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  #1  
Old 10-03-2013
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repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

Ok been going over the new to us boat (catalina 30 1980) fixing this and that. I trusted the PO about the spreaders being good to go (the survey did not cover rigging sadly) as he said no rot and he paints them every year. We have only had the boat about two months.

so I climbed up the mast and noticed some rot on the starboard spreader and my finger tips sunk in as I was climbing. It also wobbles a bit. The port one is ok but I would like to replace both as soon as funds come my way. I heard you can replace them without stepping the mast down. Money is tight right now and I would like to repair or replace. Here is the problem though my mast has steps installed and the step cable stays go through the spreaders:cussing:

the wife is mad at me because "the expensive survey did not find this". I explained that we only had the boat survey and not the rigging and engine ones. So If I can at all postpone unstepping the mast until we put the boat on the hard after another year that would be ideal.


My ideas include that WEST epoxy that fits in a caulking gun and some strategic holes drilled/filled.

or harder: adding turnbuckles to the ladder rigging so I can remove the spreaders one at a time and replace.

Also I'm running out of time/money this season before the boat is on the hard this month. Can I climb the mast on the Hard? I used to live in Oregon and climbed and mountaineered my whole life

here are some bad iphone photos as I only had one free hand





and you can see the ladder rigging better here


thanks for any help or ideas
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Old 10-03-2013
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Re: repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

You got a lot going on there. First, never, ever climb a mast while the boat is on the hard, never. Second, why didn't you go up the mast when you bought the boat? - It does have steps. The good news is C30's are common as grass and you should be able to pick up a set of spreaders pretty easily from Catalina Direct or even Catalina Inc. You can climb your mast easily enough while the boat is in the water and the lower shrouds would support you while you stand in the mast steps. Do one spreader at a time and use your spare halyard to support the mast while the spreader is loose. You do have some ugliness insomuch as there looks like a guy wire running alongside the steps and through the spreaders. Is that necessary? Perhaps a real rigger can weigh in. If it was up to me, I’d lose the guys as their pass through is most likely the source of the rot. You will be able to clean up the spreader light wiring when you are up there. The spreader fitting on the mast doesn’t look “factory”. You may have a problem when getting the replacement spreaders to fit. Dissimilar metals like the mast and the stainless steel screws for the steps are a big source of galvanic corrosion. You really need to re-bed them sometime in the future. Sadly, you will be spending some money, but a broken spreader under load will cause you to lose the rig so if you think this repair is expensive…
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Old 10-04-2013
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Re: repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

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Originally Posted by GeorgeB View Post
You got a lot going on there. First, never, ever climb a mast while the boat is on the hard, never. Second, why didn't you go up the mast when you bought the boat? - It does have steps. The good news is C30's are common as grass and you should be able to pick up a set of spreaders pretty easily from Catalina Direct or even Catalina Inc. You can climb your mast easily enough while the boat is in the water and the lower shrouds would support you while you stand in the mast steps. Do one spreader at a time and use your spare halyard to support the mast while the spreader is loose. You do have some ugliness insomuch as there looks like a guy wire running alongside the steps and through the spreaders. Is that necessary? Perhaps a real rigger can weigh in. If it was up to me, I’d lose the guys as their pass through is most likely the source of the rot. You will be able to clean up the spreader light wiring when you are up there. The spreader fitting on the mast doesn’t look “factory”. You may have a problem when getting the replacement spreaders to fit. Dissimilar metals like the mast and the stainless steel screws for the steps are a big source of galvanic corrosion. You really need to re-bed them sometime in the future. Sadly, you will be spending some money, but a broken spreader under load will cause you to lose the rig so if you think this repair is expensive…

thanks for the input. I should have climbed up the mast before I bought it but I asked the previous owner and he looked me in the eyes and said no rot and that he paints them every year. I'm kinda freaking out as we spend more on this boat, don't have much left for fixing things, as we thought it was good to go. I'm not sure if I can remove those cables for the ladders. The top of the spreaders has 1/2" or so hole cut for the cables to go through. Those ladder cables are going to cause problems. The ladders look like they are held on with aluminum rivets though and not SS bolts.


