Monday, December 10, 2012

Mast Support-Fix it before it becomes a problem

A bit of fact is that the Westsail 32 sailboats came with deck stepped masts. The mast sits on a 2" layer of plywood between layers of fiberglass. Below that is the hardwood mast support in the cabin. This goes from the underside of the deck to the cabin sole. Under the cabin sole is a hardwood block that extends down to the top of the ballast which is encased in resin. There is the head  (bathroom) bulkhead (wall) right at the mast support....why is this important? Well the bulkheads when installed are not installed tight to the deck. There is a bit of space there about 1/2". Some builders use foam to keep this space. There is a deck beam right at the bulkhead that has screws into the bulkhead. But they are not strong enough to keep the deck from sagging....they will bend.
So this whole setup is supposed to keep the mast at the height the designer wanted it. But what happens over time when the boat is sailed the deck beam relaxes and the deck drops down a bit. No problem one would think. It will only go so far. True...but this is not a good thing as the rigging gets loose, etc. OK now onto the fix for Nellie Jo....

Misty Blue before I bought her. Wasn't she lovely with the tarp, deck box and pink 3 wheel bike all on deck!
Way back when in June of this year Bud Taplin did the survey on Nellie Jo (Misty Blue back then) when I was thinking of buying her. (See the picture above.) When he went below he first noticed that the deck curve at the mast was still curved. He noted in his survey how to keep this curve.

 A Westsail 32 37 years old should have a dished in deck if she had been sailed much. Guess what Nellie Jo still has her curve which means she was not sailed very much at all. I had another indicator when I looked at the sails and found them to be near new with no, I repeat NO broken stitching on any of them. I am pretty sure they are the factory sails.

So Bud says to keep the deck from dishing refer to page A-19 of his service manual. So I did and found the solution. (Isn't it nice to have an up to date service manual on a 1975 boat!) I ordered the bolts, nuts and washers from Bud and did the install this weekend.  I measured, drilled and installed five bolts through the deck beam into the bulkhead. This allows the weight from the deck to be transferred to the deck beam to the bulkhead. This will  keep Nellie Jo from losing her curve. A girl has to keep her curves...right?
The picture above shows the starboard bolt installed and the blue tape on the port side with the hole locations marked. I did look at the back side to make sure I would not drill into any wires and had access.  The only one I had to be careful with was the one just to the left of the doorway. The mast wiring comes in right there.  I drilled a small pilot hole as deep as the bit would go, about 2 1/2" of the about 5 1/4" I needed. Then drilled the 5/16" hole for the bolts. My 5/16" drill bit was just long enough to push the wood out on the back side but not break through. This worked out fine as I went on the backside (in the head) and drilled out the rest of the holes as I could see when it was almost through. I installed the bolts and put blue locktight on the cap nuts just to be sure they would not come off.
Above is the finished product. They all look fine and should help Nellie Jo keep her curves!
Below are a few shots of the backside cap nuts.
 One of the bolts are in the mast wiring box seen above.
One more project complete!
Oh, it was too noisy for the wiener dog inside so she sunbathed outside for awhile.
 (Nancy this picture is for you!)