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Old 28-10-2015, 17:49   #1
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Mast Electronic Leads

Folks,
My PSC31 has a deck stepped mast with support within the cabin. I am wondering if I can use the existing cable / harness to pull new wires for wind meters, antenna, lights without stepping the mast? Is the cable apt to work as a snake to pull through the new cables or is it apt to just hang up?
Thanks for your feedback. I'm just trying to keep my rebuild costs to a minimum. She already has new standing rigging so there isn't any necessity to step otherwise.

thanks folks!
Rob
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Old 28-10-2015, 18:33   #2
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

Its the end of the season anyway just do the wiring when you drop the mast for winter storage!
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Old 28-10-2015, 19:03   #3
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

I used the old wind instruments wire to pull new. There is a special Gunkiam Krapite lubricant you can apply to the new wire, like K-Y for cables. Tape a LONG splice in line and smooth to bind the new wire to the old. You could also use the old wire to pull a strong line. Hope your conduits are not too tightly packed.
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Old 28-10-2015, 19:42   #4
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

Thanks for the help.
Grand Rapids is the city of my birth!
Don't step in the winter normally so I will probably try the splice and K-Y routine. If it fails then I guess she'll come down.
Best regards
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Old 28-10-2015, 19:49   #5
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

Robb, you might be surprised at how cheaply you can buy a 50' long or 100' long fish tape, either steel (cheaper) or fiberglass (can't short things out). No risk of breaking the old cable that way, and you'll find out if the path is clear before you mess with anything else.
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Old 28-10-2015, 21:18   #6
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

Deck stepped masts can be more difficult. There is often a big J or U in the wire run at the base of the mast as it goes into the cabin. It would be impossible on many boats to pull new wires through.
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Old 29-10-2015, 12:03   #7
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

This can be a real problem to deal with. Wire snakes are very, to impossible, difficult to use as it can be hard to get them to whatever hole them must get to at the end. I have pulled literally thousands of wires and have tried to do this on my own mizzen mast from only half way up. You may get lucky though and if you lose any of the other wires you might give it a go.

Wire "snot" is a good thing to use. You can find it at any Home Depot or commercial electrical supply, and online of course.

One of the potential problems can be from how they put the existing wires into the mast in the first place, and whether they used an existing conduit or channel. It seems to make sense to wire tie the new wires in to a neat bundle with a wire tie every so feet, but it can make it a nightmare to get out as the wire ties will snag on things and sometimes will not fit through the holes. I would experiment and see if only one wire will come up at a time and if so, put a messenger line on it, and use the messenger to pull in new wires. If you can get a messenger (stout cord or a sacrificial wire which is what I like to use) then you can pull out the other wires to make room for the new.

You absolutely will benefit from two people going through all this and unfortunately there will be some time at the top of the mast. It is almost impossible to pull out or in new wires from the top without someone to guy it in. Again, you might get lucky.

The worst thing to happen is to lose all of the existing wires and your messenger (if you get one in) while you are trying to pull the new. The splice between the new and the messenger/old wire is critical. For an easy job it is OK to try with electrical tape but it should be the best quality tape. And you want to make sure that the ends of the tape will not slough off in holes or whatever as it will jam the wires at that spot. You also want to make sure it is smooth and tapered at both ends of the splice as you may well have to pull it back out before you are successful. It is common to jam a splice, or lose it, when trying to start over.

Electrical wire (I like to use 14 gauge) can be stripped down about a foot and then a loop made at six inches. Then attach the old wires or messenger to that loop with another. If it is small cord you might use a bowline but it has to be small and smoothed over with tape and then covered with wire snot to make it easier to get through holes and tight spots.

Wire pulling is almost an art in itself. It feels good when you get it done. But it can be very frustrating when it doesn't go well. You have to be patient. The wires will always win if you cut corners or get in a hurry and mast pulls are very unforgiving. If one thing doesn't work try something else.

I have sometimes seen where the conduits in masts are not continuous, especially if there were provisions for spreader or steaming lights part way up the mast. They can make using an electricians stiff wire snake almost impossible as there is enough of a bend to make it hard to hit the next part of the channel. And the channel will certainly stop above the step of the mast at the deck and the exit hole can be at the step or it could be up a bit.

Since this can be so hard you want to make each try as likely to succeed as possible. You don't want to have to go up and down the mast more than you have to. And, beware the sharp edges of the holes at the top and bottom of the mast. They can cut a messenger and even wire very easily. I would use a rattail file to ream out the hole a bit if possible, or use some anti-chafe gear if there isn't any. You should put some in in any case when you are done to keep the wires from getting cut in use.

