The return of the rat

By Malcolm Duncan, Managing Director of Super Rod

The routing of cable through confined spaces and crowded conduit is one of the oldest, trickiest tasks an electrician has to undertake. It is also a notoriously time consuming job if they haven’t got the right tools, and down the years we have seen several Heath Robinson solutions to the problem.

Tape measures have often been used to provide the required rigidity without losing the equally important flexibility to get the job done. But there are also other options and you can spend several frustrating minutes on YouTube watching home DIY warriors cursing and scratching around inside their cavity walls with the end of a coat hanger – not a piece of kit that will pass very many health and safety appraisals when working with electricity. Other long implements bonded together with gaffer tape have been devised and deployed and, eventually, the end result was achieved, but not without large helpings of frustration and head-scratching.

None of these makeshift solutions provide for a fast, efficient or safe way to get the job done, and installers are always looking for the best innovations to bring speed and quality to the task.

Now, more than ever, with the growth in home automation, there is more and more wiring to be run through walls in the average home and the spaces in which to accomplish the job are getting smaller.

As a result, installers have to deal with the problems of snagged cables and obstructions on a regular basis, and they need to be equipped with tools designed specifically to ease these headaches as much as possible. A coat hanger will not cut it when they reach the inevitable point during a job at which they will need to either route or retrieve cable in a hard to reach space.

This is one of the reasons why wholesalers now stock a wide range of cable rods in a number of different kit sets to service the needs of their customers because ultimately cable rods will make these minute-sapping jobs far less painful. In the case of the Super Rod Mega Set for example there are numerous attachments that can meet the demands of almost any problem. 

But there are still some instances where even the traditional rod sets can sometimes struggle to get the job done. This is especially the case when we are talking about already crowded conduit and other places rods simply cannot pass through.

To reach the parts rods can’t go

It was with these scenarios in mind that Super Rod came up with the Cable Rat range. The Cable Rat has been conceived and designed to make its way through spaces too difficult for cable rods to negotiate. 

This type of product offers the installer more flexibility in terms of the obstacles it can overcome and, in some cases, better control than a long run of rods. In essence, these coiled cable routers have become an essential tool for passing cable through populated areas such as conduit or trunking.

The Cable Rat Plus, the second iteration of the Cable Rat coiled system, comes in 20- or 30-metre lengths and has undergone improvements to the housing mechanism for the coiled cable confined inside. It comes armed with nine attachments to make cable routing easier and has been designed to give the installer a smooth spooling action whilst the main unit is held firm in one hand with the adjustable strap which can be altered to fit the user’s hand size. In addition, installers can use the fishtail grip provided to easily wind in the run. 

The concept of the Cable Rat is indeed an ingenious one and has found favour with many installers. But like all products there is always room for improvement and it was the need to find perfection and meet the needs of the customer which led to the introduction of the new and improved Flat Rat. This was one of those instances where we listened to what the customer wanted and as a result of high demand for this product we introduced a new and improved version of the Flat Rat.

Wholesaler Andy Roberts says: “One of the great things about Super Rod is that the company is in touch with the industry so if installers have a genuine need for a product they will launch something which meets this need. The introduction of the flat Rat is a perfect example of this and as a result we now have a product which our customers genuinely want.”

Now installers have the right tool for the job and where the Rat Plus may struggle, the flatter profile of the Flat Rat can prove itself even more suited to tackling cable routing through the most complicated runs of conduit. 

Available in a 10m length, the key difference to its older sibling is the streamlined nature of the Flat Rat material – which is also coiled inside an ergonomic case – with a sloped handle for a smooth spooling action.

It’s this flat material that gives the installer a higher degree of control when routing because it has been constructed to ensure that it doesn’t twist or snag on cables. In addition, the Flat Rat features an AXM female fitting for greater tensile strength and ease of connectivity to other Super Rod attachments such as the Domed Bullet with eyelet (which is included) or the Super Magnet.

The magnetic bullet simply screws on to the end of the Flat Rat before smoothly spooling into the conduit. Once the cable has been securely attached to the magnetic eyelet, the installer simply has to pull the cable back through the conduit. When the cable has reached its destination, the magnetic properties of the attachment make it easy to use a standard rod to pull it through the hole with no time-consuming fishing around with a hook required.

Changing times

The nature of a large portion of cable routing work is changing with the rapid increase of wires and cables being used in new projects. Installations such as HVAC control, security systems, home entertainment technology, wireless internet connections and even the humble wall-hung TV are all contributing to the rise in the need for specific tools to make routing the wires for all this tech as easy as possible.

With the advent of the Cable Rat and Flat Rat, installers now know there is an easy solution which will speed up these jobs dramatically, and they have a product here that has been designed from their point of view; sympathetic to a task that can sap time and money.

Given that the Cable Rat and Flat Rat tick those time and efficiency boxes, they are products that are fast-becoming essentials on every installer’s van, and therefore a worthwhile addition to the forward-thinking wholesaler’s offering.