Leaky Mast Step

Thread starter #21
Harbour Chandler's in Nanaimo, BC :D

In fact, I believe it's actually a 5.5" deck plate and it has a clear lid too :eek: I also priced out the majority of the West System's stuff there and I found it to be just a little over the USD list price (except in CDN) so I've actually been pretty happy with them.

When I bought the deck plate they even mentioned to me that if I had any issues whatsoever I could just return it for a replacement or a refund. I was quite impressed with them (my parents told me a Chandler was the worst place to buy stuff!).

This is the deck plate I got :D
Thread starter #22
I finally got the call from the Chandler's in Victoria - they have my mast step wear disc! :) I'm going to order the epoxy today and I should be able to finally get in there and complete the repair :eek:

The boat has been sitting out in the sun for several weeks with the inspection port open - it's as dry as a bone inside. I made some pics to illustrate the wear on my step. Perhaps they will help to show others how these things wear out (I'm assuming mine is typical).

First pic. This is a shot of the bottom of the mast step taken from the deck. My step is almost completely worn through the bottom from the mast rotating and grinding into the step. The majority of the wear is at the front though - this because I regularly sailed in heavy winds.


Thread starter #23
Here's a really crude pic explaining what I'm seeing in my step :eek:
In this pic the mast is bent (under load) and this causes the wear at the lower front of the step.


Thread starter #24
Another crude pic illustrating the wear that occurs under light wind. The mast is hardly loaded and so it tends to rotate and grind it's way more evenly down into the step. :(


When I did my mast step 3 mo ago Kaiser was a huge help to me. The west system was well worth the money! I would add that the syringes they offer were a great help as I could deliver epoxy to the base and "top" when creating a "fillet". Also the alum powder added strength to the mixture poured into the bottom of the tube. Make sure the tube is verticle (level) and don't drop the steel disc into the curing epoxy...it will sink to the bottom. I was amazed how easy the pump system worked and that the left over cured epoxy popped right off all of the mixing gear. I didn't have a live cam to drop into the inspection hole like Kaiser has ...but a small mirror taped to a wide base helped me see what I was doing. Best of luck, Eric
Thread starter #26
Thanks Eric - that was an excellent and timely post. I never thought about the disk dropping to the bottom so you've saved me from that right off the bat. The syringes are something that I'm going to look up the part numbers for and add them to the order - it sounds like they're the way to fly :D

You mentioned creating a fillet - what did you mean by this?
How did you place the disk? Did you do an initial pour and then wait until it's dry and then epoxy in the disk on top of that?

What I was planning to do was fill in the tube first until it gets to the proper height and then go after the gap left behind by the removed donut inside the boat. The idea was that I would fill in the gap entirely with epoxy, let it dry, and then build up the outside of the tube with fiberglass.

My thinking was that if the tube was sitting in the square with the 'moat' filled with epoxy (right to the top of the 'moat') then there's no way it would ever break loose.

Anyway, if you get a chance, please answer the Q's above and give me your thoughts :)
Sounds like you have got a good plan....a fillet describes the 3/4 round shape of material or structural buildup (sim to a nice weld) that one tries to create at the joining of two components. When you fill the "moat" with epoxy (hopfully mixed with chipped glass mat or west system 404 high-density filler) you will accomplish the fillet shape that helps spread the loading from the tube to the bottom of the boat. I mixed filler until I had a "peanut butter" thickness and used the syringes to deliver it. Don't worry about it setting up too fast...the slow hardener gives you ample time.
This will also give you a nice smooth transition to lay glass mat strips from the tube to the bottom. Kaiser had some great pics of the finished step that I just desribed in one of his posts.
West System sells awsome glass mat ...I would recommend you consider using it. I think I used the 6in wide x 10 yds tape and had just enough.
Kaiser is the one who told me about the sinking disc...he found out the hard way! After reading many of the posts on gluing the disc, I just used silicone....though there are those who have more experience than me on this issue.

Hope this helps ..remember that Gouv is the real expert at this ...he had some real important points concerning how the glass is layed to "tie" the tube down to the bottom ....I think it was in kaiser's thread when he was in the middle of his project..
Best of luck! Eric
Thread starter #28
Thanks Eric!

