair" may entail having different tooling and parts for different connectors. You may be looking at re-terminating a whole bunch of cables with new Soca connectors. How much is a Master Electrician's time worth? Unless you're sitting around with little to do it might be cheaper to equip & train another employee or see if a local contractor does this work.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  4. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

    Messages:
    6,253
    Likes Received:
    519
    Location:
    Illinois
    First question is are you a student or staff? If a student, you should be being trained and not expected to repair without training. If staff, you can probably get training from your lighting supplier - though the extent of their training could be less than you have as possible.

    Above molded plugs Lex, TMB and possibly others are nice until they fail due to stripping out, ground failures, voltage spikes or other problems. Use them a lot these days.

    In solder connections, assuming you have supervisors to certify your soldering you need at least a 50w solder station so as to keep the iron warm enough to solder 12ga cable - assuming the plug has not in keyway warn out, or you didn't have a voltage or ligthning strike in making solder connections become liquid in melting stuff and shorting between phases. Remember in soldering larger gauge cable, it's not painting with solder, but surface area important for proper soldering. The tip of the iron has a lot less surface area than it's side once solder is added to convey the flow of heat. Soldering Soco is different than soldering electronics. You are not painting solder from the tip but instead from the side of the iron's tip for conveying the most heat once solder bridges the gap. Someone to verify you don't have a cold solder is important here, or what you did adds resistance and potentially causes a failure which could short to anoter phase of power. This is not something to un-trained or supervised play with - it is dangerous.

    Old timers say, a solder connection to a pin terminal to say Soco plug, 100% reliable. I for the most part agree assuming the above doesn't happen in like a voltage or lightning spike, and your solder weld is a good one. Otherwise, you do get an overheated connection with extra solder shorting between pins. Such a termination needs inspection and approval in certification so as not to be a cold solder.

    On crimping... A four pin indent tool to various types of multi-pins if set properly to the gauge of wire I have never seen fail persay. We are talking over $1K for a set of hand crimper, extractors and insertion tools and possibly dependant on the brand, either you can replace solder pins in the insert, or not. Today I spent (Dealer cost) over 1.3K for a full set for a new brand of plugs in tooling up. Was told that was in part a one time tooling up cost for the vendor for their unique plugs (why am I paying that?, but your next set of tools will be cheaper.)

    Crimp pins are superior and easier to idiot proof than solder Soco. They are very costly, and at times dependant on the brand, a tool that works for one won't work on another. Beyond that, no company for 12ga/14 conductor cable has a good option for doing the grounding ring. Wrap a 1/4 in wide by 2" long section of copper foil (easily found with a CamLoc plug) around a 3/8" dowel, insert it into the grounding ring center and do a solder connection to center grounds with as little extra solder as needed. (Voltage spikes or lightnig spikes makes this in the solcer ground or solder to pin termination the source of liquid electricity flowing to a different phase conductor.)

    Mostly these days we buy pre-molded cable assemblies. Only because I don't have time to make the cables needed and in theory molded cables will last longer. I mostly use stainless steel Soco plugs (very expensive) - they don't fail from wear, but do in spun rubber insulator heads inside the stainless steel other parts.
    Good question I am debating, given failures with molded plugs, verses stainless steel plug heads we do, what is the best long term solution. But not a problem for most end users. My cables are toured a little harder than normal use.
     
    Dionysus, RonHebbard and TimMc like this.
  5. Chase P.

    Chase P. Active Member

    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    96
    Occupation:
    Freelance lighting designer, production manager
    Location:
    San Francisco
    On materials, get the same brand of connector to do your replacements as you already have on the rest of your cables. One of the venues I work at has a weird relationship between two brands of cables. If brand A males are plugged into B females, they're fine. Reverse the order (B into A), and the connection is weak and there are small arcs, carbonizing and connector failure. Both companies have stated that they _should_ be compatible with the other.

    I say better to be safe than sorry, a socco fail mid show would be a pain.

    PS: Has anyone else encountered anything similar?
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  6. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

    Messages:
    6,253
    Likes Received:
    519
    Location:
    Illinois
    No! not experienced similar in differences. Sorry but very interesting to bring up and for other observations of. Have seen voltage spikes from generator, hot patch, lightning etc, but never noted a similar to standards problem found on CamLoc type connectors with the Mil-Spec type Soco. A plauable theory, could some of them connected been a very cheap off shore brand?

    On same brand, great advice though for the most part other than recessed grounding ring verses longer grounding ring sockets, the same tools - for the most part. I do have some new tools and plugs/connectors on the way. One's that the vendor says solves the spun head problem. (Rubber inser spinning a few degrees inside it's alumium or stainless steel body.) That's a cause and effect thing often by way of wear on the panel mount and other matters. Stick with one brand or type of tools were possible, but in my case in trying to find an optimum type/brand... and many changes to the brands, at times it means many tools.

    I'm currently waiting on delivery of some stainless steel soco heads and bodies designed for 12/14 cable with more surface area dimples in the rubber glued to the metal head of the connector. This in fighting the spun Soco head. Re-design will also have it's own version of doing a grounding ring which I will evaluate. Had to pay extra for tooling on the pinning tools "next time it will be cheaper." Ha?!

    Anyway, in trying to fix problems I have been fixing for almost 20 years now, hopefully there is a new Soco plug type coming to market. I will test the heck out of it before I put my name to a recommendation or brand of it.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  7. Coop

    Coop Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    Thank you all for the thoughts. Replies to various questions, and one more question.

    @TimMc - I am about to have a month over winter break where I have 30 hour weeks and not much to do. So I think it is currently worth my time.
    @ship - I am a staff member. I am very good at conventional wiring, but have not wired a Soca head (yet). Quick question for you. Am I reading correctly. That you say to take 2" of copper foil (1/4" wide) and warp it so that I would have a 1/4" high, 3/8" wide circle of copper, that I then solder into the grounding ring? That is really good to know, thank you. Anything specific type or wattage I should be aware of on the solder?

    Last (for the moment) question. Does anyone have an opinion about soca testers?
     
  8. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

    Messages:
    6,253
    Likes Received:
    519
    Location:
    Illinois
    A few months less than 20 years of doing Soco Grounding years for Soco. Origionally I was taught both the Veam grounding ring (fails) in even doing properly. Was taught a solder ring... something wong with that, did the Veam Grounding ring with solder support, but hard to do. Tried TMB grounding rings, and Lex grounding rings. TMB grounding rings have a metallic grounding ring part that can float about inside the plug when flexed... in just such a way. Lex grounding rings use a inner core spacer and outer core ring. While they have increased the gauge of the outer ring due to it in fitting together plugs, and pins/sockets moving - this round ring becoming more like a hex shape is still the same. Outer ring become less round - it doesn't contact all pins or sockets always... Even find this on the molded versions in study at this point.

    First caution... I'm at a very heavy use touring business so what cables I use see a few hundred times more connections per tour or use than most others. So normal use from the above companies, especially for a drop cable etc. which is normally not connected every day will probably be fine.

    What I did find though is that copper foil from a CamLoc plug, cut to 1/4" wide and coiled around the rubber 3/8" part of my "Pyle National" socket extractor stopper, fits snug to the grounding ring inner core. Soldering it to the sockets or pins than is easier than soldering to a plate perpendicular to it. Iron of at least 40/50 watt for umph in conveying current, you than just convey solder to the pin/copper coil sufficient that the pin is soldered to that coil of copper. Gotta watch for proper solder and not too much solder = or if too much, liquid electricity.

    The wrap of foil between pins remains flexible in at times plugging and un-plugging, than replugging etc. is flexible in retaining use for a grounding ring.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice