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Old 13-06-2008, 12:44   #1
JND
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Mast Painting

I want to have my mast painted and I have been quoted $10,000 for stripping/remounting hardware, sandblasting and painting the mast boom and spreaders. The mast is 67' long and the boom is 20'. It is a double spreader rig with an external mounted track.

Does anyone have any experience with this in the Seattle area? Does the cost seem reasonable?

Thanks
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Old 14-06-2008, 14:59   #2
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I'm in San Diego, but the price is about the same if you have a yard do the work. It's time consuming. You might be able to reduce the cost if you do some of the following things yourself: Unplug the radar, VHF antenna cable, all the electrical lighting cables (remembering to label EVERYTHING), label the shrouds and other standing rigging, and prep them for removal (pulling cotter pins or rings from turnbuckles, purchase ahead of time all of the replacement fittings, antenna and other new gear, confirm you have all of the mounting hardware in advance, order new bearings, compression posts and spreader bolts (yeah, these really should get replaced at overhaul), even replacement electrical wire if the existing is fifteen years old or more. If you can remove hardware yourself, do so. Buy, borrow or rent an impact screwdriver to remove frozen stainless fasteners in aluminum masts. Drill out the pop rivets holding the sail track, remove the halyard winches and overhaul them yourself. LABEL EVERYTHING AND STORE THEM WHERE YOU CAN FIND THEM LATER. Chemically strip the mast and boom to cut down on sandblast charges. TAKE PHOTOS OF THE MAST USING A LONG TAPE MEASURE to identify the holes you want to save, remember what side was up on the original hardware. Fill the leftover holes with epoxy putty and sand them fair. Strip the aluminum with acid-prep yourself, using obvious safety considerations. Brush the prep coat and LPU primer yourself (remembering most of it comes off anyway for the LPU. Have a pro paint the mast, or do it yourself and accept the consequences. Let the paint get hard before messing with it. Don't forget to use light line, tied to the ends of your electrical cables, internal halyards, antenna cables, etc., BEFORE removing them from the mast (and don't forget to LABEL EVERYTHING). Then rent or borrow a professional pop-riveter (air-powered are REALLY nice) for replacing sail tracks. Use Alum-Elast or equivalent thread sealer when replacing the stainless bolts back in the aluminum mast. Use Loc-Tite or nylock nuts on stuff up in the air. Check all of the electrical, SEVERAL TIMES before stepping the mast. Don't forget the mast boots, wedges, or other stuff if you use them. Replace the spreader boots, standing rigging, halyards, and other toys at the masthead before anything leaves the ground. Everything that can be done at ground level, by you, makes the billable time less. The crane is only a couple hundred bucks. The rigger is more than willing to do everything for you, at his hourly wage. You can bring the total price down to a couple thousand bucks if you do much of the work yourself. And you'll learn some valuable lessons that are easier when the masthead is on a sawhorse rather than describing a ten foot arc while tied at the dock and having folks walk back and forth on the deck. And dropping stuff three feet is a whole lot less traumatic than the option. Good luck!
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Old 14-06-2008, 15:04   #3
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Old 15-06-2008, 09:53   #4
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BRAVO, Chuck and Susan! Your photos and clear descriptions demonstrated not only the how to, but also the why behind the many, many steps involved. And you also showed how long a good job can take if you do it yourself and how much you can save. Maybe $10,000 isn't so bad if one wants to enjoy their weekends for the next month and a half, or makes enough to pay it and be thankful they don't have to do it. At least you folks know, absolutely, that every bolt, screw, wire and widget is secure and solid. And you probably had a laugh or two about the flies that like to land on fresh LPU paint.
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Old 16-06-2008, 17:04   #5
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Anyone else go up the bosun's chair with a scraper and a pail-o-paint?

The mast is one of those things that I allow to just pass the 'three-foot test'.
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Old 16-06-2008, 19:59   #6
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As the owner of a boat with a 30 year old aluminum mast that has never seen a spot of paint, I really wonder about the rational of painting a mast. If the mast is of good quality marine alloy there is certainly no valid structural reason for doing it.

Sure, my mast is grey, not shiney, but $10K or multiple weekends of work hardly seem like they would be worth that level of pretty. But to each his own...
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Old 16-06-2008, 23:08   #7
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I am in the middle of doing the job on my own mast. I gotta tell you there is a lot of man-hours in the job. Preparing the boat / mast for lifting it out takes a while. Sand-blasting ain't cheap (I ended up spending days orbital and hand sanding mine). Crane hire aint cheap. Transport to a place where you can paint ain't cheap (I bought a couple of cases of beer and got 7 or 8 friends to help me carry it). 2-pack etch primer, high build and topcoat paints aren't cheap. Assume most bolts will be impossible to get out without impact driver and/or heat gun. Assume many threaded holes in the mast will need drilling, re-tapping and helicoil inserts. Some botls may snap in the hole and require drilling out prior to re-tapping. All in all, 10k, while not cheap, isn't too bad... If I had that kinda money, I'd consider it, but I don't so I do it myself for a fraction of the price (but my hourly rate is zero)
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Old 17-06-2008, 04:46   #8
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I'm with Great Ketch. Less chance of electrolysis if you don't paint it
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Old 17-06-2008, 05:27   #9
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Up The Mast

I have painted several boats/masts (mainly for the Annapolis show) and going aloft isn't really a big deal. A climbing harness is very comfortable (maybe because I did competitive climbing in the before-times) but the worst part is the getting up...and it is worse on who is working with you... thankfully the last 2 have had electric winches (read: definite yacht) but the drill accessory to make a winch electric works dandy.

Random orbit would scare me...the precision and detail come in hand sanding...hanging aloft it is hard to keep the sander from laying odd on a spot and with the awkward work, I don't want power tools attached to me for the hours of hanging up there every day.

It can be interesting what rigging you have to do to keep your line off the mast you are painting...snatch blocks run from the jib/headstay and all kinds of fun...

Two-way headphones also work wonderfully...that way you can talk, chatter, give directions to the person on the ground.

By doing the mast in place, you save the unhooking electronics, crane time (which is stupid expensive) and all the other ancillary charges. This is a very feasable DIY project, in my opinion.
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Old 17-06-2008, 18:04   #10
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I wouldn't even begin to consider painting a mast in-situ.
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