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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am often called to artisan work. I say this because the jobs are usually very exacting and a pain. Typical scenario: historic building, concrete and masonry structure with conduit wiring, the wires(R, RW, TW) have to be replaced with new wiring, sizes can range between #14 to #6 but mostly 14,12 and 10 solid or stranded with conduit at 1/2, 3/4, 1 inch. The wires wont come out when pulled with vise grips or linesman pliers.

I would like exchange ideas how to actually asses and remove the existing wire, and clean up the inside of the conduit for the pulling of new wires. I have been doing this for years with all kinds of jury rigged contraptions, some work some don't you know the drill. I have not been able to find commercial tools for this kind of work, most stuff out there is for conduits 2" and above.
Any suggestions.
 

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I've had pretty good luck blowing anywhere from a quart to a gallon of white vinegar through the pipe with air, seal both ends with tape or duct seal, and let sit overnight. Pull stuck conductors out the next morning.

Some of the pulling lube companies make stuff for this purpose, but I've never tried it.
 

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From looking at the MSDS for PolyWater's CableFree product, it seems you could make the stuff yourself by combining Simple Green and Pine Sol.
 

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Good luck! I have had to pull old wire out over the years with some success and some failures. Sometimes it's one wire at a time and others it is the whole bundle. I don't know of any way other than to tug and feel. I always wanted to try high pressure water but never had a good location that could get wet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have heard of the polywater product but I never tried it since it is not available in my region. The vinegar does work in particular with TW wires. Still a mean grip is required on those wires what do you use for gripping/
 

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Wire rope grips of various sizes seem to hold well without breaking the wire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well that kind of grip would be useful for aerial work very limited in conduit applications.
Keep in mind that under optimal conditions the amount of wire in an outlet box is about 6 to 8 inches, hardly room for that and no help for 12,14,10 ga wire
 

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Well that kind of grip would be useful for aerial work very limited in conduit applications.
Keep in mind that under optimal conditions the amount of wire in an outlet box is about 6 to 8 inches, hardly room for that and no help for 12,14,10 ga wire
They make small ones that fit 14 awg wire, sometimes they fit, sometimes not. I you are going to pull the wire until it brakes free or just brakes they work better than folding over and taping it.
 

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For bigger stuff, I've put tension on it with a comealong overnight and by morning it was broken free.
 

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For feeders in the deck or where dripping from fittings is not an issue, we have filed the conduits with a water-downed mixture of wire ease, the longer it sits the better. After extracting the conductors use a PROPERLY sized rag attached to a rope or fishtape for cleaning.

Not that most do not know this but usually it only takes an inch of movement and the rest just follows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The larger sized conduit runs are not a problem, usually we have some liberty with the equipment and the means we can employ to pull out stubborn wiring. The problem is with the smaller branch circuit conduit runs. One, they outnumber the larger conduit runs. Two, they are usually in the building/tenant zone perhaps embedded in concrete under the Italian marble floor, then going up the Spanish tiled wall.......

Brian what is wire ease? How would you fill a vertical run of conduit.

Any one knows of conduit mandrels and cleaning brushes for conduit smaller than 2 inches.
 

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A combination of the overnight tension and some watered down lube seems the best. If the old RH is vulcanized in the middle of the run, game over.
 

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I've heard of people using mineral oil like Md did with the vinegar.
 

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I have some success with leaving the wire in a bind overnight. When that doesn't work diesel fuel in the pipe seems to work the best. It is of course stinky and oily.
I worked with a guy that said that he blew 30 gallons of 2-26 in a manhole tube to free up some abandon conductors that were in his assigned tube.
He said the next day they pulled out as smooth as a ride in a Buick Roadmaster.
 

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If it is GRC buried in the slab, it could be the conductors are corroded into place. Seen how it looks when the bozos accidentally hit conductors saw-cutting slab on remodels.

The nice thing is, when it comes out, TW's fatness leaves alot of space in it's wake.

Honest to GAWD, I'd dump two liters of coca-cola down the pipe. That would even break up a rusty nail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The art of re wiring

So far we have:

  1. White Vinegar
  2. Water
  3. Coca Cola
  4. Mineral Oil
  5. Polywater
  6. Wire Ease?????
  7. Diesel
  8. CRC 2-26
Ok I'll bring dessert.:no:
Surprising? No. Scary? Yes. Makes you think twice about bidding these jobs.

Now any clue for grabbing or gripping these smaller conductors let them be solid or starnded? My last resort is to braze a bronze threaded rod and hold on to that, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't.
 

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I am often called to artisan work. I say this because the jobs are usually very exacting and a pain. Typical scenario: historic building, concrete and masonry structure with conduit wiring, the wires(R, RW, TW) have to be replaced with new wiring, sizes can range between #14 to #6 but mostly 14,12 and 10 solid or stranded with conduit at 1/2, 3/4, 1 inch. The wires wont come out when pulled with vise grips or linesman pliers.

I would like exchange ideas how to actually asses and remove the existing wire, and clean up the inside of the conduit for the pulling of new wires. I have been doing this for years with all kinds of jury rigged contraptions, some work some don't you know the drill. I have not been able to find commercial tools for this kind of work, most stuff out there is for conduits 2" and above.
Any suggestions.
Since you only need one wire to pull the new wires back through the conduit I usually pull as many wires as will easily move. Making sure I secured at least one wire to pull my new wire back through with. Once you get a few out, the rest start moving easier. If you screw up and pull them all then you can fishtape it back through?

Oh yeah, try to pull in a linear direction rather than perpendicular to the condiut.

For the really stubborn or large conductors ~ I have used the backs of several illigal immigrants, the trailer hitch on my truch, and forklifts to yank them out.
 
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