Mast step/tube repair

Thread starter #1
The mast tube on my sunfish is leaking. i pored resin and fiberglass scraps in the bottom just slightly over the ridge previously. it looks like there is some loose pieces of fiberglass on the inside of the boat.
Should I wrap the outside of the tube and reinforce the lower half of the tube to the boat?
Is this (pic of the red boat) the proper place to cut a port?
 

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Webfoot1

Active Member
#2
Failure usually happens when the mast tube breaks loose from the bottom of the boat.
Seems like they always did a quick and ugly job. You'll have to do a lot of grinding with
a dremel tool to get the area cleaned up before you can lay down new fiberglass. Careful
not to detach the mast tube as it's not easy to get the mast perfectly vertical once
the tube is loose. If you think it's attached solidly and you're not into sailing in
high winds you could just leave as is and wrap the mast tube in a couple layers
of fiberglass. The down side is once the mast breaks loose sailing it cracks the
deck and makes a big mess. Short of popping the deck that's where you'd put
the inspection port. I'd make sure to put a reinforcement ring under it as the
port will be taking some stress from the deck. The stress aspect almost makes
me think popping the deck would be better. Usually when you see a repair where
the mast has broken loose they end up re fiber glassing the entire area around
the mast hole. More that one way to skin a cat so do the repair according to
you comfort level. Oh, a leak could indicate mast has started to pull away from
the hull or the job was flawed from the factory. Viva La Sunfish, a model of
fine craftsmanship it never was.
 
Thread starter #3
I have separated the bow just enough for the backerblock but I really don't want to do that again.
I could not find reinforcement rings listed. Do you make them? Maybe out of a plastic kitchen cutting board?
For the strips of glass attaching the tube to the hull, do I grind off half of them and put new ones down that way it's still keeps position but might bond better? Or scuff and glass over everything?
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#4
This older thread might be helpful:
Mast Step Fix
:cool:

Interesting that a similar photo—with a red deck and green masking tape—appears at the above, older, thread.

Is this the same Sunfish, visited after a few years?
 
Thread starter #5
I did read that thread and stole the pic. They said it was a Canadian Sunfish. The insides look way different than mine.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#7
The reinforcement ring could be made out of plywood, split at a angle and
corkscrewed into the inspection port hole. Trying to work through a hole
is difficult. I'm wondering if it would be easier to use 2-part epoxy putty
around the base of the mast tube. If you scuff and glass you are assuming
what was laid down at the factory is still secure. Seeing as there is no was
to test it I guess it just comes down to whether it's worth the trouble or not.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#8
Now that you've separated the deck, what is the dark material that surrounds the mast tube at the arrow?
Fullscreen capture 6152018 72553 PM.bmp.jpg

I only ask, as it's easier to work on the deck and hull, should the mast tube be totally removed from the boat. (For inspection and repair).

Alternately, the tube can be cut off, the hull cut out, repair to base more readily made, and reinstalled with a fiberglass sleeve (external to the existing mast tube at the deck). The weight penalty would be minimal, the hull would be more resistant to flexing, and the mast tube twice as strong as factory.

Just a thought. ;)

.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#9
Now that you've separated the deck, what is the dark material that surrounds the mast tube at the arrow?
View attachment 26462

I only ask, as it's easier to work on the deck and hull, should the mast tube be totally removed from the boat. (For inspection and repair).

Alternately, the tube can be cut off, the hull cut out, repair to base more readily made, and reinstalled with a fiberglass sleeve (external to the existing mast tube at the deck). The weight penalty would be minimal, the hull would be more resistant to flexing, and the mast tube twice as strong as factory.

Just a thought. ;)

.
L and VW, this seems unnecessary and overly complicated. Have you actually done this, or is it simply speculation? BB
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#10
There's more than one way to do this repair. We've seen an experienced Sunfish restorer (Mixmkr) here fix everything from through the hull (underneath). Overall, his are invisible—yet lightweight—and strengthening repairs. :cool:

Mast steps haven't been a problem with my five Sunfish (formerly six), but if I wanted to keep the original straight-up mast position, this is how I'd tackle it. Especially as working through a small port makes too much of the endeavor guesswork, which may require a later "redo". :(

The "Ultimate Inspection Port" allows the passage of large corded tools, but I'd still prefer taking-on this repair once I've eyeballed the problem outside the Sunfish.
 
