Load Lab
Test Results - Comparison of Swages with Sleeves and Tools from Different Manufacturers

Destructive Testing Web Site
Created by Delbert L. Hall, Ph.D.
ETCP Certified Rigger - Theatre and ETCP Recognized Trainer


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Disclaimer:  This site contains the currents results of ongoing research and is not a finished presentation of findings.  The information on this site may be the results of a small sample of tests and are NOT conclusive evidence of anything – they are just my results. Take them for what they are.  Any conclusions drawn from these results are yours and not are necessarily mine.  Go the Load Lab Home to read the complete disclaimer.

It is a fact that many riggers do not think that there is a difference between swaging sleeves and use any brand of sleeve with whatever brand of swaging tool they may have.  The question is: Does it make a difference?  To help answer this questions I spoke with Barry Grothause, the Vice President of Operations for Loos and Co. (Locoloc brand) and Chris Watkins, Product Development Manager for The National Telephone Supply Company (Nicopress brand). 

My conversations with both of the gentlemen centered around two basic questions: Since both Locoloc brand and Nicopress brand copper swaging sleeves meet MS51844 specifications, are there any significant difference in the copper swaging sleeves of these two different brands? And, if there are no significant differences in the cooper swaging sleeves of these two different brands, is there any reason why a user cannot make a proper termination using one brand's sleeves and another brand's tool if the user follows the swaging instructions for the brand of swaging tool used? As you might guess the two companies have slightly different perspectives on the answers to these questions. Here are the positions of the two companies:

        Loos & Co.:  There is no significant difference between the swaging sleeves made by different manufacturers as long as the sleeves meet MS51844.  You can use Locoloc swaging tools with Nicropress sleeves or Nicopress swaging tools with Locoloc sleeves and make terminations that meet the MS51844 standard.

        National Telephone Supply Co.: National Telephone has designed and engineered its Nicopress sleeves and tools to be used together as a system.  MS51844 provides physical and performance requirements for oval sleeves.  Any manufacturer who wishes to comply with the MS standards must specify application tooling that enables the sleeves to conform to the performance requirements of the standard.  Therefore, sleeves and tools produced by various manufacturers may not necessarily be interchangeable with one another.  We can only control and guarantee our sleeve and tool connection system.

If you would like to know more about MS51844 you can download a copy from http://www.dscc.dla.mil/Programs/MilSpec/listdocs.asp?BasicDoc=MS51844, but to sum it up, it is sets some physical standards, but more importantly, it sets performance standards for nominal breaking strengths.  Essentially the performance criteria of this standard says that an eye termination should hold (actually, it says “preferred” but let’s assume that means the same) not less that 90% of the rated minimum breaking strength of the cable when applied on MS83420 (Mil. Spec.) compliant GAC.    And it also states that these terminations must be “properly assembled using the manufacturer’s recommended tools and splicing instructions.”  

A swaging sleeve (or a "wire splicing sleeve" as National Telephone Supply Co. likes to call them) is essentially a copper tube that has been cold-rolled into an hour-glass shape.  The tube, before it is shaped) must meet ASTM-B75 standard.  You do not need to look this up because it does not have any real reference to what a swaging sleeve does.  As far as I have been able to determine, that is where MS51844 comes in to play.  
After reading this standard through several times, I can understand both companies’ points of view, but that does not really answer the questions: Can a user make an eye termination that meets the MS51844 performance criteria by using a Locoloc sleeve and a Nicopress tool?  Can a user make an eye termination that meets the MS51844 performance criteria by using a Nicopress sleeve and a Locoloc tool? 

So, how do Locoloc and Nicopress sleeves compare physically? Copper swaging sleeves that meet the MS51844 standard (and both the Locoloc and Nicopress sleeve do) must be made from one of three copper alloys: CDA 102, CDA 103, or CDA 122.  According to Loos & Co., Locoloc sleeves are made from CDA 122 copper alloy.  The alloy that the Nicopress sleeves are made from is "proprietary information" according to Chris Watkins of National Telephone Supply Co.    After measuring several samples of 1/8" sleeves form both companies with a digital vernier caliper, I can say that both companies' sleeves do in fact meet the dimensional specs of MS51844.  There are very minor differences in the dimensions in the samples even from the same company (we are talking typically less than .005").  There are also minor differences in the dimensions when you compare the two companies' sleeves.  However, the wall thickness of the sleeves, which I feel is the most critical dimension, is virtually identical between the two companies' sleeves (both .082").  

