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Old 10-02-2023, 18:38   #1
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Mast electrical cables

Hi
We are taking the mast down in a few months and recabling besides other jobs. I am going to replace the cabling for the deck,steaming,anchor and nav lights. Also, the VHF cable and wind instruments, is there any other cables I should add while the mast is out.

Many thanks Paul
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Old 10-02-2023, 19:02   #2
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Re: Mast electrical cables

Spreader lights perhaps?



My steaming light is a combo unit that includes a deck light. I find it quite useful. Requires an extra +ve to the steaming light position but they use the same -ve.


Although I don't personally use a Windex or wind instrument I have seen boats with a light mounted at the masthead that illuminates the windvane. Should your wind instruments ever fail at night at least you would still be able to see the apparent wind direction. Personally not something I would invest the time and energy to implement but, as I said, I've seen it so some find it worthwhile. (To be clear this isn't an all around light but a dedicated light that points upwards to just illuminate the wind vane. Using the anchor light for a quick peek at the windvane can also be effective, although keeping it on while under way is of course not kosher.)


If you don't want either of these options at the masthead or spreader it isn't much effort to run a cable with an additional +ve to each location so that, in the event you ever wish to install another light, it is available.


Last thought, I regret not taking the time to secure my electrical and VHF cables properly inside the mast when I re-did them years ago. They clank and clatter away while at anchor something awful when it's rolly. There are various ways to do this: conduit, pipe insulation, zip ties with tails left attached... whatever your preferred solution I would say its worth the extra effort if you haven't already planned to do so.
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Old 11-02-2023, 17:32   #3
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Re: Mast electrical cables

On the point of keeping the wires quiet - I heard of attaching a triplet of small zipties around the wire bundle at intervals leaving there "tails" long and sticking out at 120 degrees each.
This was said to prevent clatter inside the mast.
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Old 11-02-2023, 19:34   #4
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Re: Mast electrical cables

You didn't mention RADAR - although it's probably unlikely that you'll change the cabling on that piece of equipment.

Nekton73's suggestion of spreader lights is a good one. I just added spreader lights to my main mast - using the hole in the mast previously used only for the steaming/foredeck light to drop the wires for the spreader lights.

I also added the Windex light. It wasn't much of an effort. I just added a SPST switch to the cockpit panel and drew power from the navigation light switch.

One thing that you may consider regarding the VHF coax cable - think about using LMR-400UF instead of the usual RG8 or RG213 cable generally sold at marine chandleries. The LMR-400 has better performance, shielding, flexibility and protection properties than the others and is lighter. The UF version has a stranded core - but it is not tinned. However, you can tin the end when you attach the PL-259 connector. You can use heat shrink tubing to cover the connector(s) if you're still concerned about corrosion (just heat the two ends where they contact the cable). The LMR is a bit more expensive than either the RG8 or RG213, but I believe that the benefits offset the increased cost.

Another thing to think about is the gauge of the replacement wire if you're replacing/upgrading your lights. If you're changing from incandescent to LED lights, depending on the gauge of the existing wire you may be able to go down a size for your wires.
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Old 11-02-2023, 21:08   #5
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Re: Mast electrical cables

Most of the newer radars require power plus a cat 5 data cable, so you might think about running that.


Possibly a wire pair for a loudhailer under the radar if you think you might do that.


Finally wiring for a masthead camera if you need one for your youtube fans or for cutting it close under bridges.
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Old 12-02-2023, 19:22   #6
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Re: Mast electrical cables

Thanks for all the replies, all valuable information that I can use when we remove the mast.
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Old 12-02-2023, 19:45   #7
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Re: Mast electrical cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calaban-Alleria View Post
On the point of keeping the wires quiet - I heard of attaching a triplet of small zipties around the wire bundle at intervals leaving there "tails" long and sticking out at 120 degrees each.
This was said to prevent clatter inside the mast.

I'd be careful with this one. Ziptying the wires together, or even just adding zipties to individual wires to keep them from slapping the inside of the mast will make changing out a wire in the future a royal pain without bringing the mart down. I just re-wired everything in our mast, including adding cat 5 for our new radar, and I was able to do it with the mast up. I'm very grateful for that.

