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Old 19-11-2013, 12:14   #1
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Pulling Radar cable through conduit while mast is stepped

Hi All,

I'm in the process of refitting the electronics on my Island Packet 380 and have run into a small road block removing the in-mast radome cable from the old Radar setup. From what I can tell the radome cable is routed through the in mast conduit, but since the mast is currently stepped pulling the cable out has proved very difficult. I assume this is because Iím trying to pull the cable out at a right angle to the conduit through the small access hole in the bilge (keel stepped mast) and/or just below the spreaders. But since I only have a small access hole I canít actually see where the cable enters the conduit. Iím considering buying a small endoscope to stick in the mast to better understand where the cable enters the conduit and how tightly packed it is.

Has anyone had success replacing the radar cable through conduit while the mast is stepped? Any advice on how to simplify this process without unstepping the mast?

Thanks,
Helios
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Old 19-11-2013, 12:28   #2
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You can try to pull down on the cable. Use some long nose pliers with electrical tape wrapped on each jaw. Reach through the slot at the base to grip the cable and pull straight down. It will only move in small amounts each time. It will take a lot of patience to do this.

The bigger problem will be pulling the new cable back through the conduit. I presume you have a plan for that using a messenger line.

If the local yard has a boom crane they may be able to lift the mast a couple feet and you could replace the cable without fully removing the mast.
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Old 19-11-2013, 17:29   #3
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Re: Pulling Radar cable through conduit while mast is stepped

Thanks for the feedback transmitterdan,
Yes I was planning on using a messenger line to pull that new radar cable through the conduit after the old one way removed. Luckily the older cable that is currently installed is the largest cable at ~12mm OD. I figure that as soon as I get it removed I should have enough room to get a messenger line through and route the new cable.

If I had the local yard use a boom crane to lift the mast up a few feet vs completely unstepping it would it really save me much work? Seems like I'd have to remove all sails, shrouds, and electrical at that point, might as well take it completely out and do the install on the hard while the mast it horizontal.

Thanks for the feedback,
Helios
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Old 19-11-2013, 18:35   #4
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Any chance of just reusing the old cable? Sure would make life easier.

I recently bought an inspection scope to check out the inside of my mast, fuel tank, etc. It's a great tool and it makes a lot of other jobs easier, too. Even with the scope it was difficult to maneuver it to see inside the mast on my IP35, though. If your 380 is similar, you might just need to lift the mast a few feet as suggested earlier.
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Old 19-11-2013, 19:08   #5
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Re: Pulling Radar cable through conduit while mast is stepped

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helios View Post
Thanks for the feedback transmitterdan,
Yes I was planning on using a messenger line to pull that new radar cable through the conduit after the old one way removed. Luckily the older cable that is currently installed is the largest cable at ~12mm OD. I figure that as soon as I get it removed I should have enough room to get a messenger line through and route the new cable.
Snip.

Helios
Wrong approach. You want to attach the messenger line to the cable being pulled out, so you leave the messenger in its place.

It's very likely the old cable is bundled inside to other cables using tape or plastic zip ties, or zip ties are being used as 'stops'. Don't fight gravity, if you can't pull it out the bottom with reasonable force, you should drop the mast and do this on the ground. Ask your boatyard for a quote to do this over a weekend so they lay it down on a Friday late, and re-step it Monday morn. This will give you plenty of working time and might save some labor$ because they can leave it hooked up to the crane while you work.

Also, I recommend you spray the new cable with McLube Sailcoat before you pull it. It makes a huge difference. (It also makes snow toys such as tubes and sleds faster).

Edit: don't dread pulling the mast. Many people do this spring and fall as routine stuff. It's no big deal once you figure it out.
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Old 20-11-2013, 07:03   #6
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Re: Pulling Radar cable through conduit while mast is stepped

I had similar issues on my boat. My boat is keel stepped, so all in-mast wiring was terminated on terminal blocks in a locker near the mast step.

For the radar cable, I disconnected these terminals, cut them off, and taped the new radar cable to the bundle. To add some strength to the taping, I use a short piece of rigging wire that I cut off years ago while installing a Sta-Lok. The spiral of the rigging wire goes around the taped bundle to add stability to the tape. I wrap this wire around the whole bundle, then cover the whole assembly with electrical tape. (I also leave a little tab at the trailing end of the pull to allow it to be removed without a knife.) Since doing this, I have never had the tape pull free during the pull, leaving the end of my wire somewhere in the middle of the conduit. Just use a short enough piece so it can make whatever bends you need to make.

Since I had the same situation you have, (conduit at about the same elevation as the access hole), I pulled UP the mast. My wife fed the new wire into the hole while I was aloft. This worked very well. In fact, it worked so well that I forgot to also pull the additional pair of wire I was going to use for my new loud hailer. If you don't have one, it is a good time to pull that extra pair for a future installation.

When pulling the wire for my masthead wind instrumentation, I had a worse problem. The conduit went all the way to the bottom of the mast, it fact it was so close that the cables were pinched between the conduit and the mast step. I had to cut the conduit (thank goodness it was PVC) to allow me to do this. My access hole was 1-1/2 inches, so I talked to the local rigger about cutting a larger hole. It's your boat, so think hard before going this route, but I wound up using my hole saw to cut a 2-1/2 inch hole to allow the access I needed. It's an option, but talk to a lot of folks before grabbing your hole saw.

Cheers

Steve
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Old 20-11-2013, 08:18   #7
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Re: Pulling Radar cable through conduit while mast is stepped

Pull the new cable down, not up. Lubricate it (as suggested above). We have used dishwashing detergent for this, it stays moist a fairly long time, and depending on the length of the run may work better than silicone spray. Lucky the man whose conduit is large enough diameter to add two new wires!

Ann
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Old 20-11-2013, 09:23   #8
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Re: Pulling Radar cable through conduit while mast is stepped

Consider this a blessing in disguise. Too many folks wait too long to take the mast down for inspection and maintenance. In San Diego, it costs $500 to take it down and put it up again, plus a negotiable amount for lay days while you (or the yard) work on it. It's a terrific opportunity to safely and efficiently service the sheaves, inspect the compression bolts at the spreaders (if one loses the nut, the shroud tang comes free and the mast breaks), check the nav and spreader lights, inspect for damaged fasteners, repair paint issues, add blocks or new halyards, etc., etc. You can even add a dedicated conduit just for the radar, and while you're doing so, add a PA speaker to operate your automatic fog horn signals on the VHF. Oh yeah, the Windex that the seagull sat on? You can add some zip ties to scare them off. So much easier than trying to pull a cable through tight openings and possibly break a fine wire.
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Old 20-12-2013, 15:04   #9
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Re: Pulling Radar cable through conduit while mast is stepped

Don't use dishwashing soap or any other soap to lubricate your radar cable, as the soap will dry and act as a glue. Use made for the purpose cable lube. West Marine now carrys it and all industrial electrical places, too, such as WWGrainger. You will indeed need to lubricate the cable or you will most probably damage the cable by overstretching it. I know, because I used soap and I damaged my radar cable. I bought a new radar and did the job properly the second time around. Be patient and take your time to do the job right. Good luck.
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