silversailor

Stuck in the mast

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In the past I have used a portion of a bicycle chain attached to a messenger line to drop new halyards down the Sparcraft mast of my Hanse 370.  Works like a charm... until the last time.  I was replacing a single sheet for a self tacking jib.  It enters the mast through a sheave about about half way up.  Feed the bike chain through the sheave and dropped it down.  Somehow it got caught on something inside the mast.  May be the support for the lower spreaders.  After bouncing it around a while we could not pull the messenger line back up or down.  Right now the bike chain resides in the mast.  The messenger line extends down the mast and exits near the base.  Any suggestions on how to retrieve the bike chain without dropping  the mast?

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Could it be the spreader bolts, or some screw near that point? Remove the bolts?

Is it stuck hard, or rather soft? Might indicate if tangled with a wire or other halyard vs. a bolt or bracket.

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You've just learned one of the joys of external halyards. :ph34r:

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Does it move when you raise/lower the other halyards?

Might be caught in one of them of you are lucky..........

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It might be worth investing in a cheap borescope. A picture is worth a thousand words and all... I mean you'll end up with a towel over your head with one eye closed doing fancy deck yoga trying see the screen and maneuver the camera. Someone will take a picture. Everyone else will be amused. You might also be able to figure out what's going on in there. Then you can do your clever corvid imitation with pokey and hookie things. Drinking and or swearing are optional.

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44 minutes ago, DRIFTW00D said:

What could go wrong???

Yes, what if it gets stuck to the inside of the mast?

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3 hours ago, silversailor said:

In the past I have used a portion of a bicycle chain attached to a messenger line to drop new halyards down the Sparcraft mast of my Hanse 370.  Works like a charm... until the last time.  I was replacing a single sheet for a self tacking jib.  It enters the mast through a sheave about about half way up.  Feed the bike chain through the sheave and dropped it down.  Somehow it got caught on something inside the mast.  May be the support for the lower spreaders.  After bouncing it around a while we could not pull the messenger line back up or down.  Right now the bike chain resides in the mast.  The messenger line extends down the mast and exits near the base.  Any suggestions on how to retrieve the bike chain without dropping  the mast?

Drop another one down?  Joking aside, a regular borescope is useful more close up, pretty hard to see long distance with, and kinda useless in a mast unless your problem is at either end.

Something like this is more useful.

  https://www.homedepot.com/tool-truck-rental/Drain-Camera/CGPF-ECAM-ACE/index.html 

Duct tape and zip tie a hook to it once you figure out what you're stuck on.  It's semi rigid for pushing.   They come in different lengths and widths but are better for un-fucking things.  Have had to do this before once when a pull through and replace of an expensive data cable got jammed 15' in.

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Bicycle chain isn't the best solution, as you've found.

If the tension comes off, allowing the chain to loop on itself, it makes a good anchor.

You may get it with a bit of fencing wire if you can see it.  Do you have a sheave for a pole-lift that you can remove? Otherwise the borescope, but they're fiddly. I use mine for more jobs than I ever thought when I bought it but mine is only two metres.

Good luck with it.

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7 minutes ago, jgbrown said:

Joking aside, a regular borescope is useful more close up, pretty hard to see long distance with, and kinda useless in a mast unless your problem is at either end.

I've had pretty good luck with the cheap one I keep in my toolkit. YMMV.

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13 hours ago, weightless said:

It might be worth investing in a cheap borescope. A picture is worth a thousand words and all...

GREAT IDEA.  There's several on Amazon, 33' long (that's longer than I think I need, WiFi to my iPhone or Ipad, with LED lights around the camera. I can insert it at the lower end of the sheave and an elecrticians snake at the upper end to, hopefully, retrieve the errant chain.

Thanks all.

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Don't get your hopes up too high.

The borescope will be awkward to use at that length.  The LED lighting is adjustable but not strong.  The focusing distance is limited.

I use mine to look inside cylinder bores, fuel and water tanks, check rudder hearings and fish stuff out of my eyes and ears.  Two metres is plenty for that but I don't know how you'll go with ten metres.

Good luck.

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13 hours ago, silversailor said:

GREAT IDEA.  There's several on Amazon, 33' long (that's longer than I think I need, WiFi to my iPhone or Ipad, with LED lights around the camera. I can insert it at the lower end of the sheave and an elecrticians snake at the upper end to, hopefully, retrieve the errant chain.

Thanks all.

If they don't work(they are pretty floppy), the plumbers one can save the day if you can get the end in.   Nothing else would have saved my bacon on the cable I referenced above.  Horrible giant ends that were non-removeable and loved to get stuck.  Every system was hand built by the manufacturer with a 90 day minimum eta for replacement... and 1200$ for a new cable.   Took me 20 minutes, used the camera end to poke it loose and finished the run.   Rather than an electricians metal snake, get yourself a set of these if you can.   https://www.homehardware.ca/en/12-piece-10m-cable-rod-set/p/3631380

If you can't I prefer throttle cable with the sheathing removed, make a hook on the end.  Can often get it free, and works better than a fish tape in long straight areas, and is much more formable if you need to offset the end. 