My current boat has conduit, so the slapping isn't an issue. My last boat did not, but it never really bothered. It just became part of the background boat noises
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Old 12-02-2023, 20:17   #8
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Re: Mast electrical cables

Seperate cable for AIS antenna could be a good add.

Run your cables free inside a supported conduit, definately not cabled tied, as that means pulling the mast if a single cable fails.

Add an extra 5mm cord pull line within the conduit, just incase you have to replace a damaged cable in the future. Helps to have that mousing cord as a backup, as a cable damaged at the top or bottom of the mast may not be able to be utilised as a pull cable. (Speaking from recent experience with a damaged Raymarine Wind instrument cable in a 20 metre mast)
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Old 13-02-2023, 02:01   #9
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Re: Mast electrical cables

We used very light weight bilge hose about 1.25" dia secured to the mast inside track with some unique zip ties that run in the track, every 4' . The cables are pulled in that. 2 sep conduit for steaming and deck.
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Old 13-02-2023, 06:35   #10
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Re: Mast electrical cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by rls8r View Post
You didn't mention RADAR - although it's probably unlikely that you'll change the cabling on that piece of equipment.



Nekton73's suggestion of spreader lights is a good one. I just added spreader lights to my main mast - using the hole in the mast previously used only for the steaming/foredeck light to drop the wires for the spreader lights.



I also added the Windex light. It wasn't much of an effort. I just added a SPST switch to the cockpit panel and drew power from the navigation light switch.



One thing that you may consider regarding the VHF coax cable - think about using LMR-400UF instead of the usual RG8 or RG213 cable generally sold at marine chandleries. The LMR-400 has better performance, shielding, flexibility and protection properties than the others and is lighter. The UF version has a stranded core - but it is not tinned. However, you can tin the end when you attach the PL-259 connector. You can use heat shrink tubing to cover the connector(s) if you're still concerned about corrosion (just heat the two ends where they contact the cable). The LMR is a bit more expensive than either the RG8 or RG213, but I believe that the benefits offset the increased cost.



Another thing to think about is the gauge of the replacement wire if you're replacing/upgrading your lights. If you're changing from incandescent to LED lights, depending on the gauge of the existing wire you may be able to go down a size for your wires.


I am partial to RG 214. Silver coated conductors and no aluminum tape. I have seen Al tape turn to dust aboard.
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Old 13-02-2023, 07:23   #11
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Re: Mast electrical cables

Hello Paul,
When we did this work on our boat I found wire pulling lubricant and an electricians fish tape helpful. I did the job on my own but a helper would have saved me miles of walking. I think the suggestion about a mousing pull cable is a good idea. That said, our in mast conduit was pretty full when the job was completed.
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Old 13-02-2023, 07:50   #12
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Re: Mast electrical cables

Other tips:
A hand spotlight is better than a wide beam flashlight for peering up the mast.

You can make a long "crochet" hook with coat hanger and long sticks or pvc tubing. Especially useful on a fractional rig if you need to reach the jib sheeve.

Temporarily replacing internal halyards with small messenger lines can make it easier to see inside and untangle lines if necessary.

Use a double length messenger to pull wires so that you can pull it back if your taped wires come loose.
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Old 13-02-2023, 07:54   #13
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Re: Mast electrical cables

One more:
You can "fish" a thread or string up the mast by using a couple of super magnets. One is attached to the thread and the other you slide up the outside. Use the thread to pull a messenger.
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Old 22-03-2023, 07:38   #14
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Re: Mast electrical cables

I like the supermagnet idea. With the mast down, I am going to pull smaller wires suitable for LED lights which will save weight and space in the conduit.
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Old 22-03-2023, 20:54   #15
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Re: Mast electrical cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgleason View Post
I like the supermagnet idea. With the mast down, I am going to pull smaller wires suitable for LED lights which will save weight and space in the conduit.


Please consider a cable rather than single wires as it is sturdier
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