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Old 14-08-2011, 14:21   #1
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Mast Steps - Surprised I Can't Find the Type I Want

I think that the best type of mast step would be like a small pipe that just went thru the mast from one side to the other. That seems like it would be much much safer,stronger,easier,cheaper way to go. I did a little googling and ebaying and havent come across this style. I could have sworn yves gelinas had a style like that but i dont own the movie to get a look. I know that the smaller the pipe the better for the mast. So what material do you think would be good. stainless steel? aluminum? but where would i find that in a pipe. maybe hardware store I havent checked yet. Where can i find strong maybe solid bar that wont rust for this?? that is the ? i guess. Very suprising that they dont sell steps of this style. Or maybe i just havent come across them? Seems that almost anything in life that has quality requires a goosechase. Even if they did sell steps like this im sure they would be to expensive for me and i would end up making them myself anyways.
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Old 14-08-2011, 14:45   #2
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Re: mast steps--suprised i cant find the type i want

I don't know how tall your mast is or whether you intended to put steps all the way up, but have you thought about how many holes you would have to drill thru your mast? (maybe 18" apart?)..now, have you thought about what that would do the structural integrity of a hollow, extruded mast? To say nothing of the question of sealing those apertures from water incursion?

Mast steps are normally installed on a staggered pattern, about 18" apart, on opposite sides of the mast, using small aluminum rivets. You could use SS, but you know about dis-similar metals & the potential problems, yes?

You can fabricate L-shaped or triangular steps if you have some experience in metal working, out of cut aluminum strips...or just buy them on ebay for $8.00 apiece.

Anodized Aluminum Mast Step | eBay
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Old 14-08-2011, 14:46   #3
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Re: mast steps--suprised i cant find the type i want

I posted this in a previous thread somewhere but I designed/made removable mast steps and brackets from 1 1/4 x 3/16 ss stock. The steps are triangles, welded in one spot, with a loop on top that slides down into the cleats. The cleats are the same material, bent to form a pocket that just fits the step "loop."Click image for larger version

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The problem with pipes sticking out is that they will foul lines. The steps above work well except for the fact that they can be dislodged if you're not careful with your footing. I'm working on a way to secure them, maybe a wing nut that would lock them in place. Of course, I'm also tethered to the mast and/or halyard as well when going up high.

With some kind of pouch, you can carry them up and quickly get them in place for as far as you need to climb and then take them back down, leaving nothing but the almost flush brackets: no weight, nothing to foul, minimal holes in mast.
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Old 14-08-2011, 15:58   #4
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Re: Mast Steps - Surprised I Can't Find the Type I Want

Thanks. This I like, particularly as I have huge, wide feet that, while good for keeping me vertical on a pitching deck, mean most of the mast steps I've seen are hopelessly small.

The other school of thought is that you haul yourself up on an ascender line and just have steps at the spreaders and the mast top so you can stand and/or brace yourself when working on electrical stuff or inspecting tangs, stays, etc.
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Old 14-08-2011, 16:08   #5
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Re: mast steps--suprised i cant find the type i want

Quote:
Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
I posted this in a previous thread somewhere but I designed/made removable mast steps and brackets from 1 1/4 x 3/16 ss stock. The steps are triangles, welded in one spot, with a loop on top that slides down into the cleats. The cleats are the same material, bent to form a pocket that just fits the step "loop."Attachment 30489

The problem with pipes sticking out is that they will foul lines. The steps above work well except for the fact that they can be dislodged if you're not careful with your footing. I'm working on a way to secure them, maybe a wing nut that would lock them in place. Of course, I'm also tethered to the mast and/or halyard as well when going up high.

With some kind of pouch, you can carry them up and quickly get them in place for as far as you need to climb and then take them back down, leaving nothing but the almost flush brackets: no weight, nothing to foul, minimal holes in mast.
That looks like a good idea.
I assume it's robust enough to be stable. If not, would a deeper cleat and longer bracket tang solve the problem at the same time make them more likely to just sit in place?
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Old 14-08-2011, 16:09   #6
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Re: Mast Steps - Surprised I Can't Find the Type I Want

yes i did think of the structural integrity that would be lost thats why im trying to use the smallest pipe thats strong enough. i dont think putting sealant around the pipes would be to tough of a job...
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Old 14-08-2011, 16:16   #7
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Re: Mast Steps - Surprised I Can't Find the Type I Want

the reason i dont like the triangles is because (from what ive seen) they have 3 little holes for little screws, that hold them in place. I just looked at that ebay link for the 8 dollar steps and they actually look like ok quality and i am thinking that i can always put a long bolt that goes all the way thru the mast in the top and in the bottom of the step. Looks like i would have to drill a hole right in thte middle of the other 3 holes. Unless i can find bolts that are that small but still long enough to go thru the mast (I dout ill find those) Im suprised i didnt find those steps when i looked on ebay. Thanks a bunch for everyones input looks like I may be using the triangles after all.
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Old 14-08-2011, 16:28   #8
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Re: Mast Steps - Surprised I Can't Find the Type I Want

ok but check these out. they look quite enticing. seems like a no brainer to me. New Mast Steps
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Old 14-08-2011, 18:41   #9
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Re: Mast Steps - Surprised I Can't Find the Type I Want

Those "peg board" steps look ok except for an awful lot of large holes in the mast.

Virtual Vagabond- being 1 1/4" flat stock, they are very stable and very strong. Building them is simple with a heavy duty vise, big hammer, stick welder and s.s. "Missile Weld" rod (a great product). The problem with picking them up with my toe when going up is the only real problem but shouldn't be hard to remedy. Actually, just tying them together with some light line would probably work so at least they can't ding the deck and go overboard (as one did a while back). I spaced them at 20" which seems fine. I also used 4-3/16" s.s. rivets (a bear to squeeze) and/or 10/24 s.s. tapped machine screws. Don't think I'd trust my life to aluminum pop rivets regardless of dissimilar metal worries.
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Old 14-08-2011, 18:52   #10
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Seems like an empty hole is a little more precarious than one filled with a screw and backed (by the step) with metal.

A general question.. What is the standard way to mount mast steps? Do you use aluminum machine screws? Or is through bolting across the mast necessary? What about disimilar metal screws/bolts (SS)?
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Old 14-08-2011, 19:03   #11
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Re: Mast Steps - Surprised I Can't Find the Type I Want

I can't imagine drilling all of those holes in a mast that you are going to sail offshore. I visualize spider cracks radiating out from those holes and corrosion developing around those holes over time. It would drive me crazy.

Tapping small holes to mount my folding mast stairs was bad enough.
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Old 14-08-2011, 20:05   #12
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Re: Mast Steps - Surprised I Can't Find the Type I Want

Normally the permanent steps are installed with stainless steel machine screws into threaded holes or stainless steel or aluminum pop rivets. I prefer the pop rivets as they fill the hole and don't cut into the mast tube. If you have the money you can get monel metal pop rivets.
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