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Old 03-04-2016, 17:02   #1
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Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

Hi,

If you have experience pulling cable through your mast conduit, will you please tell me it will be easy? Need to pull power/data/fog horn wires. Feeling optimistic.

How was your experience? Any helpful suggestions?

Thanks.
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Old 03-04-2016, 17:23   #2
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

It will mainly depend on how big the conduit is and how many wires and cables are already in it.

I just installed conduit, the mast came without, and installed all new wires and antennae cable. Went pretty well but a couple of the steps were helped by the wire snake I used. Harbor Freight sells a fiberglass snake in screw together sections. I bought two kits, if I recall 30' each. Very handy.
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Old 03-04-2016, 17:35   #3
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

Yeah, it's going to depend on how big the conduit is, and how many cables run in it. I recently replaced a TV antenna cable, and it went pretty well. Getting it through the flexible hose from the mast to the cabin was harder.


edit: If you're doing a new installation on a new rig, it's easy.
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Old 03-04-2016, 17:40   #4
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

Are there other wires already in there? If so it can be a PITA. Do you have wires going out the spreader to deck lights? Added trouble. The hard part is making sure your pull wire avoids these things in the first place.
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Old 03-04-2016, 18:50   #5
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

I pulled rg213 cable this past weekend by attaching it to the old cable with a double ended female connector and pulling. No conduit however.
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Old 03-04-2016, 19:34   #6
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

I have never pulled a cable through mast conduit, but my time is coming. When I pull the mast to paint it, it makes sense to renew the wires that are now more than twenty years old. I hope it is easy.
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Old 03-04-2016, 19:41   #7
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

fishing tape + mousing line + cable-pulling lubricant = success
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Old 03-04-2016, 19:43   #8
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
I have never pulled a cable through mast conduit, but my time is coming. When I pull the mast to paint it, it makes sense to renew the wires that are now more than twenty years old. I hope it is easy.
I hadn't planned on rewiring my mast, just wanted to replace the old VHF coax. However when I tried to pull the coax I discovered every wire and cable in the mast was bundled, wrapped and taped together. %$#$^&^$%!!!!

So pulled it all and replaced it all. Was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. My mast had no conduit so I installed that as well. Took a bit of brainstorming but figured out a way to do that fairly easily.
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Old 03-04-2016, 20:13   #9
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

^^^^
Whooee! Perseverance wins again! Good on ya.

We, too, have found that lubrication helps, especially when the conduit is pretty full.

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Old 04-04-2016, 09:04   #10
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

Lucky you have conduit. Our Catalina 30 mast was full of insulation foam. It took a few days of ramming it out and many, many cuss words for my DH (darling husband) to get it all out. We now have conduit.
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:05   #11
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

Thanks for all the comments.

I'll let you know about the experience. Project planned for this weekend. Mast is still up and so is my optimism.
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:23   #12
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caleb C View Post
Hi,

If you have experience pulling cable through your mast conduit, will you please tell me it will be easy? Need to pull power/data/fog horn wires. Feeling optimistic.

How was your experience? Any helpful suggestions?

Thanks.
Caleb,

The clear cable pulling lubricant is your friend [not the colored goop used by electricians... I have purchased the clear stuff in quart bottles in the box stores in the US.] It doesn't make too much of a mess, wipes off your hands easily, and disappears [evaporates?] after a few hours/days depending upon the weather...

And if you are pulling your mast, who said we are limited to only 1 conduit...? [If the one you have is crowded...]

On a boat I had in the past, the conduit was crowded with masthead and mid-mast wires. I installed a 2nd conduit for masthead only wires and that really simplified things and provided better flexibility for the future. [IIRC it was a 49 foot mast height on my Valiant Esprit 37]

I used the simple way to install an internal conduit in the mast: Glue together the required length of desired size plastic conduit [bigger is better. 1 inch if you can...] Run a bead of 5200 on top, down the full length. Push the conduit into the mast with the fresh 5200 bead on top, and the desired landing spot for the new conduit on the down side of the mast orientation. [i.e., The mast is horizontal. Rotate it so the new conduit position is down so gravity works for you...] Once the new conduit is in position inside the mast [5200 side is still on top] rotate the conduit 180° so the bead of 5200 is against the mast. Rock it in slightly to distribute the 5200, and then wait patiently for it to set...

Best wishes with your project.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:54   #13
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

yes bigger is certainly better and 1" is not enough... made that mistake. How could those skinny little wires take up all that room I still ask myself. :-|
And that was the mast on a 30 footer with masthead, steaming and spreader lights and coax only.
I recommend 1 1/2" minimum. For pulling new wires I installed a 'continuous loop' of 1/8" line (a lot easier with the mast down of course).
If the mast is up you could possible use one of the existing wires to pull a messenger line into place and re-pull the wire if it is reusable, or replace.
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:29   #14
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrwakefield View Post
Caleb,
The clear cable pulling lubricant is your friend [not the colored goop used by electricians... I have purchased the clear stuff in quart bottles in the box stores in the US.] It doesn't make too much of a mess, wipes off your hands easily, and disappears [evaporates?] after a few hours/days depending upon the weather...
Bill
Thanks for the tip on using clear, versus colored, wire lube. I have used the colored for years and haven't had any problems other than the big mess it always makes. I'll try the clear and see what a difference it makes.

