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  #1  
Old 06-20-2009
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mast is wired - do I need to redo part?

So my mast now has holes drilled and threaded, and wires running through it.

A few questions though:

a. The mast aluminum was plenty thick enough for threading, so I'm going to use screws to hold the lights. Now the brackets & screws are stainless - should I put anything on them so they don't corrode the aluminum? Or would any sealant/grease just end up trapping water and making it worse? Or should I use aluminum screws (on stainless brackets) ?

b. I have the Orcagreen trianchor LED light. This has a pigtail that comes down, with 3 20-gauge wires. So I stripped them a good ways, twisted & folded the wire, twisted & folden again, and then crimped the 16-gauge heat-shrink butt connector to it (with 16 gauge wire on the other side). Now when I went to shrink the heat-shrink, it didn't shrink nearly enough to fit a 20-gauge wire. Also, on some wires there's a little scorch mark from where the flame from my little butane torch hit it.

The bugs were getting fierce, and I was tired, so I just wrapped the whole thing tightly in electrical tape and figured I'd deal with it on a later date. Now I'm thinking the right way would be to clip the heat shrink tubing off the 20-gauge side, and use smaller adhesive-lined heat shrink tubing. Or are things OK the way that I've described?

I also don't like that little butane torch, no idea how I'm going to keep it from leaving little scorch marks. If I do redo things, should I switch to using a soldering iron to heat the heat-shrink tubing? Or just learn to live with tiny scorch marks?

c. No idea how the idea of using wire ties to keep the mast wires from banging around will work, when you've got a set of wires running to the top, and another exiting half way. How do you get the ties on the second run from getting caught up on the ties from the first run? I also read of a solution that said to slide pipe insulation up. That seems feasible up to the spreaders, so I might do that and let the wire hang loose in the second half of the run.
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Old 06-20-2009
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You can get smaller butt connectors. I just installed some bow and stern lights and had a similar problem, but I used small butt connector and was able to get them to shrink to the wire - just barely.

Also, I suggest you stop using flame and switch to a heat gun. I got a $20 heat gun from the painting section at Home Depot. It has two settings, 750 degrees and 1000 degrees. I use the 750. I also used it to remove the name from the stern and some vinyl that was glued to the inside of the hull. Its been very handy.
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Old 06-20-2009
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there are other options like
liquid electric tape
rescue tape


i would probably put some liquid tape over it, then wrap that in the rescue tape
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Old 06-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LookingForCruiser View Post

b. I have the Orcagreen trianchor LED light. This has a pigtail that comes down, with 3 20-gauge wires. So I stripped them a good ways, twisted & folded the wire, twisted & folden again, and then crimped the 16-gauge heat-shrink butt connector to it (with 16 gauge wire on the other side). Now when I went to shrink the heat-shrink, it didn't shrink nearly enough to fit a 20-gauge wire. Also, on some wires there's a little scorch mark from where the flame from my little butane torch hit it.

I also don't like that little butane torch, no idea how I'm going to keep it from leaving little scorch marks. If I do redo things, should I switch to using a soldering iron to heat the heat-shrink tubing? Or just learn to live with tiny scorch marks?
I would have intertwined the 20 AWG wire into the 16 AWG wire, and twisted them together. Then, I would carefully feed them into one side of the butt splice, and crimp. Either tape off the other side of the butt splice, or put a short peice of 16 AWG in the other side.

In order to keep from scorching the tubing keep moving the torch back and forth over the entire tube. The torch should never be still relative to the heat shrink, and should never get closer than 1" from the tubing. It takes some practice, but I can do it with my butane torch without scorching.

If this won't work for you, there is a small butane lighter powered heat gun that essentially has a peice of screen over where the flame exits.

This "gun" throws heat, but not flame . These cost about $20 including a small disposable lighter. Available here:Heatgunstore.com - Butane Heat Tools - Heat Guns - Iroda MJ-600 MICRO-THERM Cordless Butane Heat Gun
... but you can't make crème brûlée with it...

Last edited by eherlihy; 06-20-2009 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 06-20-2009
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I used wire ties to keep the wires from banging by first making up the whole top to bottom wire harness, with the steaming light mid-mast wiring attached to a messenger line thru the steaming light opening. Then, using an electrician's tape, I pulled the whole harness thru from the bottom to top.
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Old 06-21-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LookingForCruiser View Post
So my mast now has holes drilled and threaded, and wires running through it.

A few questions though:

a. The mast aluminum was plenty thick enough for threading, so I'm going to use screws to hold the lights. Now the brackets & screws are stainless - should I put anything on them so they don't corrode the aluminum? Or would any sealant/grease just end up trapping water and making it worse? Or should I use aluminum screws (on stainless brackets) ?
You should use tefgel or lanocote to help prevent galvanic corrosion between the fasteners and the mast. This will also make it likely that the threads won't rot and fuse to the fasteners, and that you'll be able to remove the screws in the future.

