The old Laser mast step

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by Bigfork, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. Bigfork
    Joined: Dec 2009
    Posts: 52
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    Location: Montana, USA

    Bigfork Junior Member

    I've got a 74 Laser with all the classic issues...Bout to have a kid so I'm keeping it around for a trainer, not competitive and couldn't sell it if I wanted to. Hull is surprisingly dry! It was the exact boat I sailed on when I was a youngster so fitting that my kid will get a chance to knock about on it too:) Sails look like an old handkerchief, battens long gone, cockpit floor soft, deck with soft spots, mast connection cracked, and lastly, mast step ruined.

    Sounds crazy, but I'd like to address the last issue in order to prolong the inevitable land fill date. Don't want to spend 300$ on the aftermarket "mast step repair kit".

    Thinking of getting a small thin section of glass tube, enough to insert to the base and long enough to stick up proud of the deck by an inch or so (there seems to be plenty of slop room between the mast and the sleeve). Then glass and grind outward from proud tube, tapering down to zero 6 or 8 inches away. Damage is where step sleeve meets deck. I don't care how it looks, just want to make it last a little longer...fop ah I know, but plenty strong. Would be thin enough to allow mast to still drop in yet be supported by reinforced sleeve at deck level.

    What do you die hards think? Weight not an issue, cosmetics not an issue, prolonging the life support--the goal:)

    Ideas on where to get thin wall glass tube stock, short length?

    thanks!
     
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    How much clearance do you have between the mast and the sleeve?
     
  3. Bigfork
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: Montana, USA

    Bigfork Junior Member

    I would say a combined 1/2" between sleeve and mast. Perhaps more. The glass tube insert would have to be thin walled. It would not be in danger of breakage above grade if I built up the deck to the new grade...say 1/2" -1" above.

    I imagine it looking like a small squished volcano with a footprint of 6-8".

    I think this would work. Ugly, but functional. Utility, not aesthetics:)
     
  4. SukiSolo
    Joined: Dec 2012
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    Location: Hampshire UK

    SukiSolo Senior Member

    Usual trick for these old Lasers is cut a hatch opening through the deck near the mast to access the foot and 'donut'. Whilst this is repaired with epoxy and fillers to re bed the floating mast column, there's no reason not to wrap the column with a few layers of roving/CSM. The base (mast foot) part will need filling anyway to stop the inevitable mast through floor syndrome.....;)

    If you allow for say a 5" hatch you should have enough room to get your hand in there to achieve a pretty neat job. I've done a couple like this, certainly common over here in the UK and it gives the hull quite a few more years life. If you have small hands you might get away with 4" hatch, but that's tight in my experience. A 6" hatch cut out is luxury and will definitely give great access to do a neat job.

    The damage around the deck to mast insert part should be simply ground back and re glassed and gelled. Actually not too hard, sometimes these look really rough and intimidating - don't be put off. Just a bit of past monkey treatment....;)
     
  5. Bigfork
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: Montana, USA

    Bigfork Junior Member

    My mast column is stable, still well anchored in the foot. I installed a 5" port on my first attempt at stabilizing the deck, sleeve relationship. It lasted 3 years or so, but I want to really beef it up this time, once and for all.

    The laser is hanging up against the garage at the moment or I'd take a picture of the issue. Maybe I'll lower it to get a pic...

    The issue is just where the deck interfaces with the sleeve. I know the deck is comprised (from top to bottom) of gelcoat/glass...foam...glass. The top layer of glass is cracked around the entrance, bits missing, and sort of raised up (speaking strictly about the transition from deck to sleeve). I think the bottom layer of glass is sound, but the top visible stuff within 1.5" of the hole, is chipping away, mostly on just one side.

    Last time I didn't do any grinding. Maybe this time, grind out the cracks and missing bits, put a small cup wrapped in wax paper into the hole, and glass up to it, still creating a slightly proud of original deck surface just around the hole.

    Thanks for the advice!
    bigfork
     
  6. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    It is better to wrap the glass around the edge and down for a better structural repair.
     
  7. Bigfork
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: Montana, USA

    Bigfork Junior Member

    Will do Gonzo, Thanks for the advice. I have the tendency to over-engineer stuff like this. Perhaps an inserted sleeve is unnecessary. I'll grind back, glass up and wrap some fabric down the sleeve a couple of inches too. I would like to have the end result a little proud of original deck just to add extra integrity.

    How do I keep the glass that wraps down a couple of inches clean and smooth, burr free for clean mast rotation? Seems really hard to keep smooth once I turn down the sleeve...

    bigfork
     
  8. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Make an insert of stiff cardboard covered with wax paper. Wrap the cardboard/wax paper into a spiral to a diameter less than the mast hole. After you laminate the tube, put the insert into the hole. Stuff rags or whatever you think is best into the inside of the insert to put pressure against the fiberglass. It will come out easily after.
     
  9. Bigfork
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: Montana, USA

    Bigfork Junior Member

    Will gonzo!

    Thanks for the advice. I'll put a pic up when done...not happening very soon as I just caught my first born!! Crazy home birth...TMI. It's a boy!!!! (try this trap harness on...Ha!)
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Congratulations!!
     
  11. Canracer
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    Location: Florida

    Canracer Senior Member

    Good work Bigfork! Congratulations.
     

  12. pauloman
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Location: New Hampshire

    pauloman Epoxy Vendor

    I have and sail a laser that age or older on a lake in NH.. I have the usual - 6 inch inspection port in the deck too for 'interior' repairs.

    use Wet Dry 700 kevlar / ceramic epoxy paste for deckside repair. will be more than strong enough as it sounds like just chipping , small cracks etc.
     
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