Oval wire rope ferrules, what are they?

Wire rope oval ferrules make strong end loop terminals on cables and ropes. Read this article to learn more about them including how and where to use them.

You can tie all manner of knots to create a reliable cable end loop but you can’t beat a loop made with oval wire rope ferrules. In this article, you will learn what are oval cable ferrules, types, how to use them, and their applications.

What are oval cable ferrule crimping sleeves?

An oval wire rope ferrule or is a type of metal sleeve for terminating the end of a cable into a nice eye loop. Unlike electric wire ferrules that are circular, oval compression sleeves have an oval shape, hence the name. Some oval ferrules are compressed longitudinally in the middle to create an hourglass shape. The shape makes them appear to have two holes. Such ferrule sleeves are called double barrel ferrules and work much the same way as the regular oval sleeves. The only difference is that they are easier to insert cable. The double holes guide your cable through, allowing you to create a nice eye loop faster.

Another difference between wire rope ferrules and stranded wire ferrules is their material. Oval cable ferrules are made from thick aluminum because it is strong and malleable. Conversely, wire terminal sleeves are mainly tin-plated copper because it offers good conductivity and does not experience galvanic corrosion.

The third difference between the wire rope ferrules and ferrules for electrical cables is how they work. Wire rope sleeves terminate cables by creating an eye loop whereas wire end ferrules form a nice cover over the strands of electrical wires to keep them from fraying. In other words, wire end ferrule crimps provide good electrical connection to your stranded wire while wire rope crimps guarantee a physically strong end loop. In fact, some oval sleeves are so strong that they provide a connection that is rated up to 100% of the cable strength. Such sleeves ensure that you get the full efficiency of your cable.

So, the next time you go shopping for ferrules, do not confuse between cable ferrules and stranded electrical wire ferrules.

How to crimp oval cable ferrule sleeves

To install double barrel or regular oval ferrules to a cable you need to crimp them into place with a swaging tool. But if you do not have the tool at hand, you can try to compress the sleeves with diagonal pliers. Alternatively, you can clamp them closed with a chisel and a hammer.

A swaging tool is a type of heavy duty pliers for crimping heavy duty metal sleeves professionally. It provides plenty of leverage to compress the thick cable ferrules into place. In fact, the tool is the reason why wire rope ferrules are also called swage sleeves. This is because it compresses them by means of swaging.

What is swaging?

Swaging is the act of squeezing a metal tube radially to reduce its cross-section and create strong a clamping force. Unlike a crimper that creates dimples on a ferrule, a swaging tool creates a compression band around a ferrule sleeve that is as wide as its jaws. The compression generates a strong clamping force to secure the object inside a ferrule. Externally, the swaged sections appear recessed compared to the other sections.

cable ferrule sleeve on a braided cable end loop
swaged wire rope ferrule sleeve

You can swage a ferrule crimp once or many times. The number of times you swage depends on the length of the sleeve and the width of the jaws of your swager. If the ferrule sleeve is too long, you can crimp in more than one place. Similarly, if the jaws of your swaging tool are too narrow, you may have extra length on the ferrule to swage again.

How to crimp or swage oval ferrules with swaging tool

Swaging pliers are the best for compressing wire rope ferrules. They provide enough leverage to compress the thick aluminum sleeves nicely and securely onto a cable. The following are the steps of using swaging pliers. But first, make sure you get all the tools:

Tools needed

  • Cable cutter pliers
  • Swaging tool
  • Wire rope ferrules
  • Wire rope

Steps

1. Cut the cable to length

Use professional cable cutter pliers to cut the wire rope to length. The cutters should be sharp enough to provide a clean square end to make it easy to route the cable through the ferrule.

2. Select the correct ferrule sleeve for cable diameter

When selecting the correct size of oval metal sleeve for your cable, there are two dimensions to consider. That is, the vertical diameter (longer bore diameter) and the horizontal diameter (shorter bore diameter).

The vertical diameter of the oval cable ferrule should be marginally longer than twice the cable diameter. The horizontal diameter, on the other hand, should be about 0.2mm wider than the cable.

If you are using the double barrel oval sleeve, just ensure that each hole is slightly wider (+0.2mm) than the diameter of the wire rope.

