Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole? - SailNet Community

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Old 11-04-2013
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Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

My boat has a deck stepped mast with a raised pipe nipple that the cables run through. There is a drain that keeps most water from finding it's way down this nipple and into the cabin.

However during heavy rains a little bit of water still finds it's way in. Rainy season is starting in Seattle. The VHF antenna cable is thick and stout enough that I can't put a drip loop into it.

I've been trying to think of good but not permanent ways to seal this hole. I don't want to drop the mast to do so. I would like to make sure that the pipe nipple is sealed at the top (not the bottom) so that water doesn't puddle in it.

Is expanding foam water tight enough to work well as this seal? Is there another product that works well?

This is a photo of the mast step, the silver tube near the front is what I am trying to fill (from inside the boat):
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Re: Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

A wax toilet-bowl ring would probably keep the water out. Clean up with mineral spirits.
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Re: Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

Also, any advice for filling the tube without using too much foam and having it clog the drain holes?
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Re: Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaduction View Post
A wax toilet-bowl ring would probably keep the water out. Clean up with mineral spirits.
That's a good idea and easy for me to try, I have some of that wax in my parts box from installing a depth transducer on a previous boat.
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Re: Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

I would drill out the drain hole I see to a bigger size and even add a second one on the other side to ensure it drains
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Re: Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

There are already two drain holes. One on the very front of the step, and one on the side. It has no trouble draining, I check it every time I'm down there after a rain (which is about once a week).
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Re: Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

How many/what size cables pass through that feeder tube?

The water ingress you're getting is probably drippage from holes in the mast aloft, some of which 'drops' into the tube.. you don't/shouldn't need a full watertight deal here, more of a deflector should do (assuming the tube/deck passthrough is watertight itself)

Perhaps you could split an appropriate sized grommet put it around the wires and push it up to the top of the tube as a deflector/umbrella idea??

Some possiblities:

rubber grommets - Google Search
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Re: Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

4 cables.

The largest is a VHF cable, and it is the "big" size (around 12-13mm). There are also 2 16ga power cables (steaming and anchor lights) and a small rectangular (telephone-style) wind instrument cable.

I've thought about putting some sort of "hat" on them that deflected the drips, but don't have a great design in mind. I think it need to be larger than a standard grommet. Ideally it would also fit around the existing connectors.

This must be a common issue on other deck stepped boats. The advice that I read in books is to put a drip loop onto the cable, but that is nearly impossible with a big heavy duty VHF cable.
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Re: Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

Some cold weather surfboard wax might be the trick.
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Re: Expanding foam to seal mast step cable hole?

That spray in expandable foam absorbs water almost as fast as a bath sponge. I think any 'fix' to this is going to be a lot more trouble than its worth, and would just add a small solar panel and an automatic bilge pump to keep the boat dry.
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