What's new

Straighten Catalina 14 Omega mast?

bcullins

New Member
Hell all. I'm new to these boats so I apologize for my lack of knowledge. I've sailed for 30+ years in Sunfish, Laser and on sailboards but this is my forst experience with a small day sailor and stayed mast. I recently bought this boat (actually, traded a used cyclocross bike and a little cash) know that it would need some work. The primary issue is a bend in the mast. I've straightened simple round spars before but not sure how that will work for a slotted spar section like this mast. The pictures show the issue and where the bend is. I don't see any crimping, so my assumption is the the mast could possibly be straightened. Two questions: (1) Is is feasible to try to straightened the mast (either me or possibly at an automobile body shop? (2) If not, could anyone recommend a good source for a replacement spar? I'm in semi-rural Central Texas so the closest big cities would be Austin, San Antonio and Dallas/Fort Worth. Thanks in advance for your feedback :)
Spar 1.JPGSpar 2.JPGSpar 3.JPGSpar 4.JPGSpar 5.JPGSpar 6.JPG
 

Coastal Redneck

Active Member
Best & cheapest bet would be to bend it back as close as you can get it to its original shape, perhaps with the help of a friend or two... ideally, you would find a solid rack, fixed pipe, trailer bed, etc., insert the spar to the point where it's bent, clamp or otherwise secure the spar, and GENTLY apply pressure in the correct direction. A little heat on the bend might help just prior to applying pressure, but under NO circumstances do you use a cutting torch or welding torch, it will anneal the aluminum and weaken it to the point of being dangerous (i.e. ready to snap under sail). Maybe a simple heater under the bend for awhile, as long as it's not super hot... if you can get the spar CLOSE to its original shape, you should be able to sail the boat recreationally, if that's your goal. :cool:

Here's another option which is more complicated: you can eliminate the bent section entirely by cutting it out, then use INSERT & OUTER SLEEVE or CLAMPS to strengthen the mast to the point where it can be safely used, but of course you will lose rig height this way and you'll have to shorten the forestay and shrouds, I would certainly try to GENTLY bend the spar back into shape first with the help of a friend or two. I say "gently" because you may do more damage by treating the spar harshly and yanking the end one way or another, LOL. Unless you're on good terms with auto shop personnel, I would NOT recommend taking the spar to such a place, a good outfit of riggers or machinists would be better able to help you. Know any riggers in your neighborhood? I'd bet good money that they've straightened similar pieces of metal... :D

If you're not in a big ol' hurry, I would ask around in your circle of family & friends, maybe they know someone who can help you straighten that spar, aye? I still advise that you try to straighten it yourself first with the help of a friend or two, it might be easier than expected if leverage is applied in the right direction. Sonofab!tch might snap too, LOL, but that's why you GENTLY apply pressure... and I suggest that your assistants be spaced evenly along the spar when attempting to bend it back, all applying equal pressure so as not to bend the spar again at another point. Hopefully you will sort out my hastily typed recommendations, just know that I've straightened spars before in such a manner, the general rule of thumb being that the larger or thicker the spar (meaning wall thickness in hollow spars), the more difficult it is to bend it back into shape without the aid of machinery... :confused:

AND THAT BRINGS UP MY FINAL SUGGESTION: IF YOU KNOW A GOOD EXPERIENCED FORKLIFT OPERATOR, HE MIGHT BE ABLE TO GENTLY BEND THAT SPAR BACK INTO SHAPE, PROVIDED THE SPAR IS SECURED OR CLAMPED IN SUCH A WAY THAT FORCE IS APPLIED ONLY IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION ... ;)

"CAPISCE???" Or in ghetto hood rat slang, "KA-PEESH???" :eek:

GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR ATTEMPTS, MAYBE THE FORKLIFT IS YOUR BEST BET, LOL... I'VE BENT METAL BACK INTO SHAPE WITH LIFTS BEFORE, JUST GOTTA BE CAREFUL AND SET EVERYTHING UP CORRECTLY BEFORE TRYING, AYE??? :rolleyes:

THAT'S MY SPIEL, TIME FOR A COLD BEER... CHEERS!!! :)
 

Pete Z

Member
I have hull 1553 which also has yellow topsides. The mast looks good,other than the bend, shows much less corrosion than on mine. Go for trying to straighten it. If it works it is a whole lot cheaper than a new mast.
 

stevenwp2

New Member
I have straightened a few masts (never a 14.2) and been very successful, basically getting the mast perfect... I now wish I had photos.

Anyway, first, determine EXACTLY where the bend starts and stops with string by starting at each end, pulling the string till you can see the bend and mark it with a sharpie. Every time, the bent section is in a FAR shorter than it looked. We don't want to bend what is straight. I put the mast under the rails across the back of my landscape trailer, bend pointing down (smiley face) and lash (so they can pivot but stay in place) 3 to 5 foot long 2x6 pieces of wood to the trailer rails where the mast hits underneath the rail; the wood needs to pivot with the bending of the mast and adjust length of wood based on the nature of the bend. They need to be pretty long to keep the straight part of the mast... straight. You have to drill holes in the pieces of wood to lash them so the mast doesn't bear on the line.

Center a small floor jack under the bent spot and place (or even better lash to the jack) a 1x6 about 2ft-3ft long between the jack and the mast. 1x6 flexes a bit, reducing the chance of denting the mast at the ends of the wood. I've also used 1x6 synthetic decking (Trex) and it worked well. You can also route the ends of the wood to reduce high pressure areas as well.

Jack up the bent spot a bit past opposite bend, remove mast from under the rails, sight down it, and repeat till it's straight.

Advice: 1) Take your time; it's a major pain in the ass because you have to take the whole thing apart to hold the mast with the slot up (or down) to sight down or string line it accurately. It often takes a whole bunch of tries to get it right, but you can get it perfect. 2) Use a very small floor jack so you're pushing down pretty hard on the handle to bend the mast. I get it tight then count the number of pumps on the jack handle, increasing as needed. I've done a few and have a good feel but it'd be easy to go to far. 3) I once needed a shorter distance between the "pressure points" to fix an "S-bend" and stuck the mast at a 45 degree angle at the front corner of the of the trailer railing. Kind of a bitch because of the angles where the mast bears on the railing, but it worked. 4) Try different thickness and sizes of the wood blocks where the mast bears against the trailer and the jack and watch these as you apply pressure. This is pretty critical to keep things under control and to bend only exactly where you need. 5) Bring a friend.. or two. The whole process is a pain in the ass in general and more so doing it alone.

Hope this helps.
 
Last edited:

Caljr64

New Member
As Stevenwp2 recommends, create a straightenung jig. I used two 2x8x8 Southern Yellow Pine planks sistered together and secured to a 2x4x6 on one edge with 2.5 inch deck screws. A scissors jack works well instead of a floor jack. Ratcheting cargo straps can be wrapped around the mast and hold it in position relative to the jig while pushing the bend out with the scissors jack. Fashion a soft wooden cradle to mount between the lifting point on the jack and the mast.
 
Top