The cheapest ROK fish sticks are the best for a boat.  Klein etc make heavy duty thick ones that won't go around corners, the above ROK ones are incredibly flexible, super thin, and push or pull nicely.   We end up using them for everything from plumbing to wiring, they make many impossible or frustrating jobs doable or easy. 

 

 

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On 9/2/2018 at 6:15 PM, Ishmael said:

Yes, what if it gets stuck to the inside of the mast?

magnet on outside

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the boat has a telephone pole for a mast, but you might try  loosening ALL the stays and then shake the fuck out of the mast, rock it side side / back and forth    maybe it'll free up..    

that's the problem with chain, too many holes to hang up on...     i suggest some sash weights next time

 

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23 hours ago, silversailor said:

GREAT IDEA.  There's several on Amazon, 33' long (that's longer than I think I need, WiFi to my iPhone or Ipad, with LED lights around the camera. I can insert it at the lower end of the sheave and an elecrticians snake at the upper end to, hopefully, retrieve the errant chain.

Thanks all.

Confuscious say, "Next question will be how to retrieve stuck bore scope from mast."

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Take your through bar out and put it back in after getting chain out. Ie remove one spreader and pull tie bar out with other side spreader as one piece, clear out what you need to, reinstall with all halyards most likely behind tie bar or as they need to be. 

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50 minutes ago, cdodge581 said:

Take your through bar out and put it back in after getting chain out. Ie remove one spreader and pull tie bar out with other side spreader as one piece, clear out what you need to, reinstall with all halyards most likely behind tie bar or as they need to be. 

Correct answer. Project would have been completed in one hour a week ago.

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     Rig is up (?) This would require some highly qualified types to effect.

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I've just been through this excercise to replace a broken spreader base, damaged by collision.

I used the spinnaker pole as a temporary spreader, clipped over one shroud, with a halyard (with a stopper knot) through the opposite end of the pole.  The halyard was secured on deck and tensioned, acting as a shroud.  The spinnaker pole was tied to the good spreader.

It worked well for a few months while the insurance company stalled.

When I finally did the repair, the whole spreader base with lower attached had to come off so the mast was supported only by the shroud on one side, spinnaker pole and halyard on the other, no lowers.  The mast didn't wriggle much.

I'd attach a picture but I'm incompetent.

Now all I have to do is replace the broken forestay (currently replaced with a halyard.)

The rig is the least of it.

5 hours ago, cdodge581 said:

Take your through bar out and put it back in after getting chain out. Ie remove one spreader and pull tie bar out with other side spreader as one piece, clear out what you need to, reinstall with all halyards most likely behind tie bar or as they need to be. 

 

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5 hours ago, longy said:

     Rig is up (?) This would require some highly qualified types to effect.

Lower spreaders they say. Those have nothing to do with holding the mast up at the dock. I removed one once. It was discontinuous, even. No big deal. A little wobbly, yes. Don’t slack the turnbuckles until they come apart. That would be bad. That does not require a highly qualified rigging genius to understand.

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i had a similar problem once. I bought some small,  maybe 1/2" flexible plastic sprinkler pipe  or small diameter pex water pipe at Home Depot. (small enough so it would fit into the halyard exit slot on mast). Extended the messenger longer and slid the tubing over the messenger and up the inside of mast and was able to jolt free what was hanging up. Think I had i guy crank a spin shackle past the sheeve at top an got caught  coming down on inter spreader bar. 

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On 9/7/2018 at 8:23 AM, sailingbeme said:

i had a similar problem once. I bought some small,  maybe 1/2" flexible plastic sprinkler pipe  or small diameter pex water pipe at Home Depot. (small enough so it would fit into the halyard exit slot on mast). Extended the messenger longer and slid the tubing over the messenger and up the inside of mast and was able to jolt free what was hanging up. Think I had i guy crank a spin shackle past the sheeve at top an got caught  coming down on inter spreader bar. 

How did you get the messenger line down the middle of 20-30' pex pipe?

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2 hours ago, silversailor said:

How did you get the messenger line down the middle of 20-30' pex pipe?

vacuum

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Attach thin lines to lower  end of halyards. Pull them through to free the congested area. Luckily the chain shall find more room to untangle itself.

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On 9/2/2018 at 9:44 PM, jgbrown said:

Joking aside, a regular borescope is useful more close up, pretty hard to see long distance with, and kinda useless in a mast unless your problem is at either end.

My cheap Amazon one has the camera on the end of a 5 meter cable, which is enough to explore a good chunk of the mast from a halyard exit or the masthead.  I haven't used it inside the mast, but have found it really helpful for other tasks.  At $40 it's hard to go wrong. 

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