Mast TLC day

by Glen

Sunday 8 Nov, HHN, boat winterizing day 39:
This morning, I’m actually struggling to think what to do outside. I’ve pretty much done all outside jobs that I wanted to achieve this visit. But the day is so beautiful and warm, I really want to be out there, especially that rain is forecast this week. So, I decide to have a day on the mast. Removing some more fittings and servicing the 4 winches, which were last done in 2017.

The vang and goose neck fittings look to be in good shape, except there is quite a lot of corrosion staining on the lower side of each, despite the separation plastic sheet still looking intact between the 2 metals. But this opportunity won’t come again for a while, so I decided to remove them. The 20 bolts holding the vang fitting all come out relatively easy using the impact wrench. But once removed I’m quite shocked at the amount of aluminum oxide corrosion, even though the plastic separation comes off completely intact. However, once I’ve cleaned off the compacted white power, I discover no serious corrosion. Only spots around the riveted nuts. I’ll make a new HDPE sheet and reinstall with some tefgel.
The goose-neck fitting was not so friendly. 2 of the 20 bolts refuse to come out. Unlike the vang fitting, these stainless bolts screw into aluminum backing plates. So, no surprise they are more difficult to extract. On my second attempt, the bit in my impact wrench shatters, leaving ½ of it in the bolt head. Aaaargh! It takes me almost an hour to get the remaining piece out of the head. Using a magnifying glass, I can see the damned thing move slightly, when I poke it with a watchmakers screw driver, but I have no way to lift it out. If only I could turn the mast, it might just fall out. I try a magnet but that doesn’t work either. Eventually, I resort to gluing a tiny bolt onto it by using rapid setting epoxy, and thankfully it pulls out very easily. But the 2 bolts remain stubborn. Even after heating with a blow torch neither will budge. It looks like a drill-out job. I hate having to do that. It rarely goes well.

Then I start to service the 4 mast winches. A little too late in the day really and I don’t quite get them finished before dark. It’s amazing how quick it turns from a warm day to chilly and dew in the everything. So, I cover up my workplace with a tarp and vow to finish in the morning. I am quite happy to report that all of the winches still had fresh grease inside from when I last serviced them in 2017 and all working perfectly. It turned out to be just a cleaning job, regreasing and rebuilding them. It’s so nice when there are no nasty surprises for once.

While up to my eyes in grease and cleaning with diesel, I get 2 new visitors. Joe and Suzanne from S/V Patience. They are also avid Cloudy Bay blog readers and vlog watchers and have come to say hi. They will be following in our footsteps in a year or 2 and they very kindly bring us a super bottle of local Rye, from Baltimore. Goodness, people are so kind. Magnus Rassy….. it must be your turn soon? I’ll happily have a bottle of 57, thank you!

Last job of the day is to finally replace the hydraulic quick connect steel fittings locking balls with stainless steel ones. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but until I found McMaster-Carr I could not source stainless steel 3/16” balls. These beautifully engineered quick connects (made in Sweden) look wonderful until you soak then in salt water. Then the locking balls (made of f#*king steel) instantly start to rust, making the fittings anything-but quick-connects. For 2 years now, ever since I discovered this short fall, I’ve been regularly nursing these fittings, liberally greasing and covering with heat shrink. But still, the balls corrode locking them solid. Well, tonight, ladies and gentlemen, the balls get upgraded. Thank you, McMaster-Carr!

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1 comment

Serban Oprescu November 13, 2020 - 6:08 pm

The mast is massive. I knew it has to be strong, and it would be large (it has to do with something called Inertia Moment), but this is truly a mammoth. It appears to be some 30-cm deep. Probably the forces on the mast are significant. Consequently, the tight torque on the screws.
PS. I envy your impact wrench!


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