Don’t Get Stuck!—Tools and Techniques for Cruisers

You’ve got to keep the boat reliable to enjoy this!
You’ve got to keep the boat reliable to enjoy this!

Anybody who has ever worked on an aluminum mast knows how hard it can be to disassemble fittings that have been in place for more than ten minutes. No—make that five minutes if they are made of dissimilar metals.

Now build yourself an entire boat in aluminum and imagine the scale of the problem. And it’s certainly true that aluminum has its own set of challenges, just like any other material, mostly to do with avoiding corrosion and achieving a good seal to pipes and tanks.

I got an insight into this early on in my sailing career, when I bought a yacht that had an Aries windvane fitted. Everybody told me just how wonderful it was, and I was really looking forward to using it on the first long passage home. The reality was somewhat less impressive than I’d been lead to believe, though, largely due to all of the bearing surfaces getting ‘sticky’ from salt build up and corrosion—it basically didn’t work.

So I took it off and set about rebuilding it. And then the fun started, as it was an early model that had several different metals employed in the construction, including such wonders as stainless helicoil inserts into aluminum castings, and it was seized absolutely solid. And I’m well aware that many people who look at aluminum boats think that it’s always like that, and it puts them off.

So when I came to rebuild the Aries—yes, I finally did get it apart, though I nearly quit on several occasions—I swore blind that there had to be a better way and I was going to find it!

Happily I’ve been greatly rewarded in searching for that Holy Grail, and now know that there are many simple ways to make life easier, and we now carry all the materials and products that we need to do so. Much of it is applicable to boats built in other materials, too.

Here, then, are some of the materials we carry and techniques to use them that:

  • make maintenance easier,
  • the boat more reliable,
  • are a boon for emergency use and repair on the move;

the result of much hard won experience!

Colin, European Correspondent here at AAC, is a deeply experienced offshore sailor who holds a Yachtmaster licence, and a gifted photographer and talented writer who has added a whole new dimension to Attainable Adventure Cruising. In addition, since Colin and Louise are from England and had their OVNI 435, Pèlerin built in France, they bring a European perspective to our site. You can read more about Colin and Louise and their business at their website.

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Matt

Colin, what are the storage requirements like for Duralac, Tef-Gel, etc.? And are there some of these things for which you’d keep a few small tubes around instead of just one? (Some of us have a hard time keeping any of this stuff usable once the tube’s been opened….)

Re. power tools. I can see a certain appeal to having compressed air on board, if you have the space for a compressor. Air tools are relatively cheap and are often safe to use in wet environments where no one in their right mind would bring an electrically-powered tool.

Colin Speedie

Hi Matt
TefGel, Duralac and Loctite seem to do just fine, although it helps to massage the Duralac tube to make sure that it’s well mixed before use. We have a small, dedicated, sealed locker for paints etc. where we keep all such products. What doesn’t keep well are sealants such as Sikaflex or 5200, so I make sure I buy fresh, in date tubes every year.
I’d love to have air tools, but don’t know how or where I’d put them, or the compressor! One of the good things with aluminium is that it’s almost as easy to work with as wood, and mostly uses the same tools, so emergency repairs with hand tools is straightforward in most of the sizes we’d use.
Best wishes
Colin

Erik de Jong

If you have dive bottles on board, you can make a fitting that fits the bottle regulator, connect that to a hose, put a pressure reducer in that line and use any air tool you want. The amount of energy in a bottle is crazy. In most places it is not difficult or expensive to get a bottle refilled.
I saw this used last year on a friends boat, and I’m going to get myself the proper hose for it so that I can do something similar.

Colin Speedie

Hi Erik
Missed this somehow, when you posted it.

What a great idea – if you’ve got the air tools, why not use them?
Excellent for any expedition boats, that almost always carry dive gear.
Thanks!
Colin

Ferdie Burger

Hi Erik
You can use the normal demand valves that goes onto SCUBA tanks. On the first stage there are various high pressure and low pressure take off ports. The low pressure ports work very well for pneumatic tools. You should be able to buy the hose and connectors from most SCUBA shops.

Regards
Ferdie

Dick Stevenson

Hi Colin,
A really nice addition to the AAC maintenance articles. I especially like that you mention product and product details as too often one is left scratching one’s head when you get to the say: Loctite display with its variety of products.
Some might think that your article is for boats that have been around for a bit, but doing as you suggest to brand new boats is not only easy and informative, but is one of the nicest things you can give yourself with respect to long term ease of maintenance.
My best, Dick Stevenson, Alchemy

Colin Speedie

Hi Dick
far too often we hear a generic name for a type of product without any further information – Loctite being the perfect case in point. And there’s nothing more frustrating than finding that the product in your hand won’t do the job you desperately need it to do – to seal diesel joints for example. As such, boning up on the items to carry is time well spent, and the cost of carrying all I’ve suggested should leave change from $100!
And as far as brand new boats go, I’d be inclined to go through as much as possible to check what’s been done, and if necessary treat it (with say TefGel) to aid easy disassembly at a later date. A stitch in time….
Spar builders are amongst the worst offenders, neglecting to insulate joints with Duralac or use the correct grade of Loctite on load sensitive screws, or use TefGel on screw attached fittings (think masthead lights etc). It saves them seconds and a few dimes and costs us a fortune down the line. I just don’t get it and it makes me mad!
Best wishes
Colin

Dick Stevenson

Hi Matt,
Duralac I have only found in bigger tubes that last a long time. After 6-8 years the last quarter of the tube gets a little drier and using it becomes more difficult to work. TufGel comes in smaller containers and does not seem to dry out. Neither appears to me to deteriorate or have any expiry dates/issues nor do they “separate”. I store all opened tubes of “stuff” in plastic containers (peanut butter jars, etc), partly for air intrusion, but also to contain the “stuff” when it leaks as one invariably does every now and again.
Dick Stevenson, Alchemy

Marc Dacey

Colin, this is an excellent primer and it gladdens me to know that I already follow many of these methods and use these products already. The Duralac is new to me: I have, for instance, merely been coating my steel parts with two-part epoxy and then using a nylon spacer, length or circle to “break” the connection between the aluminum part and the steel part, with Tef-Gel on the threads, of course. So is Duralac available in North America?

