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Old 23-11-2016, 15:58   #1
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My new repaired mast step

So with my mast down and all the rewiring done I turned my attention to the bilge area, taking the opportunity to clean it and maybe give it a fresh coat of paint.

The mast step had looked "fine"...it's aluminum and while the paint had come off it long ago, the bare metal had simply oxidized. Or so I thought. A few minutes with a stiff brush and the corners, around the bolts that hold it down on the keel backing plate, simply...disappeared. Not good. Enough salt water over the years had doused the step that corrosion had eaten away the plate around the SS mounting bolts. When I took it off, half the bottom of the plate itself had been replaced by caked layers of salt. Egad.



A quick call to Valiant was in order to inquire about a replacement. While they no longer make boats, they have a considerable stock of parts at very reasonable prices, plans and specs for each boat they made, and they are just nice folks. No luck. They did not have one in stock. A new one could be fabricated, but it would take probably three weeks (including sending them the old one) and cost around $1,200. Uh, no. And I'd be left with the same problem as before...a big chunk of aluminum bolted down on a big chunk of stainless and all the issues that come from that.

I carted the monstrosity over to Annapolis Rigging for a consultation. I don't think they had seen something like it before as they seemed fascinated, in particular I suppose by the slanted mounting plate. I suggested salvaging the top part and sandwiching a G10 wedge between it and a stainless plate, all bolted together. Nods of agreement. They suggested a new plate for the mast to rest on, since the sides of the old supporting plate had been mysteriously narrowed, and anodizing all the aluminum. Good plan, have at it boys. I would have taken a stab at it myself but without a way to mill a 3" block of G10 into the precise wedge shape I would not have gotten far.

I picked it up today, a week later, and am very happy with the result (see below). I just love it when you can take an original part and replace/repair it with something that's better than original. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And at less than half the price. Makes me feel even fuzzier.

Mast goes back up Monday. With any luck I'll be sailing south in a week. Woo hoo. It's getting cold here.





Mast goes back up Monday. With any luck I'll be sailing south in a week. Woo hoo. It's getting cold here.
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Old 23-11-2016, 16:28   #2
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Re: My new repaired mast step

Good job!!! Looks fantastic....
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Old 23-11-2016, 16:48   #3
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Re: My new repaired mast step

I know, it's almost a shame to hide it under a mast lol. I'm such a sucker for functional aesthetics.
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Old 23-11-2016, 18:23   #4
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Re: My new repaired mast step

Looks nice! And yep, a sweet solution that makes you feel good about your labors. Nice that they were able to clean it up & re-anodize things. A friend used to have that capability at work, & it surely spoiled me! Colors were always a treat, even on hidden away parts like this.

One thought. It might be wise to use some larger washers under the nuts that connect the female aluminum section to the bits underneath, so as to spread out the loads a bit. Unless that aluminum is stupid thick. And of course, Loctite them in place with Blue (Loctite). Ditto on isolating & fixing the other fasteners in place. Tips which may be more for newbies than you, but I'd hate to see mixed metals eat this one also.

Save the pics for the next owner! Good to know that parts are still available for Valiants, too.
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Old 24-11-2016, 06:45   #5
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Re: My new repaired mast step

Quote:
Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
One thought. It might be wise to use some larger washers under the nuts that connect the female aluminum section to the bits underneath, so as to spread out the loads a bit. Unless that aluminum is stupid thick. And of course, Loctite them in place with Blue (Loctite). Ditto on isolating & fixing the other fasteners in place. Tips which may be more for newbies than you, but I'd hate to see mixed metals eat this one also.
Actually, no, you're wrong. And I don't want to give bad advice to newbies.

Being a mast step, the loading is lateral, not vertical. The mast is not going to "pull up" on the step. The only purpose of the washers, which if you look closely you'll see are actually milled at an angle same as the wedge, is to give the nuts a flat surface to tighten down on. The whole point of this design was to minimize the contact of dissimilar metals. So the washers are only as large as they need to be from a structural perspective, which is only as large as the nuts themselves.



Given the choice between Loctite and Tef-gel in this application, Tefgel was the logical choice. Superior corrosion prevention than Loctite and this is not a high vibration area. Actually, I smeared the whole bottom of the mounting plate with a healthy coat of Tef-gel as insurance against corrosion from salt water wicking between it and the keel bolt backing plate.

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