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Spar Improvements








Upper shrouds


Lower shrouds









During my year-long refit in 1995 I made a number of improvements to the Bristol's mast, including an inner forestay and running backstays, painting, running new wiring inside pace conduit, new spreaders, sockets, and masthead. In 1988 I replaced the stays and shrouds with new wire one size larger. This time around I am mostly concerned with replacing the aging halyard winches, adding a third winch that will be used for the staysail halyard or the spinnaker halyard, and perhaps a fourth winch for the reefing clew lines--I haven't quite figured out the best approach to that yet.

Removing the Old Winches  

It took several weeks, a lot of PB Blaster, hammering and elbow grease to get the original Merriman winches off the mast. The machine screws were frozen and I thought at one point I would have to drill them out to get the bases off. But instead, I kept soaking each side in the solvent, and working with the biggest screwdriver Sears sells and a long adjustable wrench on the shank I began to turn them little by little. A couple of the heads broke off, which made it even easier.

I found a nice pair of used Barient 10's online and my plan is to mount them in place of the aging winches and GET RID of having two kinds of winch handles on board. I drilled and taped the new mounting holes for the winches. This time I gooped lots of Lanocote onto the threads to prevent galvanic corrosion. Notice the "29" stamped in the winch base. Here is the Barient 10 installed. The winch based is sprayed with two coats of Nyalic fluoropolymer. We will see if it lives up to its claim of being tougher than 2-part LP paint.

Adding a New Winch Base

After flipping and flopping back and forth on winches for the mast I finally decided to add a separate winch for the reefing lines (I had previously thought to use the main winch for that purpose--adding a rope clutch to the main halyard--but the lead wasn't fair to that winch). So the first order of business was to fabricate a winch base for the Lewmar 7 winch I decided to use. I found an empty Cool Whip container that seemed the right diameter and took off the profile of the mast onto the bottom sides of the container. I cut out the shape which roughly fit the curve of the mast, ladled in a heavily thickened mix of epoxy and let it set up. Then I slathered up the bottom with more thickened epoxy and glued it to the mast, filleting the edges cleanly. Finally I filled the hollow with more epoxy. I think the base will work very well for my new winch.

Repainting the Mast and Boom

Since I had prepared the boom for painting it seemed the logical thing to redo the mast as well. I had painted it with Interthane Plus in 1995, but at this point the paint was very chalky and had lost all its luster. So I removed all the hardware, including the old aluminum cleats, filled all the holes and sanded everything smooth.



Today I got the first coat of System Three WR-155 epoxy primer on the mast. I had earlier sprayed a zinc chromate primer on all areas where I had sanded down to bare metal and I used the sanded Interthane Plus as a primer base for the rest of the spars. This was my first experience spraying the water-reducible epoxy primer and after fiddling with the controls of my Wagner 2600 HVLP sprayer it went on very nicely. The WR-155 dries in two stages: first by evaporation of the water used to reduce it, and secondly by chemical reaction to the hardener. It takes about 3 weeks to achieve maximum hardness, but can be sanded once the water has completely evaporated. To test for that, wet your finger and rub against the paint--if any comes  off on your skin, it needs more curing time.

The next step is to provide a better wire route for the wires at the base of the mast. Previously, when I rewired the mast in 1995, I had brought each wire thru its own hole, making lots of holes in the base and not a very shipshape look. More importantly, the wires were not protected from the elements, nor from a careless step by a crew working at the mast. So this refit I want to bring all the wires out thru one hole, inside a hose to a deck fitting to enter the cabin top. The circumference of the wires is about 3/4" so I visited Home Depot to find a nylon fitting I could use. It accepted a 1-1/8" hose and required a 1" hole to be cut in the mast. I cut the hole with a 1" hole saw, which allowed enough "bite" to screw the fitting into the hole.  Next, I filled the threads with thickened epoxy, threaded it in, and built up a fillet around the threads on the inside to strengthen the fitting.

