How to assemble weather pack connectors

Weather pack connectors started off as a Delphi product and quickly became commonplace in the automotive world. Most wiring systems use weather pack connectors in their assembly due to their benefits when compared to standard connectors. Weather pack connectors are able to protect from dirt, corrosion, and moisture, allowing them to last longer in the demanding conditions found under the hood of your vehicle.

These connectors can still fail over time and eventually need to be replaced or repaired. This is why it is important to recognize how and when the electrical system can be damaged.

At any point, the professionals at YourMechanic are always willing to help. If you have additional questions during the weather pack connector assembly, do not hesitate to Ask a Mechanic.

This article will explain how to assembly weather pack connectors, whether you are building your own custom wiring harness for a performance vehicle, or you are simply replacing an old weather pack connector.

Part 1 of 2: Preparing the wiring

Materials Needed

Step 1: Install the correct seal. Select the correct size seal and put it over the wire.

This should be a tight fit as this will be part of the seal for the connector.

The seal is directional and the ribbed end should face away from the end of the wire.

Step 2: Strip the wiring. Use the wire stripper to set the the correct size for the wiring being used.

Strip as close to 3/16in from the end of the wiring as possible. This is done to avoid excess exposed wiring.

Step 3: Insert the terminal. The correct size terminal should be inserted into the crimp tool.

The direction in which the terminal is inserted into the tool matters: one end will have two wings that will be crimped over the wire while the end that fits through the crimp tool hole will be slightly blade shaped. This is what will be installed into the connector.

Step 4: Perform the crimp. With the terminal installed into the crimp tool, the wire should now be placed through the center of the terminal and should fit without much difficulty if the proper size is used.

Next, the tool handle will be compressed. This will push the ears of the terminal onto the exposed wire and form a tight connection.

Remove the wiring with the terminal attached from the crimp tool and pull gently on the terminal to make sure it is secured.

Part 2 of 2: Installing the wiring

Step 1: Install the wiring into the connector. Be aware that there are female and male connectors. Which one you will use is determined by what job is being performed and the layout of the wiring.

The wire, terminal, and seal should all be assembled as one piece. The terminal should be installed into the back side of the connector in the corresponding slot. Push the wiring in until a click is heard. The click signifies that the barbs on the side of the terminal have hooked into the connector.

Pull gently on the wiring to make sure it is sealed all the way.

  • Tip: If the terminal does not seal into the connector all the way or was installed into the wrong spot, the terminal tool must be used to release the terminal. The terminal tool should be slipped inside the front side of the connector. This will release the barbs holding the terminal into the connector and allow it to be moved or reinstalled.

Step 2: Lock the connector together. There will usually be 2-4 wires all installed into the same connector. Once all the wires that are needed are installed into the connector, the connector lock can be shut, and then the connector is ready to go.

With the connector finished, it can then be reinstalled into the wiring, or you can continue building the wiring harness. These seals should last much longer under the hood than other styles of connectors and will keep the elements out.

The biggest challenge with weather pack connectors is the initial cost of the tools needed to assemble them or perform repairs. Do not attempt this job without the proper crimp tool and terminal tool in case a wire has to be moved. Attempting to use improper tools will damage the wiring and the connector.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Build Weather Pack Connectors.

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We love creature comforts. Though we openly lament the complexity of our daily drivers we think nothing of heaping electrical devices on our fun cars. We’ll go way out of our way to get power windows, power door locks, high-watt audio gear, climate control, high-powered lights, and electronic engine management.

Unfortunately, the effort we invest in electrical devices doesn’t seem to extend to their installation. Generally speaking we mount electrical components well but we tend to drop the ball when it comes to integrating them with the rest of the electrical system. Most of us simply hard wire a device to the rest of the system and dread servicing the part or any other one near it. Because to remove a hard-wired electrical component means cutting its wires and that means having to reconnect wires likely made too short by the splicing junction. Creating joints with spades and push-on terminals seems like a good idea but a bunch of nearly identical-looking wires each equipped with the same type of terminal is a nightmare puzzle when working upside down and backward under a dark dash. That’s no way to live.

