Originally Posted by wrwakefield
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
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