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Stuck mast step - Catalina 27


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Our sailing co-op was lowering the mast on one of our Catalina 27's today. The mast was stuck to the step. We decided to stop fucking about and use the mast to remove the step as we went. A 33' long mast makes a good lever. The mast step was held in place with some lag screws into the top of the deck. That's easy to fix, a few oversized holes, add thickened epoxy. 

HOWEVER the mast is safetly down - with the step still in place. Banging it on the wee bit of protruding lip did not help. I'm guessing 20 or 30 years of being in one place and a good corrosion bond has the step stuck inside the mast very firmly.

What are good next steps? I'm thinking propane torch to heat the mast a bit but not too, too much. 6061-T6 melting temp = 580-650 C.  Propane torch temp supposedly = 1100 - 1250 C. Rather not make a mast puddle but I have heated fasteners into masts and never. Maybe a heat gun is a safer option??

That and a bigger hammer.

 

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Check with Catalina parts for a new one. They are cast aluminum & will fracture when struck. More than likely it is corrosion welded to the spar from water sitting inside. With new one in hand, cut the old one away by drilling out the center & then carefully cutting out to just shy of the spar. Insert some sort of tool inside the mast & strike the pieces with a downward motion to separate them from mast wall. Worst instance is step has corroded the mast wall terminally - cut the spar back to good metal & install a riser of G-10 under the new step to make up the discard

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1 minute ago, longy said:

 Insert some sort of tool inside the mast & strike the pieces with a downward motion to separate them from mast wall.

Slide hammer.

image.png.39ba5532a0bcef7d34533b2ed4250a88.png

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3 hours ago, longy said:

Needs some sort of "J" hook at the top to do what I described. Otherwise the perfect tool, delivers are sharp, hard impulse.

Looks like the one pictured has threads. Drill a hole, tap some threads, screw hammer shaft in and go to work. 

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3 hours ago, deep c said:

Looks like the one pictured has threads. Drill a hole, tap some threads, screw hammer shaft in and go to work. 

Tapped oblong plate also works. The closer the force delivered to the mast wall the better.

 

HW

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You might try soaking the bottom end in a milder water alumabright solution.  I'm guessing they have a similar product up there.  I can't remember which acid it is but not uncommon. Let it do its thing for a while and convert some of the corrosion, then go at it.  Have had some luck doing this same on steal parts with Ospho.

 

Absolute worse case if it looks like material is going to get damaged can always cut a band off the height of step lip and put back in with a doubler under step to get back length.

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Aluminum conducts heat away so quickly (and a mast is a big heat sink) I doubt you can get that mast to melt with a propane torch even if you held it on there a day. Takes quite a lot of heat even from an oxy-actyl torch to weld aluminum. 

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Thanks we're going to try to slide hammer on Monday. I think it's the proper tool.

If it fractures that's life and we wait a week for a new mast step from Catalina Direct.

Yes, I'm sure it's corrosion locking it in place.  I wasn't familiar with alumabrite so I looked it up; hydrofluoric is nasty stuff. - "Contains Hydrofluoric and Sulfuric acid"

 

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The corrosion is a sort of foamy crunchy stuff that can be beaten into powder. 
If you spend a couple hours tappity tap tap taping it might loosen up and come right out 

constant pressure during that tapping might increase your odds of success. 
 

as you have a couple lag screws sticking out the bottom you have options for setting up a pulling system 

a couple puller ideas:

** you could use a good looking solid 4 x 4 . And another lag screw the same size as are hanging out of the step 
Drill a couple pilot holes and screw your spare lag screw in and out of those holes. That will “tap the holes” for the mast step lag screws 

use a pair of Vice grips and screw the lag screws into the 4x 4 as far as you can 

drive a couple wedges in place between the mast step and the 4x4 

try levering the 4x4 back and forth while you beat on the side of the mast

msybe  will come free 


Another system

Shove the lag screws up inside the mast and run a fat chunk of spectra line in one hole and back out the other 

tie the spectra around a 4x4 or a 2” square steel 

Tube and use that as your teeter totter prying system while you beat on the mast 

 

it I will come out within a week or two 

or on the first try 

 

 

 

 

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On 2/7/2021 at 1:53 PM, Zonker said:

Thanks we're going to try to slide hammer on Monday. I think it's the proper tool.