Fortunately, it’s not the only way to live either. As early as the ’50s auto manufacturers began equipping electrical components with multi-terminal connectors or plugs. Need to service a device or get to one behind it? Just pull the plug and remove the part. And because of the plug’s index only one-way reconnection happens just as effortlessly.

And that’s really only the start. Because the OEMs used these multi-terminal connectors for decades they’re considered service items. They’re available just about everywhere and as a result they cost peanuts—new ones from the right sources cost so little that it’s not even worth harvesting used pieces.

What follows is what you need to know about the three most popular connector styles: Packard 56, Weather Pack, and Metri Pack. There are others but since they lack the utility of these three we’ll save them for another entry.

For now, though, learn what it takes to make a wiring installation as serviceable as the one in your new car. These connectors are so handy, affordable, and easy to use that you’ll wonder how on earth you did without them so long.

Packard 56

The Packard 56 is the grandfather of the modular electrical connector. If the Packard name sounds familiar it’s for good reason: the Packard brothers of automobile fame started it in 1890. In fact the Packard Electric Company bankrolled the Packard Motor Car Company nine years later.

In 1932 the brothers sold Packard Electric Company to General Motors who named it the Packard Electric Division. The company released its 56 series as an un-sealed modular system in the mid ’50s. The housings come in a variety of configurations, from plain inline connectors to specialty connectors that correspond to various devices, like sending units, flasher modules, ignition switches, alternator plugs, and, certainly most familiar, three-pin headlight plugs.

The Packard 56 terminals fold over the conductor to form a high-pressure crimp that seals the conductor strands as a soldered joint does yet achieves a superior electrical connection than solder can. The terminals also alleviate strain on the exposed conductor with a secondary crimp that grabs the wire jacket. All 56-series connectors use 1/4-inch blade-type terminals that can handle as much as 48 amps continuously. Though the terminals require a special crimp tool, popularity has made powerful ratcheting models refreshingly inexpensive.

Packard 56 connectors are small and unobtrusive. Since they date to the ’50s they’re historically possible on a period hot rod or custom (though unlikely at the time since the tools were once exceedingly expensive). The lack of sealing means they don’t work well in damp locations, so keep them close to the engine compartment or interior. And they can be a real bear to connect and pull apart, especially when cold or in tight confines.

Weather Pack

Packard 56 is handy for sure but it has one fatal flaw: it doesn’t protect the terminals from oxidation. So in the ’70s Packard Electrical Division created the Weather Pack (get it? Weather-resistant Packard).

Though Weather Pack is a modular system it achieved its weather resistance by sacrificing some of its utility. For the most part, Weather Pack connectors are inline exclusively and don’t connect to a specific component as Packard 56 can. Furthermore, the seal system prohibits more than one wire from meeting a terminal.

Weather Pack’s relatively small surface-contact area limits constant current capacity to 20 amps, less than half the capacity of Packard 56. But the design is more than compensated for by availability: every parts store across the country has Weather Pack service parts. And they’re almost insultingly inexpensive if you buy them right.

Metri Pack

Metri Pack represents Packard’s second-generation modular connector. The company completely revised the terminal shape to flat blades and rectangular slots and standardized it to a metric format, hence the Metri part in the name. Though every Metri Pack series has a sealed version, some variants trade the sealing component for a smaller package size. Anyway, not every connector needs the sealing capacity.

Like Packard 56, Metri Pack is available in more applications than inline. In fact pretty much all GM electrical components from the ’90s onward feature Metri Pack connections.

Metri Pack isn’t a connector design as much as a group of connectors based on terminal width. The 150-series connectors feature 1.5mm terminals and handle 14 amps; 280-series connectors feature 2.8mm terminals and handle 30 amps; 480-series connectors feature 4.8mm terminals and handle 42 amps; and 630-series connectors feature 6.3mm terminals and handle 46 amps.

The series uses a separate clip that retains the terminals. This TPA, or Terminal Position Assurance, retains the terminal at pretty much all costs. In fact, it works so well that some terminals lack the locking tangs.

