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Old 19-05-2006, 04:52   #1
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Upgrading Spars

Upgrading Spars”~ by Tom Wood (published by “Sailnet”)

”...So here's the sparbuilder's inside secret that most sailors, insurance adjusters, and surveyors should know, but don't — there's not a great deal of difference in cost between refurbishing an old set of spars and building new ones.

How can that be? When doing a total refit, the same number of new lights, the same paint, the same footage of electrical and coax cable, and the same labor to install the fittings after the paint job are required in both cases. If parts off the old mast, such as tangs, antennas, and winches, can be re-used on the new spars, these have no cost—if they require replacement, the cost of new ones would be the same in either event. Small parts that are reusable can be put in a box and shipped to the sparbuilder from anywhere in the world. When rehabbing older spars, however, there is a lot of labor to remove the old fittings from the mast, strip the old finish, make repairs, and prep the aluminum. If the old fittings have been on the spar a long time, they can be spitefully stubborn in their refusal to be removed, eating up the clock at $50 or more per hour. If the cost of shipping the spar to the shop is added to this excess labor, it often is enough to purchase new aluminum mast and boom extrusions, which are not terribly expensive in their naked state ...”

Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 19-05-2006, 20:08   #2
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Any machinist will tell will tell you making a part is cheap, but setup time will kill ya. SOme points not clearly made in the article:Laying out the new spars for all the fittings is where the real expense is. Then matching old extrusions can be a problem, so a new masthead, and possibly other parts will be needed to match the new extrusion. Trying to remove old fittings from the original spar witout damaging the spar or the fitting is also very time consuming. Personally, I think it would be a wash either way.

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Old 20-05-2006, 02:01   #3

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$50.00 an hour? That's a deal. Around here it's $70.00 an hour for boat yard labor.

Rick in Florida
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Old 28-05-2006, 04:55   #4
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It wasn't exactly by plan, but having my spars re-built and re-rigged by a pro was one of the first things I've done so far in the re-fit of my old boat, not the last as in the stories Tom Wood starts his article with. Gotta keep priorities straight -- make sure the boat won't sink, and then make sure you can sail well without worrying about the mast falling over. Paint, polish, interior, even the engine all can wait....
Tim Allen
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