Thread starter #11
I'm not sure what the dark ring is. I didn't install it and the boat wasn't opened up before me. Maybe reinforcement ring?
I'm thinking I'll either use a borescope or video chat myself inside the boat. I will also be able to fit a die grinder my existing 5" port behind the coaming so that will give me more room.
 
#12
Did you retest for leaks after you applied the resin? Are you sure the mast tube is loose? As others have said sunfish do not usually have issues with the mast tube. I would have leaked tested and gone sailing unless you put a big load on the mast. I would put a mast cleat on for the halyard to lower the load on the hull and deck.
 
Thread starter #13
The mast tube is not loose. Only leaks but it doesn't look very nice from inside the boat.
I filled bottom of the mast with resin/fiberglass bits and it held water over night. I used the boat 5 times and now the mast tube leaks again.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#14
Well, it's always good to know about impending failure even if you don't know what's
failing. Perhaps you can make a cap for the mast hole, pour in some soapy water and
pressurize the mast hole. If there is water in the mast tube I would assume water might
be coming in from a leak in the hull somewhere. These older boats tend to leak at the
hull/deck seams. Mostly where the hull flexes across from the ends of the splash guard.
 
Thread starter #15
I have leak tested the boat. The it has a couple screw hole leaks but the mast hole is the only major leak. It also no longer holds water in the tube. I could pore another 1/2 of resin/glass shreds and fix the leak but I'm not sure how far above factory I should fill the tube.

I'm also concerned about the the glass cloth that is sticking out (arrows in pic)
 

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L&VW

Well-Known Member
#16
I have leak tested the boat. The it has a couple screw hole leaks but the mast hole is the only major leak. It also no longer holds water in the tube. I could pore another 1/2 of resin/glass shreds and fix the leak but I'm not sure how far above factory I should fill the tube. I'm also concerned about the the glass cloth that is sticking out (arrows in pic)
None of the factory mast tube "wraps" is pretty. :oops:

I wouldn't exceed the factory depth at all. The leverage of a mast with a filled sail could damage the mast tube. If more than an 1\8 inch has been added with your mix, I'd sand down to near-normal depth.

Try another mix, but wrap the mast with something like a thin layer of Styrofoam coffee cup and masking tape. (Something that rapidly deteriorates). Displace your mix to fill the tube better and higher, (with the wrapped mast or a substitute) but assure the mast can be removed afterwards! :confused:
 
#17
I would try to pinpoint the leak a bit more. If you fill the mast tube half way does it drain right into the hull? Or does it hold water? Maybe it only leaks when you fill it all the way? Since you've already got good access to the interior I'd AVOID adding any more resin/mix to the mast hole unless you can see chips/cracks in the wall of the tube. Use fiberglass tape (it's not tape, but it comes in strips that have finished ends so it's easier to work with) and wrap the tube from inside the hull. Cover your deck so you don't drip resin on it. Just painting thickened epoxy around the mast step from inside the hull is probably enough, may not need the tape, but I guess it would be added insurance.
 
Thread starter #18
I got the fiberglass tape, got a port and cut the hole. It has more gaps that i was expecting between the tube and the mast step. Should I remove material where the bottom portion fares out or just add thickened resin there?
Should I put thickened resin on hull where it connects then put glass over that?

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Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#19
On "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" scale, well, Tuco would be proud of this one... just glancing at that step tube and the strips radiating outward from it, one can see that the glass was never wetted thoroughly. I'd take a file to some of that trash on the step tube, maybe a razor knife if it's still soft, then do the job again, wetting the tube first, wrapping the glass strips around it more tightly, and adding resin to ensure that the whole shebang is thoroughly wetted. Do the last by holding the glass in place with one hand and brushing more resin all around it so all glass fibers are saturated. Don't worry about a little resin running down toward the radiating strips, you're gonna need to hit those again anyway with a good layer of resin, AFTER slicing open or otherwise holing the air pockets under those strips as you prep. When I do step tube work, I have the pot of catalyzed resin nearby inside the hull so I'm not slopping it everywhere... latex gloves work well for smoothing out the glass on the vertical tube. Spread whatever resin is left over the radiating strips below, being sure to fill all air pockets and saturate all dry cloth. :confused:

Once these first tasks are complete and the resin is cured, you might wanna cover all those radiating strips at the base with one big glass "donut": cut the piece so it covers all the strips radiating outward, then wet the existing surface, lay the piece in place, and wet it again to solidly "cement" all those strips under one "blanket" (so to speak, think of the cloth cover your folks used to place around the base of the Christmas tree, only this "blanket" should be snug with no air bubbles or dry cloth in sight). Depending on how your initial task of improving that step tube goes, you might wanna add more strips running vertically or diagonally downward and outward like the strips seen at the base of the tube. Either way, those strips radiating outward at the base should all be covered with at least one piece of cloth cut to shape, that last piece will help hold everything together a bit longer, aye? Same goes for any strips on the step tube, they should be covered with at least one good wrap. :rolleyes:

I see from your photos that some of the glass cloth was never sufficiently wetted and worked into place around the compound curve at the base of the step tube. Compound curves are tricky, you want to be sure the weight of cloth you're using is right for the job, meaning pliable when wet, otherwise it'll be difficult to make the glass conform and adhere to the prepped surfaces & curves. I always liked to initially place a bit of glass rope round the very base of the step tube, it made for a more solid repair with no air pockets or "Rice Chex" like the ones seen in your pics. Don't be shy with the resin when you first wet the area, in this particular case it's okay for surplus resin to run down and cover those strips below. Get the step tube wrapped well with the cloth, then finish wetting it and saturating it, carefully smoothing out air bubbles with brush or glove in the process. Air bubbles & dry "Rice Chex" cloth mean weakness, which you don't want, you want the strongest possible bond, yeah? :cool:

Not trying to put down your work, just giving you the straight facts... the good news is that even the worst botched glass jobs can be put right again, it just takes a little more time and costs a little more money for materials, LOL. Remember that line from "FULL METAL JACKET" by director Stanley Kubrick? After the sniper gets whacked, that one hand tells Joker he should receive "The Congressional Medal of Ugly!!!" Well, this mast step in its current condition should receive that Hollywood medal, LOL. But I have faith in ya, I know you can make things right... starting with a file or a razor knife. Won't be long before you have a nice solid mast step repair, no air bubbles or dry "Rice Chex" cloth in sight. So no worries, you'll soon be sailing that bad girl like a crusty nautical demon, LOL. Good luck to you, just stay focused on each task one step at a time, and you'll git 'er done... time for another cold beer, CHEERS!!! ;)
 
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Webfoot1

Active Member
#20
I'm sure the thought when it was manufactured was. . .

1. Nothing the customer will ever see.
2. It's not like this has to stay intact for 50 years.
3. If we did a better job, we would have to charge you more.
4. Quitting time's in one hour, let's get this thing done.

I'm not sure how relevant number four is since all the
Sunfish I've seen look this bad, some worse.
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#21
Damn, Webfoot1, you should've been a comedian, LOL... I'm not joking either, do you think this friggin' abortion of glasswork is actually factory? Good Lord, no wonder I'm a diehard Laser man, yeah??? But your post is HILARIOUS, and I kowtow to your superior comic genius, LOL. :rolleyes:

"YOU DA MAN, BABY!!!" ;)

It's alright, I'm no Epic Darwin Failure, in fact I'm gonna steal that hot brunette out of your avatar, even if she HAS been DEAD for 50 years, LOL... :eek:

You're still the man, I'll use the dead gal as bait for crabs, lobster, etc. :D
 
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Thread starter #22
Thanks guys!
I made some progress today. Knocked out the rice chex around the tube (like ghost rider said). From a little prying I found that the step and the tube are not really connected well, Im not really sure how it lasted this long. Definitely going to put more material on that I initially thought. thumbnail_IMG_20180729_144257509.jpg
 