When the epoxy hardened, I routed the wires up thru it, and sealed the opening with GE Silicone sealant. I want the mast sealed against both rain and seawater so I not only seal every hole with silicone--which also prevents galvanic corrosion AND locks the threads in place--but seal the butt of the mast with a Styrofoam plug. It's easy to fashion with a sharp knife and easy to remove if you need to get at the wiring. The advantage of a sealed mast is two-fold. The stock mast for the B29 has an open masthead and allows water to drain down the mast. The water will eventually cause corrosion to the base of the mast, to the mast step and , finally leak past the wiring plug and drip thru the ceiling. If allowed to continue it will promote rot in the mast support structure. The cure is to seal the mast. A second advantage for offshore sailing is that a sealed mast is a large sealed air chamber whose added buoyancy can help right a capsized boat much quicker than a mast filling with water. As you can see in the two pictures above, the final plug is sealed with silicone sealant. To remove the plug, simply cut around the edge with a razor knife.

Rain bands from Katrina and Rita have kept me away from the spars, but this weekend I had clear skies and took up the work again. First, I wet sanded the System Three primer. A quick impression: this is epoxy, no doubt about it--whether it can be reduced with water or catsup, this stuff is hard, hard epoxy and takes a lot of sanding. The good news is the primer fills very well and sands extremely smooth. I went over the mast and boom with first 220 and the 400 grade wet or dry and the surface is very smooth and ready to be top coated. I also reassembled the masthead and ordered new blocks for the topping lift, spinnaker crane and staysail halyard from Garhauer Marine.

Applying System Three LPU

Finally an overcast, humid mild day in the low 80's. I figure there isn't a better opportunity to give the boom and spreaders a first coat of Orcas White. The results I will give you in advance of the details. It was very easy to use, very controllable and I am very pleased.

Mixing: I poured 10 oz of paint into the spray gun reservoir. S3 recommends starting with a dilution of 10 to 15 percent. I started with 20, adding 2 oz of clean water. I mixed with a mixer on my drill, and popped on the top. Earlier I had changed the spray needle from a #3 to a #2, which is a 1mm diameter needle.

Adjusting the gun: I use the standard gun that comes with the Wagner 2600. No magic here: I simply adjusted the spray pattern to a small pattern and adjusted the needle valve until I got a good amount of paint coming out, and began.

Spraying: I stuck to my rule of spraying very light coats. I learned quickly that spraying until the surface looks shiny is enough. Let it get shiny and then dry off--takes about 5 minutes--then spray again. This method built up a nice smooth satin surface with no runs. It was very easy to control.

Cleaning up: I washed everything in the sink. Then ran some clean water thru the gun to clean it. Then ran just air thru the gun to dry it completely. Remember to wash out your air filters if you are using the Wagner.

Conclusion: The paint is extremely easy to control; no chemistry set is needed for reducing, no VOC's at all, and clean up is a breeze. I will spray another coat on the unpainted side of the boom next weekend--you can recoat up to two weeks without sanding if you have not added the cross linker (which I will add to the next coat).

I applied the second coat of Orcas White this weekend. I had called System Three technical support to confirm that I was doing what I should. The technician was very helpful and said that I had the right needle valve and I was thinning correctly. Just keep doing what I have been doing--basically laying down very very thin coats. Again I mixed 10 ounces of paint with two ounces of water, added the left over thinned paint from coat #1, stirred it thoroughly and began spraying. I will do the first of two clear coats this coming weekend if the weather permits. I have also ordered an addition 25 feet of hose for the Wagner 2600. I will run that hose thru a cooler of ice water to cool the air coming out of the turbine and see if it makes a difference. So far my impressions are: this is not rocket science, and I made the right choice using the System Three paint instead of struggling with Awlgrip or a similar product.

Finishing the Finish on the Spars  

Today I applied the final coat of Orcas White to the spars, and after allowing it to dry, applied two coats of gloss clear coat. This was my first experience shooting the clear and it handled slightly differently than the pigmented paint. I found that I needed to thin it an addition 5% over what I thin the Orcas White. With the pigmented paint, you must apply it in very thin coats to prevent it from running. The clear wants to be applied in thicker coats so that it can flow. It dries faster than the pigmented paint and once I adjusted the gun properly, was very easy to work with. One trick I tried and one that worked well, is to cool the spray hose. I tied a double loop in the hose and left it in a cooler of water and a large block of ice. The cold water cooled the air from the turbine and kept the paint from drying so quickly. Here are the results: the spars are not perfect by any means, but look 100% better, very glossy, very classy. There are a few small runs on the mast above the spreaders. Other than those, I'm very happy with the results.The padeyes on the boom are glued on with epoxy and tapped and screwed as well.




