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Laser: stuck upper mast plug

Quick story: a few days ago, while rigging down my old beloved Laser, the bottom end plug of the upper mast got stuck in the lower mast. Since it is a carbon upper mast now, I had assembled the plug using 3M 5200. That new mast always had a plug that is fairly tight, and I presume some extra water that day expanded it just to the point where it got stuck there and broke loose from the upper mast.

Regardless, I was staring at that plug yesterday, firmly stuck about 12" inside the mast base, out of reach of any tool or contraption I could think of, and wondering mightily how the heck I was going to take it out.

After minutes of head scratching, I had an idea. I have a little air compressor in that garage, and I figured, at 120psi with a plug surface of roughly 4 inch square, that's going to give me 480 lbs of pushing force to get that darn thing out of there.

I taped shut the various rivet holes with electrical tape, except for the 6 rivets around the boom attachment. I picked what seemed to be the larger hole to push the air nozzle against, and plugged the others with my fingers as well as I could.

Let the air flow. After a few seconds of hissing noises, I heard a loud bang, and the mast recoiled by a few inches.

I had built a cannon out of my Laser mast!

Fortunately, I was kind of expecting a bit of a pop, so had oriented the mast toward the yard, away from the garage walls, the cars, etc. Still, as I was looking for the plug, I realized it went way past my own yard and into the neighbors, a good 100ft away.

Morale of the story: effective technique, but beware of how far and fast that plug might go...
 
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