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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am replacing the spreader bracket on my Catalina 27. The through bolt on the old assembly has frozen to the compression tube within the mast. The bolt will jiggle around, but I can't beat the bolt out through the compression tube and therefore out of the mast...Any ideas on how to get the through bolt out of the compression tube and out of the mast?
 

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I am replacing the spreader bracket on my Catalina 27. The through bolt on the old assembly has frozen to the compression tube within the mast. The bolt will jiggle around, but I can't beat the bolt out through the compression tube and therefore out of the mast...Any ideas on how to get the through bolt out of the compression tube and out of the mast?
Are you doing this work with the mast standing or is it down?
Have you removed the tangs from both sides of the mast?
Usually a compression tube at the spreaders will be cut off flush with the outside of the spar. Meaning that the tube usually has the same outside diameter as the diameter of the hole. Meaning that it should just slide out after removing the nut and tangs. Even if the bolt is frozen in it.
That's a very common occurrence by the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Knothead, for your reply!

The mast is down, and the spreader bracket on the "nut" side of the through bolt is off. But I can't remove the spreader bracket on the "bolt head" side of the through bolt without removing the bolt. And the hole in the mast is just big enough to pass the bolt through-it does not emcompass the outside diameter of the compression tube.

Though I can't move the through bolt in it's longitudinal direction, (?"athwartships"), I can jiggle it around a bit. (It doesn't seem to be fixed to the inside of the mast.) So I'm assuming there is a compression tube in there, the inside diameter of which matches the outside diameter of the through bolt, preventing me from sliding the bolt out, with a length of the compression tube equal to the inside diameter of the mast.

I'm thinking about checking out the hardware/auto parts store for some kind of "screw press", sort of like those used to remove stuck faucet handles, but more stout...
 

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Thanks, Knothead, for your reply!

The mast is down, and the spreader bracket on the "nut" side of the through bolt is off. But I can't remove the spreader bracket on the "bolt head" side of the through bolt without removing the bolt. And the hole in the mast is just big enough to pass the bolt through-it does not emcompass the outside diameter of the compression tube.

Though I can't move the through bolt in it's longitudinal direction, (?"athwartships"), I can jiggle it around a bit. (It doesn't seem to be fixed to the inside of the mast.) So I'm assuming there is a compression tube in there, the inside diameter of which matches the outside diameter of the through bolt, preventing me from sliding the bolt out, with a length of the compression tube equal to the inside diameter of the mast.

I'm thinking about checking out the hardware/auto parts store for some kind of "screw press", sort of like those used to remove stuck faucet handles, but more stout...
Before you do anything else, you might want to grind the head of the bolt off so that you can remove the tang on that side.
Then in the worst case scenario you can take a dremel tool and using a small cutting bit, and a little patience, carefully enlarge the hole around the bolt on one side or the other until you can slide the whole thing out.

I have to say it's kinda rare to have a compression tube that far up inside the mast that isn't cut to be flush with the outside of the section.
The only way to get it into place is from one end or the other using a piece of small line. A big PITA for no good reason. :confused:
I'm not saying yours wasn't done that way, just that I haven't seen it done much.
But not too much surprises me anymore. ;)

I would recommend that you get it down to the bare spar, clean up all the corrosion and then decide how to proceed. You should probably replace the bolt and compression tube anyway so you don't have to worry about damaging them in the process of removal. Just don't damage the mast too much. :eek: :)
 

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Try unscrewing the bolt using someone to push on the screw side with a wooden block while you use a impact socket on the other side.

A little PB blaster will help.
 

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Try unscrewing the bolt using someone to push on the screw side with a wooden block while you use a impact socket on the other side.

A little PB blaster will help.
Unfortunately, if the bolt is frozen in the tube. It'll just spin. There's no way to hold to tube. :(
 

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Let it spin and it might develop enough heat to either break the crap off the bolt or the pressure from the wood block will wear the alum out.

Unfortunately, if the bolt is frozen in the tube. It'll just spin. There's no way to hold to tube. :(
 

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I would guess that the hole on the bolt head side is large enough for the compression tube to slide out. If you drill out the rivets on the bracket you should be able to remove the bracket and bolt together. If this is not the case, I would vote for cutting the bolt head off and enlarging the hole to slide the tube out. Trying to hammer or press the bolt through will likely damage the mast before the bolt comes out.
 

