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  #1  
Old 08-30-2006
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Cool Quick disconnect at mast for wiring?

We own a 1986 boat which we just storm pulled for Ernesto. Some local yards are requiring stepping the mast for storm pulls now since so many boats were damaged from the domino effect last year in Florida. We had to cut the wiring to the mast as all was hard wired from prior installations. Are there any best practices for quick disconnects on a keel stepped mast with the usual array of electronics?

Thanks!

p.s. We should have stayed on our mooring, Ernesto has been a bust (thank goodness!!)
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Old 08-30-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeedmo
We own a 1986 boat which we just storm pulled for Ernesto. Some local yards are requiring stepping the mast for storm pulls now since so many boats were damaged from the domino effect last year in Florida. We had to cut the wiring to the mast as all was hard wired from prior installations. Are there any best practices for quick disconnects on a keel stepped mast with the usual array of electronics?

Thanks!

p.s. We should have stayed on our mooring, Ernesto has been a bust (thank goodness!!)
Ditto on Ernesto.
I really wouldn't advise using any sort of quick disconnects on your wires after restepping the mast. In my experience plugs and the like will develop corrosion and stop working after awhile. There was a lot of discussion about butt connectors vs. soldering in another thread so I won't go into that but whatever you do make sure to make them watertight. Use adhesive lined heat shrink butt connectors or shrink tubing and hard wire them again.
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Old 08-30-2006
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Not exactly a quick disconnect, but very effective:

Use terminal strips in the cabin where the wires exit the mast. This has worked for me for many years. The terminal strips hold wires for:

- wind direction/speed indicator
- mast top navigation and anchor lights
- spreader lights
- steaming light
- foredeck light

The RG-213 coax is connected using two PL-259 male UHF connectors and a barrel connector. This is heavily taped with 3-M electrical tape to keep moisture out.

When you pull the mast, you just unscrew all the mast wires from the terminal strips, and disconnect the VHF coax.

Be sure to label everything well.

Bill
S/V Born Free
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Old 08-30-2006
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We have terminal strips mounted just below the cabin sole and the wires that exit the mast are routed up to the terminal strips and then from the terminal strips back to the rest of the boat. Our cabin sole is about 12" above the mast step so this arrangement acts as a drip loop for the wiring exiting the mast and lets us remove the wires from the terminal strip for mast removal.

Hope this helps.
Ike
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Old 08-30-2006
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Provided the quick connect plugs are of the waterproof variety, and you use a good anti-corrosion paste or grease and install the plugs on a long enough lead to have them up out of the bilge, I don't really see a problem with using quick-disconnect plugs.

You will need to use several different connectors, as the coax connection for the VHF needs a separate, shielded connector from the others, and so on. Also, keeping the wiring segregated for each fixture makes it far easier to replace or trouble shoot the fixtures.

Duraline makes a line of submersible, waterproof, modular connectors.

The terminal strips are a pretty good solution, provided you label everything quite clearly. However, I think it would be more prone to corrosion than sealed connectors would be. The terminal strips also would probably require far more room, as you have to have enough space to see the strip and to get your hands, the wiring and a screwdriver in to tighten the connection. The sealed connectors would be far faster, and probably at least as reliable IMHO.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 08-30-2006 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 08-30-2006
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Since the prior owner of my boat stored it indoors each winter, he naturally had to unstep both masts. Fortunately, the boat was originally commissioned with cable disconnects, making the task of disconnecting/reconnecting the cables much simpler.

I am not certain of the manufacturer, but it's most likely an European company. Some of the connections for the anchor light, deck lights and running lights are shown in this recent photo. The VHF antenna and wind instruments cables are on the other side of the mast.

Aside from dropping one of the screw retaining collars overboard last year, and sealing the exposed plug connection with rigging tape, they have not given me any problems within the three seasons we've owned the boat. The connections have remained tight and waterproof.




I forgot to mention that my Radar cable located on the mizzen, does not have a disconnect. That cable is a royal pain to disconnect, since it runs unbroken the entire distance to the pilothouse helm.
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Last edited by TrueBlue; 08-30-2006 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 08-30-2006
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Talking Thanks for all the great info!

You've given me some great options as we put her back together in the next few days. Thanks again.
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Old 08-30-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeedmo

p.s. We should have stayed on our mooring, Ernesto has been a bust (thank goodness!!)
Don't let this storm discourage you from doing the same thing next storm threat.
I was fortunate enough to find a slip so far west that any storm surge will be at a minimum.

E.
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Old 09-03-2006
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Check out the circular connectors and accessories here.
http://www.e-sonic.com/acc/products....Group=Amphenol
The american military uses them for field equipment. I have used them on boats and for pyro equipment in the special effects industry. Quite robust. Incidentally, a radar tech once told me that it is necessary to use a continuous cable for radar for it to properly time the returns and present an accurate picture.
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Old 09-03-2006
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Really robust quick disconnects, with multiple contacts, aren't gonna be found at your local Rat Shack store. And sometimes not even at the marina.

You can try Mouser.com, Newark Electronics (online) or Digikey.com to durm some up. The terminal strips are your most likely and inexpensive solution. If you can find the commercial ones made by www.bulgin.co.uk under the "BUCCANEER" brand, they're great stuff. High power ratings and multiple pins.

As a couple of the guys point out, using silicon grease on the fittings to prevent corrossion should be mandatory.

If you do buy an unusual fitting for this task...make sure to buy at least one spare, since you probably will never find it again if you need one.

One "good enough" solution can be to use "trailer harness" wiring plugs, they're common and inexpensive, the same ones used to connect a trailer's lights to your car. Limited to 4 poles per connector, but cheap and robust and easily available. Not gonna be tinned wire though.
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