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  #1  
Old 10-07-2010
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Nylon/Glass fibre or aluminum Mast steps?

Any experience out there with the folding Nylon/Glass fibre mast steps verses the aluminum ones?
We have decided on folding mast steps but have not decided on which type.
We would probably use SS fasteners on either one.
We like the Nylon/Glass fibre as they will not rattle or corrode .
The aluminum may be stronger?
It seems plastic is strong as our new Harkin boom blocks are made from Nylon/Glass fibre and so is a lot of our new traveler.

Nylon/Glass fibre
Folding mast steps

aluminum
Folding Mast Step

Has anyone had them up for a while and how do they hold up (either one, plastic or aluminum)?
Thank you,
Chip
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Old 10-07-2010
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I put up aluminum ones two years ago, so not a long time. I think I used the same type you have linked too. I have not noticed any rattling at all from the steps, and we sail the boat quite a bit. I have also not noticed any corrosion, but I have not looked closely for that. If there is any, it's not obvious yet.
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Old 10-07-2010
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We installed the glass ones a few years ago, and are quite happy with them. They are lightweight and yet strong. I feel comfortable climbing up them. I installed them using aluminum rivets. Here's Diana's write up: Easy Installation and Other Lies
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Old 10-07-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by remetau View Post
We installed the glass ones a few years ago, and are quite happy with them. They are lightweight and yet strong. I feel comfortable climbing up them. I installed them using aluminum rivets. Here's Diana's write up: Easy Installation and Other Lies

Yeah, that's a real positive review!

I wonder why he spent two days in the Top Climber to install the steps? It seems to me that you'd take a drill and put in as many steps as you could reach. Then you'd go up those steps and install as many more steps as you could reach. Rinse, lather, repeat.

That's how we put steps on the tree for the treehouse, right?
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Old 10-07-2010
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jaschrumpf,

Yep, that's how I installed mine with the mast up, one at a time climbing up as I went. However, it's not quite like building a ladder to a tree house, it was a crazy lot of work!

First of all, for each step you need to measure and mark where you want the next step. I made basically a stick with the mounting end of a step attached to the top so I could set it up on the step below and then mark through the holes. That worked fairly well most places. I thought this was so cleaver, and would keep me with nice, even steps. It did, but unfortunately the first two where off by a few inches (since they where staggered side to side, it was hard to tell) and I did not notice this until I was half way done and took a step back. Each side is evenly spaced, but the two sides are just a little out of alignment.

Then you have to drill the holes, tap them, coat the screws with something to insulate the dis-similar metals, and the screw the step to the mast. This was not bad for the first few, they went quick while I had two feet on the deck. I installed my steps staggered, so I would not need as many. This meant while working on the next step, I was standing on one foot only, holding onto the mast, using a drill, and tap, screwdriver, bottle of goo, screws and mast step parts all while trying to insure I did not drop anything.

I did use a harness, and ran a second line around the mast in a small loop from my harness so I could lean back a little on that, but still, standing on one foot, holding on and switching tools without dropping anything was quite a challenge. I found I could only do 1 or two steps at a time before needing to come down for a break, and I typically only made a few trips up a day. (I'm a fairly young and somewhat in-shape guy, but it still whooped me good) We installed them here and there while out on a 3 week trip, which was kind of fun, working on the mast in various anchorages.

For anyone else wanting to install steps in this manor, I would say go for it, just be prepared for it to be quite a bit more work then you originally assume. If I installed them with the mast down, the whole process would have taken a small fraction of the time (but cost a lot more, since the mast is not coming down for anything else for a while)
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Old 10-07-2010
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I wouldn't use aluminum rivets for installing mast steps. They're really not strong enough to be safe IMHO. They're far more subject to corrosion and fatigue as well.
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Old 10-09-2010
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I would opt for the plastic steps linked to. They are lighter and have no downside. The mast is the last place for weight if it can be avoided. No chance of rattles is a bonus. Besides, what is wrong with plastic. Isn't that what the boat is made of?
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Old 10-09-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
I wouldn't use aluminum rivets for installing mast steps. They're really not strong enough to be safe IMHO. They're far more subject to corrosion and fatigue as well.
With 5 rivets per step, I really don't see this as a problem plus it was an added benefit to use aluminum with aluminum.
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Old 10-09-2010
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I like the idea of plastic, but I wonder how I would feel about them after they are 10 years old. The failure mode is pretty catastrophic.

I recently got an aluminum folding step to use just to make it easier to get the sail cover on an connect the halyard. I don't like it. It doesn't fit the mast very well and is pretty heavy so I may not install it.

As far as steps go I kinda like the aluminum hoop steps. They are lightweight and strong. They are prone to snagging lines but with the enclosed step I believe are definitely safer. As far as looks go every once in a while I see a folding step near the top of the mast that is out. That looks pretty tacky.

So for me the jury is still out. I would like the ability to climb the mast in a hurry if I felt like it. I may someday just install the hoop steps.

Gene
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