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Old 11-12-2011, 20:43   #1
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Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

I am considering putting on some folding mast steps. The reason ... I really would rather not pay for a haul and a crane to drop the mast for the work I want to do. My concern is whether I can properly attach them with the mast up. I am sure the first two will be easy but after that?? Thoughts please
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Old 11-12-2011, 20:48   #2
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Hard to say. What fasteners? Self tapping that will snag internal halyards? Pop-rivets? The actual work will be twice as hard from a bosun's chair. But certainly do-able.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:15   #3
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

I was thinking self tapping screws, but I had not thought about the internal halyards. Good point.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:29   #4
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

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Originally Posted by squarpeg View Post
I am considering putting on some folding mast steps. The reason ... I really would rather not pay for a haul and a crane to drop the mast for the work I want to do. My concern is whether I can properly attach them with the mast up. I am sure the first two will be easy but after that?? Thoughts please
I'm confused by the way you stated your question. What you said is that you want the mast steps to avoid hauling the boat and stepping the mast.
If that is what you meant to say, use a bosuns chair instead to do the work.
If that is not what you meant to say, others can help you I'm sure.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:36   #5
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

Having done this on the ground on three boats, my suggestion is to do it with mast removed. Its a day job on the ground, not that expensive to just remove the mast, and will make your life easier.

That said, if you do choose to do it either way, I suggest using a real electric drill, and a tap...not rivets or self tapping screws for a lot of reasons. To line them up straight use a chalk line from tip to base before you start work.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:33   #6
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

I concur. Unless you feel compelled to do this job immediately, consider it an opportunity to examine the rig for defects, service the sheaves, swap in an LED masthead light, change out the most unsightly halyard, and so on. You want the halyards to lie slack away from where you are tapping holes. You also could snake a vacuum cleaner hose up the mast to reduce the amount of aluminum shavings stuck to the halyard (which itself is an argument for running all the halyard out of the mast, leaving "sacrificial" messenger lines).

Lastly, you get to check the mast step or the tabernacle for issues.

While you can do this from a chair, the number of trips to change the batteries, the challenge of holding a drill or a tap (taps are expensive and WILL fall in the sea) accurately, the challenge of using a tape measure and marker and perhaps a template to accurately mark the tap points...no, there's no way I would not pull the mast for this. I would just figure out enough ancilliary reasons to justify doing it right the first time.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:48   #7
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

While you would, of course, be in a chair for safety, couldn't you start at the bottom, and then just stand on the mast steps as you work your way up?

And then there is the reason for the mast steps in the first place? Seems like alot to go through for a one time job.

Has any one ever installed mast steps just at the top of the mast so that one could stand a little when working at the very top?
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Old 13-12-2011, 20:28   #8
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

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Has any one ever installed mast steps just at the top of the mast so that one could stand a little when working at the very top?
The mast on my boat was fitted just that way.
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Old 14-12-2011, 02:34   #9
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

I fitted steps to our 42' mast with a climbing harness for safety, but basically climbing on the steps that I had just fitted.Can't remember it being a problem.
Used a battery drill and pop rivets. Each tool had a little safety line back to my harness so I couldn't drop it on anyone. (I once dropped a can of silver paint from the masthead and had to watch it hurtle towards my wire. Luckily it missed her, but it was a hell of a job to clean up. Could have been tragic, she would have drowned me.)

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Old 14-12-2011, 05:40   #10
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

I would fix the first couple from the deck (and maybe use a step ladder - honestly!) - and depending on how that goes get a bit more adventerous by working yer way up..........it's pretty much what you will be fitting them for anyway, so call it on the job training.
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Old 14-12-2011, 05:57   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squarpeg
I am considering putting on some folding mast steps. The reason ... I really would rather not pay for a haul and a crane to drop the mast for the work I want to do. My concern is whether I can properly attach them with the mast up. I am sure the first two will be easy but after that?? Thoughts please
Did you expect any concensus?

There's only one more response.

Don't install mast steps. Too much windage, to much weight aloft, you can use a bosuns chair and of course real sailors will just free climb the mast with some climbing gear from climbers world yada, yada, yada...

There now you have 3 opinions - do what you wanted to do in the first place - LOL
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Old 14-12-2011, 06:10   #12
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

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Don't install mast steps. Too much windage, to much weight aloft, you can use a bosuns chair and of course real sailors will just free climb the mast with some climbing gear from climbers world yadaLOL

just put steps on mine with the mast down, didnt feel like springing for folding steps so i made my own fixed ones out of 1/8" x 1" aluminum bar.... to get them strong enough they had to be made smaller then the standard triangles (still more then big enought for my feet... drilled and tapped alll the holes, the project took 2 days to make and install all the steps on my 35' mast, total cost - $50!!!!!! (aluminum 30 - hardware 7 - tefgel - 13)

the total weight of all the steps/fasteners cant be more then 6 lbs... more than made up for by removing the retartedly oversided stainless angle brackets at the masthead for lights/antenna and replacing them with aluminum angle at a fraction of the weight..
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Old 14-12-2011, 07:37   #13
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

I put in mast steps a few years ago while the mast was up. I used a Top Climber to do it, and it took about 10 hours between 2 days. I used lightweight glass steps with 5 rivets per step. I had a canvas bucket with tools and water on a line, and the only time I needed to come down was for head breaks. Any time I needed anything, I would lower the bucket where my wife would put it in.

I won't lie, it was a pain, but not that big a deal. I figured out the spacing of the steps, marked a line with tape for the placement, and ran it up the mast. There was already a line on each side of the mast showing the center line. I would hold up a step and mark one of the top holes, and then I would drill and rivet into that hole. I would then proceed to drill and rivet the other holes.
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Old 20-12-2011, 19:04   #14
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

I did it on all three of my cruising boats with the mast up. Used a bosuns chair and rivets. Use a drill stop so you dont go into halyards and wiring, the idea of pulling your halyards and leaving messengers is good. Remember when you get past the spreaders to put the next step on the same side as the last step. I didnt think of that on my first boat. Also, when you are finished putting them on, run heavy fishing leader down the outside of the steps to prevent halyard snags. I used 80 lb test monofilament and it worked great. It was a hard job but it was worth it when I had to change a headstay 1/2 way between Mexico and the Marqueasas. The extra halyard was holding the mast up, so a bosons chair was not an option, so I climbed the mast , moving my safety harness up every couple of steps. It was not an easy job, but well worth it.____Grant.
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Old 29-03-2013, 22:01   #15
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Re: Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

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I am considering putting on some folding mast steps. The reason ... I really would rather not pay for a haul and a crane to drop the mast for the work I want to do. My concern is whether I can properly attach them with the mast up. I am sure the first two will be easy but after that?? Thoughts please
I invented the current type of mast step and have a few ideas for you. My type is the stirrup kind and are made small enough so that your shoe is caught in it and cannot "fall" out; you could be shot dead and still stay up the mast( I sell these for $7.00/each on Trade Me or the big ones for $15.00/each. Have also designed a fold-down mast and used it on my 2 multihulls and you could bring down the mast even at sea in fairly rough weather
Also used a fairly unique way to get stainless steel wire for the mast and will pass this along to anyone who would care to contact me as it costs a fraction of the usual price.
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