Would I be able to epoxy them this year? The catalina direct spreader kit is over $500 and I have to unstep the mast. have been trying to find used spreaders or a way to make my own.
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Re: repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

Where is your boat located? Here in windy San Francisco Bay, I wouldn’t skimp on replacing critical rig components like the spreaders (I personally wouldn’t even go sailing until they are replaced.) The main load on the spreaders is compression and simply slathering epoxy up there won’t fix the problem. You would need to sleeve it to make an effective repair and that would be more expensive than a simple replacement. Upper shroud or broken spreaders are the classic cause of dismasting. Going cheap upfront will wind up costing you more in the end.

Why would Catalina Direct recommend pulling the mast? Are their new spreader sockets integral with the mast tang for the lower shrouds? IMHO, I would take this as a sign that the stick be pulled and do an overhaul of thirty year old rig. Replacing each spreader in turn is a delicate operation with the stick up, but not impossible.

Frankly, I’m not wild about your mast steps. I’ve seen plenty in my time and your's is the first that were stabilized by guy wires. As an experiment, I would remove the guy wires and see what happens (my guess is the step mountings are not that secure and the wires are there in an attempt to stabilize the whole assembly.) If it was my boat, I’d remove the steps entirely and “plug” in the holes with tapped and bedded machine screws. The steps provide no useful purpose (how often do you go aloft to service the radio antenna and wind fly?) and are not adding any resale value to the boat. Going aloft in a C30 is a pretty easy affair (I’ve even done it while the boat was under way and I’m no rock climber!)
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Re: repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

Quote:
Originally Posted by dan8152 View Post
thanks for the input. I should have climbed up the mast before I bought it but I asked the previous owner and he looked me in the eyes and said no rot and that he paints them every year. I'm kinda freaking out as we spend more on this boat, don't have much left for fixing things, as we thought it was good to go. I'm not sure if I can remove those cables for the ladders. The top of the spreaders has 1/2" or so hole cut for the cables to go through. Those ladder cables are going to cause problems. The ladders look like they are held on with aluminum rivets though and not SS bolts.


Would I be able to epoxy them this year? The catalina direct spreader kit is over $500 and I have to unstep the mast. have been trying to find used spreaders or a way to make my own.
Injecting epoxy into rotted wood will not add strength - don't wast money and time on this.

Since you now have verified that you
a) Don't know the status of the rig
b) Can't trust the PO's abilities as rigger

I would pull the mast for a thorough inspection and repairs before haul out and use the winter to perform this task.

Have you seen this site Best Upgrades

With regards to you mast steps..
I have never seen anything like this, what's the purpose of these wires?
to secure the steps or just to keep halyards from getting tangled in the steps?
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Re: repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

I'm looking at JSI aluminum spreaders. I know from looking at receipts that the stays and shrouds was replaced by the original owner between 1999 and 2002 to (S-2 quality)

the steps were installed 1995 and included "anti foul halyard kits" which I am guessing are the cables. They did not look load bearing when I looked at them. so I can remove sections near the spreaders.


I'm going to price to have the mast stepped down. I read you can replace one spreader at a time but I have to mail the old ones in to get new ones. Can't do that with the mast up.

Really bad timing as I was putting funds for taking the mast down in a year or two to repaint. If I take it down this year I won't have all the funds.
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

Quote:
Originally Posted by dan8152 View Post
I'm looking at JSI aluminum spreaders. I know from looking at receipts that the stays and shrouds was replaced by the original owner between 1999 and 2002 to (S-2 quality)
The wires are still more than 10 years old.
I would at least do a thorough rig inspection - it can be done from a bosuns chair with the mast up.
Loosing the mast will cost you much more than fixing it up front..
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan8152 View Post
the steps were installed 1995 and included "anti foul halyard kits" which I am guessing are the cables. They did not look load bearing when I looked at them. so I can remove sections near the spreaders.
If it was my boat I would have ripped those mast steps off...
If you decide to keep them with the "anti foul halyard kits" installed you should look at another way to solve the attachment.
Seems a bad idea to drill large holes through the new spreaders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dan8152 View Post
I'm going to price to have the mast stepped down. I read you can replace one spreader at a time but I have to mail the old ones in to get new ones. Can't do that with the mast up.
Where I keep the boat we have a mast crane that can be used by members of the club who have done the training class for mast crane operation.
So for me the cost of taking the mast off/on = 0$

