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Jeff_H 12-19-2000 03:10 AM

Ericson- Mast Compression Problem
This was posted within another discussion. I have taken the liberty of moving this post by simplicitytwo to its own heading to encourage discussion of this topic. The original post read as follows:

We have a 1970 Ericson 32 with a deck stepped mast. After 9 years of non use, we purchased the boat and replaced all of the rigging. After tuning the mast and sailing in 35 knot winds, we came back to the dock and noted that the bulkhead door, which is hinged on the slightly offset mast (deck) to keel compression post did not close, with an apparent offset of 1/2 inch on the latch side. We are the apparent victim of mast compression. I would appreciate information on others who have had this problem and their succesful cures.

Jeff_H 12-19-2000 03:35 AM

Ericson- Mast Compression Problem
To start with a 1/2" of movement is very large for a simple problem of overtightened stays and shrouds. I would normally think of 1/8" of deflection as being a pretty large amount of movement without other problems.

I actually raced on an early 1970''s vintage Ericson 35 for a couple years in the late 1970''s and so have some familiarity with these boats. Ericsons have achieved something of a cult following these days but dispite being a bit heavy by modern standards, in their day these were seen as incredibly lightly built boats. In the 1970''s there was not the kind of engineering of boat structures that we can now do and so, while boats of this era were pretty heavy, they were not especially stiff or strong by modern standards. Ericsons of that era were known for resin curing problems that also affected their strength and stiffness.

Beyond that, 35 knots of wind, and the waves that typically accompany that much wind, is a lot of wind for any boat and can do some damage even to a reasonably well built and maintained coastal cruiser.

Without seeing your boat it is hard to say what has specifically happened but some likely candidates would be as follows:

-Rot in the ends of the mast compression post or separation of the mast compression post from the bulkhead. I would look in the bilge at the bottom of the mast compression post or at the deck level.

-Movement of the bulkheads. I can''t recall but I think the chain plates were attached to bulkheads. Loads get placed by just tightening the backstay which can "banana" the boat and pull the tabbing from the bulkheads and spring hull to deck joints. I would check the bulkhead for detached tabbing from the hull or bulkhead and for rot at the hull and deck.

It is possible to tighten rigging on an old boat suficiently to twist the boat completely out of shape. This usually involves a lot of tension all around and a boat with other inherent problems. A careful search of interior furnishings would show hair line cracking at the hull tabbing.

These are all pretty major issues but they all are repairable. I need to leave for the office. Good luck

noctaluca 12-31-2000 09:30 PM

Ericson- Mast Compression Problem
I have an 1971 E-35. I just replaced the main bulkhead due to water leaking in the chain plates. The damage was localized at the chain plate and at the bottom of the bulkhead where it rests on the sole. The compression post was not damaged. In replacing the bulkhead I removed the mast, and compression post in order to insert the new bulkhead.
In reading your post I would suspect that the problem lies beneath the cabin sole. The compresion post sits in a form fitted slot on the sole, and is then supported underneath the sole by a large block witch may or not be in its proper place. My guess is that this block has moved or rotted away and the weight of the rig has lowered things down a bit. I do not think that overtightening the rig by itself would cause the problem you described because I think other things would break before you could get the kind of sagging you described, if compression post and below deck supporting block is in proper condition and location.
Anyway I am fairly familiar with this system you are dealing with and have access to good people to answer questions you may have... so e-mail me if you have any other questions. And I would love to find out what you find.
Bill Robbins
s/v Noctaluca

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