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Discussion Starter #1
My wife & I recently purchased a beautiful 1985 34 ft. Seidelmann Sloop. We have named her "MATCHMAKER", but that''s a story for another time. When we un-stepped the mast for transport (keel stepped), We noticed that the keel end of the mast has significant pitting that looks to me like electrolysis. The paint at the mast foot has also deteriorated. The marina foreman says the mast is still OK but looks like it hasn''t been removed for years. The mast step is an aluminum plug and is wet with only an inch or two of accumulation.
Is there a way to stop this action for good, before I have to trim or otherwise repair the mast? I plan to re-paint the mast end. Will adding an electrical ground to the mast and step leading back to the engine help? How about "Never-Seize" on the step?
Any help would be appreciated.
 

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WillS,

I experienced the same thing on my 1985 S2 27 and although the mast and keel plate were both aluminum, the mast pitted and had to be trimmed 1/4 inch to get rid of the pitting, actually small holes wearing through. I believe it is caused by an accumulation of salt air over the years, water from mast leaks and condensation and yes, some type of electrolysis between the opposing metals.

I corrected mine by placing masking tape around the mast 1/4 inch from the bottom as a guide and trimming off the bad section using a sizzler disk on a grinding wheel. If you have a steady hand, the cut is perfect and very clean. Next, I painted the inside of the mast with three coats of Awgrip and removed the keel plate to clean it with a high speed wire brush. When all was done, it looked like new.

As to how to remedy the problem from ever happening again, I''m just as puzzled as you and hope someone out there with a degree (laugh) can help us both. GOOD LUCK!
 

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Sounds like you''ve got a corrosion/oxidation problem caused by salty bilge water in contact with aluminum. Careful sanding & surface preparation, followed by a coat or two of paint should fix it. Electrolysis is a little different, caused by electrical currents. If you do have electric currents running through your bilge water, wiring everything together will make the problem worse, not better.
 

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You know metals corrode...even same metals...clean mast & mast saddle...heavy coat with epoxy paint on both...apply very heavy grease to mast end and saddle...drill small drain hole at bottom of mast just above saddle. Install mast. Water can now drain and you can spray in WD-40 to flush out contaminates and coat inner mast from time to time..
 

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I have had same problem. The cure is to clean mast paint with two part epoxy paint, then keep the water away from the area. Instal a bilge pump that keeps the water to the absolute lowest point. Holes permitting water to leave the mast are also essential. By no means would I use Never Seas below water line or in wet areas(or grease). When submerged and wet this can actualy create a voltaic cell when sanwiched between two metal surfaces(even if similar metals). Also, if you use a wire wheel to clean aluminum, do not use a steal wire wheel. Small amounts of steel will always imbed into the aluminum and eventualy rust!!! Use a bronz pad or sand paper!
Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Bill, Navtron and all that sent suggestions.
I appreciate the great info.
I think part of the ongoing problem is that I can''t keep the saddle and mast base dry. The saddle is at the very bottom of the bilge. An 1/8 inch of water wets the base of the mast. I''ll clean, paint, keep the bilge as dry as possible and keep an eye on things.
Thanks again.
Will
 

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Just an additional thought.
I use a electric fan dryer to keep the boat air dry. It is sold by West Marine and called the "turbo dryer". I run it year round 24 hours a day. It has worked now for 5 years straight! It keeps the moister in the boat to almost nill. Consequently, there is no mold smelling things growing in the cushions and nooks/cranie''s (nautical term!). In addiotion though the bilge stays bone dry. I pull up a few floor boards and the 1/8 inch water you speak of dissapears. I do however have a shaft log that does not lead much. In winter when I do not use boat much I tighten it down a bit more than usual.
Good luck,
 

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AHOY!!! Treat your mast step like any other marine installation; forget trying to keep it dry....deal withit.Zinc chromate two part primer, drain holes in step, them bed the entire thing in Dolphinite till it squishes out all over the place, grounding plates from your chain plates to the keel bolts on the outside of the hull.......not in the bilge...Rev. Mike
 

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I have the same problem with my new 1985 Oday 28. The thru hull fittings and bronze seacocks were all bonded together and to the mast plug. The bronze is like new and guess which is the "zinc"?, yep, the aluminum mast and mast step. Don't bond these together, the aluminum will suffer for it.
 

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What idiot bonded the mast plug to the thru hulls? The thru hulls were probably bonded to help prevent galvanic corrosion, and one of the things they should be bonded to is a large zinc. The mast step and mast should not be bonded to them for galvanic corrosion, as they aren't—at least on most boats I've seen, exposed to the ocean...

The mast and mast step should be bonded to the shrouds and chainplates, if you're bonding for electrical (lightning) protection. The thru hulls should not be bonded to the lightning protection bonding system, as if they are, they may blow out in an actual lightning strike.
 

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Since you are likely to have to trim say, 1/2 " off the mast butt to clean it up, why not raise the mast step in the bilge by that 1/2" with a non-corrosive plate (solid glass, or maybe "Star board" if it will take the compression). This will keep the mast butt out of the bilge water for a bit, and more importantly, restore the original height of the rig so that your rigging will tension back up again like it did before.
With older standing rigging, that little drop in height might use up the free threads on some of the rigging screws.
 

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Excellent suggestion. I don't think that Starboard can handle that kind of compression load. Solid glass is probably the way to go. The only problem I see with doing it is whether the mast step can be easily removed. In many cases the mast step will be very difficult to remove as the fasteners used to attach it will have severely corroded.
 

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BTW, I wouldn't use Never Seez on a boat in something that might go in the bilge water... It contains copper, graphite, aluminum, and is probably a pretty good way to cause galvanic corrosion... graphite and copper are significantly higher than aluminum on the anodic scale.
 
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