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--John Rumm 02:00, 19 September 2007 (BST)
For the smaller and intermediate sizes of SWA, the quickest way to cut it to length is using a large pair of bolt croppers:
(for very large sizes of cable a hydraulic assisted cutter or saw may be a better option).
For the purposes of this example we will terminate some XLPE insulated (PVC sheathed) 4mm² two core SWA:
(4mm² is in the small to medium size range of SWA cables typically used in domestic work (1.5mm² being the smallest and 16mm² probably being the largest). Note however all these can be though of as "small" when compared to the monster sizes used in industry and public power distribution systems such as 400mm² cables with working currents in excess of 600A)
There are a couple of different types of gland kit suitable for SWA cable; internal and external. Both types will ensure a very rigid fixing of the cable can be made to the box or unit where it connects. and that a good electrical connection can be made to the cable armour wires (used for protective earthing). In the case of the exterior gland kits, they also ensure the connection is waterproof.
This is a picture of the seven parts of the somewhat inappropriately named three part gland kit. This is the exterior waterproof style of gland. The interior version lacks the extra gland nut with the rubber insert that is used to seal the the gland against the cable.
Step 1 - Assemble the gland parts on the wire
First cut the nose of the plastic boot, such that the hole left will be a snug fit over the outer sheath of the cable. Use the cable as guide to the size required. The further up the conical section of the boot you cut, the bigger the hole left :
Now slide the boot onto the cable, followed by the back nut with the rubber seal (external glands only), next the main armour fixing nut, and finally the fixing ring:
Note that with some gland kits (especially in the bigger sizes) the fixing ring may be conical to match the cone fitting, and hence must be fitted the right way round.
Step 2 - Stripping the outer insulation and cutting the amour
There are a couple of options here, which works best for you will depend a bit on the size of the cable.
You need to leave enough to fit over the cone section of the gland - about 30 - 40mm usually works for the smaller glands. Ideally you want the wires to splay at the same angle as the cone section to make assembly of the gland easier. Try to get the armour wires about the same length all round.
Quick definition: Ringing: Rotating the cable against the knife blade, applying pressure with your thumb to the other side of the cable. Thus cutting through the outer insulation. When the armour is in place you can be quite firm here since the armour will protect the cable from any damage (but you will blunt your knife a little!):
The "standard" approach is to work out where you will want the armour wires to end, and use a small hacksaw to cut a ring around the outer insulation at this point. Attempt to cut about half way through the armour as you go, and you should then be able to break of each of the wires with a quick wiggle.
Once the armour is gone, go back to a knife and slice down the outer as shown below to remove the outer insulation from your cut to the end of the cable:
Finally ring the outer insulation a little further up the cable to expose some of the armour ready for gland fitting. This method works well on the bigger cables.
Alternatively, for the smaller ones you may find it as quick to start by ringing the outer sheath at the final sheath position, next slice down along the cable from the place you just cut round toward the free end, and finally pull off the outer sheath leaving the armour wires exposed at their full length:
Again the armour makes this easy with no risk of damaging the cable.
You can now trim the armour to length. Mark the cut position with a soft pencil, and then use a strong pair of side cutters to snip off the wires a few at a time:
This only works on the smaller cables since the armour wires on the larger ones get difficult to cut like this. However it is quite quick compared to a hacksaw.
Whichever method you use, when you are done you should now have something looking like this:
Step 3 - Stripping the bedding or inner insulation
Here we have to take care not to cut too deep or we will damage the individual conductor insulation. A deep score is usually enough. Next you can bend the inner at the scored point to break it. You should see a small gap open through which you can see the individual insulated wires:
(in practice it is probably better to leave a little more bedding on than shown in these photographs, so that it protrudes a little from the gland once fitted. This will offer a little more abrasion protection to the insulation on the conductors)
Step 4 - fitting the gland cone section
Once the wires are splayed out, you can slide the cone section onto the end of the wire. Take care to ensure that none of the armour wires slip inside the cone, or they will damage the inner bedding insulation when you tighten up the gland nuts:
Next slide up the armour gripping ring:
And finally screw the armour locking back nut onto the cone section. This will force the grip ring up the cone section of the gland and trap the armour wires firmly in the gland. Use a pair of spanners to tighten the gland parts:
Step 5 - sealing the back of the gland
Step 6 - Connecting to your box
Now the gland is fitted to the cable we can attach it to the actual box or panel that the cable is intended to connect to. For the smaller SWAs a 20mm knock out makes and ideal termination hole. Metal boxes often have pre-made holes ready to take SWA and conduit glands. Plastic ones will often need a knockout trimming out with a sharp knife first.
For this example we will terminate the gland on a standard metal box:
To make an effective earth connection to the armour there are a couple of ways of doing it. The standard way to do it is using the supplied earth tag and lock nut. Start by bending the tag a bit:
This will make soldering the earth wire to the tag simpler. You may find it better to solder your earth wire to the tag before you fit it. On plastic boxes this will save you melting the plastic, and on metal ones it stops the extra metal conducting all the heat away and making it hard to solder.
The tag is now clamped between the box wall and the lock nut:
If you don't want to solder to the tag, then you can crimp a ring terminal to the end of your earth wire:
and bolt this to the tag.
A nicer solution however is to dispense with the tag and lock nut altogether, and use one of the proprietary fixing nuts like this that act as both lock nut, and also allow eye terminals to be screwed or bolted directly onto the nut.
The final job is to slide the plastic boot into place, making a nice neat job:
Job Done! You can now get on and do the wiring... and the other end of the cable!
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