Regarding pulling wires in masts, I have a few years pulling wires in masts and many other places. It is the number one issue (other than proper design issues) in wiring boats. Lots of tricks of the trade - some work for one instance and don't work for the next one.

- If I put 5200 on something I was pulling up the mast I am sure I would get in on everything except where I wanted it to go. Obviously it has worked for others but....

- Conduit in masts is often discontinuous, leaving gaps from one tube to the next. This causes huge problems in trying to use fishes to pull new cable as the fish will most often not find where the next tube starts and just go off in to some random place in the mast and not to the hole in the top of the mast.

- Conduit in masts often is not sealed or attached to the hole(s) at the top, which is a problem much like the previous one.

- The best way to pull wires in a mast is when the mast is pulled and on the ground - the main reason is that you don't have to have someone pulled up to and sitting at the top. Count your blessings if your first pull goes well and the time at the top is short. It is very helpful, and sometimes absolutely essential to have someone at the bottom of the mast and someone at the top (whether out of or in the boat). It makes it go so much easier.

- Always pull an extra wire (12-14 gauge at least) when you are pulling new or replacement wiring and leave it where you can get to it for future work, on both ends. It can simplify the next job enormously.

- When splicing new wires to old to pull up the mast, you really need to make the splice as smooth and tapered as possible. Don't take all the new wire ends and tape them at the same place as one big bundle. Take one wire/cable and tape it to your pull wire. Tape the new wire a few inches below that one to the pull wire, and then the next down, etc. I don't like to use wire ties to do splices. They can hang up on things and they are not really very secure.

- String can make a good pull but can also get cut or abrade at sharp edges at the top or bottom of the mast. The helper at the entrance point needs to feed the string easily at the start of the pull. The person at the other end needs to try and keep the string off the hole edges pulling it out. Same for wire but it is more likely to survive than string.

- Losing your pull wire in the middle is the worst thing that can happen unless you have a second pull handy. So secure the pulling splice like your life depended on it. Use good tape to do the splice. I make a loop in the pull wire/string and double it back on the wires to be pulled so that it can't be pulled apart as easily. This all depends on whether you have room for this or not.

- Persistence is often the key. I have spent many hours trying to pull just one wire more than a few times and then got it done just as I was about to walk away and try an expensive or worse Plan B. You have to try and think about what obstacles you might be facing in the pull and orient your pull or the bundle or whatever to that. Sometimes it helps to get one good pull wire up first before yanking a string that might break along the way.

- Be very reluctant to pull as hard as you can and have the whole mess come apart inside the mast. You can pull the splice apart or break the pull wire or damage one of the cables you are pulling etc. Use lube to help you get through the hard parts and if that doesn't do it go to great lengths to redo your taper, cut down the thickness of the splice, or whatever. Some times all it takes is to take back out what you have pulled and start over. If it continues to jam at the same spot you know you have an issue.

- I like to have a way to measure how far up the mast I have been able to go. It can help to look at the mast exterior and try to imagine what might be the hangup and give you a fresh idea. Sometimes you get get it by pulling the bundle back and forth a few times.

- Take out any wires/cables you know you will not need, or you are replacing. Probably not needed to say this but just in case. I have seen people do this.

- Have a big celebration after you get the wires pulled. Treat your helper to beer or whatever.

Good luck.
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:34   #15
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Re: Do you have xperience pulling cable thru mast conduit?

It will either be easy, or it will be hard. Does that help? It's really impossible to tell beforehand.

The main tip I have is having two, or even three people, really helps. Doing it solo would be really hard I think. I assisted two riggers in doing this on my boat recently (to run a masthead wire) and having 3 people was useful. I have a largish conduit with plenty of room (not too crowded), yet the wire still got stuck halfway down the mast (they pull it from the top, after pulling a lead line up to the masthead).

It turned out the steaming light wire inside the mast had a huge zip tie around it, and that ziptie shank is what the wire was catching on. So although some people recommend using zip ties (with the tails left on) to prevent wire slap inside the mast, I wouldn't do that - really bad idea for when it comes time to run a new wire. (Yet, we still have wire slapping noise from inside the conduit - but it's the lesser of two evils I suppose)

To make the job go quicker I went up the mast to the steaming light and pulled out + cut off the ziptie. We didn't use any lubrication on the wire. I'm not sure that would've helped in our case though (the conduit wasn't tight - I believe the large ziptie clasp was simply acting as a ledge or hook, completely blocking the path the wire wanted to take).
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