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Project Log:  Saturday, April 26, 2014

This would not go down as one of the world's great days of achievement.

I began with cabin lights.  I'd recently ordered and received from Alpenglow the five (for now) LED cabin lights that I needed/wanted:  two berth lamps for the v-berth, and three reading lamps in the main cabin.  The difference between the berth lamp and the reading lamp was simply one of size:  the shade, bell, or whatever you might call it was noticeably smaller on the berth lamp, though the bases were the same size.  I also noticed a slight difference in the profile of the bases between the two lamp styles:  the raised center portion of the berth lamp's base was more square-sided than the gently rounded profile of the reading lamp base.

Berth lamps on the left in these photos

Starting in the v-berth, I installed the two berth lamps, connecting the lamps' wiring to the wiring I'd led through the bulkheads, then securing the lamp in place with the provided screws.  After installation, I discovered that the port lamp was not swiveling properly:  the whole stem was turning, not just the shade, so I had no choice but to remove the lamp and correct the problem by tightening the stem and breaking free the threaded shade end before reinstalling the now-functional light.


Moving on, I installed a light at the forward end of the galley.  Sometime later, I planned another fixture at the aft end, but I needed to run a wire pair for that one, and didn't think it was critical for now, so I postponed that to save time and money at the moment.


Future light location at the aft galley

On the port side, I installed the final two lights at the forward and after ends of the dinette.



The five lights took about an hour to install.  Afterwards, with rain promised but not yet happening, I decided to see if I could get the wires run through the mast from the masthead.  I'd left the snake in place, and set up two wire reels (one coax, one 14/2 sheathed cable) on a rod and stand nearby from which the wires would feed.

I securely (or so I thought) taped one cable to the end of the snake, and fed/pulled it carefully through the masthead hole and (I think--one could never be sure without being able to really see) into the top part of the internal wire conduit before I taped on the second wire, which kept the two bulkier ends well separated for (I hoped) easier pulling.  It was a tight fit through the masthead hole.  Unfortunately, it didn't take too long before I pulled the snake out from the taped ends of the wire, a frequent hazard despite care and caution.


That ended this particular attempt at pulling the wires, as I'd no choice but to pull back the wires, and then try to refeed the snake.  Strike one.

Around now I had a short-lived epiphany, or perhaps a "duh" moment:  I knew that the conduit moved within the mast, and I thought that perhaps I could just pull it right out, which would make it a snap to snake the wires through before reinserting the conduit.  This would be really cool if it worked.  Excited, I pulled out the conduit...only to find that it was in six- or eight-foot sections, not connected to each other.  So while I could pull out the bottom piece, there was no way to access the upper sections to remove them.  Oh sure, maybe if I raised the mast vertically and then eight feet off the ground they would slide out, but how was I going to do that?  Strike two. 

If nothing else, though, at least this would mean six or eight fewer feet through which I'd have to run the snake, so I left the bottom section out for now.


Back to the original plan.  This time, rather than try to get the snake back through the tiny top hole the way I did earlier, I figured I had nothing to lose by re-trying to insert the snake from the top end rather than the bottom--my preferred direction since somehow I thought it would ultimately make it easier to snake the wires through (who knew whether or not this would be the case).  I'd tried this earlier, to no avail, but this time I got the snake into the internal conduit without any problem at all, on the first attempt. 

That was a positive development, but since I couldn't really see into the mast I didn't truly believe I'd succeeded in getting the snake into the conduit till I saw it through the small hole halfway down, through which I'd eventually run the wires for the masthead  light(technical and proper name, having nothing to do with its location--commonly called steaming light to avoid undue confusion).

I was on a roll, until I wasn't:  somewhere, well down the mast--south of the masthead light location, but north of the end of the conduit that I could see up from the bottom (though I couldn't see the snake)--the snake simply stopped its progress.  I worked it back and forth, twisted, blah blah blah, all to no avail.  I took lunch break, then returned in light rain to try again--still no luck.  I went indoors for a while, saw nothing else on my work list that I felt like tackling, and then returned to the mast--this time in steadier rain--to make another brief attempt (often just stepping away for five minutes has magical effects on stubborn installations), but that thing was simply not moving.  I'd no idea what it was hung up on, but hung up it was.  For the moment, I had to quit, as the rain was not conducive to further efforts.  Strike three. 

I left the snake in place, and had no intention of pulling it all the way back out.  Ever.  It would have to go somehow, sometime.

Sometime in and around all this came the revelation that I also needed to run a SimNet network cable to the top of the mast, for the wind instruments.  It never ends.  Frankly, I didn't know that the extra cable--this one about 1/4" in diameter, like coax, but with permanent end fittings of just under 3/8" diameter--was going to fit through the conduit, never mind dealing with it at the top of the mast. 

No, this cable was not critical; no, I didn't need to run it to get the boat in the water; no, I didn't really ever need it, but it still needed to be run, and this was when I was running mast wiring, so now was when I was going to run all the mast wiring.  Sigh.  Somehow I'd figure out how to make it all work, and all get done.  At least for the afternoon, it was a non-immediate problem.

Unenthused still by my work list, I thought I'd knock off some easy tasks.  Against all odds, I did manage to successfully insert my plastic trash can--which I'd reserved in safe storage for some time--into the already-installed roll out shelf in the galley.  An amazing achievement! 


The next easily-expunge-able item (note:  irony to follow) that I thought I'd take care of was to install my propane control panel, the early installation stages of which I'd taken care of eons ago, in what now seemed like another lifetime.  Opening the service panel above the galley, where I'd already installed the bracket for the propane panel, I found the gray cable with neat and tidy factory plug end waiting for me just where I'd left it back in the day.  Snap, click, install the panel, and I'd be done.

As soon as I found the panel in my office closet, where I'd stashed it for safekeeping, I knew I was in trouble:  what were all these wires?


Of course I knew on some level that there had to be other wires--power in, ground, and two to connect the solenoid switch--but the truth was I'd never given the propane panel (or its required wiring beyond the sniffer cable that I'd run during stove installation) any thought during my wiring stage, now at least a year in the past (and the initial propane system steps happened another year before that).  When I worked on bulk wiring runs, the propane system was the furthest thing from my mind, and I did not run a wire pair for its power.  Other than blatantly and successfully ignoring the need to reconceive and rebuild my cockpit propane locker, I'd not given the system the least consideration since I completed the stove installation in that other lifetime.

Seeing four additional wires that I needed to connect--and for which I'd not properly planned ahead--was a crushing blow, and quickly quelled the emotional high on which I'd been flying ever since installing the trash can.  Rats.

Of course I still could--and obviously would--run these wires, but at the moment the prospect was a death knell to the day's feeble efforts.  The theoretically simple task of leading one additional cable into the compartment by the galley was, in reality, a convoluted process that would require perhaps a half day's work, by the time I led the wire 20 feet through the twists and turns and already-clogged wire chases in and around the engine room and console.  One can't plan perfectly for everything, the five "P"s notwithstanding.  Stuff falls through the cracks during a 4-year project.

As Sara Bareilles sings, "I'll be all right...just not tonight".

Total Time Today:  3.75 hours

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