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Old 10-02-2012, 08:50   #1
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Running Cables Down the Mast

I had the standing rigging re done in my boat, recently the antenna fell off the mast, the cable has fallen deep inside the mast, at the bottom of the mast is a small inspection panel, i can see a type of trunking in there with the various cables in it, but at the top of the mast there is no inspection panel, apart from drilling a large hole has anyone any ideas how to get a new cable through the mast?
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:54   #2
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Re: running cables down the mast

If there is no existing messenger line, perhaps you can sacrifice an existing wire to be used as messenger line? Maybe a masthead light wire?
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:15   #3
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Re: running cables down the mast

I have had good success with a steel fish tape:

Depthfinder 25 ft. Steel Fish Tape-56005 at The Home Depot

$25 for a 75' tape at Ace Hardware

Mike
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:49   #4
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Re: running cables down the mast

As Westsail says, I'd disconnect an existing wire - perhaps from the masthead light? - and use that as a messenger to pull your antenna cable through. Pull a small rope through there as well, to act as a messenger line. Use that messenger line to pull your masthead light wire back, along with another messenger line to use the next time you need to run a wire through the mast.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:14   #5
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Re: running cables down the mast

Use an existing wire to pull the antenna cable, a strong thin line and a new wire for the one you're sacrificing.... Of course your conduit may be too full to pull anything through. can you pull the old antenna cable out at the bottom? I've seen a lot of wire bundles taped together every few feet... that makes it almost impossible to replace anything with de masting... DUH
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:50   #6
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Re: running cables down the mast

yeah i removed the old coax as it was too far down to get at, the trunking does look packed fairly tight, i did think of using the mast head anchor light cable for pulling new cables up with but was worried if anything went wrong id be losing the mast head light as well.

I did think or rigging a temporary antenna on the granny bars at the foot of the mast (this is where the old coax comes through the deck) and just waiting for the next haul out to step the mast and replace the cable then.

I know this would limit range somewhat, but i do have an epirb and will be getting a sat phone, so its really the ais range i was bothered about, i have a standard horizon vhf which has ais built in so shares the same antenna.

I tried using an electricians cable guide and shoving it up from the bottom but it fouled at the first spreaders where the deck light is, trying from the top of the mast it fouls at the upper spreaders where the steaming light is.

I am thinking about using the anchor light cable to pull the coax an a thin messenger up but am worried if the 2 cables should part mid way, maybe if i solder them together then heat shrink over the join?
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:30   #7
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Re: running cables down the mast

Pre-spray any wires you are pulling with McLube Sailkote dry lubricant. Makes it much easier to pull.

if you can't pull internal wires without unstepping, run them external to masthead by taping every few feet along the jumper stays, or shrouds if no jumpers. I used this method for 2 years without issue. My mast has jumpers to the point where the headstay meets the mast - the top section (about 2 meters) was untaped. There is also a type of tape that has very strong adhesive that releases without leaving residue even after several years - its called 3M Preservation Tape. You could use this along the mast, temporarily for several years. 3M US: Scotch Preservation Tape
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:51   #8
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Re: running cables down the mast

thanks for the lube tip, never thought of that, should help it slip through, will try again with lubed cable
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:24   #9
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Re: running cables down the mast

Time to think outside the square.

Are you absolutely sure that you need an antenna (assumed VHF) at the masthead ?
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:42   #10
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Re: Running Cables Down the Mast

Use wire pull lube found at any home center or hardware; it is water soluble and will not affect insulation.

If your conduit was loose enough that the coax fell just by gravity, there is PLENTY room to put one back..... BUT I suspect is wasn't run inside the conduit and was loose in the mast. Drop a weighted line from the top and pull the coax back up... tie wraps every foot or two will eliminate the tap-a-tap in the mast
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:48   #11
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Re: Running Cables Down the Mast

i think the coax was under strain , ie pretty tight and it sprung back in when the cable chaffed through, was f6-f8 when it happened, no one was going up the mast, the antenna worked loose, probably the riggers never attached it tight enough, fell off its mount then swung around for a good half day then chaffed through at the mast gland, i imagine the weight of it swinging around took up all the slack it could and when it gave the cable sprung back inside, i should really take it up with the riggers ,but they are 700 miles away and i doubt i'll get any recourse,

the cables at the bottom of the conduit are pretty hard packed, im thinking of going with a temporary fix of the vhf to the granny bars till the boat is next hauled out.

I had a wind gauge to fit at the same time but fortunately had not used it and exchanged it for a wireless one, should solve one problem!
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Old 16-01-2015, 20:41   #12
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Re: Running Cables Down the Mast

As far messenger wire goes..........This is not my idea but I found it the easiest to do having tried other things.
Thin chain ( dog lead type) attached to fishing line fed from the top of the mast inside.
Someone at base of the mast with strong magnet and wire hook to catch the end of the chain. I am about to add a new VHF arial so will see if it works as well as it did for lost hayard .. Maybe add short length of thin wire at end of chain as it has to go through small hole at the base of the mast.
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