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Thread: Mast Wiring Access E30+

  1. #1

    Mast Wiring Access E30+

    As new ericson owners we are looking for advice. We recently had our ericson shipped to BC and have not put the mast on yet, patiently waiting for our rigger... We noticed that there is not an access panel on the bottom of the mast for wiring for the instruments on top of the mast. This is the first boat that we have purchased that does not have one (the other two were motor sailors). Has anyone put an access panel in? How large was the opening on the mast?
    Andy and Jackie
    Andy and Jackie

  2. #2
    Principal Partner
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Ellsworth, ME
    I haven't seen access panels in the side of a mast. That would seem to weaken the mast on a sailboat in my opinion, and I don't think I'd add one without talking to the mast manufacturer. Usually the wiring is run through the bottom of the mast, or into a 1/2" or so hole in the side of the mast near the step.


  3. #3
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Portland, OR. Columbia River
    Blog Entries

    Exclamation Mast Wire Routing

    On my 1988 thru-stepped Kenyon spar, the 12 volt and instrument wires all exit through a drilled hole about an inch in diameter, located just below the FRP cabintop and a wee bit above the interior headliner. The good news is that the whole thing is invisible to the casual observer, and located way above the mast base where there would be some effect from potential bilge water. Bad news is that any water that follows the wiring into the interior soaks the adjacent headliner area.
    After the "great re-rig" we completed a couple years ago, the new wire bundle is now sealed with a dollop of silicone at the exit. I have also (finally!) got the mast boot completely sealed. However, the headliner zipper access on both sides of this area came to us with the zipper pulls completely corroded away, so the prior owner had been ignoring water intrusion since day one. Ick.

    I believe that a similar wire routing system was used on many 80's Ericsons.

    Anyone else care to comment?

    Loren in PDX
    Olson 34 #8
    Last edited by Loren Beach; 11-07-2005 at 07:54 AM.

  4. #4
    Principal Partner u079721's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Great Lakes

    Just below the deck....

    Well yours will be probably be the exception that proves the rule....but the 1980s Ericsons I have seen had the mast wires exit just as Loren describes, except for the VHF coax cable, which instead exits through the base of the mast. I'm not sure whether I liked that arrangement, as you do have to try and put a drip loop in the wires inside the mast to prevent water from coming out that small hole and dripping down the outside of the mast or wetting out the headliner just as Loren mentioned.

    In our case the yard that had hauled the boat for the PO wasn't that familar with Ericsons, and expected the mast wires to be at the base, as they usually are. They apparently hauled out the stick without undoing the wires and ripped them right out of the mast. They cobbled together a repair that I discovered a few years later when I replaced the wiring - they hadn't even soldered the wires or used butt joints, just electrical tape!

    As for sealing that mast boot, that is one of sailing's eternal challenges. I had good luck by putting a bead of silicone around the mast even with the top of the rigid PVC mast boot, then sliding the boot down over it. I would then run some self-sealing tape around the outside top edge of the mast boot. I did this every spring and it never leaked - but then it never aged more than a season either, so it might not have held up for several years.
    Steve Christensen
    Twin Cities, MN
    Former Owner of Rag Doll
    1989 Ericson 38-200
    Hull Number: ERY38318C989
    Universal M40

  5. #5
    Contributing Partner tilwinter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Baltimore Maryland

    access panel

    It has been a few years since I worked on the mast wiring on my e30+. I won't be going back to the yard until next weekend. However, my recollection is that I do have an access panel at the base of the deck-stepped mast, and a separate exit for the vhf antenna. I don't think the access panel significantly weakens the mast, since it is deck-stepped, although don't hold me to that opinion.

    The access panel allows one to disconnect all of the wires before removing the mast.

    If you do not have an access panel on your e30+, were the wires simply cut when the mast was removed?
    Rod Johnson
    Formerly Ericson 30+ 1981
    "Til Winter"

  6. #6
    Fellow Ericson Owner Geoff Johnson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Mamaroneck, NY
    My solution to water dripping down the wiring into the cabin (my wires exit both above the headliner and at the base of the mast) was to use wire ties to create a small loop so that the water drips down next to the mast and does not run along the wire. So much water comes down inside the mast, a little on the outside isn't noticed. On my mast the wiring runs behind the sail track so sealing the boot better wouldn't help.
    Geoff Johnson

    New Wave
    Ericson 32-3 (1985) Hull #638
    Rowayton, CT

  7. #7
    Inactive Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Bay City, Michigan

    Smile Mast Wire(d)

    On the 30+ the wires run in a channel behind the sail track. On mine the goose neck was welded in place (1980 vintage) & the track riveted. I WOULD NOT cut an opening in the side of the spar. This is a fractional rigged boat with a fairly large main for a 30 footer and the loads are pretty high on the spar. The wires exit through a 1/2" hole drilled inside the mast and are connected as the spar is lowered into place. You will not experience the leaks Geoff talks about because you are deck stepped. Connecting the wires in this manner is no big deal as long as you use some kind of quick disconnect plug rather than a terminal block. just check the lights first before you step the mast as it's lot's easier to replace bulbs when it's laying down.
    The 30+ is a great boat. I owned one for 8 years before getting our presesnt boat (1988 E34). A fairly fast boat that is also a comfortable cruiser. Spent several 2 week vacations in the North Channel of Lake Huron with her with no problems. I believe you'll be very happy with your choice. If you any specific questions regarding the 30+ I would be happy to try to answer them.
    Have fun & sail fast
    Bud E34 "Escapade"

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