GPO telegraph pole masts

  • 29 Apr 2020 03:20
    Reply # 8934399 on 8925561

    Arne, Annie, thanks for your replies.

    The Morecambe Bay Nobby owners have used shaved telegraph poles as masts for many decades and of course have the additional weight of wooden gaffs and main booms. They are more than capable of doing the job and if well worked and finished look more than acceptable. I'd also say Annie that once you've reduced the diameter to what you're looking for, move of the cracks have been taken out of the pole. 

    Obviously this might not do for a smaller, grp yacht, but once you get to 30' with a reasonable keel/ballast they should work fine. The Nobbies draw usually 1.2 metres, max 1.5 metres to work the shallow waters of the NW of England.

    Anyway, it was just an idea as folks seem to be struggling to find suitable alternatives.

  • 26 Apr 2020 10:01
    Reply # 8928766 on 8925561
    Anonymous member (Administrator)


    unless it is the only option, I would avoid using impregnated poles for masts, and that for a couple of reasons.

    ·         A lot of shaving is needed, so a lot of shaves and dust, filled with creosote or other potentially harmful agents will be flying around. This must be treated with some care, and not just put in the stove.

    ·         These pole-masts have been dried quickly, so have big cracks in them. I guess one wants the cracks to aid the impregnating stuff to suck well in. The cracks don’t weaken the poles, but you will have a constant leak through deck via the cracks, very difficult to fix.

    Now, I see that you live in Singapore, so there is no use in suggesting chopping down a Norway Spruce tree (and glass it). Before going ahead with a wooden telegraph pole, I would rather suggest you look around for a supplier of aluminium tubes. A small boat is quite sensitive to weight aloft, so it pays to try to make a mast, which doesn’t add more than 3% to the vessels weight.
    Here is a link to a write-up about wooden masts, and here is one about a hybrid aluminium-wood mast or even a two-piece all-aluminium mast.


    Last modified: 26 Apr 2020 10:27 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 26 Apr 2020 03:11
    Reply # 8928402 on 8925561

    And a very interesting first posting, too, Richard.  Welcome aboard.

    I checked two sites for the density of Scots pine, the wood these people use, as against Douglas Fir.  One said slightly heavier the other said slightly lighter, so I think we can assume that the are much the same.  Since I started building my boat, I have come to believe that we don't actually need superb timber for our masts.  Moreover, this wood is slow grown so is probably a better option than a lot of fast-grown Douglas fir.

    If I were making a wooden mast, I should want to put on a layer of glass and epoxy.  This certainly wouldn't be possible over creosote, but I'm not sure that the copper preservative would be compatible either.  However, I'm sure Calders and Grandidge would know and, if they were incompatible, might be persuaded to sell an untreated pole.

    Arne has some really good advice on making masts from a whole tree.  I'm afraid I can't link to it - it's just too difficult on a tablet, but  think it's under Junk Information/Public Domain Files ...

  • 24 Apr 2020 12:00
    Message # 8925561

    Hello everyone, I'm the new boy on the block, my first post. 

    I've read through the fora and there seems to be an issue of where to buy suitable masts these days, I wonder if you've considered new GPO telegraph poles? I realise they're probable too heavy on first sight but the 32' Morecambe Bay nobby owners plane them down to size and they work very well. Here's a link to the supplier if anyone's interested.

    Best wishes to all and hope you're coping with the lock downs!


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