Rebuilt Laser finally in water - Concerns about wear and tear

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by TwoCent, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    Used to sail a Laser as a kid. Unfortunately back then I wasn't too into upkeep and they were sailing school loaners, so we used to just put everything away and rinse them off. 10 years ago the sailing school closed so I bought one for a steal. Sat in my yard for 5 years and then I finally spent the last 5 buying replacement parts and fixing her up. Entered an open boat race in 6 knots of wind and crushed them, so all is good.

    Took the boat out yesterday and it was blowing 10 knots with 15 knot gusts. Should be fine for a Laser, but my concern is with age and abuse over the years some parts may be a bit worn, like the mast and the mast step. I demasted a wooden boat last year in a pop-up storm, don't want to go through that again.

    Here are my plans and concerns (TLDR):

    • I plan on cutting an inspection port between the keel trunk and the mast step to inspect both for cracks.
    • My mast was bowing back in the heavier wind. I see that this is normal. Is there something I can do to the mast step to make sure it doesn't crack? Some preventative maintenance?
    • Which way should the bolts where the mast joins together face? Parallel with the goose neck or perpendicular?
    • I drained a bit of water out of the hull. Should I cut another port elsewhere to look for issues?
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
  2. Emilio Castelli

    Emilio Castelli Member

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    First thing you need to do is flip (end to end) your top mast. And when you do it, use only one "bolt" (rivet) for the mast collar.
    Then always line up the rivet with the back of the mast.
    E
     
  3. cskudder

    cskudder Active Member

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    Congrat's on getting a boat + getting back on the water + a good first race. Long may it continue. +1 to Emilio's comments.

    There's a good thread on here somewhere (sorry I don't have a link right at hand) about buying a used boat, and it's also a useful "primer" for maintaining an older boat.

    I own a 1973 boat + have owned it for about 25 years, and sail purely recreationally, don't race. I'll share my own experience + views.

    1. Cutting the inspection port is a very good first step. My own boat has a reinforcing thicker area down the middle of the deck that's maybe 4-5 inches wide. I cut my hole on the centerline + if I had it to do again I'd cut it offcenter far enuf to miss that thicker area. I would rather not compromise the structural integrity, and it would have made installing the inspection port a little easier if I'd put it where the deck was a uniform thickness all the way around the hole.

    2. Based on my own boat, talking with lots of people, and reading here, problems with the mast step have been MUCH more common than problems with the trunk. That suggests putting the hole to one side and behind the mast, but not SO far behind the mast, that it is difficult to work on the mast tube inside.

    3. A VERY common failure in older boats including mine, is that the mast tube becomes detached from where it was secured to the bottom inside of the hull. That joint was built weak in older boats- a plywood "donut" covered with glass + epoxy, with a big "blob" of thicker epoxy placed in the bottom of it, then the deck with the mast tube was just lowered onto it, and further secured around the gunwales, but nothing more down at the bottom of the mast tube. Particularly in boats stored right-side-up in freezing weather, water in the mast hole freezes + thaws, and cracks the mast tube. Then water infiltrates that wood donut, it rots, expands + does more damage. Then one windy day the mast tube lets go at the bottom + tips over, and as the mast falls it tears the deck up badly.

    4. So the fix is to go in there, remove bad structure, and beef it up with new. Usually a half dozen layers of glass and a bunch of epoxy around that base does the job well.

    5. Mast- I think it's best to have the rivets in the collar of the upper mast facing AFT. As the mast bends, the back/aft part of the mast is compressed, and the front part is stretched. The holes in the back have less negative impact on strength of the mast under compression, than they would in the front, under tension.

    6. If you use the vang a lot, and especially if you upgrade from the original vang to one with more purchase - the older booms didn't have a reinforcing sleeve inside them - the newer ones do. Older booms often break where the vang or inboard / forward mainsheet block straps are riveted - especially if there's any corrosion around those rivet holes. You can get and retrofit install a reinforcing sleeve (APS, Intensity Sails) into an older boom. I'd highly recommend that, again especially if you want to go out in more wind and / or use that vang a lot.