Today I took some time to begin mounting hardware back on the mast. I started at the spreaders. As you can see in the photo I am reusing the Teflon gaskets I made under the stainless spreader sockets to prevent any galvanic reaction between the stainless and the aluminum mast. I ran a bead of silicone sealant around the mounting holes of the gasket and also the underside of the sockets. The spreader sockets were made for me 10 years ago by MetalMast Marine. Then do lovely and reasonably priced work. MetalMast even etched labels in the underside to indicate which was starboard (in the photo) and which port; as well as which end was the top (the spreaders angle up slightly). So after letting the silicone set up for a little while I mounted the sockets and tightened everything down. The sockets are mounted with two 1/2" diameter hex head bolts with nylock locking nuts. The lower bolt that holds the lower shroud tangs was left slightly loose for the time being. Once the mast is stepped and the lowers attached so the tangs have the correct positions I will haul myself up and tighten the bolt down.

Next I addressed the hound for the inner forestay. Notice in the photo of the assembly, I have made Teflon gaskets for all the metal that touches the painted mast. These and the silicone bedding will prevent any galvanic reaction and prevent the paint from lifting. This photo shows everything mounted, including a new Garhauer block for the staysail halyard. Garhauer's are nice because you can lock the swivel to keep the block from twisting as I did with this block. To keep the halyard block from banging against the mast (I hate having any racket from the rigging when the sails are slating), and keep the block from perhaps chipping the new paint, I ran a protective bead of silicone around the parameter of its cheek plate on the mast side. When the caulking dries it becomes a permanent rubber bumper.

Finally I mounted the three winches. Again, sealing the threads of the mounting bolts with silicone. Here is the new aluminum Lewmar 7 being mounted for the reefing winch. I used my Dremel tool to cut a shallow drain groove on the bottom to allow any water to drain out.

Here are the three winches mounted.


Mounting the Halyard Retainer

A halyard retainer is a small block that mounts to the leading edge of the mast and prevents the genoa halyard from wrapping around the roller furling extrusion. The retainer forces the halyard to come off the swivel at a greater angle. The halyard turns around a sheave in the retainer before traveling up to the masthead. I have not had a problem with my halyard wrapping, but adding the retainer will ensure that I don't. The retainer, from Harken, mounts with 9 10-24 machine screws. I tapped the screws into the mast, and since the masthead was still off, I decided to add nuts to the inside of the mast as well. I used a Teflon gasket between the stainless retainer and the mast, silicone sealant on the threads, and nylon washers under the nuts to stop any galvanic corrosion.

Adding a LED Masthead Light

The OGM LED masthead is pricey yes, but in my opinion more than worth the cost:

It's built like a Mack truck - anodized aluminum and glass, water proof and potted, when compared with the Aqua Signal it replaced (plastic, corroded after 10 years, big and bulky) the OGM wins hands down.

Lighter and less windage aloft.

Drastically less current draw - .5 amps per hour instead of 2 amps per hour, meaning 4 amps for a whole night at anchor instead of 16 amps. The reduced amperage will allow me to cut my house battery bank in half, which will save me more than the price of the light!

Longer-lasting - 100,000 hours as opposed to say 500 or so before the incandescent bulbs need replacing.



Whisker Poles

Today I fabricated two 10' whisker poles for the Bristol. They are simple: I ordered two 10-ft lengths of 1.5" fiberglass tubing, which have a wall thickness of 1/8" and an inside diameter of 1-1/4 inches. I plugged each end of each pole with 12" of wood closet rod which has an OD of 1-1/4" and drove them into thickened epoxy. Then I purchased lovely chrome bronze pole end fittings:

wisker-poles-1.jpg (841546 bytes)

I mounted the fittings on the pole ends and all I need to do is paint.

Wisker-poles-2.jpg (453734 bytes)


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