Good luck and I hope you have a very patient helper as you do this. And compensate them well. I was going to suggest something racy but I won't as it might offend someone on here.
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Old 29-10-2015, 20:14   #8
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

ExMaggieDrum et al: Thanks so much for the patient, carefully constructed messages and warnings! I also understand that going aloft is best done on the wet rather than the hard. While it would seem the deck landing will be just as uncomfortable there's always the slim chance that I miss the deck, finger pier, stink pot (pardon me) next door and just make a big splash!
My yard isn't much for stepping masts any more sadly. The good news is, they still let us do our own 'messing about' without having their lawyer present.

Happy Fall Sailing Folks!
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:11   #9
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

Quote:
Originally Posted by RLaird View Post
Folks,
My PSC31 has a deck stepped mast with support within the cabin. I am wondering if I can use the existing cable / harness to pull new wires for wind meters, antenna, lights without stepping the mast? Is the cable apt to work as a snake to pull through the new cables or is it apt to just hang up?...

thanks folks!
Rob
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Rob, I went through this with my PSC 37 (which is deck stepped) this summer. To do the cables I needed to unstep the mast. The reasons were: There was sealant in the hole in the deck; There was an "S" in the cables near the bottom of the mast to prevent drips from going all the way through the deck; The passthru in the support post inside the cabin was jammed tight with cable so that even lubed cable was difficult to get through...large cables like radar were impossible; The access port at the bottom of the mast was too small to be useful given the large bundle of wires; I wanted to run cable from their starting point on the mast to the navigation station without a splice.

In the San Francisco Bay Area the going rate for unstepping and restepping my mast is $2500. So, I replaced the standing rigging (which you have done already), completely refurbished the mast, conduit, electronics, lights, cables, lines, topping lifts, shives and sensors. To get all of the wires through the deck, I first pulled the large cables (VHF and radar) through otherwise they wouldn't fit through the constrictions. (Yes, I learned this the hard way.) Each big cable towed a smaller cable or two with it. With a lot of lube, I finally got them all through. There was a guy up on deck bundling the wires, taping them (a bit of an art), and lubing. He then helped by pushing on them straight down through the hole which would not have been possible with the mast stepped.

My neighbors with keel stepped masts have had better luck retrofitting cables without moving the mast...I think deck stepped masts may be at a disadvantage, here.

As a up side, when unstepping, we found a $25 gold piece glued to the step, inside the mast, which was carefully burnished and replaced. I presume these are on all PSC's?
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:25   #10
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

Assuming your wires are in a conduit or two... You are likely to find it very hard to pull things through. Often, a bundle of wires is taped together inside the conduit, etc. But heck, give it a try. Also, if you don't have an access plate at the bottom it's very unlikely you will get it done.
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:30   #11
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Mast Electronic Leads

Coin under mast is long tradition, probably put there by previous owner. Tradition says it used to pay for crossing the river Styx to afterlife if you go down with the ship.

Back to original topic. Try just coaxing one wire and see if it moves. Our boat's deck stepped mast had all the tails of the wire after the conduit and before the exit port neatly wrapped up in wire ties. Nothing would move with those in place.


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Old 03-11-2015, 10:32   #12
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

Rob

Try the lube from the top as well as lubing the cable from the bottom .
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:32   #13
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

Smokester / Cheechako,

thanks for the feedback. I wouldn't have expected the 37 to be mast stepped. Love that Bay area pricing! Ouch. Should make me feel better.
I am going to check with the folks that did the standing rigging for the prior owner and see whether they can shed any light on what's up in the tube!? You'd think they stepped it. Owner should have taken the opportunity to do all the other work. Didn't even fix the masthead light (unless it went in the last year or so from sitting of course!)
Best wishes,
Rob
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:45   #14
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Re: Mast Electronic Leads

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Originally Posted by RLaird View Post
Smokester / Cheechako,

thanks for the feedback. I wouldn't have expected the 37 to be mast stepped. Love that Bay area pricing! Ouch. Should make me feel better.
I am going to check with the folks that did the standing rigging for the prior owner and see whether they can shed any light on what's up in the tube!? You'd think they stepped it. Owner should have taken the opportunity to do all the other work. Didn't even fix the masthead light (unless it went in the last year or so from sitting of course!)
Best wishes,
Rob
I think the PSC 40 is the first keel stepped PSC.

One can change out the standing rigging without unstepping by, for example, replacing the stays one-by-one which is possibly what the PO did.

Please unstep your mast...I want to see if you have a gold piece, too.

Jman, thanks for the info...knew there was a tradition there.
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