Mast step broken: is it repairable?

CDWells

New Member
Does anyone have advice on how to repair this damage? It’s not mine, but asking as a way to try to help the owner.
 

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Here are some pictures inside one of my hulls (the only one with access holes, foam is removed), hoping it helps for ideas and stimulating conversation.

tops_65masttube1.jpgtops_65masttube2.jpgtops_65masttube3.jpg
 
Thank you. Yes, it helps to see what’s inside. I haven’t seen the boat in person but I know they have a couple hull access ports in the bow section already; yes, a couple.
 
I suggest you search the Laser/ILCA forum with mast step repair (or something similar) in the search box. There are many reports on that side of the 'aisle' because failure of a mast step is not uncommon on a Laser/ILCA.
Perhaps you will need to fabricate a new mast step and install it.
 
In my search for a better way to re-attach the halyard cleat, I saber-sawed through a lot of wood bonded near the mast. Not satisfied with that repair, I'm going to add a mast cleat.

The new mast step will have to be built up. I'd use several layers of newspapers around the mast. Make a tube of several layers of 8-oz fiberglass cloth "tape". Make it somewhat oversized and trim to fit. Reinforce the top and bottom with more fiberglass.
 
In my search for a better way to re-attach the halyard cleat, I saber-sawed through a lot of wood bonded near the mast. Not satisfied with that repair, I'm going to add a mast cleat.

The new mast step will have to be built up. I'd use several layers of newspapers around the mast. Make a tube of several layers of 8-oz fiberglass cloth "tape". Make it somewhat oversized and trim to fit. Reinforce the top and bottom with more fiberglass.

L&VW, are you going to fit the new tube/step like the factory (around the molded lip in the deck) or do something different?

CDWells, did the owner send you any more pics?

 
You'll need to fiberglass the tube back into place. Clean everything up, the tube and the fiberglass mating surfaces inside the boat. Use 6 0z fiberglass strips and your adhesive of choice to attach the top and bottom of the tube back to the deck and hull. We like THIXO thickened epoxy adhesive and others like a polyester resin thickened. Either will work.

If you have a tube, we'd use fiberglass woven roving, but a lot of layers of cloth would also work.
 
L&VW, are you going to fit the new tube/step like the factory (around the molded lip in the deck) or do something different?

CDWells, did the owner send you any more pics?
I left the mast step in place, drilled two deep ¼" holes diagonally down through the mast step, and epoxied six-inch portions of fiberglass "tickle sticks" to connect the tube with the deck wood I'd unwittingly sawed through. :confused: :

("Tickle sticks" are 30" fiberglass ¼"Ø rods used to coax Florida/Bahamas lobsters from their hiding places).

Then used THIXO to bond the rest, epoxying everything back together.
 
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L&VW, are you going to fit the new tube/step like the factory (around the molded lip in the deck) or do something different?

CDWells, did the owner send you any more pics?

I actually picked up the hull today and hope to repair it over the winter. Reading all the comments and seeing photos here has encouraged me to take on this project
 
L&VW, are you going to fit the new tube/step like the factory (around the molded lip in the deck) or do something different?
See above. I didn't touch the mast step, as I only wanted the halyard cleat and halyard block to be supported by nuts and bolts. (and not screws). It was too much work, so I don't recommend this approach.

Before I put it all back together, here's a picture putting the camera face-up--resting (inside) on the keel:

Clipped_image_20230910_040022.png


The thick part at the top surrounds the mast step, which I can't make out in this picture.
 
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Mast step failures are more common in the Laser class and somebody used to market a repair kit composed of a new tube and rather large section of deck that could be glassed into the damaged area. I have seen a few of these repair jobs and they looked like overkill, but at least they got the boat back on the water. I suppose one could find another damaged-beyond-repair Sunfish hull and saw out a section of deck with the mast tube attached and fiberglass or epoxy the "donor" assembly into the "recipient" hulls deck and keel. The question is whether or not it makes sense to make the repair or just buy a Sunfish "hull only" for $150 and transfer the rig from the damaged hull to the "new" hull. To be candid, I am not sure I would ever trust a repaired Sunfish mast step in heavy air again.

To continue the quasi-medical approach, here is a piece I posted several years ago that Forum regular Tag reposterd on his blog. Warning: It is not for the squeamish: sunfish hull autopsy

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 
Has anyone considered or done a repair where an actual 'step' for the lower portion of the mast tube is fashioned?
The 'bigger the blob, the better the job' technique in the bilge seems in sharp contrast to the neat concentric tube and flange arrangement on the deck.
 
I had a boat with a rig similar to a sunfish once that had gray conduit style PVC fiber-glassed in from the factory, never had a problem with it to my surprise.
 
Check on line. There are sources for wound glass tubes. Yours looks pretty raw. Try McMaster Carr. Try US Composites where you can get 635THIN Epoxy and a wide variety of glass, carbon fiber, fillers and other reinforcements. Your big port should give plenty of access. A Fine multi tool or equivalent will help with prep.
 
Thank you. There was a previous repair attempt. Lots of epoxy or other glue both on the original fiberglass tube as well as on the hull “socket” and under the deck. I like the idea of using a multi tool to clean up the hull and deck. The large portal will certainly help. I’ll likely try to clean up the original mast tube as well. I think I can build up fiberglass cones around both ends of the tube to reattach and reinforce it at the top and bottom.
 

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