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Solway 36, how to replace wires in the mast ?

Posted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:57 pm
by pbomel
Hi WOA members !

I am currently refitting the Proctor main mast of a Solway 36.
I've been surprised: after removing all screws and fitting
parts the electric cables and the VHF cable do not
move at all. They seem to be "hold" somewhere inside the mast.

Does someone know how to replace these cables ?

Pierre (a French who may not write a perfect English)

Re: Solway 36, how to replace wires in the mast ?

Posted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:21 am
by Jolly Roger
From memory, most mast manufacturers fit the cables in the mast before fitting the top and base plates. So I would expect if there are any clamps, they would be inside at either end and can only be accessed with the fittings removed. There is the possibility that there is no clamp, but corrosion to the aluminium has created a seal that is holding the cables in place.

So my first job would be to check where the cables are exiting the mast and look for corrosion. If this is the case then use boiling water to try and dissolve the crusty corrosion. If it is not corrosion, I would remove the mast ends. This might be a very good idea any way as recently I had corrosion around some rivet heads on a spinnaker pole that caused a fitting to pull out.

Your English is far better than my French and I had no difficulty understanding your problem.

Re: Solway 36, how to replace wires in the mast ?

Posted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:16 pm
by rhumlady
The cables will almost certainly go through a conduit so the cable may be sticking at the entry or exit. If you have conduit then there will be pairs of pop rivets going up the mast to hold it in place. Try feeding the cable in to the mast while someone pulls at the other end but not too hard or it will tend to pull the cable against the edge and jam it. The cables normally take a sharp bend between the conduit exit and the exit from the mast.

Re: Solway 36, how to replace wires in the mast ?

Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:13 am
by pbomel
Hi Roger and Derek,

Many thanks for your help. I need it :-)

The top end of the mast is totally sealed (soldered).
The bottom end of the mast has screws (currently blocked).
I saw along the mast (from top to bottom, every 1.5 m) regular pairs of screws
to hold something inside. I fear this is a internal conduit that I won't be
able to reach from the top.

There are no signs of corrosion, but cables do not move at all.
A French sailor told me that the "cross trees" (the horizontal part of the mast, at mid length)
may hold the cables and that I should remove them to "see".

Well, I'm blocked. So I will remove all I can to inspect inside as far
as possible. I'll let you know the results. This may help another sailor.

While refitting the Solway I am slowly discovering how the men worked
at that time. Some sailors complain about the difficulty to reach hidden nuts and
bolts at some places (like hatches). I consider this is as an exceptional work
that nobody does anymore (probably too expensive). They were professionals !

I suppose this is the same for the masts. I must be patient and learn.


Re: Solway 36, how to replace wires in the mast ?

Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:45 am
by Jolly Roger

There is no reason why you could not just fit new cables outside the conduit. You can drop a messenger with a piece of bicycle chain as a weight down the mast and to retreive them at the base is then very simple. Make the exit hole large enough to fit a grommit to stop rubbing. Then pass some connected plastic cable ties into the mast so they lay around the inside of the mast, with both ends staying out of the mast. When the chain gets to the bottom, then pull the cable ties and chain is then in the captive loop. The cables would need to be secured inside the mast to stop them getting worn by the halyards. Using the same process as retreiving the messenger, you can set up fixings about every 2 to 3m before you start dropping the messenger.

One other "good" job Westerly did was to glass over most of the nuts from bolts passing through the deck. So you may find this another frustration caused by "professional" workers!

Re: Solway 36, how to replace wires in the mast ?

Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:24 pm
by aquaplane
I don't know if it will help but here is a pic of the wreckage of my broken Proctor mast:


If you try and ignore the standing and running rigging which was all on the outside of the mast, there are the black wires to the nav lights and the white coax for the VHF exiting the broken end of the mast and heading to the other end of the break about a foot away. The wires and the coax weren't in conduits, infact I didn't see conduits when I looked in the broken ends.

IIRC the top of the mast was welded. The foot (there is a pic in that album), was fixed by stainless screws which I couldn't budge. I had spent a good while replacing the coax before the mast was damaged. I fed the new wire in at the top of the mast through a new hole and jiggled it down as far as the cross trees where I managed to hook it out through one of the lower shroud holes and pull a length through. I then poked and juggled untill I could hook it out of the parking hole for the roller reefing handle and pull more through. It wasn't far to the base of the mast then.

Have fun.