Unstepping mast - HELP!!!

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  • 22 Feb 2011 19:34
    Reply # 530914 on 530604
    Deleted user
    We once helped refit a Freedom 44 that had freestanding carbon fiber masts. When it came time to unstep them, the crane was unable to, and since it was not rated for the weight of the entire boat, the top of the crane was actually deflecting. We figured that someone had poured epoxy into the mast steps, so they were literally glued in place.

    In that situation, we were never able to get the masts out, and all work had to be done as best we could from the top. Barry spent weeks up there dealing with the problems. We brought him down for meals, because hoisting them 65 feet up meant all his food would be cold.

    I hope, hope, hope that you will have better luck with your situation. Don't drink the drain cleaner -- there has to be another way!

    Keep your chin up and get those masts down,
  • 22 Feb 2011 12:51
    Reply # 530682 on 530604
    Deleted user
    Just to update: What looked like oxidation on the bolt, looks more like a glue or hard sealant. When it's removed, there's no visible pitting of the bolt thread, so is there corrosion?  An engineer friend has suggested (and is already making them up) two large chucks of wood each with half circle cut out to be bolted each side of the mast above deck. His theory is that if we gentle apply a turning action to the mast, accompanied by tapping at the step end, whatever is locking it all in will relinquish its hold!  This seems more reasonable than an idea which was mooted elsewhere that we should pour drain cleaner in to dissolve the neoprene! I may just take the drain cleaner orally to escape the situation in which I find myself.
  • 22 Feb 2011 07:54
    Message # 530604
    Deleted user
    Our yacht club has decommissioned the slipway so this year we have to be craned out. The spreaders they have cant get near enough to our centre of gravity to keep the boat level as she comes out, because of the mast placement. They cant get the spreaders over the top of the mast, so we have to unstep. "Easy with a junk rig" they said, as there are no shrouds.
    5 hours later we had managed to get the retaining bolt out at the step.
    We removed all the self amalgamating tape from the mast at the partners and peeled back the neoprene that had been stuck down with sealant. The neoprene pulled away leaving a collar of it within the partners. "dont worry it will just pop out" they said.
    The crane was attached with a sling at the top section of mast and braided line 18" above the partners (linked to the sling) a load  was gradually applied. Nothing happened. Well, the waterline lowered a bit, but that wasn't actually the aim of the exercise. At 1.5 ton it was decided to stop as nothing was happening and the braidline was not designed for that load. No-one expected the mast to stay put.
    The guys working with us each have 30 years of working with boats under their belts, (bermudan rig) They are unstepping masts every other day, and they are telling me that a bit of aggression will do it. I am concerned about the load stresses on the mast and the partners not to mention the grp the step is set in. Am I just being a wimp?

    We have to replace all the wiring for the masthead lights, vhf antenna and seame to fit, so it would be much easier with the mast out anyway, so I am trying to stay positive. (considering that all we wanted to do was pull her out, and were going to do the cabling from a bosuns chair)

    As you can imagine, I am having great difficulty digging the neoprene out of the partners. I am also finding it a challenge to keep my sense of humour. Some bright spark said that if there's a corrosion problem at the step on the main, then we should also get the foremast out - which is raked - and sort that out too.  I'm taking a break from it to write to you all!

    I do not kid myself that there is a quick fix but has anyone any experience of this and how did you get the mast out? Just how much stress can the set up take?
    The mast, partners and step were supplied by Sunbird (1990's) and are alloy There is no visible corrosion on the lower edge of the step although there is oxidation on the nut end of the stainless steel bolt we removed.

    Any advice greatly appreciated.

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