Mast Work and Rigging:  Details

Mast Step  |  Standing Rigging  |  Jumper Struts  |  Mast Wiring  |  Windex  |  Radar  Reflector

Mast Step

The original mast step looked like this (photo, right)  It was in basically good condition, but there were a few chips in the plywood laminations, and it was ugly!

I sanded the piece down, and mixed up a cake-frosting like batch of epoxy, which I used to fill the minor lamination chips and other surface flaws.  When the epoxy cured, I sanded it smooth, primed with Brightside primer, and painted the step with three coats of Brightside white.


I reinstalled the mast step with stainless steel wood screws in the original location, in a bed of polysulfide.  There were no signs of mast beam damage or deck compression in #381, so I didn't do any work to those areas.  Should any signs show up in the future, I'll deal with it at that time.




Rigging Inspection and Replacement

All of the original stays appeared to be in fair condition, with the exception of the headstay.  An old, decrepit roller furler was installed, and it had badly untwisted the upper portion of the stay.  Total trash.  The remaining stays require a complete inspection, which I am going to have a rigger do, and I will replace as necessary.

The original bronze turnbuckles were in pretty sad shape, with many bent threads and other problems.  I am going to replace them all with new.

I sent the old running rigging off to a local rigger for inspection and, if necessary, replacement.  At the very least, I am replacing the headstay--which was completely unlaid at the top--and reconfiguring the jumper stay adjustment, adding a turnbuckle at the lower end for easier adjustment.  A bent jumper is slated for repair or replacement as well. 

After several weeks, I received my new rigging.  I ended up replacing all the rigging.  The rigger found a couple suspect swages, and I decided that the time was right to start fresh.  Where have you heard that before?  The new rigging is the same size as the original--3/16", except for the headstay, which is 1/4".  The turnbuckles and all related hardware are also new.

Update:  Winter 2008

From the getgo, the backstay had been a bit too short.  When we first launched in 2001, we struggled to connect the backstay.   Here we are trying to secure the backstay that first year.

For a season or two, I made do with the backstay as is; I must have used an additional toggle to aid in the process.  Then, one year I changed the headstay setup and installed an additional toggle there, which not only helped connect the headstay but also bought a couple inches for the backstay.  This worked adequately, though attaching the  backstay was always a hassle.

Things came to a head in 2007.  After missing a season with the boat while I built my house, my brain was rusty, and I forgot to add the extra toggle to the headstay when I was getting the mast stepped.  I didn't realize my mistake till later, but the end result was that it was impossible to attach the backstay.  Fortunately, I had some additional rigging gear on board, and by attaching every spare toggle I had on board (bringing the total on the backstay to four), we got the thing attached.  Some time later in the season, I realized that I'd forgotten the toggle on the headstay, but didn't bother to reconfigure it at the time.

Clearly, though, it was time to deal with the backstay.  Even accounting for the additional toggle required on the headstay, which would gain 2" (each toggle is 2" from pin to pin), the backstay was just too short.  As seen the photo above, the threads on the turnbuckle were about where I wanted them--only without all the additional toggles.  I still wanted one toggle on the backstay, and would properly install a toggle on the headstay for the next season.  But that still left two full toggles' worth of distance, or 4", that the backstay came up short.  Therefore, I decided to have a new stay made 4" longer than the old to make up the difference and allow appropriate adjustment room in either direction on the backstay turnbuckle.

As before, I subbed this work out to Maloney Marine Rigging, as I'd long ago determined that it was more efficient and less costly to have the pros take care of the job than to do it myself.  My new backstay was identical to the original, and reused the old turnbuckle and lower end, but was 4" longer overall.  I looked forward to an easier mast-stepping in the spring.

Now, back to the original page content, dating to 2001.

We also have new jumper struts.  Both side tubes and the cross piece were replaced in kind.  The original adjustment setup was retained--there are threaded rods that simply insert in the end of the tubes, with an adjustment nut to increase or decrease the amount that protrudes from the end.  However, we also added turnbuckles to the lower end of the new jumper stays, which will allow more convenient tuning from spreader level.  This way, the tension can be tweaked jumperconnections.jpg (86096 bytes) much more easily once the mast is up, rather than having to go all the way up and fuss with the little nuts.  

I spent some time working on rerigging the mast.  I began after I had run wires through the mast for the VHF, masthead light and steaming light, as running these wires required that the masthead and mast base fittings remain removed.  With the wiring installed, I reinstalled the two fittings and moved on to rerigging.  The job is not yet complete, but I pick away at it when I don't feel like doing anything else.  On a nice day, when I don't want to be inside the boat shed, working on the mast is just the ticket.

mast1-43001.jpg (69804 bytes)Rerigging is pretty straightforward and doesn't require much in the way of description.  Basically, it only involves installing the new stays and shrouds with clevis pins...boring stuff.  I temporarily reinstalled the spreaders so I could mouse the stays onto the spreader tips with monel wire, and I added rubber spreader boots, which I taped in place with rigging tape.  Later, I'll add some flag halyards to the spreaders, one on each side.

Mast Wiring

mastheadlight.jpg (76916 bytes)We've made efforts to keep things relatively simple, but there are still several wires that are required inside the mast.  There are two wires for the masthead/anchor light (all-round white), and three wires for a combination steaming light (225 white) and foredeck light (a downward halogen bulb).  There is also the VHF antenna cable to the top of the mast.  To run the wires, I ran a snake through the mast and pulled them through.  Then, I installed foam copper pipe insulation over the wires to keep them quiet inside the mast.  

steaminglight.jpg (82932 bytes)

vhfantenna.jpg (63252 bytes)I installed the VHF antenna bracket at the top of the mast with three self tapping screws, one of which doubles for securing the masthead fitting.  The antenna is a standard Metz.  At the top of the coax cable, I installed one of the new Shakespeare PL-259 EX connectors, which do not require the complicated stripping and soldering of the traditional PL-259s.  I have not yet tested the performance, but installation was a breeze.  Time will tell.

A necessary sailing "instrument" is the Windex.  I bought the standard Windex 15 and set forth to install it on the top of the mast.  Here I ran into a small problem--I could not mount it without the vane hitting the VHF antenna.  There is a version of the Windex available that mounts on the VHF antenna, but I didn't particularly feel like swapping--I wanted it on the centerline anyway.  There is also a universal extension mount windex1.jpg (79536 bytes)available--for $20.  Upon looking at the photo in the catalog, I realized that the old center span from my jumper struts would serve very nicely when cut down to size--it even has a flattened area with a hole.  I cut the span more or less in half for the proper length, and screwed it to the very top of the masthead fitting; the Windex mounts on the flattened end well aft of the mast. 
I also installed a neat Mobri radar reflector (available from Defender).  I have seen them in the past, and really mobri.jpg (70432 bytes)liked the unobtrusive design.  They work, too, and, because they're so unobtrusive, you leave them up all the time, which guarantees that they will work better than the traditional type that everyone forgets to put up at night or in the fog.  I installed it on the front of the mast above the headstay, secured to two eye straps screwed to the mast.

Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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