Newbie wooden mast questions - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 11-29-2011
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Newbie wooden mast questions

I'm a complete newbie when it comes to dealing with wooden masts and have a couple of questions about my recent purchase. Just bought a Newport Kite (12' dinghy) that has a 20' wooden mast. The mast did not come with the boat according to the guy I bought it from. He had to add a few extra pieces of wood to make it fit properly (pic below) I only sailed it once and the varnish in many places is suddenly peeling off so I need to re-varnish it. The issue is that the area of the mast that rubs on the circular area it fits into at the bow (sorry don't know what that is called). See the pic below. After just one sail for about an hour, the varnish was worn away and the wood now has a small groove in it. I have a few questions:

(1) Will a new coat of varnish be enough to protect that area or should I use something else either over or under the varnish?

(2) Also, I plan to use a stripper to remove the varnish from the slot the main fits into (again, I don't know the term for it), and don't know how concerned I need to be with getting all of the old varnish out before applying new varnish.

(3) After using the stripper, do i need to figure a way to sand the inside of the slot or can I just varnish it without sanding? The area is not very accessible so if I need to sand it, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

(4) Should I use a uniform amount of varnish on the whole mast or more in certain areas?

Thanks for any advice or suggestions you have!
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Newbie wooden mast questions-100_1823.jpg   Newbie wooden mast questions-100_1822.jpg  
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Old 12-05-2011
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I would just sand the existing vanish to roughin the surface then use any type of marine grade spar vanish. Put on several coats (follow instructions) and I think you are good to go. Keep the mast and wood out of weather and sun when not in use and they should last a lifetime or more. To sand the hole take any wood rod or broom handle, wrap with sand paper and rod the area.
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Old 12-05-2011
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What type of wood is the mast or at least the wedges. If you need to re varnish why not replace the wedges with something denser like white oak and the do a layer of glass just on the wedge section you can the varnish on top of that. That should give you a better wear resistance in that area.

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Old 12-05-2011
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Wrap it in leather? You can soak the leather in linseed oil and it will weather very well. The only thing is, it will compress with use so you will probably need to add more layers if the "slot thingy" can't be further tightened.

To minimize compression you can boil the leather first, ideally in beeswax, to harden it. Bring the wax to a liquid state but not quite to the point where it smokes. Soak the leather until you stop seeing bubbles come out of it. Remove and immediately wipe off excess wax. As the piece cools, wrap it around the mast so that it will take shape. The piece will shrink during the boiling and cooling process.
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Old 12-05-2011
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Looks like an accident waiting to happen. I would not sail that thing in anything bit a very light wind. the original lower mast section was the size of the hole formed by the mast yoke. that mast looks a little small in diameter for a 19 foot mast. the screws are not helping the situation causing a stress point right where it needs to be the strongest. the original mast had a plastic sleave around the mast to prevent chafe and to allow it rotate easily. some were rapped with fiberglass on the lower portion to help make the mast stiffer when sail in heavy winds.
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Old 12-05-2011
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Great ideas- thanks! I had thought about trying to get some plexiglass that I could fit around it instead of the wood, but haven't seen any thin enough to bend around the mast at the local stores. Is that the material you would recommend? If so, would i attach it with screws or some other method?

I like the leather idea too. Any particular grade and do you know where i could find the sort of leather that is suitable? How best to fasten the leather?

I might just replace with harder wood. I think the existing is spruce. With my woodworking skills, fitting them properly might be pretty challenging.

Thanks for all your help!
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Old 12-06-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hookturn View Post
I like the leather idea too. Any particular grade and do you know where i could find the sort of leather that is suitable? How best to fasten the leather?
Hm, interesting question. If it weren't for water intrusion in the mast I'd say just screw it down. I would check the library for a book on wooden boats, actually, as it would probably have better ideas than we've provided anyway.

I get leather from Tandy; they have a store that is more or less local to me. As for grade, thicker is better since it's going to compress anyway.

Btw, what keeps the mast from sliding up and out of that bracket, besides friction? Is it stayed?
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Old 12-06-2011
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Wrap the leather in a conical shape (like the wooden wedges), then fix in place with a nice hemp lashing above the brace. Test fit the leather first, then do the wax thing. Once everything is set in place then give the works a coat of spar varnish.
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Old 12-06-2011
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Thanks for the replies! The mast is kept in place by using a line that attaches to a fitting on the mast and led through a small hole in the brace portion of the boat. I didn't realize I could put varnish over the leather. Maybe that's the way to go. I will look into the materials. Thanks again for all your help.
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You can indeed varnish the leather (look at any pair of traditional snowshoes). The leather itself will take a bit of a beating, but that's just the spot that's rubbing and won't harm anything. I'd hold the one corner of the leather down with a small nail for convenience.

p.s. That rub spot won't look pretty, but it'll also be hidden behind the bracket.
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