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Old 07-02-2014, 00:03   #1
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Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

I'm venting my frustrations here....

My Raymarine ST60 wind instrument has been a little unreliable of late stopping working inexplicably from time to time, usually when I need it the most.
Ultimately, we (my expensive Raymarine technicians) tracked down a perforation in the insulation of the cable from the mast head sensor located where the cable exits the mast's forward conduit at the mast step. There was some corrosion of the ground wire. So the recommendation was to replace the $65 cable. Given that this took 2 techs 3 hours each to work out, ($100/hr) I thought I'd replace the cable myself and have some fun up the mast.

So, I get to the mast head, and find that I can't release one of the two hex screws holding the wind vane. I feared that I'd strip the hex head. Then I tried to free the cable and found that it was stuck firm within the mast's forward cable conduit. I couldn't budge it from either the top of the bottom.

So, I call back the experts, who then spend another 2 hours each. They manage to strip the hex screw as I feared. They too, couldn't budge the cable and in their efforts managed to shear it off removing the top 2/3rds. The bottom 1/3 remains. There is insufficent accessible length of cable to get adequate purchase to jank it robustly. Just why it is "stuck is unclear.

Now I've got only a few options, I am told.
1. Buy and install the new WiFi Raymarine unit and head ($1200 plus fitting)
2. Take the mast down, investigate what is going on inside the cable track/conduit and restep the mast (heaven know what that will cost)
3. Run the cable in the halyard channel of the mast where there is some risk of entanglement, I guess.

I'm considering option 3 at this stage, as I have bought the new cable anyway, and option 1. can be opted for in the event of subsequent issues. Not at all keen on option 2 at this stage.

There remains the question as to just why the cabe has become stuck. I wonder if there is some screw or metal extrusion irregularity in the conduit that has trapped it - who knows. Its not very easy to see in there as you could imagine. Aahh. Perhaps I could get a fibre optic system and have a look...(That might get stuck too!)

Does anyone have a suggestion?
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Old 07-02-2014, 00:40   #2
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

If you want to look inside the mast, you could try one of the cheap USB borescopes on Ebay--I have a 10 meter long cable, but think you can get one 15 meters long. Tape the end to an internal halyard and work it up to the trouble point.
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Old 07-02-2014, 01:17   #3
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Don,
Great idea.
NEW 15M USB Waterproof Endoscope Borescope Inspection Video Digital Camera | eBay
Amazed at the low price...
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Old 07-02-2014, 01:51   #4
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

2Wind, what is the make of your mast? I had a similar problem in my mast (ZSpar) of a cable stuck in the channel. It turned out that there was a bend in the instrument cable channel conduit - somewhere near the bottom, which could be accessed with some difficulty after opening all the covers. For whatever reason, the channel was not a straight line from bottom to top...

I would recommend against putting the new cable in with the halyard channel, too much potential for entanglement with unpleasant consequences.
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Old 07-02-2014, 02:09   #5
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Phoenix,

No sure if it's a Sparcraft or ZSapr. Will check tomorrow morning. Your report is intriguing, nevertheless. I thought the advice NOT to run the cable with the halyards would be forthcoming...
Thanks.
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Old 07-02-2014, 04:15   #6
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Change to Tacktic????
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Old 07-02-2014, 05:34   #7
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Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Maybe a silly question, but when was the last time you gave the mast a good overhaul? Maybe it is time to pull it down and give it a good working over. Might discover what caused that cable to jamb and address the problem at the same time, plus you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing all is ship shape up top.


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Old 07-02-2014, 05:58   #8
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Option 2 sounds good, dont run the wires at the Halyard chanel, 99%end in a mess, is a good chance to make another jobs, maybe install a led anchor nav lights in the top , check rigging gear well, clean corrosion in fittings, inspect top sheaves etc... use Tef Gel in any ss screw going in the alu and clear the wires conduit for peace of mind, is not so expensive to unstep a mast, we run a rigging shop and people sometimes get scared when we say the mast need to come down, really?how much? haaaaa not big deal here, no idea in your location but if you prepare the mast by yourself the price go down, sails down, boom, cotter pins, electrical conections at the step etc.. good luck..
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Old 07-02-2014, 19:57   #9
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

So perhaps "good" comes out of bad!
I was up the mast this morning (I'd forgotten what that feeling of exposure is like up there!). Happened to note that I had some "birdcaging" of the forestay just above the genoa furler's swivel. Two strands of the SS wire were broken. I had the rigging checked about 11 months ago. I did have some issues around that time with halyard wrap with a new genoa subsequently corrected with a strop. I guess this could have happened then. Anyway, the cable is now the #2 priority it would appear, as I'm not going to need wind speed until I get the forestay replaced.

