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post #1 of 6 Old 12-06-2006 Thread Starter
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mast condition ideas please

does anyone have any info about the normal or standard procedures for inspecting and /or evaluating an aluminum mast so as to avoid a break? when or how do we decide to replace the old with the new? thanking you in advance....jeff
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post #2 of 6 Old 12-06-2006
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Mast Inspection

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Originally Posted by jnanjorl
does anyone have any info about the normal or standard procedures for inspecting and /or evaluating an aluminum mast so as to avoid a break? when or how do we decide to replace the old with the new? thanking you in advance....jeff
Jeff,

I think in general you don't inspect the mast as much as the rigging and the rigging attachment points. Aluminum masts have an indefinite life, they don't really wear out and have periodic replacement. Just check for possible corrosion anywhere, especially at the base, and for any apparent cracks due to abuse or setup.

Rigging failure would be the primary concern and you should have an experienced rigger inspect your rigging.
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post #3 of 6 Old 12-06-2006
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Agreed, with the exception of the mast step, esp. keel-stepped, or in places where a large number of fittings have been attached, it's unlikely the stick itself is going to be a problem. As SF points out, rigging condition, swages, broken strands etc are the first place to look.

Another spot to keep an eye on (with many midsize boats) are the spreader cups. Many boats from the 70s or 80s have spreader attachments that are triangular plates with shroud attachment holes and welded spreader cups, through bolted in pairs to the mast. Check the weld on the spreader cups - any hairline cracks should be taken care of. This part usually will fail with the load on (ie the windward side) and if so the mast will quickly fold over at that point. It happens quickly - I've been there.

Other stress points to look for are at the gooseneck and vang fittings - the vang especially can be subject to tremendous loads and can work loose and/or fail. Such a problem is unlikely to bring the stick down, but can certainly ruin your day.
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post #4 of 6 Old 12-06-2006
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The only other thing that might put an aluminum mast at risk is if it was exposed to high heat. That will ruin the temper on it and make it much weaker...

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post #5 of 6 Old 12-06-2006
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Yes, inspect the rigging, but DO NOT IGNORE THE MAST! Look for evidence of corrosion and/or fatigue or failure, such as Bubbling Paint and Hairline Cracks, particularly around fittings attached to the mast, near welds, gooseneck, vang, at the Partners where the mast passes through the deck, halyard exit boxes, spreader bases, etc... If you have internal wire halyards, they could be wearing away at the compression bars between your spreaders. To inspect that you either need to take your spreaders apart and pull those bars out, or maybe you need a fiber optic scope or televiewer.

Here's just one example:

Before:


After:


In this case, the cracked bit of mast (the bottom 10 feet) was cut off and a new 10-foot section spliced on in its place.

If you have any doubts about what you are seeing, or lack confidence in your ability to asses the condition of your spars and rigging, by all means hire a professional rigger to do a rig inspection survey.

Last edited by catamount; 05-02-2009 at 07:48 AM. Reason: update URLs
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post #6 of 6 Old 12-07-2006
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You might want to check out this URL

http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/rigging/default.asp

Sailboat masts are not quite as indestructable as sailing fool would have you believe.

Cheers,

Deep
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