Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 37 Old 06-09-2014 Thread Starter
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Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

Why are aluminum mast painted?

If you answer to protect from corrosion, then why is the inside of the mast not painted? The interior would get salt spray from all the holes in the mast and would not get the benefit of a rain shower or wash down. Now if the mast is anodized, I could see how that could provide good corrosion protection- and look good for a long time. Paint seems to be just a maintenance problem.

My mast is painted, and needs to be repainted. Should I just strip the paint and leave as bare aluminum?
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post #2 of 37 Old 06-09-2014
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Re: Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

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Why are aluminum mast painted?
Because they look pretty?
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Re: Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

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Because they look pretty?
Ok, since I do not care about looks, I should just strip all the paint from the mast and leave as bare aluminun?

Actually, I think bare aluminum looks better that paint, if paint is there just to look "pretty". I like function over looks, and if a bare aluminum mast functions as well as a "pretty" painted aluminum mast, I would go bare.
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post #4 of 37 Old 06-09-2014
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Re: Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

Painting aluminum doesn't make a whole lot of sense IMHO. When paint starts to delaminate, water gets underneath and the aluminum corrodes with little chance of the native oxide reforming. I prefer anodization.

I suppose paint looks good and if the prep is well done, it can last quite a while, but still... I just had to redo the boom and part of the mast, not a fun job.


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post #5 of 37 Old 06-09-2014
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Re: Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

Casy, have you looked down the inside of your mast? Have you seen corrosion? How many "holes" do you have? Don't know who built your mast (Charleston? Selden?) but chances are there is some sort of protective coating on it which would be sufficient for the inside (at least when the mast was built.) The exterior of the mast really gets weathered and should be annodized or painted. Scatches in either should be touched up. Stripping the paint would also strip any annodization. Repainting the mast is your cheapest and most effective option. If you have a lot of "holes", I'd tap them and screw in a short shank screw in them (after bedding). Not only do holes weaken the structure, but like you said, can introduce salt spray/fog corrosion into the interior of the mast.

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post #6 of 37 Old 06-09-2014
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Re: Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

I have seen some boats that have bare poles. I believe many are painted to give them a clean finished look for those new boats. I actually plan on repainting mine someday.

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post #7 of 37 Old 06-09-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

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Casy, have you looked down the inside of your mast? Have you seen corrosion? How many "holes" do you have? Don't know who built your mast (Charleston? Selden?) but chances are there is some sort of protective coating on it which would be sufficient for the inside (at least when the mast was built.) The exterior of the mast really gets weathered and should be annodized or painted. Scatches in either should be touched up. Stripping the paint would also strip any annodization. Repainting the mast is your cheapest and most effective option. If you have a lot of "holes", I'd tap them and screw in a short shank screw in them (after bedding). Not only do holes weaken the structure, but like you said, can introduce salt spray/fog corrosion into the interior of the mast.
I have looked inside my mast as best I can and see no corrosion. The mast is deck stepped and I can inspect the inside of the base- no corrosion issues. I also have interior haylards (total of 7)- which means quite a few holes (actually slots) both at the top, middle and base of mast. the mast also appears to have many holes (about 1/8 inch diameter) along the first 1/3 of the mast track- I am thinking this might be fore a storm tri sail mast track that was never fitted.

As far as the make of the mast, I am not sure, the mast was first stepped in Australia in 1978. There is no name plate or number I can find on the mast. The exterior was originally painted and then painted one time. There are a few areas under the paint where corrosion has formed- nothing significant.
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post #8 of 37 Old 06-09-2014
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Re: Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

There is an anodizing process that imparts color to the metal. So you can have your mast anodized and the looks of painted too.

Daniel, check out AAA Custom Anodizing & Metal Finishing. They are in Piney Flats TN and have a tank 39 feet long. I'm not connected with them at all but they did anodize the spreaders and will do some electro polishing on some stainless steel parts for me.

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post #9 of 37 Old 06-09-2014
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Re: Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

Here's to your question. There ARE manufacturers that sold every boat they made with a painted mast. I know, I own one. Allmand boats were sold with white masts. There were many San Juans (Clarks) sold with "matching or contrasting painted masts".

Then comes the refurbishment... as stated it's easier for us DIY'rs to clean and paint as not many of us have the facilities to completely strip and dunk a mast in solution etc.. I just got done refitting my mast which included a sanding, treating and repainting. Turned out beatiful. If you scuff your paint and it mostly holds... paint it. I don't think you'll be happy with the way it will look after you've sanded all the paint off of it. You'll have sanding marks and swirls etc.. Now you could spend months sanding all the paint off and hand sanding down with finer grits to give you that new bare aluminum mast look... but that isn't going to happen - you want to use your boat!

PM me if you want good particulars on how to do it.

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post #10 of 37 Old 06-09-2014
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Re: Why Are Aluminum Mast Painted?

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Originally Posted by Captainmeme View Post
There is an anodizing process that imparts color to the metal. So you can have your mast anodized and the looks of painted too.

Daniel, check out AAA Custom Anodizing & Metal Finishing. They are in Piney Flats TN and have a tank 39 feet long. I'm not connected with them at all but they did anodize the spreaders and will do some electro polishing on some stainless steel parts for me.
Thanks, I'll look into it. I was thinking to repaint to a bright Yellow. Figured it would be a good way to stand out at an achorage.

I think I need to have my spreaders taken care of. The ends are not looking too well to me.

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