3. Install ferrule onto the cable end

To install the ferrule, simply insert the end of the cable through the sleeve and loop it back. If you are using a double barrel wire rope ferrule, put the end of the cable through one hole and bend it back through the other.

Once you bend the cable back through the sleeves, ensure that the end sticks out about and 1/8″.

4. Resize the loop and insert wire rope thimble

While the end of the cable sticks out of the swage sleeve only one-eighth of an inch, pull back the other end to resize the eye loop. The loop should be as big as your application requires.

If you want to protect the cable from chaffing or kinking, you can use a wire rope thimble on the end loop. A thimble also helps to get the right size of the loop.

To install a thimble, simply place it inside the eye before resizing the loop. Make sure the cable passes inside the groove of the thimble. The size of the groove should be just enough to fit the rope. Once you set the thimble, pull back the cable to close the loop around it. This should yield a nice eye loop around the thimble.

If the ends of the thimble are open, use your swaging pliers or any type of ordinary pliers to squeeze them together before putting the thimble inside the loop.

5. Swage the ferrule

Now with everything set, place the ferrule vertically inside the correct slot of the swager. Position it properly at the center and then press down the handles of the swaging tool firmly to compress the ferrule.

Alternatively, compress the metal sleeve at least 1/8 inches from the end. Then, leave 1/8″ gap and compress again. Make as many crimps as possible on the swage sleeve while leaving the small gaps between the compression bands. However, avoid compressing the very end of the sleeve because you can damage the cable.

If you swage the wire rope ferrules properly, you will end up with an eye termination that is as strong as the cable itself. Sometimes the eye loop can be stronger than the cable.

Where to use oval ferrules

You can use oval wire rope ferrules whenever you need to make a strong cable eye loop that is as strong as the cable itself. But to be more specific, here are some of the most common applications of wire rope ferrules.

Fishing rigs and crab snares

If you want to play in the “big fish” league of fishing, oval cable ferrules are a must have for making strong fishing rigs. They make very strong eye termination of fishing leaders. You can use the sleeves on monofilament cable or braided stainless steel fishing leader cable. To learn more, check out this video on how to use wire rope ferrules to make fishing rigs.

If you are into crab fishing, the cable end loop ferrules can be useful for making end loops on the crab trap ropes for crab snares. They make nice strong permanent loops to ensure you do not lose your catch.

crab snare with ferrule terminated loops
Crab snare trap rope loops made with ferrules (source: Amazon)

Entertainment rigging

Because the oval cable ferrules offer nearly the same strength as the cable, entertainment riggers use them in stage rigging in the entertainment industry. In particular, they use the ferrules to make reliable eye loops on ropes for suspending people or hanging anything overhead. They also use them on lifts and hoists and on any load bearing rope.

Craft and home decor

If you want to hang heavy craft pieces such as wood arts and signs made from bourbon barrel lids, you can use oval cable ferrules to make strong eye loops on the cable hangers. The loops allow you to hang heavy pieces securely.

Another way to use the rope crimping loop ferrules is when making end loops on braided stainless steel for lights to the house or garage. I use them for the latter at my garage.

You can also use sleeves on nylon wire for hanging picture frames and Christmas decor. However, when crimping the ferrules, be careful not to crimp the very end as you could damage the nylon cable and make it weak.

Cable deck railing

When installing a cable railing system on a stair case or deck, you may want to use turnbuckle systems for tensioning the cable. The best and the most reliable way to connect the cable to a deck turnbuckle is by using swage sleeves to make strong wire loops around the turnbuckle eyes.

Clothes lines installation

You can use aluminum wire rope ferrules to make end loops on rope or stainless steel clothes lines. Stainless steel clothes lines are the strongest because they do not corrode or degrade due to weathering. So, the cable ferrules ensure that the end loops are at least as strong as the cable itself.

Poultry farming

Another use for oval cable sleeves is to make eye termination on cables for hanging feeders for birds. The sleeves make very strong cable loops for suspending different types of feeders and troughs for poultry.

Anyways, only your creativity can limit your uses for cable sleeves. You can use them to make loop termination on different types of cables for different applications. For example, my friend uses the ferrules with wire cables and turnbuckle hardware to earthquake-proof shelves in his garage. I use them to make eye loops on cables for holding down shade canopies for outdoor activities. In a nutshell, wire rope sleeves are important pieces for hardware for making sturdy loops on ropes and wire cables.

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