    7. Other things to do: After my mast fell over + tore things up so badly, I decided reinforcing ahead of a failure is WAY easier - less time + money -- than cleaning up + repairing a torn-out mess afterwards. So I went thru the whole boat and reinforced and thru-bolted with BIG fender washers behind every highly stressed point I could think of. Rudder gudgeons, mainsheet block, traveller eyes, and hiking strap attach points fore+aft. The eyes at the base of the mast got done when I was fixing that. Most of those points were originally built with screws into plywood backing pieces that were glassed into the inside of the hull. Assuming that water got thru the bedding caulk in the course of 40 years, all those plywood backing pieces seemed suspect to me - vulnerable to tearing out, resulting in another mess to clean up + rebuild. So I went thru all those points with stainless thru-bolts and big fat fender washers inside. That meant cutting a port in the after deck, and one beside the daggerboard. I really don't mind ports, but I realize some people do - your boat, your call.

    Enjoy it !!!
     
  4. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    How old is your boat, what number? If it's 1990 or later (number 140000 or more), then your boom is already reinforced and you don't need to worry about that. (And you're less likely to have problems with the mast step as well.)
     
  5. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    Thank you so much for all of the suggestions! To start, been sailing amd racing consistantly for over 17 years, but finally got the laser back in. Been sailing a Venture 21 and sunfish mostly.

    Also, thanks for the heads up about the stringer down the centerline. Saw some photos online and that's one of the places I want to check for damage along with the mast step.

    Also, you nailed it, I'd rather address problems now rather than when something fails!

    As for extra ports, my idea is to cut one on the deck by the mast and insert a light and my gopro. Once I get a good look at everything, I can decide if I need extra ports. Also, I can beef up the mast step.

    Happy sailing!
     
  6. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    1973, so not beefed up

     
  7. cskudder

    cskudder Active Member

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    ... a good vintage year!

    I'd imagine you'll get a good idea of what things look like with the gopro. Good luck + have fun.
     
  8. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    What's the deal with flipping the mast? An issue with the 3 rivets on the collar or a stress over time issue?

    Edit: seems like a preventative thing to keep it from bending
     
  9. inlandfreddy

    inlandfreddy Member

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    If i'ts 3 rivets in in now then i'ts both about that and about that the aluminium gets stiffer for every time it's bent and straightened again. I bought a used laser and after a year the mast broke from the single rivet when I straightened it. I could have gotten more sailing out of it.
     
  10. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    I checked my mast last night and there is no bend. I guess I should keep an eye on it each season and end for end it when I see it start to warp?

    What is the advantage of one rivet over the two (opposite each other) that my mast currently has?
     
  11. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    2 rivets, I misspoke. My mast has no bend, so I guess I should keep an eye on it and end for end it when it does?
     
  12. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    Pretty cool that we own the same model year!

    Re-read your reply, I think I may go your route and install 3 ports. One for the mast step, one for the daggerboard, and one in the aft for the gudgeon (any problems with this one and the tiller?). This way I can go over all of the backing boards and replace what is needed. I can also add fender washers and nuts to help hold some of these spots. I already have 3 8" ports tossed in my locker from a different project boat with the dry bag and water bottle accessories.

    Do you have photos of your ports and where you cut the mast one too close?
     
  13. cskudder

    cskudder Active Member

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    Here are photos of the access ports on mine - - -
    fixed- deck 2.JPG
    Like I said before, if I knew then what I know now, the one up front by the mast tube, I'd have put that off-center, and behind the mast - like on a line 45 degrees back + to the side, and far enuf away that the inboard edge was still clear of that stiffener ridge underneath the deck. But the one advantage of having it way up front is that I can reach to the bow - I'm gonna put some small LED nav light strips up there + this port will work well for that job.

    The one by the daggerboard worked OK for thru-bolting the mainsheet block. The forward end of the hiking strap is held by the same screws / bolts which hold that block. It wasn't easy to reach the far side (port / left side) to get the washers + nuts on, but in the end I got it. I'm not sure where else that port could go that would work better. The back of the daggerboard trunk is very close to the front of the footwell inside there.

