a Question on the stay mount
11/03/2018 at 5:35 pm #13955
Spark, my wooden masted GP, has been out of the water for the better part of 30 years. Before that, she had been used for racing. “rode hard and put away wet” as they say. As I have to split her lovely mast to glue the two halves back together properly, I have been pondering how the mount for the stays should be secured to the mast. As it sits now, it is thru bolted awkwardly. It is my thinking this should be screwed into place, but somewhere in the past, the screws were replaced with this bolt.
Any help would be greatly appreciated by both myself and #5942
- This topic was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by arthaberland.
11/03/2018 at 8:49 pm #13957
I most warmly approve of the principle of through bolting the hounds band, even though I agree that in this instance the job has not been done particularly neatly. I strongly recommend that you retain the principle, but by all means replace that bolt by a stainless steel one, with stainless nut and washers, and cut off the surplus length.
As with all fittings, use sealant around all fastenings, to ensure that you don’t get rain water penetrating into the wood. Clear silicone sealant is adequate, and it is readily obtainable, although there is an argument that polysulphide is better, and it is about the same price, but it may be less easy to obtain.
Quite early in my sailing career I raced Fireflies at university, and we regularly broke masts as a result of shroud failure. When I became Maintenance Officer of the college sailing club I took it upon myself to address this issue, which I did with some success; however I myself broke one of the masts while racing in the Nationals in about 1963 or ’64. and that experience stood me in good stead after I left university and moved to GP14s. Within my first 4 years, or thereabouts, in GP14s I suffered three shroud failures, but because I had already had this experience in the Firefly I reacted instantly when I heard the loud bangs, and so on each occasion I was able to save the mast. Thereafter I learned my lesson regarding rig maintenance, and in the fifty years since I have never had another shroud failure …
The last of those occasions taught me the value of through bolting the hounds band, the fitting that you are referring to. Two of us were sailing my GP14 on Ullswater, a gloriously scenic lake in the English Lake District, perhaps 8 miles long. We had enjoyed a superb downwind sail the full length of the lake, and we were now about two-thirds of the 8-mile beat back home to our launching point at the head of the lake. We were both fit and enthusiastic sailors in, then, our early twenties, so the physical exertion of the beat did not worry us, and in perhaps force 5 we were sitting the boat out hard.
Suddenly there was the tell-tale loud bang, so we reacted instantly; tiller down hard and tack the boat. No time for any preamble to the tack, or any warning, and the time for looking around to check whether anything was in the way was only after we had already initiated the tack. As we went through the wind I spotted that the lee shroud had also gone slack; the problem was not that the weather shroud had broken, but that the hounds band had pulled off the mast!
We immediately therefore aborted the tack, and ended up sitting in the middle of the boat, head to wind; we then dropped all sail, broke out the oars, and rowed the rest of the way back to our launch point.
After I got home I not merely refitted the hounds band, but drilled it and inserted a through bolt. Just like your one!
Since then, on each of the small handful of boats which I have owned with wooden masts, including my present yacht, the hounds bands have all been through bolted!
However there are a couple of things that you could usefully do, given that you are repairing the mast anyway:
- Check the state of the wood where the bolt passes through. If that is crushed or damaged, consider whether you need to insert a small piece of new wood to provide a new bearing surface. Possibly even insert it with the grain horizontal, to give the strongest bearing surface against the bolt, and make it diamond shaped to give the strongest glued bond with the vertical grain of the mast; another option, if you have access to a suitably large plug cutter tool, is circular, but still with the grain horizontal. Bond it with epoxy, of course.
- While you are doing the job, once you have completed all the repairs strip off all the old varnish back to bare wood, and start again. Use a nice pale varnish, to achieve a pale golden colour to show off your (white) softwood spar to best advantage; it is probably either spruce or Douglas Fir, and it can look stunning, but it should be much lighter in colour than your one is at present.
Enjoy your project. There is a bit of work to be done there, but the result should be very satisfying.
12/03/2018 at 2:20 pm #13966
I appreciate the time you took to answer and share your expertise on the matter. I will indeed continue to keep the mast hound thru-bolted as you suggest. All of my previous boats have been aluminum masted which makes them much easier to care for. Now I just need to wait for spring to break so the temperatures climb enough for me to do any work.
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