Steeping the Mast

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by weheritage, May 27, 2005.

  1. weheritage
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Eastern Shore Mobile Bay

    weheritage Junior Member

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    In the proess of restoring a 1942 wooden ketch LEEWAY. She arrived by truck in March. Having worked the masts to the point that I am ready to sick them back in I find that I am not sure of all that needs to be done before the crane arrives. The masts are 35 & 40 feet laminated wood. (round mast and octigan below decks). Have looked on the net but find very little about stepping masts of this size. I see wedges that were left behind when they were taken down but I don't know how they go in and/or how many and what sizes are needed. Would like any help especially pictures or books that I might find on this subject.
     
  2. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    marshmat Senior Member

    The process is different for every ship depending on the type and shape of the mast steps. The wedges are probably placed between the mast and the topmost structural collar in the hull to get it perfectly vertical. And you MUST put a coin directly under each mast before stepping it, for good luck!
     
  3. cyclops
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    cyclops Senior Member

    Try and get very lucky. Take all the shims and or wedges outside in bright sunlight. With and without sunglasses turn each wood around and look for the matching or alingnment marks on each one. Otherwise you will level the boat and then plumb up the mast from a distance till it looks right. You may have a pit bull by the tail.
     
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Those are the wedges at the partners. They hold the stick firmly in place, once jammed in between the mast and the partners (hole in deck or cabin top where the mast goes through). They can be used to help adjust rake (mast angle) but generally just keep the pole where you want it. You can try to find their orientation by looking at marks and dents on the wedges, as Cyclops suggested, but frankly it'll be a crap shoot and some if not all may need replacing. I wouldn't waste my time with that effort personally. The replacements should be knot free hardwood of vertical grain, cut about the same dimensions, remembering they were smashed quite a bit in the partners. They will need be covered with a mast boot after all is installed or it will leak badly.

    Erecting a stick is an interesting afternoon's work. I did it once dangling the stick from a low bridge, with the boat bobbing away below (I was pretty young and broke). It took a lot of beer and cussing, but it finally went in after mashing my hand a couple of times. A crane makes the job a lot easier, especially if the operator has a few pole stickings under his belt. Go slow, have clear instructions and hand signs worked out between you and the operator. Grease up the partners and mast a bit to help prevent damage as it slides through the partners, down to the step. You can scrape a lot of paint/varnish off the stick if you don't do this (you should have seen what that bridge did to mine) Have a few strong friend about during the ********, they can be handy (remind them of the free beer)

    Once you've got her standing on the step, she'll be okay to release from the crane, though it will be quite wobbly, before the wedges go in. Setting her up is the fun part, attach all the standing rigging (shrouds and stays) and put a few pounds of tension on all the wires. Stand back and have a look see. It will not be straight, but it's worth the effort after all the cussing and you'll see where she needs to be adjusted. It may be "S" shaped or leaning off in one direction, but it can be "talked" into being in "column" on her correct rake.

    The hard part will be finding out what the rake is for your rig. The designer would have spec'd this on the sail plan, or it may be noted somewhere like an old ship's log, maybe on the partners or mast. Find the rake angle, because a properly tuned rig requires the sticks be in column athwartship and with the correct fore and aft rake.

    Personally I work from the bottom up, getting her plumb and on her rake. I do this with pretty loose turnbuckles all over and work the lowers until I like what I see. Holding a 3' ruler at arms length and eyeballing the mast can help spot "S" shapes or bends. Sighting up the sail track also is a big help. It doesn't require a bunch of tools and equipment, but will take most of the afternoon. Once you've got it plumb and raked work in some tension and a reasonable rule of thumb is a couple of inches of deflection at 5' off the deck is about right. The longer the wire the more tension it will need as will wires farther up the mast, like the intermediates and uppers (cap shroud) Then you're ready for a final tune under sail. The ultimate test for the rig, it's rake and tune requires sailing her closehauled. Every boat is different, even ones with the same rig, popped out of the same mold. It's not hard stuff, but there is a level of comfort and knowledge that is necessary for the boat to have the same abilities on each tack.
     
  5. weheritage
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    weheritage Junior Member

    Thanks your your insight..............this is stuff that you just don't find in print. Leeway has a main mast of 42' from the water, mizzen about 5' less. Hoops no sail track gaff rigged main triangle mizzen - 1942 John Hanna design
     
  6. chandler
    Joined: Mar 2004
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    chandler Senior Member

    Par,
    Sounds like me, never do anything without a beer...*S*
     
  7. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Life is short, fortunately there's plenty of beer.
     

  8. Bergalia
    Joined: Aug 2005
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    Location: NSW Australia

    Bergalia Senior Member

    Marshmatt - stepping a mast

    Oh... and make sure the coins are silver. Anything else means bad luck. Alternatively sail with a couple of pennies on your eyes as payment for crossing the Styx.... :p
     
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