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Motorhome magazine: Better Conductivity

Stabilant is designed to provide long term protection of electrical contacts.

A cotton swab (or, in tight quarters, a toothpick) is used to apply Stabilant.

Jeff Johnston


Dirt, corrosion and tarnish are prime enemies of electrical conductivity. Motorhomers spend a significant amount of time cleaning and repairing electrical connections in their rigs, ranging from taillight bulb sockets to plug-in connectors beneath the dash, under the hood or elsewhere. Battery contacts in small battery-powered devices such as flashlights, cameras and portable radios are also subject to failure: Various fluids are available to help clean these contacts, but as a rule the fix is usually immediate. so, they don't do much to deter future problems.

Stabilant 22A is a new product described by the manufacturer as an "electronic contact enhancer," a material said to go one step farther than a cleaner by chemically improving conductivity between two electrical contact surfaces such as a light bulb and its socket, the ends of a battery with camera or flashlight contacts, or the pins of a plug-in connector.

Originally designed for use in the commercial-electronics industry, Stabilant 22A coats the opposing surfaces of electrical connections with a liquid polymer carried by an alcohol base. According to the manufacturer, the alcohol quickly evaporates, leaving behind the polymer, which becomes electrically conductive between charged contact surfaces. If the surfaces have gaps, pits, irregularities or other defects that cause poor connections, the polymer is said to fill or bridge these gaps and by way of its conductive properties, dramatically increase the contact area.

Stabilant 22A isn't cheap. A 15-ml bottle has a $3.9.95 suggested retail price, although we've seen it advertised for $25. Larger sizes are available at considerable cost savings.

According to product literature, long-term durability is the key to Stabilant's success and value. The brochure claims the product "does not break down, evaporate. varnish or react with any other chemical treatments previously used on the contacts." The Stabilant chemical coating is said to deter the formation of tarnish, a feature that, in addition to its electrical contact enhancement, could be a real plus for electrical contacts exposed to adverse environments.

A company spokesperson said that leaning the contacts prior to treatment is often unnecessary, unless the contacts are heavily tarnished or physically clogged with dirt. Contact surfaces treated with Stabilant should be cleaned only by light brushing or vacuuming, because liquid cleaners or solid abrasives will remove the chemical treatment.

Following the instructions, we dampened a cotton swab with Stabilant for application to most exposed contacts. We also used a toothpick, loaded with a "drop" of the product, for really tight spaces.

We haven't been able to verify any yearlong performance results, but some of our short-term findings are interesting.

I've had corrosion and continuity problems with the nicad batteries in my electronic-flash units. After putting a dab of Stabilant on their contacts, I've enjoyed trouble-free operation, except for when I forget to charge the batteries.

A friend was having corrosion trouble with the taillight bulbs on his boat trailer. After the Stabilant was applied to the bulbs and sockets, the problems disappeared, and the bulbs continue to function normally. However, frequent immersions in the lake will probably shorten the product's effective life and use in salt water might hasten its demise.

Stabilant has no noticeable effect on new contacts. If a part is functional to start with, a user will not notice any difference after using Stabilant treatment. A contact might function successfully for a longer time than it will without use of the product, but this is a difficult conclusion to verify. Older electrical components can benefit the most from the product's claimed abilities.

The manufacturer offers a variety of detailed technical data sheets outlining different Stabilant applications, including electronic equipment, computers, car stereos, automotive, hobby and outdoor uses, among others. In the automotive brochure, for example, it says Stabilant can be used on clean battery-terminal contact faces, and that corrosion-resistant coatings applied to the outside of the terminals should have no ill effect on the Stabilant protection inside the connector.

It can be reasonably argued that many of these improvements could be achieved' with frequent cleaning and less-costly materials. Although, if the long-term effects of Stabilant 22A are as advertised, the savings in time, effort and reliability could be well worth the initial expense.

D W Electrochemical Limited, 9005 Leslie Street, Unit 106, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada LAB JG7; (416) 889-1522.


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