    Here's the aft one -
    traveller limiter+aft access port- mine.jpg
    Getting to the gudgeons and aft hiking strap attach points is easy from this one, and I did put this off-center, so it is away from that stiffener "ridge" that's down the centerline of the deck. I have not had any trouble with the tiller hanging up as it goes across this port. I've got a real old square aluminum tiller that's pretty stiff, and it rides like an inch or more above the deck. It does hang up sometimes on the jam cleat for the traveller, which is taller and sits on the forward edge of the after deck.

    Hope it all helps, holler if anything else.
     
  14. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    If you have more than one hole, then you're going to have at least the other under tension when the mast bends. The section is much less likely to fail under compression. Also, the more holes you have in one plane, the more likely it is to fail in the first place.

    The topmast is very likely to take a small, barely noticeable bend at the collar, unless you sail only in very light wind with little vang or sheet tension. For purely recreational sailing, it's no big deal really. For racing, the mast should be straight. Here's some advice on how to achieve that: Spar Straightening. Try it before end-for-ending.
     
  15. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    Oh cool, thanks. Yeah, I know about the stringer down the center. I was actually tempted to place my port closely to where you have your line coiled, about 45 degrees to starboard-aft of the mast step. This way I can check the jam cleat as well.

    For hanging up on your jamcleat, you could place a spacer washer on the pintle going into the gudgeon to kick it up a hair more.

    Side question, do you ever have a problem with your outhaul slipping?
     
  16. inlandfreddy

    inlandfreddy Member

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    The ageing of aluminium occurs even when it's bent just dynamically, with other words also when it straigthens by itself when the load is of.

    As LaLi wrote a hole weakens the mast a lot more on the side with a pulling tension then the side with compression.

    Of course if the mast isn't bent much during sailing there is no problem.
     
  17. cskudder

    cskudder Active Member

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    ... I'd think that's a real good place for it
    The tiller has enuf flex in it that I'd have to bring it up a lot to clear the cleat. I fixed it by putting a piece of round lightweight aluminum tubing around the tiller, so the round part makes it ride up + over the jamcleat. I'd be reluctant to raise the rudder cuz when it's blowing and the boat heels + pulls the rudder up out of the water, the rudder has a bad habit of cavitating - basically digging a big hole in the water + acting like a big drag flap, instead of keeping water flow around both sides + turning the boat. I modified the rudder (prop's to Andy Atos, member here, for this idea) so it sticks straight down instead of at an angle, so it rides deeper. It definitely reduces weather helm and this cavitation problem, but if you get in irons, you've got nothing from the rudder in trying to swing the stern of the boat to get out. I've got the idea of twin rudders stuck my mind - the leeward one would stick deeper down as the boat heels, as opposed to the centerline rudder which gets raised up as it heels. I really enjoy getting out in a blow.

    I'm pretty sure most or all of this isn't race / class legal but I don't race, tho I remember you said you were planning to.
    No- I upgraded the outhaul (since I took these pics) to a 6:1 and bring the tail down the mast, to a double cam cleat on the deck. Almost sounds as if your outhaul jam cleat is worn out, or maybe the line is all crusted with salt/mud or something. I'm a big fan of more purchase in the outhaul + especially the vang - I can trim them under load. I can take a lot of belly + power out of the sail in a blow or a gust with the vang, which definitely helps me keep it right-side up.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  18. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    What's nice is I mainly do Club racing so class legal doesn't matter. Why I'm not worried about my practice rudder or buying a practice sale to replace mine that is starting to get a little too blown out
     
  19. TwoCent

    TwoCent Member

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    Sail* text to speech failed me. Forum won't let me change it, says it may be spam or inappropriate, haha
     
  20. cskudder

    cskudder Active Member

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    nice - well you should have a ball with this thing. I think old Lasers are the most fun for the least $$ and least hours messing with them, of almost anything around.
     

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