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rlongfield 05-07-2009 03:05 PM

Fixing a broken mast
I hope someone can help out a buddy on mine. I just got an email from him about his mast being broken about 2 feet from the tip of the mast.
I don't know how it was done or what the resulting pieces look like now but I was hoping for some suggestions.
I have an Albacore with a broken mast that has been fixed in the past before I got it. It appears that there is an aluminum tube inside the mast and a plate or bent metal around the leading edge of the mast at the break. The plate extends about halfway around the mast and from the rivet holes I would say the sleeve extends a good 2 to 3 feet above and below the break.
I assume this is SOP for repairing a mast?

My mast was broken before it tapers so it seems like an easy fix, when the break is in the taper I have no idea on how to fix it.

Are there any concerns of using a repaired mast? My friend doesn't race the boat he just goes out for day sailing and weekending. (it's his fault I want a bigger boat!)

I (and my friend will certainly) appreciate any recommendations on repairing the mast.

Rustyf 05-07-2009 05:48 PM

Perhaps you could tell us what model the boat is, what the mast is made of, how tall and so on!!!

tager 05-07-2009 06:53 PM

I bet it's a thunderbird! There is one for sale here down by the University of Washington for stupid cheap... with a broken mast.

rlongfield 05-07-2009 09:15 PM

Sorry Tager it's a Cal25. Good guess though :)
The mast is about 30 feet long

CalebD 05-07-2009 09:20 PM

About 25 years ago I had a small aluminum broken mast (for a 14' day sailor) repaired by a local machine and welding shop. I am pretty sure they welded some additional support inside to help the outside weld. The repair was not exactly true but the mast and boat still live. It is something I keep an eye on but not a boat I use that often these days.
It would help to know what make of sailboat it was etc.
Good luck.

rlongfield 05-07-2009 09:57 PM

oh I forgot to mention that the Cal 25 uses and aluminum mast.

Sailormann 05-07-2009 11:45 PM

I don't believe that it is standard practise to repair masts on larger boats, with the exception of jury-rigging boats that have been damaged at sea in order to allow them to make landfall.

Perhaps I should rephrase that - I don't think it is safe to sail a boat with a repaired mast for any length of time, and I have never encountered anyone who felt differently and sailed their boat with a jury rig.

I think it is less of an issue in the case of a dinghy, as the boat is used for inshore daysailing and rescue is almost a certainty in the case of mishap.

I think that your friend may find the cost of a new mast to be not much more than the cost of repairing the broken one, and the new one would be a whole lot safer...

hellosailor 05-08-2009 12:21 AM

Standard repair is to sleeve the mast and rivet both sections afterwards.

The sleeve is installed inside the mast, snugly fit, and if there's a mast track or any other irregularity inside that may need lots of work. Then both sections are heavily riveted (it can look like a checkerboard all around!) and off you go. Welding usually is not done because welding aluminum is harder and less reliable than riveting, unless you've got a good welder or a mast small enough to get into a welding shop, as your friend's might be.

Replacing the mast might sound easier--but the cost of shipping a replacement probably doubles it. There are a number of "more than chandleries" that can track down used boat parts, and if you can settle for "a spar about 30' long and four inches thick" or whatever the spec is, you may find you can do better by just buying a similar mast and boom, and then making accomodations on your rigging. (Which is due for a change every 10-20 years anyway.)

Personally? I wouldn't want the splice and extra weight all that way up the mast, I'd try to find replacement options.

Some boats actually are built new with spliced masts, or have spliced masts installed to replace broken ones, since conventional shipping and trucking stops at 40' OAL and if you need a 55' tall mast and don't have then delivered by the rail or truck order it in two pieces with a factory splice.

sailingdog 05-08-2009 06:00 AM

One other point about welding... the aluminum alloys that is used in spars is heat treated... and heating it, as is done in the welding process, removes much of the strength of the alloy.... Riveting and sleeving is really the best way to repair a mast. However, as HS has pointed out.... do you really want to add weight aloft on such a small boat—especially that high up??

Saltyseadog 06-13-2010 04:18 PM

Similar mast issue
Hi, a friend of mine has linked me to this forum as I have recently suffered the same fate as rlongfield - i.e. my mast is busted right up.

The good news is, she wasn't in the water at the time. She is currently undergoing some repair work and fell from her elevated cradle as a result of unfortunate incident involving a mini american football. The fall caused superficial damage to various sections of the hull but the mast took the brunt of the fall and snapped in two like a twiglet.

Obviously its a bit of a sad sight and I am keen to get her back in one piece, but I have minimal resources at hand do it with. I have whole load of string and absolutely loads of a really really strong glue which should do the trick but I am worried about damaging the integrity of what is a premium sailing vessel.

Any help much appreciated.
Cheers chaps.

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