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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I found a hairline crack on my mast at the lower shroud hound. It appears as though the compression tube weld has failed... I'm guessing corrosion. Otherwise, the stick seems to be in pretty good shape. Anybody dealt with this?

Here is an article I wrote about it: Don't Pay the Ransom: All It's Cracked Up To Be
 

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I'm familiar with a boat that had a small crack at the gooseneck. They sent the spar to an aluminum welder for repair. The mast failed shortly after reinstallation. From conversations with the owner, it's my understanding that welding is not a recommended method of repair.
 

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Most reputable rigging operations know how to deal with this. You can check with the Mast maker. Having said that, most minor cracks are drill stopped and a sleeve or collar is place in the area for more support. Cost is a few hundred dollars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I spoke with Eastport Spars and Rigging, and they suggested that a weld is likely the way to go. Of course, they were responding to my verbal description of the problem. I'm very leery of having it welded.

Currently, the crack is tiny. It is about 1" long and basically follows the curvature of the compression sleeve/mast joint for the lower shrouds. Other than this spot, the mast seems to be in very good condition.

The mast has welds in numerous locations that have held up all of these years. The masthead is welded on. The hounds for the forestay and backstay are welded. All of the winch pads are welded on. The compression sleeves are welded into place (obviously, one of these failed).
 

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I'd blame it on corrosion or severe changes in weather conditions.. the best way to fix it is to use a mast sleeve, and rivet both sections afterwards. This shouldn't be too costly, but it may be worth getting a quote for a new mast, it would last a lot longer!

If the mast is made from aluminium I wouldn't really suggest welding the mast because welding aluminum is less reliable than riveting.

Hope that's helped, Lee.
 

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Is the mast tapering, or the same diameter all the way up? If it is not tapered, you could remove the top and shove a 24" sleeve down to where the crack is (you might have to beat on it if the fit is really tight). Then drill through the mast and sleeve and rivet them together. Riggers might have just the right type of aluminum pipe to fit your mast properly. I would still put a weld on the crack or at least use JB weld to seal it.
 

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I spoke with Eastport Spars and Rigging, and they suggested that a weld is likely the way to go. Of course, they were responding to my verbal description of the problem. I'm very leery of having it welded.

Currently, the crack is tiny. It is about 1" long and basically follows the curvature of the compression sleeve/mast joint for the lower shrouds. Other than this spot, the mast seems to be in very good condition.

The mast has welds in numerous locations that have held up all of these years. The masthead is welded on. The hounds for the forestay and backstay are welded. All of the winch pads are welded on. The compression sleeves are welded into place (obviously, one of these failed).
Most of those welds are Electron Beam or Laser welds. I would not take the risk of ruining my mast with a hand weld. Talk to the mast manufacturer.
 

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Hi datswite My mast is also like yours, except the crack, everything welded to it! I have a Gulfstar 37, and the compression tube seized around the shrouds bolt, then decided to break away from the mast entry point on both sides. The tube was welded to the mast on either side, with the tube protruding about a 1/4 " either side! What I going to do is use a grinder to get down to mast base metal, then use a hole saw to open the hole to fit a larger diameter tube, and have that welded in place, then sleeve the tube for the bolt.
I know your frustration as I have been thinking of how to fix this for some time, and figured this is the only way out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hmm... not sure what to make of this. I've spoken with a few different spar repair places, and I've received a few different opinions ranging from re-welding the compression sleeve to doing nothing.

The "do nothing" opinion was based upon their experience that many compression tubes are never welded to begin with; the mast is simply drilled and a free-floating sleeve is inserted. The sleeve's only function is to protect the mast from being crushed by the rigging bolt. They suggested that the mast is fine, it's only the sleeve weld that is failing. Even if it were to continue to crack around the circumference of the hole, nothing bad would happen. I would just have a free-floating sleeve. They did not think that the crack would continue through the mast - only the weld.

The second opinion about re-welding was couched in the following reasons:

1. if the weld fails, the compression sleeve will no longer protect the mast (I'm not sure I buy this, the sleeve is still in the mast and cannot compress)

2. if the weld fails, the mast might buckle

(it should be noted that the guy specifically told me that he is desperate for work in the winter)

Welding concerns me in that it can weaken the mast even further by undoing the tempering. Installing a doubler also involves welding. Riveting a plate involves inserting a dissimilar metal rivet into the mast exacerbating corrosion.

Both solutions seem like they could make the problem worse. Either a weakened spar via heat or the crack continuing to spread.
 

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A proper welding job, by an experienced welder with the right matching materials, literally makes new seamless metal that is as good as the original part was.

And having said that...the big offshore drilling rigs and the big pipeline companies? Won't hire a pipe welder with less than ten YEARS of experience. And even then, they find a high rate of failures when they x-ray the welds.

So finding a really good welder?? For something critical like a mast?

I'd go with the spar shop and even then, take a look at the shop and make sure the welder seems like a pro. They certainly can weld and sleeve, just tell them you need a massively overstrong repair and you'll come back to haunt them from the grave if it fails.
 

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Even assuming you get a good welder, which is not the same thing as some guy with a stick. Masts are tempered, and local welding destroys the temper. There may be ways to avoid or correct for this, but I don't know them. On the flip side large masts are routinely built in two sections and sleeved together. I can't think of any reason not to just sleave here as well.

If you are worried about dissimilar metals just use rivets that match the alloy of the mast. They aren't all that hard to find.

If you really want an expert opinion call Brion Toss with pictures of the crack and ask him. I assume he would charge a consulting fee but it shouldn't be much compared to the price of a new mast.

I would also keep close records of everything you do. You may have to explain to your insurance company what and why you did something in the event the mast does come down.
 

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datswite, you need to post a photo of the crack with a ruler/scale showing its relative length.

IMHO, put a sleeve on it from the outside. After the sleeve is m made, you can rivet it in place, use teffgel or something similar to seal the rivets. 5 years later do an inspections, 10 years later replace the rivets one at a time. This is something you can do yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I posted the problem on Brion Toss' forum, SparTalk. He replied, and judging from similar posts I've found on his forum, this seems to be his standard solution to the problem. I'll likely go with his suggestion... when I told a local rigger what Brion said, the rigger's response was, "the wizard has spoken." It certainly makes sense - no welding, no rivets, no dissimilar metal. The spar is in fine condition - only the compression sleeve weld has failed. This solution eliminates the failure. Here is what he said:

Hi,

Welding is a truly lousy option here, as it is very difficult to do without making things worse, is unlikely to make things better, and it will in any event destroy your paint job. The shape of the cracks indicates that the tube is indeed welded in. These cracks are very likely to continue to migrate into the mast wall, at the location on the mast where the standing rig loads are highest. I would drill out for shouldered bushings, and get compatible tangs for them. This will eliminate the fractured metal, and give a fuller bearing for the throughbolt. Said throughbolt will have its threads cut on a lathe, with nuts at both ends, such that the threads stop just outside of the tangs, thus no compression on the mast.

Fair leads,
Brion Toss


Also, I forgot to attach photos in my OP. Here is a link to the photos:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/14zgxr64s6npdz5/AACAeBBG-MlcxqpL7tqKU-wHa?dl=0
 
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