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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Leak at mast wiring deck penetration
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Thread: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-04-2013 12:50 AM
Alex W
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

Glad the photo was helpful and that you liked the other stuff on my flickr. There is a lot more of the bike stuff on my blog at Alex Wetmore is always busy with something…. It's still my primary passion, sailing is just catching up quickly as a secondary one.

I did get to use the lathe yesterday to make new sheaves for my masthead.
01-04-2013 12:44 AM
Rusty123
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

Quote:
Originally Posted by miatapaul View Post
If you can see plywood, then you need to get it potted out with epoxy. My guess is that they changed the hole (enlarged) when they installed the radar. If you can get the leak to stop you should be OK till the next time you bring your mast down, but if you keep getting water in there you will have big problems. The problem with plywood is that it tends to wick the moisture along the ply's, and get big sections of wet core. At least end grain Balsa will tend to keep the moisture localized as long as there is not that much moisture. It might be worth it to try to at least seal the core with some epoxy from underneath. You could use a syringe to try to get the exposed ply wetted out doing it one half of the hole at once, holding the wires to the opposite side. Though without pictures it is hard to see how much room you have. I would think pushing the wire back in is likely to have it go back into the same shape it was before so I would think you would get your drip loop back if it was there in the first place.
Excellent advice -- that's my plan. The hole is ragged, but pretty big (about 1" diameter), so I think I'll have room to "paint" the exposed ply with epoxy (after rounding and smoothing the hole with a dremel).

Despite the leak, the plywood hasn't really become wet -- the water just slides down the cable and drips on the floor. I've left the headliner section off to ensure that occurs until I can fix the problem (which I hope the drip loop will do - this weekend).
01-04-2013 12:41 AM
Rusty123
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
Here is a photo of that style of mast step, I was just down at my boat cleaning it out. I've added notes on the flickr page showing where the two drains are (one is obvious, one is not):
Thanks for posting the photo - very illustrative. (By they way, I enjoyed looking at your bike and machine photos -- I'm a bicycle commuter).
01-01-2013 06:40 PM
Alex W
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

Here is a photo of that style of mast step, I was just down at my boat cleaning it out. I've added notes on the flickr page showing where the two drains are (one is obvious, one is not):
01-01-2013 02:35 PM
svHyLyte
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty123 View Post
Those deck seals look sweet -- unlike my radar cable, my VHF cable exits the mast above deck, and then goes through a similar device.

But as I sit here thinking about it, it occurs to me that when I first removed the cabin headliner to investigate the leak, I pulled the slack in the radar cable into the cabin. I'm thinking that "slack" might have actually been a drip loop. so while I solved one problem (by removing the caulk in the mast drain hole), I might have caused another (by removing the drip loop). Hopefully, I can put the drip loop back in (I can certainly push the slack back in the mast, but it may take some work to form a loop).

This also makes sense in light of the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that this leak is long standing -- no stains, no deterioration, nothing, even though this boat has been weathering Pacific Northwest winters for at least 15 years.

One good thing about all this -- I was able to identify that the plywood coring forming the deck penetration is rough and raw, and needs to be smoothed and epoxy sealed.
A common approach to feeding wiring through the deck on a deck stepped mast was, at one point, the use of a tube that extends above the step for several inches and into the deck for several inches below the step with caulking around the tube at the deck penetration. Wiring was then routed down to the deck level within the mast and then looped back up to, and then through, the tube. (Some such tubes have a goose-neck arrangement looking like an inverted capital J.) The loop, extending below the top of the tube within the mast, is, in fact, a "drip loop" as you guessed. By pulling the wire entirely through the step, you likely did eliminate the loop. One solution might be to use an injectable, expanding, foam of the type used to insulate refrigerators, which is "closed cell" and will not absorb water, if you can get a small nozzle up and into the penetration far enough, it will fill the voids around the wiring and expand through the top of the tube somewhat, potentially preventing further penetration.