The 280-series Metri Pack is incredibly versatile. Its footprint not so coincidentally matches the blade spacing of many universal automotive components like mini automotive fuses (APM/ATM), relays, and flasher modules, making it perfect for universal applications. In fact General Motors designs its modern fuse/relay panels to use 280-series terminals pretty much exclusively, something that makes them readily adaptable to other applications. Coolest of all, even-numbered 280 electrical connectors can be used as inline fuse holders—caps for two- and six-cavity female connects exist for this specific purpose.

Though the same fuse-holding application holds true with the 630 series, the series is far larger and less versatile. Because it and the 150 series use a slightly different terminal attachment we’re going to devote another story entirely to them and some other slick connectors.

How to assemble weather pack connectors

Each Weather Pack connection set requires the following parts:

  • One Tower Body (Part No. 4185-001 through -005)
  • One Shroud Body (Part No. 4185-011 through -015)
  • Male Terminals (Part No. 4185-030 through -032), one for each pin in the Shroud Body
  • Female Terminals (Part No. 4185-040 through -042), one for each pin in the Tower Body
  • Terminal Seals (Part No. 4185-070 through -074), one for each Terminal used

First determine how many terminals are needed. Weather Pack connector bodies are available with 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 terminals. For 5 terminals, use 6 terminal bodies with one Terminal Cavity Plug (Part No. 4185-090).

Next, determine the wire gauge you will use. The modular design of Weather-Pack connectors allows you to mix different wire sizes in one connector when necessary.

Now select Male and Female Terminals based on the wire gauge. Female Terminals are generally used in Tower Bodies and Male Terminals are generally used in Shroud Bodies.

Terminal Selection 20-18 Gauge 16-14 Gauge 12-10 Gauge
Male Terminal 4185-030 4185-031 4185-032
Female Terminal 4185-040 4185-041 4185-042

Finally, select the Terminal Seals based on the diameter of the wire insulation.

Wire Gauge and Type
(Pegasus Part No.)
Diameter
(Inches)
Diameter
(mm)
Seal
Color
Seal
Part No.
22 Gauge GPT/GXL
20 Gauge TXL
22-20 Gauge ETFE (5006 & 5007)
0.051-0.067 1.29-1.70 Red 4185-070
18-16 Gauge ETFE (5008 & 5009) 0.062-0.085 1.60-2.15 Purple 4185-071
20-18 Gauge SXL (4000 through 4006)
20-16 Gauge GPT/GXL
18-14 Gauge TXL
14 Gauge ETFE (5003-14)
0.080-0.112 2.03-2.80 Green 4185-072
16 Gauge SXL (4007)
14 Gauge GPT/GXL
12 Gauge TXL
12-10 Gauge ETFE (5003-12 & 5003-10)
0.111-0.137 2.81-3.49 Gray 4185-073
14-12 Gauge SXL (4008 & 4009)
12 Gauge GPT/GXL
10 Gauge TXL
0.136-0.169 3.45-4.30 Blue 4185-074
Weather Pack Sealed Electrical Connectors
Assembly Instructions for Weather Pack Connector Terminals

This article was first published on 3/23/2009.

It was most recently modified on 3/26/2015 .

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    How to assemble weather pack connectors

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Weather Pack Pigtail Assembly Connector 4-Wire Tower Male

Weather Pack – Pigtail Assembly, Male, 14 AWG, Tower Connection, 20 Amps, 12 Volts, 4 Wire, 10″ Length (Pack of 5)

Item# 27800 Price : Log In Standard Pack : 5 ea. Ship Weight : .47 Brand : Weather Pack Usually Ships:What’s This? Today Country of Origin: U.S.A. –>

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Description

• GM Weather Pack Series
• Complete terminal/pigtail assemblies include 10″ long 14 Ga. wires, with male (tower) and female (shroud) housings
• For 12V systems – 20A maximum
• An environmentally-sealed electrical connection system, utilizing a pin-and-socket configuration, designed to withstand exposure to extreme temperatures, moisture, harsh engine compartment vapors and chemicals with outstanding reliability
• Great for vehicle under-the-hood waterproof electrical connections and repairs