The hole through the foot of the mast was too tight for the stainless steel rod, so I ground the end of the rod as a quick and dirty reamer to make the hole the right size.
This worked well. However, on assembling the system in the boat a problem became apparent: when in the boat the rod wouldn’t go through as it wasn’t aligned perfectly. Boats are never straight and the mast wasn’t at right angles to my new mast step.
I solved this with three approaches:
Adjust the alignment of the metalwork with washers under one side;
Barrel the centre of the rod so the mast could move from side to side without jamming;
Put a big handle on the rod to help in applying force to get the rod in or out.
A big block cut from a fench post – possibly Larch. This provides somewhere for the screws to go and takes the vertical force into the old plywood hog (which I cut a section out of).
A top plate that is split into front and rear halves. Since the tabernacle is glued in, it isn’t possible to get the top plate in in one piece. The top plate transfers the side-to-side force into the new ribs.
A couple of fiddly little bits to block up the remaining hole in the front buoyancy tank.
The Wanderer dinghy – mine at least – has marine plywood cunningly concealed at the lowest point of the boat. The plywood runs from the front buoyancy tank, under the mast step, and to the centreboard case. Sitting at the lowest point of the boat, the wood is often sitting in water. My boat is now 40 years old and poking around in the front buoyancy the wood appeared a bit softer than I’d like. Well – the wood at the top could be pulled apart with my fingers.
In addition, my boat has a free-standing mast without shrouds. This is both a good and bad thing. The shrouds help to keep the mast upright, but they mostly try to pull the mast through the bottom of the boat. The wood is obviously designed to resist this downwards pull. However, the free-standing mast has huge sideways forces at the foot and if that foot isn’t really attached to anything strong then this would be a disaster – both for the boat and anyone sitting near the mast.
I got a bit of a shock when I tried to renew the insurance for Custard – my junk rigged Wanderer. Insurance was refused. The boat isn’t worth much but third-party insurance is essential for my sailing club and many other places. The reason is simple – insurance is calculated by computers and something that isn’t in the computer is unknown.
We’ve just returned from a holiday on the Norfolk Broads with the boat. Had a really lovely time – highly recommended if you are into sailing and / or boats. Having the boat moored at the bottom of the garden on a river, with a pub 1/2 mile down the river plus channels and lakes to explore, is a lovely way to holiday.
There is a stress concentration in the topmast tube where it leaves the main mast tube. This wouldn’t matter, except:
The topmast is thin aluminium so isn’t particularly robust;
There are scratches in the aluminium at the critical point from when I made the mast;
The topmast is already a bit over stressed in this design so as to reduce the weight at the top of the mast.
To stop the topmast buckling I’m making a wooden plug for the critical section from my last piece of decent Douglas Fir. The plug is in two halves glued together which allows the middle to be hollowed out. To allow initial working I screwed the two halves together.
After considering my options I made this on my metalwork lathe. This made it easy to get the outside to the right size along the whole length. I used metal-cutting tools – not elegant but gets the top done.
Next stage was hollowing out the middle. For reasons of speed I used my milling machine.
Then finished off with a powerfile / mini belt sander.
The mini-belt-sander is a very useful tool – I wish I had bought one years ago. Mine is Silverline – one of the cheapest – as it was light and compact for getting into awkward corners inside the boat. It has been excellent – highly recommended.
I’ve glued the two halves together inside a spare tube so it all lines up. I used Tightbond (waterproof PVA-type glue) as this should be fine in the conditions, is nice to work with and won’t stick to the spare tube (I hope!).
Once the glue has dried I’ll cut the square end off, neaten up the insides as far as possible and then put some wood preserver on it. It can then be inserted into the topmast.
Hopefully Custard will then be good for high-speed full-sail surfing!