So, based on my visual inspection of the sleeves and the limited information I have obtained, I hypothesize that there will be no significant difference in the performance of the sleeves even when crimped with the tool of the competing company as long as applied in accordance with the specifications of the tool manufacturer. 

Besides Natational Telephone Supply Company and Loos & Co. there are other companies that sell swaging sleeves.  One of these, Fehr Brothers Industries, is a major supplier of rigging hardware to the entertainment industry.  For this reason I have desided to include their sleeves in my test.

For my test I will compare 42 samples:

7 - 1/8" GAC with Nicopress sleeves swaged with a Nicopress tool
7 - 1/8" GAC with Nicopress sleeves swaged with a Locoloc tool
7 - 1/8" GAC with Locoloc sleeves swaged with a Nicopress tool
7 - 1/8" GAC with Locoloc sleeves swaged with a Locoloc tool
7 - 1/8" GAC with Fehr Bros. sleeves swaged with a Nicopress tool
7 - 1/8" GAC with Fehr Bros. sleeves swaged with a Locoloc tool

All samples will be made from 1/8” 7x19 GAC purchased from Fehr Bros. Industries.  I have tested this cable and it had as average BS of 2,251 lbs., meeting the performance standard for Mil. Spec. GAC.  The samples will have 24 inches of cable between the sleeves.  

So, let's look at the results of the tests.

Swaging Comparison
Sleeves: Nicopress Sleeves: Locoloc
Tool: Nicopress Tool: Locoloc
Sample #  Breaking Strength Sample # Breaking Strength
1 2218 1 2205
2 2234 2 2212
3 2227 3 2220
4 2208 4 2235
5 2227 5 2171
6 2218 6 2179
7 2218 7 2205
High: 2234 High: 2235
Low: 2208 Low: 2171
Deviation: 26 Deviation: 64
Mean: 2221 Mean: 2204
Median: 2227 Median: 2205
Sleeves: Locoloc Sleeves: Nicopress
Tool: Nicopress Tool: Locoloc
Sample # Breaking Strength Sample # Breaking Strength
1 2214 1 2236
2 2146 2 2258
3 2213 3 2232
4 2204 4 2214
5 2181 5 2251
6 2182 6 2193
7 2155 7 2190
High: 2214 High: 2258
Low: 2146 Low: 2190
Deviation: 68 Deviation: 68
Mean: 2185 Mean: 2225
Median: 2182 Median: 2232
Sleeves: Fehr Bros. Sleeves: Fehr Bros.
Tool: Nicopress Tool: Locoloc
Sample # Breaking Strength Sample # Breaking Strength
1 2144 1 2246
2 2187 2 2221
3 2160 3 2225
4 2200 4 2212
5 2202 5 2235
6 2148 6 2247
7 2207 7 2218
High: 2207 High: 2247
Low: 2144 Low: 2212
Deviation: 63 Deviation: 35
Mean: 2178 Mean: 2229
Median: 2187 Median: 2225
Sample rate = 60 samples per second
All loads are given in pounds

Additional Tests

On December 27, 2008, I decided to test terminations made using in inexpensive ($30) imported swaging tool that is sold under the Campbell brand name.  For theses tests I used the same cable and settings as the previous tests, so that I could compare the results of these tests (below) to the results of the previous tests (above).  For this set of test I decided to only test terminations using Fehr Bros. swaging sleeve.  Here are the results:

Sleeves: Fehr Bros.
Tool: Campbell
Sample # Breaking Strength
1 2201
2 2188
3 2237
4 2195
5 2209
6 2183
7 2217
High: 2237
Low: 2183
Deviation: 54
Mean: 2204
Median: 2201

The results of these these test fall in line with the results of my previous tests.

My conclusion (you must decide for yourself):

Based on my test results, I would have to say that it makes little difference the manufacturer of the sleeves or the tool; all samples in my tests held a tensile load greater than the rated min. BS of the cable. (2,000 lbs.)  before failing.  To meet the performance standard of MS 51844 the termination would have only had to have held 1,800 lbs (90 % of the min BS of the cable).  Of the 49 terminations that I tested, the lowest performing termination held 2,144 lbs (more than 7% greater than the rated min. BS of the cable).  The best performing termination held 2247 lbs.  Looking at these results, I feel that there is no signicant difference in the performance of sleeves not matter which tool is used to sawge them.

Please note, these tests were performed on only one size of GAC (1/8") and the performances of difference sizes of GAC may not match these results.  So, while my results may not speak for all sizes of GAC, they do provide significant evidence about the termination on 1/8" GAC.  

Copyright 2008 - Delbert L. Hall