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Old 05-09-2014, 17:36   #1
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Mast steps

I am interested in hearing about different techniques of fastening alumnium mast steps to an alumnium mast.
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Old 05-09-2014, 17:39   #2
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Re: Mast steps

Mmmm . . . Rivets (aluminum, stainless steel, and Monel), and machine screws (stainless and aluminum) would be by far the most common. . . . But welding and glue are also both at least theoretical options.
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Old 05-09-2014, 17:45   #3
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Re: Mast steps

I abhor a ton of steps up the mast, but put a pair at the top to stand on. Used the ABI style folding aluminum ones, drilled and tapped for 1/4-28 flat head machine screws, screws available thru Mcmaster.com Just for the pair it was a PITA getting the holes just perfect, but I trust them. Much less trust in rivets, even big ones.
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Old 05-09-2014, 17:50   #4
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Re: Mast steps

Thanks estarzinger and sanibel. I am a big lad and the wife would have a hell of a time hoisting me. Her going up is not an option, I even bribed (attempted) her with new shoes, she likes shoes.
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Old 05-09-2014, 17:55   #5
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Re: Mast steps

Do you have an anchor windless? They have the grunt to get the biggest boy up a mast.

There are also some rock climbing gear/techniques that work pretty well - I use them when my wife is not available. There have been some threads here describing them.
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Old 05-09-2014, 18:36   #6
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Re: Mast steps

Ours are tapped and ss screwed
They do come in handy...


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Old 05-09-2014, 18:37   #7
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Re: Mast steps

I use Petzl ascenders and a Lirakis bosun's harness. Allows me to climb up and down solo on a halyard. Brute strength not required. Use your leg muscles like climbing a ladder, but no fear of falling off. They are a bit pricey, due to quality construction and liability costs, but I have used them on a dozen boats.

I have not used them underway, still apprehensive about the first day going aloft at sea will be necessary, but for now, they are my preferred poison.
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Old 05-09-2014, 18:50   #8
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Re: Mast steps

I'd think that if you were/are cruising in coral country, then steps up to your first set of spreaders might come in real handy. But ones going all of the way up & you're tempting gravity a bit much if they're your primary means of getting to the top of your rig. Unless of course you have a GOOD safety system/protocol in place.

As to mounting them, my vote is for properly drilled & tapped holes for stainless machine screws. And don't forget the Loctite... to ensure that the fasteners don't start to back out on their own at some point. In addition to providing galvanic isolation between them, & the aluminum in the mast.

For shorthanded rig climbing, there's a post on the subject here: Going up the Mast and if you take a look on page 4, about 3/4 of the way down, I give a fairly detailed description of my hardware for going up rigs. Including REAL tall ones, even solo.
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Old 05-09-2014, 21:48   #9
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Re: Mast steps

I once had to go to the top of the mast a thousand miles from land. I was so glad that I had installed mast steps, that I installed them on my next 2 boats. I never had to go up to the top at sea again, but I was glad they were there. Yes they add windage, yes they add weight, yes they sometimes foul halyards, but they sure make life easier when you need them. An opinion from my experience! ______Grant.
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Old 05-09-2014, 22:59   #10
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Re: Mast steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
I'd think that if you were/are cruising in coral country, then steps up to your first set of spreaders might come in real handy. But ones going all of the way up & you're tempting gravity a bit much if they're your primary means of getting to the top of your rig. Unless of course you have a GOOD safety system/protocol in place.
......
FWIW, I went the other way

Had ratlines up to the spreaders and mast steps from there to the top.
Found the ratlines very useful in coral country!

Used to monel rivets for the steps.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:12   #11
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Re: Mast steps

Back to the original question! My first set were put on with Monel rivets. I rented an hydraulic rivet gun from the local riggers. They recommended the Monel. My next 2 sets, I drilled and tapped. My last boat had internal halyards, and I worried about the screws (as short as I dared) catching on the halyards, but it didnt prove to be a problem. _____Grant.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:24   #12
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Re: Mast steps

I drilled and tapped a set of steps to my spreaders on a previous boat. I think I'll try that windlass plan from estarzinger with a future lift. I had not considered that before and my wife has limited ability to hoist me with the winch on my mast.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:31   #13
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Re: Mast steps

Drill and tap. Use TefGel anti-seize. Welding can ruin a mast and is less reliable. Use mechanical fastening.

Note that windage increases dramatically.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:55   #14
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Re: Mast steps

What reasons do folks have for steps that just go up to the spreaders? Just curious. Other than the steaming light (or the spreaders themselves, though I'd hate to go aloft if there were a problem there) I'd think the masthead is where problems would be.
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:04   #15
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Re: Mast steps

Regarding drilling and tapping . . . Just a note that you can get aluminum machine screws, which will cause way less corrosion problems than stainless. They are weaker than stainless but still way strong enough for steps. I have used them in various places around my aluminum hull where I wanted a "medium strength" fitting.
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