The pictures from Kaiser's posts seem to be gone now :(

I haven't used any West Systems stuff before (although I am sold on it from all the great reports). What I'm wondering about is the consistency. I'm thinking that it would be great if it was very runny when filling both the 'moat' and the bottom of the tube (where the wear occurs).

The reason for this is that I'd like it if it would 'flow' under the tube (where possible) and basically flow into any voids. In fact, if I think about it, if it were as liquid as water it would certainly fill any/all voids. Is this possible?

With respect to the disc - I think what I'll do is complete all the epoxying and then, after it's dry and the base of the tube is at the rigt height, I'll then mix up the smallest batch possible and just paint the bottom of the disc and drop it in. That way it won't sink - and it won't ever come out :D

I'd like to take your advice on using the glass mat from West but I can't seem to find a 6" X 10 yard listing. Is it possible it was something else? Their price list is here;


Any chance you can take a look and see if you recognize the one you bought? If so, then I can add it to my order :)

Anyway, thanks for the great advice! I can't wait to get it all together and make this boat sail again (it's been sitting for 10 years!!) :eek:
...try west marine seach ref no. 105191 for the 6" tape

With reguards to the "moat" ..I understand your desire to let it "run" and flow as a runny liquid. What comes to mind is that you will sacrifice the structural fibers that help form a strong structural bond. Also you won't benefit from the fillet shape as the epoxy will level out flat. Maybe you should "wet" the area first by brushing in a thin layer of epoxy followed by the thicker structural "paste-like" fiber/epoxy fillet that you can create at the base....Gouv please jump in..!

...be careful on "dropping" the disc....unlike a peanut butter sandwich, it may land sticky side up! There are many posts that describe cool ways to insert the disc . I used a rod with dbl sided tape to place it ...then a larger dia pvc pipe to slide over the rod and hold down on the plate while I gently removed the rod.

good luck! Eric
Sorry about the pics... they were hosted on the website of a dying club and I guess they didn't pay the hosting fee this time around.

I have them all here, still... I'll try to rehost and re post them one of these days.

I didn't end up gluing my wear disk in at all... I just dropped it in and let it free spin (sure - it might eventually wear down the fiberglass a bit... but I'm not too concerned about it.... I added at least a half inch of epoxy down there).

marvin-miller: Regarding the epoxy flowing to fill in any voids - that's no problem. The epoxy mixture itself is quite thin and runny (like pancake syrup). It only becomes thick when you add thickeners to it - so you can have it as thin or as thick as you want!
Thread starter #31
Regarding the epoxy flowing to fill in any voids - that's no problem. The epoxy mixture itself is quite thin and runny (like pancake syrup). It only becomes thick when you add thickeners to it - so you can have it as thin or as thick as you want!
Perfect, perfect, perfect. :) I figure if I pour it into the tube to fill in the bottom then if it's runny enough it should leak out into the moat through the leaks and fill it in :)

Then, if I fill the gap inside the square (pictured) with epoxy and it's runny enough to fill all the voids there then the lower step should be structurally sound. It's sound right now (in that it didn't break - it was solid).

Basically what I want to do is fill it all with glue and have it harden into a bullet-proof mass that fills every area possible so that I end up with a massive hardened block such that it will never have a problem ever again :D

After that I plan to build up the tube itself with several layers of tape so that it's thick again. With respect to the disc - I don't want mine to ever come out again so I figure I'll put a dap on the bottom and then seat it.

The way I see it, it will not only be water tight but it will be much stronger then before with much more 'meat'. The disc should keep it from grinding down into the boat again. I figure it will never need to be looked at again. Doing it this way, I think the value of the boat should go up because it's been future proofed and if anything, improved upon.

Once it's all done I'll probably run some tape up from the bottom of the boat to the tube but in all honesty, I doubt it would be necessary provided the moat and tube are filled with epoxy. The only way it could break loose (in my mind) would be if the stress was so high that it broke the square moat thing clear off the bottom of the boat! :eek:

...try west marine seach ref no. 105191 for the 6" tape
Aha! I thought it was a West Systems product - that's why I couldn't find it :)

BTW, Here's a pic of my brand new sail (I bought it a couple of years ago). I've yet to use it - in fact, I've yet to ever put a brand new sail on the boat. The one next to it is the original sail from 1982 - I used that sail right up until 1998 when I last sailed the boat. That's 16 years of sailing with that old original sail. I wonder what it will be like with a new sail? :eek:


Thread starter #32
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here's a night time shot of the bottom of the mast step illuminated by my trouble light.

