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These Jumper Cables Won't Get the Car Started

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Dire circumstances
far911   4/23/2013 9:55:37 AM
I guess the lesson to be learned from this is never to go cheap when you're planning for contingencies. More likely, never to buy stuff off of phishy websites.

I got a VGA Box once which was produced by some unknown Chinese vendor. No doubt the device died out on me after a month's usage.

Noor Khalsa
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Re: Dire circumstances
Noor Khalsa   4/23/2013 3:20:08 PM
I have to agree re: contingencies. The story gets better: the emergency kit came with a "socket set", 1/4" drive. Small, cheapie sockets that are driven by a plastic-handled drive. I tried to use them to remove the 10mm nut on my battery post, and the plastic handle broke away from the metal shaft on the first try. BTW, I'm not going to name the website where he bought it, but it rhymes with POOT.

TJ McDermott
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Fusible Link
TJ McDermott   4/24/2013 2:19:51 AM
It's likely that you'd simply have melted the cable if it was of such small gauge.  Not just cheaply constructed, but downright dangerous.

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Battar   4/24/2013 8:57:54 AM
Advice my father gave me for buying tools - "find the cheapest tool in the shop - and DON'T BUY THAT ONE". It's a mistake to try and save pennies on cheap tools.

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Re: Advice
OLD_CURMUDGEON   4/24/2013 9:36:10 AM
I've had relatives in the family (most now deceased!) that WOULD NOT spend the extra "dime" to buy high quality tools.  They'd always buy the least expensive, cheapest-looking tool, and then RE-buy them when they failed after brief use.  The irony of this is that in each case, the person was very successful in life, both financially & otherwise.  So, who's to say or criticize??????

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Re: Fusible Link
shrimper53   4/24/2013 10:03:59 AM
I'm surprised the whole damn thing didn't melt or light up when you tried it.  I've always noted the latent heat in the cables after I've used my good, heavy gauge ones to do a jump start.   

bob from maine
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Re: Advice
bob from maine   4/24/2013 10:27:18 AM
I have, over the course of a 50 year career doing every job imaginable, consistently regretted purchasing cheap tools. I still have and use Snap-On mechanic's tools purchased 35 years ago. After melting a few sets of jumper cables, I made a 30' set of #1 tinned copper with tin-plated clamps. Cost was around $100 just in materials, but these cables have jump-started diesel trucks, bulldozers, boats, heated frozen fasteners using a carbon rod and are still as good as the day I made them. The 'jumper' cables that plug into a cigarette lighter socket will charge a dead battery given enough time (to charge a 100AH battery that is dead ideally takes 5 hours at 20 Amps, two and a half hours to get it to 50%) and that's assuming you don't blow the lighter fuse. They are a fire hazard though and can really shouldn't be sold as "jumper" cables. The cheapest "jumper" cable set you'll ever buy is a Triple A membership.

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to defend *oot
Jim_E   4/24/2013 10:31:35 AM
That's crazy that there were plastic socket drive parts, and such small gauge jumper wires!

But, I have to defend the mentioned *oot site.  I've bought many items from there over the years, and like anywhere else, you have to know what you're buying.  I like my "leakfrog" water detectors that I got from that site, and I've even bought my first flat screen TV from there and haven't had any problems with the stuff.

Besides, where else can you buy a random "Bag Of Crap"?  :)

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Cheap Booster (Jumper) Cables
Critic   4/24/2013 10:32:57 AM
There are several ways to make cheap booster cables:


1. Make up your own wire gauge.  Instead of using standard gauge wire diameter, invent your own standard.  For example, 4 AWG cable should have at least 0.204" conductor diameter, but you can invent a new standard, and call wire that is 0.040" diameter "4 gauge cable."  Beware of cable that it is not marked with a known wire-gauge standard, such as "AWG."


2. Make them very short.  Never mind that it will be inconvenient for the user.  Booster cables should be at least 15 feet long to be easy to use.


3. Use cheap clamps and don't pay attention to how the cables are attached to the clamps.


4. Use an impractically small cable diameter, because many consumers are ignorant and your profits will be huge until people figure out you are producing useless crap.


5. Don't use copper cable because it is expensive.


A good pair of booster cables should be 15 - 20 feet long, and made of 4 AWG (or larger, not likely larger) stranded copper cable.  If the cable diameter is less than this, in most cases, there will be too much voltage drop during (attempted) cranking.  Do the math:  0.26 milliohms per foot X 30 feet X 300 A = 2.3 V drop, excluding the clamps and connections.  Any more voltage drop than this, and the cranking voltage will drop well below 10 V, which is usually too low for good cranking.  With smaller-diameter cable, you can charge a battery, and wait until it is charged before cranking (if the battery will hold a charge).  Expect to pay more than $50 for a pair of useful booster cables, and more than $100 for a good pair.  If the price is under $50, be very suspicious.



William K.
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Re: Cheap Booster (Jumper) Cables
William K.   4/24/2013 3:07:10 PM
I have made a few sets of jumper cables for my own use, and the best wire seems to be a fairly fine stranded cable that I picked up someplace, similar to welding cable but only about 0.300" diameter, with conductors about 0.25 diameter. They work for cranking as well as for charging. And the way to avoid having a problem with cheap clamps is to run the wire up to the tips of the clamps so that the high resistance of the steel, clamp does not matter.

I have seen jumper cables that were made from solid aluminum wire, with polyethlene insulation, which might be adequate for one use. They had been abandoned in a parking lot, probably after one use.

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