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Mast step wear, #2

bhm

Member
I posted earlier about visible wear or damage around the top of my mast step (1973 Minifish), and the suggestion was to fill the gouges with thickened epoxy. That was the only potential problem I could see at that time. Since then I bought a fiber-optic endoscope ($35 on Amazon), and got a better look at the bottom, and have two new questions.

(a) Why is there a hole at the bottom of the mast step at all? I asked this question on Facebook and got a lot of pictures showing that this hole is always there, but no convincing explanation of why. One person thought that maybe it forces the weight of the mast to rest on the rim not the bottom, to remove stress from the lower mast cap, but that sounded dubious to me, since the base cap is cheap and easy to replace anyway. My own tentative theory is that maybe it is an artifact of the construction process, and serves no useful function at all. Like maybe they blow foam in through it, and the little cavity under the hole is where the nozzle spraying in the foam was poking down through the hole. If that is right, then it seems like I might as well go ahead and fill it in, maybe with this same thickened epoxy stuff.

(b) Anyway, that hole has gotten much larger and more raggedy looking on my boat than when it comes from the factory, as shown in some of those other pictures. So should I fill it in now, either with this thickened epoxy, or something else? It seems like I could do this pretty easily, since by coincidence I even have a foot-long cut-off piece of Sunfish mast, complete with base cap, that I could use to press down and shape the filler to give the whole mast step bottom the proper shape. So, should I do this?

my mast step bottom:
#1
IMG_0046.JPG

#2:
IMG_0048.JPG

#3
IMG_0058.JPG
 

Alan S. Glos

Well-Known Member
bhm,

As the fiberglass cloth is showing at the bottom of the mast hole, I would recommend you get the boat level (use a carpenter's level on the deck over the mast hole) mix up some thickened epoxy resin (to about mayonase thickness) then pour it down the mast hole to form a new bottom just a little higher than the original bottom. Let cure - you don't need to put the mast stub down the hole. if you have left over resin, tape a small paintbrush to a paint stir stick and paint on a thick coat on all the vertical surfaces of the inside of the mast hole.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
If wear is a concern to you, Hobie catamarans supplied a Teflon®️ disc to drop into the mast step.
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
Don’t add too much epoxy or you’ll have the new problem of having your mast not fit and you’ll be filing it down. Use a chip brush taped to a paint stick and paint the bottom and sides. I wouldn’t pour epoxy down the step. I have 3 Minifish, all have the ‘donut’ base.
 
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