#23
Thanks guys!
I made some progress today. Knocked out the rice chex around the tube (like ghost rider said). From a little prying I found that the step and the tube are not really connected well, Im not really sure how it lasted this long. Definitely going to put more material on that I initially thought. View attachment 27286
Looks like you did a nice job cleaning it up and have a nice surface to work with going forward. Looking forward to seeing it after you get it glassed up.
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#25
Ah, much better... you always want to get rid of the trash that's doing ya no good, and the best way to do it is by filing, grinding, sanding, trimming with a razor knife, etc. You're definitely on the right track now, and by all means, don't be afraid to add more strips from the step tube to the hull. I'd probably wrap the step tube first, thoroughly wetting it up, wait till it's cured and add more strips, then wrap the tube again before laying a circular patch around the base to cover all the strips. By alternating from wrap-to-strip-to-wrap, you'll make the whole step bulletproof, just be sure to use enough resin for every task. You want any residual dry cloth from the original mess to be saturated with resin, that'll improve the overall bond and give you a strong, reliable mast step. Remember, nobody will be seeing this repair, better to use a little extra material so you won't have to deal with it again... otherwise, you're doing a great job, it already looks WAY better than it was, LOL. CHEERS!!! :cool:
 
Thread starter #26
It came out pretty well. I tested it out at Lake Red Rock IA this weekend. First high wind, big lake experience. It was interesting to say the least.
Here is what i ended up doing
thickened resin around base and the original bottom to step strips to smooth out the gaps
fiberglass mat to fillet the base
11x16 fiberglass cloth the bottom
2" wide roll up the tube
fiberglass mat strips from bottom to step to bulk it up
fiberglass cloth strips from bottom to step
3 fiberglass cloth around strips and half way up
9x9 fiberglass cloth on bottom
new backer blocks, made the pulley one way big because i found some cracks in the gel coat around it.
5" port and reinforced it with cutting board. (wasn't ideal, to much flex)

What I would have done different was not use the 2" fiberglass cloth roll. The one i got could did not soak up the resin as well as the bondo/3m I used on the rest of it. It was actually harder to do the wrap because you can only do less than one wrap before you add resin. id do 8"ish sections of cloth (don"t cut it so the fibers go vertical and horizontal).

The die grinder is air powered. Definitely a must have.You can put sanding discs or scotch brite discs on. 1/4 in. Air Angle Die Grinder
thumbnail_IMG_20180802_184113664.jpg
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#28
Looks solid, got a loose wrap there, a little file work and another wrap or two in the center of the tube would make it burlier than King Kong, LOL... :eek:

But I'm thinking that base is pretty solid now, much more solid than it was when ya started, so it'll be awhile before that thing gives ya any more grief... :rolleyes:

TIME TO TEST THAT BAD GIRL ON THE WATER, LOL... WHAT'S BOAT WORK WITHOUT A STRESS & SAFETY TEST?!? DON'T FORGET THE BEER!!! ;)
 
Thread starter #29
Yup both backing blocks are there. Pic is taken from behind coaming.

Ghost rider, that wrap stuff wasn't good. The white goes the full length (not as white in person) but it must not of penetrated fully. With resin under and dabbing each layer, then 15 min dabbing after it still had a tint of white. I yanked it tight so it should be half decent. I must of wiped up a half cup of resin off the bottom when I was done with the wraps.

Also I do see that bubble in the outer layer. I'll probably just leave it. The mast hole has got to be the strongest thing on the boat now.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#30
'Thought your grinder would have been air-powered. :cool: You probably looked like a ghost! :D

The bottom looks reinforced—and, from my perspective, that's a good thing.

As for the cutting board reinforcement, you can still insert a continuous ring, and bend it into the port. (Maybe). :confused:

Good job, all around, and thanks for the follow-up presentation. :) Follow-ups are kind of scarce around here. :oops:

.
 
Thread starter #31
'Thought your grinder would have been air-powered. :cool: You probably looked like a ghost! :D

The bottom looks reinforced—and, from my perspective, that's a good thing.

Good job, all around, and thanks for the follow-up. :) Follow-ups are kind of scarce around here. :oops:

.
I didn't actually end up using the die grinder much due to the lack of vision but it did make quick work of a couple resin globs.
 
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