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Old 06-03-2002
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Mast Track Issues

I have an Ericson 32-3 with what I believe is a Kenyon mast. It has a luff-track fastened into it with machine screws and there is a seam about three feet above the gooseneck where the two tracks meet. The screw on the top track is gone and the sail slides will not go past it as it sticks out a little and stops the slides. The question is, I can't seem to get a screw to thread into the existing hole to pull the track down, so can I simply drill and retap the hole, or is there anything behind the track that I have to worry about?

Sue & Larry respond:
Thanks for your question about the luff track on your mast. You have analyzed your problem well, and if the same sized machine screw that is holding in the rest of your track is not engaging, your best bet is indeed to drill out and re-tap. Itís possible that corrosion has dissolved the original tapped threads, resulting in an enlarged hole. Youíll want to now drill a slightly larger hole and re-tap for a fine thread machine screw that fits your new hole.

In 99 percent of the cases with this kind of drilling, you will just be going through the mast wall itself. Make sure you stop the drill bit from penetrating beyond the inner wall of the mast as there are halyards, conduits, and sometimes even loose wires to avoid. Donít forget to always isolate dissimilar metals (stainless-steel screws and aluminum mast parts) with tef-gel or the like, to avoid corrosion due to electrolysis. If you overlook doing this, you'll end up with another problem not too far down the road. For more tips on drilling, check out our article here on SailNet entitled, Drilling and Filling Holes in Your Boat. Best of luck with your repair and happy sailing.

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