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I would guess that the hole on the bolt head side is large enough for the compression tube to slide out. If you drill out the rivets on the bracket you should be able to remove the bracket and bolt together. If this is not the case, I would vote for cutting the bolt head off and enlarging the hole to slide the tube out. Trying to hammer or press the bolt through will likely damage the mast before the bolt comes out.
I agree. That's why I suggested

Knothead said:
I would recommend that you get it down to the bare spar, clean up all the corrosion and then decide how to proceed. You should probably replace the bolt and compression tube anyway so you don't have to worry about damaging them in the process of removal. Just don't damage the mast too much. :eek: :)
I have a feeling it may come out. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Success!

So here's how I did it, thanks to all your input!

I cut off the thread end of the bolt close to the mast, ground it flat, center punched it and then drilled end on into the bolt until that end no longer met the inside wall of the mast, (using a 5/16" bit into a 3/8" bolt). Then I turned the mast over, cut the head off the bolt, and did the same from that side. It fell off into the mast and I fished it out.

Thanks again!
 

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Happily I've just run into exactly the same problem today. Exactly exactly (same boat even). I've started drilling into available end of the bolt but it's taking a long time and it's a real PITA... we've already broken one titanium drill bit. Hopefully not much more to go before I can turn the mast over and grind off the hex cap on the other side.

Couple of questions for you since you've been through it:

1) About how long did it take you to drill out the threaded end of the bolt? How deep did you go?

2) What setup did you use to grind the hex cap off the cap end of the bolt? I'll probably have access to an angle grinder. I don't think I'll have enough clearance to get between the cap and the tang. I'm considering grinding right through the old cast aluminum bracket to essentially cut off the bolt.

3) When the little bits of burning metal are flying around, how did you prevent them from getting all over your gelcoat (and your neighbors' gelcoat)?

4) Any other gotchas during the bracket replacement after that?

I'd say, "Thanks for having this problem three months ago," but I wouldn't wish this work on anybody. Thanks for solving this problem and posting about it, I guess :)

p.s. I can confirm that on the C27 the tang bolt hole is wide enough for the bolt, but not for the compression tube. The instructions that come with the spreader bracket retrofit kit from Catalina Direct suggest cutting a notch into a 20-or-so-foot-long PVC pipe and using that to feed the tube into the mast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
1)I was using new drills, and it took 5-10' to drill the threaded end of the bolt down to just inside the inside wall of the mast. 2)I used a Saws All (?spelling) to cut the hex head off the bolt between the aluminum spreader bracket and the hex head. I found SS bolts cut fairly easily but are difficult to drill! Then ground it down flush with the outside of the mast and drilled until it fell inside the mast-by some fortuitous quirk of fate, the bolt did not spin as I drilled it. For grinding I used a grinding wheel on my drill...3) the mast was in my back yard, so flying bits of metal were not a problem. 4) the mast was stripped down to nothing but a bare extrusion, and the PVC pipe routine worked, but was very tricky. And they're right about not over-torquing the upper spreader bracket bolt-it's easy to dimple the mast! 5) Hope this helps! Good luck!
 

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That does help a lot. I have noticed that newer bits drill in pretty quickly... but then my newer bolt blew up and I switched to an older bit which was not significantly sharper than my thumb. I guess I'll grab some new bits and grinding wheels so that I'm not dependent on my friend's angle grinder.

As for the metal bits, I'm thinking of draping a wet bed sheet around the A-frame, which is still in place.

Thanks for your input!
 

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Adam, If you are aware of this already, my apologies. In addition to using a sharp or new bit, the key to drilling SS or any hardened steel, is to keep the bit speed to a minimum. Heat is your worst enemy, so trying to drill into steel at the same speed as say aluminum, will only prematurely dull the bit and harden the steel. A little machining oil applied by a helper while drilling helps to cool things down as well.
 

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In addition to what FULLKEEL7 said, you want to have the bit turning slowly enough that you can watch the individual flutes rotating... if you can't you're probably turning it too fast.
 

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Yep. My crew is much more tool-savvy than I am and they gave the same advice. We started off going slow and being generous with the oil. I found that the bit seemed to cut better (felt like it was cutting) at the lower speeds. However in spite of all the concern about heat, the bit never heated up... I think the mast might act as an enormous heat sink.

Anyway I think now it's time for a couple of sharp new bits to go at it... I feel like I'm not really making progress anymore.
 
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