Personally, I prefer pop-riveting to drilling and tapping the mast, since many masts are too thin to properly support screws.
Quote:
b. I have the Orcagreen trianchor LED light. This has a pigtail that comes down, with 3 20-gauge wires. So I stripped them a good ways, twisted & folded the wire, twisted & folden again, and then crimped the 16-gauge heat-shrink butt connector to it (with 16 gauge wire on the other side). Now when I went to shrink the heat-shrink, it didn't shrink nearly enough to fit a 20-gauge wire. Also, on some wires there's a little scorch mark from where the flame from my little butane torch hit it.
You would have been better off using step-down butt splices.
Quote:
The bugs were getting fierce, and I was tired, so I just wrapped the whole thing tightly in electrical tape and figured I'd deal with it on a later date. Now I'm thinking the right way would be to clip the heat shrink tubing off the 20-gauge side, and use smaller adhesive-lined heat shrink tubing. Or are things OK the way that I've described?
The step-down butt splices are covered in adhesive lined heat shrink, and IIRC, will shrink down to fit the wire on both sides properly.
Quote:
I also don't like that little butane torch, no idea how I'm going to keep it from leaving little scorch marks. If I do redo things, should I switch to using a soldering iron to heat the heat-shrink tubing? Or just learn to live with tiny scorch marks?
I like the Ancor heat shrink torch, since it is pretty much designed for just that purpose, and operated at a lower temp than some others do. It is basically the same as the one eherlihy posted about.
Quote:
c. No idea how the idea of using wire ties to keep the mast wires from banging around will work, when you've got a set of wires running to the top, and another exiting half way. How do you get the ties on the second run from getting caught up on the ties from the first run? I also read of a solution that said to slide pipe insulation up. That seems feasible up to the spreaders, so I might do that and let the wire hang loose in the second half of the run.
IMHO, you're really far better off installing a proper conduit. If you use the wire ties and have to pull out and replace one of the wires, how do you do it??? Also, while the wire ties will keep the wires from banging or slapping in the mast, they really don't do much for preventing the wires from moving—which can cause fatigue-related failures—nor do they support the wires in any significant way, meaning that the weight of the wires may be pulling on the connections in the fixture or the butt splice connectors. Nor does using wire ties protect the wires from chafe or physical damage. Installing a proper wiring conduit helps solve most of these issues.
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Old 06-21-2009
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OK, went and ordered step-down adhesive heat-shrink connectors. This would be vastly more convenient if a store actually carried these things somewhere... I wasn't real happy with the state of affairs though and will glady wait til they arrive to rectify the situation.

Not sure how conduit in the mast would provide support? It would prevent movement, but you'd still have the wires hanging straight down the conduit.

The tricky part with my mast is it has been chopped in half for a mast repair, and has an inner sleeve at spreader-height. I'd have to de-rivet the top cap and try to get something lined up midway, and most likely also have to unscrew and rip the mast in half again, to do a proper conduit at both sides of the repair.
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Old 06-21-2009
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FWIW, crimp connectors are normally sized as "10-12G" "14-16G" and "18-22G" with each connector able to properly fit just those wire sizes. Typically, two of the thinner wires OR on of the thicker, in the crimp.

If you don't have any of the rare converter crimps (different size on each end) the most reliable way to bridge the gap is by using a bit of extra wire, i.e. put a 16G wire in one side of a "14-16" crimp, and then put an inch of 16G PLUS your 20G wire in the other side. That way the wire bundle in each side is still within the diameter that the crimp is designed to work with. Twisting is NOT necessary, and folding does not help.

More importantly, if you are unfamiliar with all this stuff, the "$5 for 500" assortment is crap, and the $5 crimping tool also crap. If you want to "do it right and do it once" the better crimping tools run about $45 for the basic ratcheting crimper--which ensures you don't over-crimp the joint either.

The crimp connector themselves make a big difference, expect to pay 25-50c each for good ones, more for the adhesive shrink lined ones. That's just the price of reliable goods. A good crimp, made with the right tools and parts, and properly sealed, will last a lifetime. Anything else? Usually will fail at the worst possible time.
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Old 06-21-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LookingForCruiser View Post
OK, went and ordered step-down adhesive heat-shrink connectors. This would be vastly more convenient if a store actually carried these things somewhere... I wasn't real happy with the state of affairs though and will glady wait til they arrive to rectify the situation.
Good.

Quote:
Not sure how conduit in the mast would provide support? It would prevent movement, but you'd still have the wires hanging straight down the conduit.
It is far easier to support wires in a conduit than it is when they are hanging in the center of the mast.

Quote:
The tricky part with my mast is it has been chopped in half for a mast repair, and has an inner sleeve at spreader-height. I'd have to de-rivet the top cap and try to get something lined up midway, and most likely also have to unscrew and rip the mast in half again, to do a proper conduit at both sides of the repair.
Probably less of a problem than you think, depending on the size of the spare and the size of the PVC pipe you're using as a conduit.
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a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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