The areas that are worn the most are the thinnest and so they let the light shine through. As you can see, the bottom bottom of the tube is very thin. What's neat about this picture is that you can also see the depth that it's worn in the tube.

The area that is yellow is the worn section, the orange area above is not worn. You can clearly see that the yellow worn area is much more prominent in the front of the tube and tapers right off to the half-way point. This is because when you pull the mainsheet in the mast is pulled back causing it to actually tilt to the front. That's why all the wear occurs there.

In short order I'll be updating this thread with the actual repair - woohoo! :D


Thread starter #33
Aha! Some of my parts showed up today. :D

I thought I might as well replace the plastic plug at the bottom of the mast because the old one was really, really worn :) Same thing with the plug on the boom. The fit onto the gooseneck was getting a bit sloppy. The grab rails in the cockpit had broke some time ago and it was nice to finally get around to replacing them.

It won't be long before it's time to do the epoxy work... I'm getting closer....:eek:


....your pictures are so good you can see where you hit the bottom plug with a hammer (instead of using a block of wood or something)...:rolleyes: take care, Eric
Thread starter #37
Scary Stuff! :eek:

The Graphite Powder should really make the mast spin in it's step :D All that West Systems stuff cost $165 CDN - I hope it's better then good :) The problem I have right now is the temperature - it's 11c today so I might have to wait for things to warm up...


Thread starter #38
I started off by sending a cup or two of acetate down the tube in order to clean the inside of the tube and the bottom where it's leaking inside the boat into the well.

According to everyone on the site, the proper depth for the mast step tube is 14"
Mine is 14.25" deep meaning my mast ground a full quarter of an inch from the bottom of the tube over the years. This is ultimately what led to the leak along with wear at the bottom front of the tube.

So, my plan is to pour epoxy down the tube until the total depth is 14" again. My hope is that the epoxy will run out the bottom of the tube and begin to fill the well inside the boat (between the plywood flange and the tube) so that every porous nook and cranny is filled and the whole unit becomes one big mass of solid epoxy.

Either way, the goal is that the tube be 14" deep and that the well between the plywood flange and the tube is one solid block of epoxy. After that, I want to epoxy in a stainless steel plate in the bottom of the tube.

My goal is to not only repair the boat but also to future-proof it so that it's stronger then before and re-designed so that this never happens again.

The ambient temperature here is about 11c during the day - fairly cold. I bought the Slow Hardener based on doing this job in the summer. The West specs say you can use that down to 16c ambient. I think I might have to exchange that for a can of Fast Hardener because it works down to an ambient of 4c.

Anyway, I'm getting closer and if anyone is still reading this thread and has any ideas or cautions - please let me know - I haven't done this before :eek:

PS> Nobody commented on the orange picture above showing the wear area in the mast tube. I personally thought it was an excellent picture and really showed off the thin spots in the tube!

There outta be an award or something... :eek::D:):rolleyes:


Thread starter #39
Just a quick observation... I could not remove all of the bondo no matter how hard I tried. I got 90% of it but I would have preferred to get it all.

I noticed something though...after pouring acetone down the step (which causes it to leak out into the well inside the boat) I found that it began to attack the remaining bondo making it much easier to remove.

I'm going to let it sit so that it can fully permeate it and hopefully remove all the remaining bondo so that more epoxy can get in there and bond to the fiberglass :D
When I reinforced my mast tube I included the "top" junction to the deck. That meant flipping the boat deckside down and adding the thickened epoxy to form the fore mentioned fillet. I don't have a before pic of the top but it looked pretty rough and nasty....so I took the time to include it. The last pic is the top preped for epoxy.
I mounted a small mirror on a "base" and placed it in strategic spots as I navigated around the tube. It was not the most fun one could have but it could have been much worse :cool:

...meant to upload the first 3 pics in reverse order...oh well!