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Old 21-02-2009, 10:22   #1
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Chrome Plated Mast Steps

I recently put chrome plated mast steps on my mast using stainless rivets. We put a piece of neoprene between the step and the mast. However, we did not use Tef Gel or anything (bad call I think) and the step are already showing small signs of rust in places mainly on the bottom (underbody) of the step. Any suggestions for dealing with this?

Thanks!
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Old 21-02-2009, 11:11   #2
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What type of material is the chrome plating over?....bronze, steel, aluminum?

If it is steel, I would unstep the mast and smear it with Tef-Gel. Thats the only coating I know of that is not brittle, wont crack and will hold up to salt water for years without washing away. With the working of the mast, bedding compounds will eventually wear allowing water between the bedding compound and the steel. I would use a hard tough plastic like Delrin, which can hold up to the mast compression by not deforming or wearing prematurely. Neoprene will eventually rot.
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Old 21-02-2009, 11:29   #3
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They are chrome plated brass (sample - http://ca.binnacle.com/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=47&products_id=5 841). The mast is aluminum.

I gues I could take each step back off and use Tef Gel and aluminum rivets.

How bad will the rust get on the steps if I do nothing? Also, what if I painted each step with rustoleum or something. Searching for answers . . .
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Old 21-02-2009, 11:35   #4
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No, putting aluminum rivets into brass will cause the aluminum to corrode relatively quickly through electrolysis. Stick with the stainless pop rivets. Stainless in to aluminum will work if packed with Tef-Gel first. For reasons relating to reactivity on the Nobel scale, aluminum reacts more with brass than stainless reacts with aluminum. Stainless pop rivets are going to be stronger as well.

Time will eventually corrode the chrome off the bronze, but this is a relatively slow process. I would smear it with Tef-Gel where it is not all that visible and basically leave it alone. In ten years have the bronze re-chromed again...or leave it bare bronze and polish it once in a while if you do not like the green oxidation.
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Old 21-02-2009, 11:41   #5
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chrome plated brass does not rust!, but maybe the shanks on the rivits were not SS or the rivits are of poor quility and they may be rusting-I have seen small parts of the drill bit wear off and cause a small amount of rustt bleed out-
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Old 21-02-2009, 11:45   #6
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If your definition of rust is iron oxide, then you are correct. Chrome plated brass does oxidize once the chrome plating starts wearing exposing the brass underneath. Even chromium is not impervious to salt water...eventually it too wears off exposing what is under it.

Stainless steel has some iron content. The cheaper stainless steel has a higher iron content....therefore the red corrosion you occasionally see.

Stainless steel pop rivets can go active...start oxidizing. What causes some stainless steel parts to go active and not others, in virtually the same place and same application, is beyond me. If one bolt out of a few has gone active, I just replace that bolt...or whatever stainless steel part it is.
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Old 21-02-2009, 12:34   #7
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Back in the day -when you bought chrome plated brass it lasted a very long time because it was triple plated- now much of what I see is only plated once-not that I think thats what making the "rust" I think its the rivits and not much you can do about that-you could replace them and the same thing happens again - or not? -Once in a wile I just hit the rust stains with rust remover and forget about it until the next time
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Old 21-02-2009, 12:57   #8
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So then is is fair to say that the consensus here is not to do anything and just hit the rust looking area as needed and replace the rivet(s) if one goes bad? Does that mean the step should hold its strength? THANKS for the input all.
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Old 21-02-2009, 14:23   #9
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Im not sure what the consensus is- But -Yes I would do just that and the step itself should last longer than you do-the rivits may not
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