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Discussion Starter #1
I bought a Vagabond 14ft sailboat recently, fiberglass core I believe. Its well worn, built in 1982. The plate that holds the bottom of the mast was not seated firmly and when I tried to tighten the lag bolts (screws) they just turn at the bottom.

In the attached picture there are two lags bolts (screwed in) that hold fairly firmly but I can't fully tighten. The third (laying out) is much longer, obviously not original, and does not hold at all.

It looks like there was a repair done at some point because it looks like some kind of filler was put in there.

How can this be repaired. I'm very handy and would likely do this myself (I think). But I have no idea how I would go about this. There is no access from the bottom of the boat.

Any help would be appreciated.

Joe
 

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I would probably fiberglass the metal fitting to the beam. Otherwise you'll have to place something you can screw into, in the glass, which would take just as much work and be less secure.
 

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A guess...stab...

That's probably to locate and hold the base under shear force, not tension.

You may be able to drill and relocate the lags (or use multiple small lags) if material is not rotted all underneath, filling old holes...with whatever...
If you can lift the base, you could also use a VHB tape when setting it back in place. That, along with secure screw fastening, would be strong...again, if the substrate is solid.

Lags can be funny to deal with...
You want to cut/form the material with the threads and put it under tension, but you do not want to over tighten and tear/break out material. You can also thread in lags loaded with 'goop' (you fav adhesive and filler).

Multiple ways to approach it...
 

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My strategy is try simplest/cheapest solutions first. If that were my boat, I would just drop the bolts in, then step the the mast and adjust the stay and shrouds. Then I'd pull the halyard outward, simulating the force of the wind on the mast. If that was successful, I'd try raising the sail. If that was good, I'd go sailing on a light wind day.

My thinking is that the shrouds and stay will hold the mast down, the bolt through the base of the mast will keep the mast from moving fore and aft relative to the mast step. The sides of the mast step will keep the mast from shifting port and starboard. The lag bolts, although not secure, will keep the mast step from sliding relative to the boat.

I'll leave it up to you to work through all possible scenarios and their consequences in order to avoid problems that may arise using this strategy. And, are they any worse than what would happen if you properly fixed the mast step to the boat?
 

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I would clean that area up top see what you have there. Is there a bunch of crazing around the step? Is the fiberglass flat under the step or is there a slight depression? That might indicate rot in the piece of timber that the bolts screw into. If so you should correct.

Let it dry out. Go out and buy some Captain Tolleys and pour into holes following the directions. Once dry then put Life Caulk in the holes and put the base on and screws in. Let dry and go sailing.

A more serious fix would be to drill out the holes to put a length of wood dowel in. Try to see if the surrounding wood is solid. If squishy use Captain Tolleys and let cure. Epoxy the dowel in to the hole and let dry. Drill pilot holes for lag screws and, using Caulk, install base.

The main forces on those bolts are side to side, not up and down. The only vertical forces come into play when stepping and underground the mast so it's not a real big issue that the lags don't tighten. What is a big issue is if you have softness down there indicating rot. If that is the case it must be fixed as compression forces with the mast up will worsen and you won't be able to tune the rig.

Good luck

Tod
 

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Discussion Starter #6
capta, RegisteredUser, jwing, Gladrags1,

Thank you for taking the time to reply. All of your inputs were helpful. This discussion has caused me to think about the various forces at work on the mast and shrouds. The area under the step is hard, sturdy, and flat so it looks like there is minimal rot, just worn out holes. I'm going to order the Captain Tulleys and Life Crack, they seem like excellent products. I imagine I'll have other uses for them as I fix up this boat. If there is anything significant to report back I'll update the post, maybe it'll be helpful to someone else.

Joe
 

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Captain Tolleys is not the right thing for that. It is a very thin penetrating silicone meant to fill fine cracks in gelcoat.

To fill the holes, you should use an epoxy putty. Something like JB-WEld or Marinetex. (ADDED: These are equivalent to the thickened West epoxy mentioned in this article. Looks like you need a Zone 1 repair! http://epoxyworks.com/index.php/repairing-machined-holes-in-fiberglass/)

Then, as someone suggested, drill a new set of holes in the stainless not too close to existing and put in a new set of stainless steel self tapping screws in a new location - 1/4" or 5/16" should do. They don't have to be take much force. That stainless plate just protects the fiberglass beam and holds the mast butt in position. The fiberglass beam takes the force.

Just predrill with slightly smaller drill and screw them in. Put some epoxy on the threads - might help keep the screws tight. Try to keep them outside where the mast sits. Otherwise you would have to use flat heads and countersink them into the metal. Looks like there are 3 screws? If so, you could mirror image them, or even reverse the mast step while making sure the mast will stay in same position. You can screw into the JB-WEld, but better to screw into solid material.

If the support beam is hollow, you could have trouble keeping the epoxy in place while it cures. You could spray in some of that expanding foam to provide a backing. However, JBWEld is quite thick and should not require that if you do it in several steps. You can also get JBweld and other epoxies in form of a putty stick and that won't run.

Using VHB tape between the mast step and the beam is not a bad idea! But it should be quite thin. Otherwise 3M 5200 adhesive/sealant would work. But then bracket will be hard to ever get off! 3M 4200 might be a better choice.
 

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If this was my boat I'd open the base up, scoop out the mush then fix it right. Those lag bolts screwed into something. They show signs of water intrusion because they are rusty.
 
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