I did manage to find the conduit located forward on the port side of the mast. Not very big being about 3cm. With the radar, VHF, TV coax, 3G, Deck light, Mast head light cables, there's not much room! I suspect I'd need to remove most or all when running the mouse/pull thru line, and then re-pass all together in a smooth non twisted bundle.

Panning for next weekend after I fix the forestay.
Work in progress.....
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Old 07-02-2014, 23:11   #10
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

2wind, good luck with fixing your rigging! One suggestion for you to consider before removing all the cables from the conduit (you never know what other problems might arise from such action...): try a liberal use of dishwasher liquid: it works great to eliminate friction between electric cables, is harmless, and will evaporate in time. It may just provide you with enough lubrication to get the whole thing unstuck
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Old 08-02-2014, 00:56   #11
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Phoenix,

Good suggestion! Thanks.
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Old 08-02-2014, 00:58   #12
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GILow View Post
Maybe a silly question, but when was the last time you gave the mast a good overhaul? Matt
Matt,

Do you moonlight as a fortune teller?
Good call!

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Old 02-03-2014, 16:33   #13
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Just restepped my mast. Worked over the cables which are in two conduits. One the the mid mast light/radar holes and one to the top. Near the bottom the cable can get pushed inside of the mast where it exits to enter the boat. When that happens it becomes kinked against the conduit and you won't be able to move it until that is fixed. Most of the holes where the wires exit the mast at the bottom are generally too small to allow any movement.

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Old 03-03-2014, 02:53   #14
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledouxjj View Post
Just restepped my mast. Worked over the cables which are in two conduits. One the the mid mast light/radar holes and one to the top. Near the bottom the cable can get pushed inside of the mast where it exits to enter the boat. When that happens it becomes kinked against the conduit and you won't be able to move it until that is fixed. Most of the holes where the wires exit the mast at the bottom are generally too small to allow any movement.

Cheers

John
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Exactly, as it turns out.....

I bought a $25 USB flexible camera with LED light that was small enough to pass in thorough the existing cable exit holes at the mast base and conducted an inspection. The conduit to the top lay aft, directly inside of where there the batton car track is located. It extends downward and comes very close to the mast step making drawing of the existing cables nearly impossible and preventing running a mouse.

The solution was to perform "laparoscopic " surgery. Under the vision of the flexible USB camera (all done at night because computer screen vision was just terrible in daylight), I was able to control my flexile dremel a full foot inside the mast, carefully cutting an access hole into the conduit about 30cm above the step. This I enlarged, being very careful not to cut or damage the cables within. With a flexible grabbing tool, I then snared the existing VHF cable. With one man at the mast top, cutting the VHF cable with a pull through cord attached, I then was able to draw out the cable via the new cut conduit hole and eventually the draw string. It was then a relatively simple task to pull through a new VHF cable and the wind instrument cable, both of which are now connected and functional.

What a drama, however. At the end of the day, being able to see inside the mast, and being able to thus control the flexible dremel drive under vision, as well as being able to snare the existing cables was the key. The rest was easy. 6 hours and a little too much sun was the price, beyond the $25 for the USB /LED camera. Better than bringing the mast down.

I've now replaced the forestay (certainly a victim of halyard wrap) and the two capstays (the latter 2 prophylactically). The rest of the rig is fine.

As frustrating as these things are, you learn a lot about the boat, and yourself in solving the problems.
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Old 03-03-2014, 03:18   #15
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Re: Wind instrument mast cable run frustrations.

Wow, have you thought of taking up brain surgery as a bit of light entertainment?
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