Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 19 Old 04-01-2014 Thread Starter
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Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

I have my mast down (Islander 30 Bahama) and have a number of maintenance and upgrade projects on the list before she goes in the water. I came across an excerpt from Don Casey's book that described a method of installing a conduit inside the mast using sealant or adhesive to secure the conduit against the inside. This prompted several questions:
  • What size conduit is typical? I was thinking 1-inch
  • What type of sealant or adhesive would be able to hold the conduit? We're talking at least 40 feet!
  • Would the adhesive really be able to sustain a drill coming through the mast and into the conduit without it being pulled away from the mast?
  • Is this whole exercise even worth the effort?
I appreciate any and all opinions.
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post #2 of 19 Old 04-01-2014
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Re: Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

I used 1 inch plastic conduit, Mine is pop riveted in place, to hold conduit while drilling ,I used a small auto scissors jack rigged with a snow rake handle . I could add more length as I got up the mast , just a twist gave plenty of pressure right where I drilled........Dale

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post #3 of 19 Old 04-01-2014
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Re: Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

During the last 2.5 years of anchorages, I can tell you that the most obnoxious sound on a pleasant tropical evening, is the boat anchored next to you clanging all night long because his wires are not secured in his mast.
That may be of no importance to you if you don't take your boat out for overnights.
I can not for the life of me understand how those people could even sleep aboard, yet these were full time cruisers!

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post #4 of 19 Old 04-01-2014
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Re: Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

would standard pipe insulation work instead of a plastic conduit, start at the bottom and slide the insulation up the mast and tape the insulation together at each of the butt ends with the wire inside. The insulation might lower or eliminate the noise of the wire hitting the mast. You will probably will have to pull everything off the mast or at least any through bolts otherwise the insulation may not be stiff enough to push up the mast. I just primed my 50-foot mast and plan to replace the VHF wire which is wrapped in a 1.5 inch outside diameter foam insulation with possible 0.5 inch I.D. but need to verify the inside diameter. The insulation appears original to the 1979 Sabre. The insulation is not secured to the mast but is held against the mast via some of the through bolts for the lower shrouds, spreaders and upper shroud through bolts. Mechanical fastners, adhesive and PVC all sound like a pain in the a....
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Re: Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

I hate the idea of drilling rows of holes in the mast. Four or five big nylon ties in a radial star pattern spaced at regular intervals along split loom encased wires supplemented by some inter-spaced foam wrapping has worked well for me in the past. Obviously needs to be done in a way that doesn't interfere with any internal halyards.
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Re: Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

Definitely worth it... As capta has noted, few things more annoying at anchor than stuff slapping around inside the mast...

Not a difficult project at all. I used light PVC conduit, and a heavy bead of 5200. filled the conduit with several lengths of black iron pipe to give it some weight. Slide the whole arrangement inside, once you're confident of its placement, rotate the conduit 180 degrees so the bead of adhesive is against the mast wall, and let the 5200 cure, remove the heavy pipe with the messenger line... So far, so good, mine has presented no problems after 15 years...

Using fasteners or the pop rivet method sounds like an incredible PITA, and like others, I hate drilling any more holes in my mast than necessary :-)
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Re: Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

I like your use of the black pipe. I may have to "borrow" some from Home Depot for the occasion....

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Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
Definitely worth it... As capta has noted, few things more annoying at anchor than stuff slapping around inside the mast...

Not a difficult project at all. I used light PVC conduit, and a heavy bead of 5200. filled the conduit with several lengths of black iron pipe to give it some weight. Slide the whole arrangement inside, once you're confident of its placement, rotate the conduit 180 degrees so the bead of adhesive is against the mast wall, and let the 5200 cure, remove the heavy pipe with the messenger line... So far, so good, mine has presented no problems after 15 years...

Using fasteners or the pop rivet method sounds like an incredible PITA, and like others, I hate drilling any more holes in my mast than necessary :-)
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Re: Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

I also recommend the other methods over drilling and riveting the conduit.

If you opt for the "pipe insulation and zip-tie spider" method, make sure you use the modern, plastic-cell foam insulation instead of the old, black rubber foam. The black rubber foam disintegrates over time, and will make a nasty mess inside of your mast, eventually. They're practically the same price anyway.

Make sure you use large, wide zip-ties that are strong enough to fend off the weight of the cables from the inside of the mast.

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Re: Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

The beauty of conduit is, if you need to run additional cables in the future, you have a nice, clear shot all the way up/down the mast. No worries that you'll get tangled in a halyard. Plus, if you leave a messenger line or two in there, you'll be very happy with yourself when you want to run that next cable. To me, 1" conduit seems small, but maybe that's just my ignorance. I'd probably go with 1.5" if I thought it would fit. Also, you'll need to figure out how you want to handle the area around the spreaders, assuming you have spreader lights. I've heard of people using 2 pieces, one on either side of the spreader.
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-12-2014
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Re: Installing a conduit in the mast--Worth it?

I put PVC conduit in my 47' (keel-stepped) mast following Don Casey's system. I think I used Liquid Nails rather than 5200 as it's the same type of adhesive (polyurethane), it doesn't have to make a critical water seal and it's a lot cheaper. Once the glue set, I drilled for pop rivets every 4 feet or so, just for a little mechanical reinforcement. I think I used 1.5 inch PVC. I suggest using the biggest you can reasonably fit, as it can get pretty tough to run wire through it once it gets full. It's been about 4 years now and it's still in place.
I found it no more difficult than the zip-tie spiders I'd put in the year before and a lot more effective. and well worth it.
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