If it fractures that's life and we wait a week for a new mast step from Catalina Direct.

Yes, I'm sure it's corrosion locking it in place.  I wasn't familiar with alumabrite so I looked it up; hydrofluoric is nasty stuff. - "Contains Hydrofluoric and Sulfuric acid"

 

Don't take a bath in it... It's been a staple for commercial fishing boats forever.  A little bit goes a long way.

A simple IR gun is fine for heating.  Regularly use oxy acetylene rose bud on internal engine parts for a inspection.  

My guess is you have

 A. lot of corrosion,

 B. some fit defect a ding etc in mast 

 C. some super helpful person used something like 5200 or the like to keep the water out.

Depending on the space allowed probably would strap the mast secure to a tree etc then strap the base to car etc and a come along.  Apply heat and tapping.  

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Well right now the mast is on the boat. Slightly inconvenient to take it ashore but possible. I'm strongly favouring option "A" as the reason.

The step casting has a big hole you can look up into the mast. The tube is undeformed, no sign of excess 5200.

I'm sure it's just been sitting there for 20 years and it's stuck together. Been hitting it with PB Blaster but not sure how effective that is on aluminum. On rusty steel fasteners it sure works pretty good.

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3 hours ago, Zonker said:

2059045317_maststep.thumb.jpg.1960c35ccc3fa1887d18104183c11f05.jpg

It is free. 5 lb slide hammer did the job fairly well. Not too much corrosion on the tube either

Glad I could help. ;)

Now, do yourself a favour and scrap that collar style step.

Make up an internal cruciform style and never have that problem agian.

 

18c Mast step after.jpg

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Or drill some fucking drain holes from factory. Those assoles that built all that shit should be shamed. Plywood or if anything in the deck core under that mast base. Deck crushed and turnbuckles bottomed out. oh and..The first bunch as an"extra" you could get a tie down strap that attaches the stem fitting to the actual hull. A bunch yanked the foredeck off like a zipper.

Just notch the spar nsew and drill low holes in the casting that correspond.  

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Doesn't look bad to me so I'm guessing there are limber channels/holes in the step rather than the hardware. In your shoes, I'd clean it up, put it back together, get another 20-30 years out of it.

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3 hours ago, IStream said:

Doesn't look bad to me so I'm guessing there are limber channels/holes in the step rather than the hardware. In your shoes, I'd clean it up, put it back together, get another 20-30 years out of it.

This.  I'm now at the point where I look at some repairs and realize I will be dead before they need to be done again.  IOW someone else's problem.  Satisfying.

I would just smear some anti-seize on it and good to go.  Unless I was FOP or SJB.  Then I would have to do it the right way.

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22 minutes ago, SloopJonB said:

Have you no pride of workmanship?

Or is it simply that you actually go sailing?

Yank the mushy wood out, replace it with a coffee mug then untie. 

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8 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

Pragmatism triumphs over perfectionism once again.

That's how you can tell the professionals from the amateurs.

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On 2/11/2021 at 7:17 AM, IStream said:

That's how you can tell the professionals from the amateurs.

It's the amount of blue masking tape the pros use to prevent damage and fuckups making more work for themselves.

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A bit late to the party, but FWIW, I had that problem a couple of years ago.  The crane put enough upward pressure on the mast that the boats waterline was down about 4 - 6 inches. Then we beat on the base with a mallet until it popped free.  Appears that the limberhole had gotten plugged.  Luck may have played a part as well.  

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Love me some Catalina 27 Mk I.  That was my first 'real' sailboat.  They sail pretty sweet, surprisingly roomy.  

Only downside was some of the weird (cheap, convenient) choices in construction materials.  "We'll make the mast compression post base out of stacked plywood."  "We'll lighten the keel (original all-lead was too heavy) by using bricks and lava sand on the inside of the keel."  No bullshit, got the pics to prove it.  Been watching this operation with real fear that some field expedient and wholly unsound method of securely bonding the mast step to the mast would have been discovered, but I am immensely gratified to find it was probably only the normal level of boat building / yard miscreance. 

 

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4 hours ago, cje said:

Ok Lex.

Some folks may let you into the club with that well written emotional item. Good work.

 "SV Miscreancy" 

Thanks.  Not sure what club that is but if there is decent rum or bourbon, or at least the beer is cold, I'm in. 

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