FWIW...
12-31-2012 07:08 PM
miatapaul
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty123 View Post
I've seen tubes like this on the web (some appear to be integrated into the mast step). Mine doesn't have one, at least not that I can see from the bottom side. Just a roughly drilled hole in the deck (which is quite thick in this area, and cored with plywood, vice balsa).
If you can see plywood, then you need to get it potted out with epoxy. My guess is that they changed the hole (enlarged) when they installed the radar. If you can get the leak to stop you should be OK till the next time you bring your mast down, but if you keep getting water in there you will have big problems. The problem with plywood is that it tends to wick the moisture along the ply's, and get big sections of wet core. At least end grain Balsa will tend to keep the moisture localized as long as there is not that much moisture. It might be worth it to try to at least seal the core with some epoxy from underneath. You could use a syringe to try to get the exposed ply wetted out doing it one half of the hole at once, holding the wires to the opposite side. Though without pictures it is hard to see how much room you have. I would think pushing the wire back in is likely to have it go back into the same shape it was before so I would think you would get your drip loop back if it was there in the first place.
12-31-2012 06:21 PM
Rusty123
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
Since my drain hole has been clogged I made a wick that I hooked through the tube that pulled the water down to a pot sitting on the cabin table. This is a hacky fix, but is better than having water on the table and floor. This may be a temporary solution that works for you. I made this wick by taking 3 or 4 feet of 1/8" line, decoring it, and running thin wire (piano wire) up where the core was. The top of this was bent like a paper clip and hooked on the top of that mast step tube.
Thanks for this tip -- would be better than visiting the boat every few days to mop up the floor, as I've been doing.
12-31-2012 06:18 PM
Rusty123
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
There should be a little tube that protects the plywood there. On my mast step (Isomat-brand on a Pearson boat) this tube is part of the step and you can see it from below. The top of the tube sticks up about an inch from the mast step base to keep pooled water from finding this way out of the mast and to have it go through the drain hole instead.
I've seen tubes like this on the web (some appear to be integrated into the mast step). Mine doesn't have one, at least not that I can see from the bottom side. Just a roughly drilled hole in the deck (which is quite thick in this area, and cored with plywood, vice balsa).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
I think that drip loops on the electrical cables can't hurt, but my guess is that most of the water is wicked in via the halyards, not the electrical wires. Rope just makes a much better wick than rubber/plastic insulation.
My halyards don't run inside the mast, but I think there are lots of ways for the rain to get inside -- masthead sheaves, spreader connections, etc. Once inside the mast, I suspect that some collects on radar cable, even if that isn't the primary source of the water.

I would be interested in some photos of yours -- good luck on your New Year's mast project!
12-31-2012 06:08 PM
Rusty123
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

A few more thoughts for consideration: I wonder if I could use a zip tie to put a 180 degree bend in the cable before I push it back up into the mast. This would then form the top side of the drip loop (or "S" shape). Downside might be that the cable wouldn't like having a semi-permanent sharp bend. Or maybe some sort of removeable wire "hook" to encourage the loop into place?

Too bad there isn't a way to make the cable seek a looped shape by itself (like a self-coiling air compressor hose).
12-31-2012 05:58 PM
Alex W
Re: Leak at mast wiring deck penetration

There should be a little tube that protects the plywood there. On my mast step (Isomat-brand on a Pearson boat) this tube is part of the step and you can see it from below. The mast is coming down off of my boat today (mostly to remove caulk and clear the drain in ways that couldn't be done from the outside) and I'll take a photo if you like.

The top of the tube sticks up about an inch from the mast step base to keep pooled water from finding this way out of the mast and to have it go through the drain hole instead. Since my drain hole has been clogged I made a wick that I hooked through the tube that pulled the water down to a pot sitting on the cabin table. This is a hacky fix, but is better than having water on the table and floor. This may be a temporary solution that works for you. I made this wick by taking 3 or 4 feet of 1/8" line, decoring it, and running thin wire (piano wire) up where the core was. The top of this was bent like a paper clip and hooked on the top of that mast step tube.

I think that drip loops on the electrical cables can't hurt, but my guess is that most of the water is wicked in via the halyards, not the electrical wires. Rope just makes a much better wick than rubber/plastic insulation.

De-stepping the mast to fix this is a major pain in the butt, but it'll be nice to have a boat that stays dry in the rain. I'm also in the PNW.
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