Originally Posted by LookingForCruiser
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.