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How to twist wires together ... and how we used to do it.

Was browsing though YouTube when I saw (but don't advocate) this vid entitled 'Awesome Idea! How to twist electric wire together!':

Well, reminded me of how I was taught to solder joints on power cables, and also part of a book I have in my collection, entitled General Electrical Engineering edited by Philip Kemp MSc(Tech) MIEE AIMechE (which is undated, but I believe is from the late 1940s or early 1950s).

I hope I'm permitted to post the extract of the two pages I had in mind, as it's a very old publication:

Certainly of interest, and shows there's a lot we used to know ... and how much depended on the skill of those who installed electrical equipment in days gone by.

  • Yes Graham, I have those illustrations in a book somewhere.

    Method 3 in your video is good for stranded cable conduit pulling.


  • I love these old skills, but how would a young (apprentice) electrician expect to join cables nowadays? Wagos?

  • Probably most similar to crimp splices, as they are joints not terminals ... screwless terminal connectors are really more a replacement for choc-block.

    As a teenager, I was taught to prepare a splice for soldering using the married joint or Britannia joint method first. I think it was the end of an era really. I was also taught techniques like lacing ... a dying art even then, unless you were working with military, controls, or other very expensive kit.

  • Proper wiremen were artisans of electrics back in the day 

  • I had to do lacing on control panels which I assembled for Bailey Meters many moons ago. It would stop the wires vibrating about and made the job look neater. Even back in the 70s at college the "T" shaped joint was consider by us students to be redundant. "Where would you use that Sir?" was the cry from the workshop gang to the old teacher. But, it may just have been a test of manual dexterity and soldering skills.


  • How many of you were taught to use pliers to tighten the twist? I was taught not to because of the risk of damaging the strands.

  • That depends on the size of the conductors you are twisting ... and perhaps why ... e.g. if you don't make the joint tight enough before soldering, and solder flows between the strands, it's not a good joint.

  • I would use this type of joining... for a draw wire... 


  • Or even using an old cable to draw in a new one.

  • I particularly like the following statement regarding removing the insulation:

    Cables usually strip very clean, and should any of the vulcanised rubber insulation still adhere to the conductor or conductors this mav be easily removed by means of a rag soaked in petrol or benzine.

    I think H&S Advisors would have kittens with that one today. Petrol speaks for itself, and benzine is considered a very nasty carcinogen. It doesn't seem that long ago (although I forget occasionally that the 1990s is 25-30 years ago Astonished) we openly used tins of 1,1,1 trichloroethane spray for cleaning PCBs during repair, but that's also now considered a very nasty carcinogen.