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post #12 of Old 11-02-2013
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Re: Solo Mast Stepping System

Originally Posted by Kielanders View Post
Looking at your engineering drawings; this is a Hunter designed system? Was the entire system sold by Hunter? Do the struts need to dynamically lengthen as they travel the raising arc? How heavy is your mast? Perhaps my 140 lbs isn't heavy for a 33' mast, but it was beefier than I expected when first lifting. Do you have any photos available of your install?

First, I should make a correction. The mast is about 30 feet and some change per the manuals. I always remember the mast height from the water is 40' and figure the boat from waterline to deck is 5' but I'm wrong. I've looked to find the weight of the mast without luck. It's a B&R rig which generally uses a lighter mast than what is conventional. I'm not sure by how much though.

Anyway, it's a good system and you could use a beefier gin pole or reinforce the one used on the 260. The gin pole only bears the load of holding the lines out far enough that you get leverage. Even the one made for the 260 will collapse if you balance the loads incorrectly, but it's easy to tell if you are.

The jib halyard and the mainsheet are what take the weight of hoisting. If they are not balanced correctly, the gin pole will bend. You just watch it as the lines start to take on the weight of the mast. If the pole is at 90 degrees from the mast when the mast starts to raise, you're good. I start mine with the gin pole leaning aft a bit to account for the stretch of the jib halyard. If you've got the jib halyard tension wrong, it's easy to adjust.

The system is what Hunter designed. The drawings I posted are from the manual. Those struts are permanently mounted but I'm sure you could make something you could take off when not in use. Honestly they don't get in the way. It's just two more pieces of deck hardware to scrub around.

More about the struts-
The struts do not lengthen. They are able to pivot. They're a big help since they act like another person holding the mast. They pivot forward (lifting the mast as they do) and allow the foot of the mast to go forward to the bow for mast storage. They pivot backwards for stepping the mast and hold it midline so one person can pin the mast. They have nothing to do with holding the mast when the mast is up. I have read an account of having a forestay failure and those struts held the mast to the middle of the boat as it came down. The owner said it helped to prevent injuries.

You can see how they mount to the deck here by those two upside down V-shaped brackets.

Here you can see how they are forward for mast storage.

This is the labeled drawing of the struts and hardware

You can buy the whole system in pieces here:
260 Hunter 260 Rigging & Spars, Parts and Accessories

I would talk to one of the guys there who can help you identify all of the parts. I would but I'm afraid I'd forget something.

The mast foot pins with just a pin and uses that to pivot as the mast goes up. There's a picture of the mast foot and mast pin on the site for parts.

Also, a mast crutch (which is removable) at the stern holds the mast off the deck a ways at about the height of where a bimini would be as the mast crosses the stern rails. I'm not sure you'd get enough leverage without that bit of height but you might. It's grunt work, but tolerable, to get it a few feet off that mast crutch. I use a winch.

One of the things I really like about the system is I can stop at any point while raising the mast, tie off to a cleat, and check to make sure nothing is kinked since it holds the mast steady.

Here's a link to a post where someone uses an electric winch for the system
Hope this helps.

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A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why ships are built.

My girls:
1974 Alcort Minifish-Minifish
2001 Drascombe Lugger-Penelope
2004 Hunter 260-Miss Muffet

Last edited by Sublime; 11-02-2013 at 10:55 AM.
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