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Old 31-05-2015, 10:25   #1
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Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

I am re-wiring an old schooner with a mid deck flood light on the mainmast. It has not worked for some time. I determined that the electrical cable (wire ) no longer carries current. I attached a new cable to the old cable at the port just above the mast step in the main cabin, hauled myself up the mast with my TopClimber and hauled on the old cable with someone simultaneously feeding in the new cable in the access port as I hauled on the old cable (now attached to the new cable). This went well enough until the last 2-3 feet or so it became much easier to haul. You guessed it - when I retrieved the old cable at the masthead there was nothing attached to it!

OK, I'll admit it: I screwed up; should have sewn (not taped) the old cable to the new cable.

I have tried pushing the new cable down from the aperture for the light and in gets down, say, about 20-30 feet and then starts coiling on itself and does not go down to the mast step. I have tried to use electrician's snakes - both nylon and flat metal, these too will not make it to the bottom. I've twisted, jammed, rotated, etc. I've tried narrow gauge rigid stainless steel wire. That goes down about 20-30 feet and then hits other wires within the mast or whatever and ends up as a hurrah's nest within the mast and goes no further. Of course, I've rotated, tried changing the insertion angle etc.

It seems as if the new cable is getting caught on other wires within the mast or some structural component within the mast itself. Of course, within the mast are many other wires, VHF antenae wires, television aerial, hydraulic lines, etc. etc.

I am sure getting a lot of exercise going up and down on my TopClimber - but I'm out of ideas.

I'd welcome any suggestions.
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Old 31-05-2015, 11:09   #2
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

Forget the mainmast light and rig a new mid-deck light on the aft side of the foremast??

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Old 31-05-2015, 11:24   #3
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

can you pass a line down first? a tough small cord with a fishing weight on it works well.
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Old 31-05-2015, 11:41   #4
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

Is there another wire that you can use in the same way as you originally planned?

You could perhaps use that wire to pull a messenger up the mast, securely attach that messenger to the new wire and the old wire you used to pull up the messenger line. Then whoever is down below can pull both wires down while you feed from above.


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Old 31-05-2015, 11:54   #5
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

Unfortunately no simple answer.. A "Fish Tape" is what I would use. Sounds like you already tried it (flat metal tape). You need to be persistent, sometimes I cut the end of the fish tape and bend a custom end. Sometimes you need to cut the fish tape and file the end smooth so it won't catch on anything. Feed, with a wiggle jiggle and twist, eventually you will get it.
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Old 31-05-2015, 12:05   #6
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

Use another wire as a messenger, and then you'll have TWO circuits that don't work.

I was trying to clean the crud out from the weep hole in my mast step,
turns out the crud was the wiring inside the mast.
No mast head light, spreader lights, anchor light.
It's deck stepped, but the base has been filled with some sort of accumpuckey and the wires won't move. Maybe I can drill out the rivets where the main halyard comes and get access there or drill a 1.5" hole into the side of the mast near the base.
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Old 31-05-2015, 12:20   #7
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

One of those fiberglass fish tapes might do a better job. They're stiffer than the steel spring kind. Send down from the exit & pull up the wire as planned. Tape about 3 feet of conductor to the fish tape before pulling up.
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Old 01-06-2015, 03:56   #8
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Unfortunately no simple answer.. A "Fish Tape" is what I would use. Sounds like you already tried it (flat metal tape). You need to be persistent, sometimes I cut the end of the fish tape and bend a custom end. Sometimes you need to cut the fish tape and file the end smooth so it won't catch on anything. Feed, with a wiggle jiggle and twist, eventually you will get it.
Travellerw,

I agree with you, the need for persistence, plus the metal "fish" or is it "fiche?"

Anyhow, it's the narrowest thing one can force through the bundled wires. Even a 7x7 s/s wire (which we've been able to use for some things) is way fatter.

If you can get the fish (fiche?) through, be sure to lubricate the wire you want to pull up with silicone spray. Moist detergent will dry too fast for you to be able to get it all the way up, and actually, it might help if you get a friend to help by feeding it from below, and spraying as it goes up.

Good luck with it, OP, ain't boating fun?!

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Old 01-06-2015, 04:16   #9
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

Monofilament and a fishing weight. Hook the mono w/ a welding rod or similar.


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Old 01-06-2015, 04:38   #10
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

Pull the old, dropped wire all the way out, it's just in the way now. Get a fish rod set (with add on rods) like this:


https://www.firefold.com/56325?gclid...Q_PRoCmCnw_wcB


or this:


3/16" x 33 Ft. Fiberglass Wire Running Kit


and try again from the top down, screwing the rod together as you lower it into the mast, like drilling a well. Maybe the rigidity will allow you to find the hole or a passage through the obstruction. Dare I say don't drop the rod...
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:01   #11
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

Had the same thing happen a couple of weeks ago. The feeling you get when the wire goes loose... We tried all kinds of things, but in the end fed a steel spring (fish?) from the bottom, mast base side. At the same time we fed the cable from above. About 2 feet from the cable inlet is the shroud eye (?where the shroud is fixed?) on the mast. Mast was off the boat, without shrouds obviously so the eye is a decent sized opening into the mast. We were able to feed the cable to the eye and fish it out. Same with the spring from below. Then secured cable to spring and were back in business. Probably not applicable to your situation since you have the mast up, but maybe you can get some ideas.
Wish you best of luck!
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:25   #12
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

You can get New iXium Drain Camera (larger bore) or a smaller one, boroscope from ebay from $12.
This has saved hours of frustration on the boats/cars/machine internals so many times.

Can get up to 15 metres cable length.

In your situation, I would insert the cable from the bottom and move up to the obstruction and watch the down cable for positioning.......

Has its own lights built in and the video can be seen live on your laptop.

You have NO idea how good these are.

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Old 01-06-2015, 07:18   #13
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

Another alternative would be to hook an existing wire from inside the mast where you're mounting the fixture, disconnect it from the source at the base of the mast, attach 2 wires (securely) to that end and use it to pull the pair up and through the mast aperture. Then reattach one of the new wires back to the dedicated, preexisting wire and pull it back down to return to its previous function.


Perhaps it makes sense to use the least 'mission critical' wire if you try this method...
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Old 01-06-2015, 08:10   #14
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

I've had better luck with the Power Pro style fishing line than monofilament. 80 or 100 lb test and it's as thin as thread, tough, flexible, and slippery. From what I think I understand of your situation, I'd try feeding the power pro from the top down.

Once you get the skinniest thread through, you can fair a wire to it with some good tape and grease it up and hopefully it should slide either up or down, depending on the angles. You need to be able to feed the cable in . I think I'd grease the wire, too. a little friction inside can really hold things up.
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Old 01-06-2015, 08:26   #15
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Re: Can't get electrical wire to pass though mast

This may be a blessing in disguise. If the old cable wasn't working, there is a reason for that. That means any other cables may be on the verge of issues, as well. All masts need to be taken down, say, every ten to fifteen years, to be overhauled. It's the perfect time for a careful examination of fasteners, wiring, lights, chainplates, rigging wire and other hardware. It costs about $500 for an "up and down" in San Diego boatyards. I'll bet you that you find a good reason for having done an overhaul. It's a great opportunity to also change over stuff to LED lighting, check the spreader compression bolts and overhaul the masthead sheaves.
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