It's not difficult to take the mast down if you have access to a suitable crane.
You can get lots of useful info here http://www.seldenmast.com/_download....=595-540-E.pdf
Most of this applies to all masts even if this is from Selden
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan8152 View Post
Really bad timing as I was putting funds for taking the mast down in a year or two to repaint. If I take it down this year I won't have all the funds.
As I already said - having the mast come down is even more costly (and dangerous).

If money is an issue I would have considered to make new spreader(s) in wood (if I could get hold of materials at a reasonable cost).

Are you mast keel or deck stepped?
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Re: repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

Quote:
Originally Posted by knuterikt View Post
The wires are still more than 10 years old.
I would at least do a thorough rig inspection - it can be done from a bosuns chair with the mast up.
Loosing the mast will cost you much more than fixing it up front..

If it was my boat I would have ripped those mast steps off...
If you decide to keep them with the "anti foul halyard kits" installed you should look at another way to solve the attachment.
Seems a bad idea to drill large holes through the new spreaders.


Where I keep the boat we have a mast crane that can be used by members of the club who have done the training class for mast crane operation.
So for me the cost of taking the mast off/on = 0$

It's not difficult to take the mast down if you have access to a suitable crane.
You can get lots of useful info here http://www.seldenmast.com/_download....=595-540-E.pdf
Most of this applies to all masts even if this is from Selden

As I already said - having the mast come down is even more costly (and dangerous).

If money is an issue I would have considered to make new spreader(s) in wood (if I could get hold of materials at a reasonable cost).

Are you mast keel or deck stepped?

did a rig inspection the other day. cables all look good and passed the cotton ball test. (got that book inspecting the aging sailboat)

The rot is not as bad as I thought and actually one of the bolts was loose. still ordering aluminum spreaders from JSI. They said if I send them the measurements they can make them and I can replace one at a time.

My boat I and I like the mast steps (so does the wife) the cables are going to get redone so they don't touch the spreaders.

very lucky it's free for you to step the mast. NOT FOR ME

Marina wants over $8 a foot one way and I have the tall rig over 40'

not cheap at all.

I will lower it in a year or two (it's deck stepped mast)
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Old 10-09-2013
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Re: repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

you can take your mast down quite easily in the water I did mine last year I tied alongside a larger yacht and used their halyard to lift my mast out and gently lowered onto my deck.When I fixed my spreaders and mast lights i just reversed the procedure cost a dozen of beer.
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Re: repairing wooden spreaders with mast steps installed

Quote:
Originally Posted by dan8152 View Post
.....so I climbed up the mast and noticed some rot on the starboard spreader and my finger tips sunk in as I was climbing......
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan8152 View Post
...The rot is not as bad as I thought and actually one of the bolts was loose.........
Dan, just be sure you aren't rationalizing, because you don't have the resources to unstep the mast. A failed rig can kill you and/or your family. It doesn't reconcile that your finger tips sunk in on one inspection, but is not as bad as you thought on the next.

Do you have the skills/tools to refabricate the wooden spreader yourself? It doesn't look all that complicated from the photo. Even if not perfect and pretty, it would be better than convincing yourself it will be okay as is. Should buy you time to get proper new spreaders. If you insist on keeping the steps, lose the anti-wrap wires at first, and reinstall them as you figure out how to keep them from passing through your new spreaders. Worst case, you wrap a halyard once or twice, before you get back to installing the wires. Who cares, you have steps to go unwrap it. For that matter, bungie the halyard head grommet to the boom and keep some light tension on the halyard and you could avoid most wrapping. Plenty of ways to deal with this, without just taking your chances. Good luck.
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