By the way, if the job isn’t involving diesel and nitrile isn’t needed, EPDM is also a durable rubber gasketing material in sheet form and is used in things like hatch gaskets.

Colin Speedie

Hi Marc
Hamilton Marine apparently stock Duralac in the USA.
I think the method you outline (epoxy, plastic etc.) to separate materials is fine. But where you want a neat joint between stainless and aluminium such as on a mast, Duralac is very good.
On our hatches we use a variety of mouldings and flat neoprene 1″ wide glued to the hatch lid – whichever is most appropriate. EPDM would equally be good, thanks for the suggestion.
Kind regards
Colin

Marc Dacey

Thanks for the tip. Apparently, the man listed below is the N.A. distributor for Duralac products, and he’s also listed as such on his LinkedIn profie.

ROY SADDINGTON
SADDINGTON CONSULTANTS PLUS
72 JACKSON COURT EAST
WELLAND
ONTARIO
L3C 7G4
CANADA

Tele: +905 735 6372
Fax: +416 850 6697
e-mail: ac.sumirp@pcsyor

Mike

Hi Colin,

I used to own a Via 36 aluminum center boarder and had most of the products you mention on board after dealing with my share of “prison work”.

One year, when I inspected my mast and boom I found that corrosion had done too much damage to some of the threads. Drilling larger holes and re-tapping was not an option because I could not up seize the machine screws. Also looking at the wall thickness of the mast and boom, there wasn’t really much “meat” to tap into. Looking for another solution, I came across flat head threaded aluminum rivets. I purchased a kit from Wuerth

https://eshop.wuerth.de/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/WFS/1401-B1-Site/en_US/-/EUR/ViewModelDetail-ShowRecommendedModel?CatalogCategoryID=wywKD92eIl0AAAFBiBd5ARtl&CampaignName=CS002&RecoId=box1@modelldetailpage

and used the rivets to reinstall the gear including the halyard clutches.

I kept a close eye on the installation for a couple of years but the clutches remained attached solid. Finally, out of curiosity, I removed a clutch and drilled the rivets out in order to inspect the mast. The mast looked good and I could not detect any damage. Over the years this kit came in handy many times when I needed to screw anything to the aluminum structure of the boat. Inaccessible areas where a nut and bolt could not be installed and too thin for tapping aluminum plating problems were overcome with this system. And if the stainless steel damages the thread, all one has to do is change the rivet.

Any comments from the engineering department at AAC with respect to the good and the bad of these rivets in the marine environment would be greatly appreciated.

Mike

Colin Speedie

Hi Mike
well you learn something new every day on this site, and your contribution is no exception. I wasn’t aware of these, but they seem like a really good idea. My only concern would be how much load could they could safely be trusted with.
But with sufficient numbers, why not? And if installed through dissimilar metals with TefGel they shouldn’t suffer at all, I’d have thought.
Thanks for a very useful contribution.
Kind regards
Colin

pat synge

It’s strange that Monel rivets are so compatible with aluminium. They seem to be inert despite being way up there on the galvanic table.

One thing that isn’t inert however is graphite ( I noticed the pencil in your photo, John).

My poor deprived children had to use coloured crayons when they grew up aboard. Little bits of broken pencil tip and powder from sharpening are bound to lodge in behind stringers and do their magic.

Duralac is good as is Tefgel but if you can’t find Duralac, Yellow Zinc Chromate primer paint is essentially the same in diluted form (and much cheaper!). Simply let a tin settle, pour off the liquid and use the semi solid stuff at the bottom of the can.

Epiglass used to make a zinc chromate rich, tourquise blue, grease that was amazing. After years underwater I unscrewed a stainless stern bearing grub screw that had been coated in it and the thread in the aluminium was as clean as the day I cut it. I’ve still got a little left in the tube. 30 years old!

Colin Speedie

Hi Pat
I always make sure a little Duralac or TefGel goes in, even with monel rivets, even though I’ve never had much of a problem with them anyway.
And I remember that blue grease – what ever happened to it? Might be something to do with toxicity in water – a lot of products have disappeared over that years for that very reason.
Best wishes

Colin

Bill Wakefield

Hi Colin,

Great article with excellent references [as always…] Thank you.

One area that may be slightly outside the scope of your article but impacts us all is sealing threaded ‘pipe’ connections. [Water, propane, gasoline, diesel, etc.] Since I learned about it from a machinist/diesel mechanic 30 some years ago, I have always carried and never been let down by Permatex® Form-A-Gasket® No. 2 Sealant [NON-Hardening; NOT the Hardening version…] I use it for any threaded pipe connections of all materials [even nylon and marelon on occasion…] and sizes for any liquids or gasses typically found on a boat. And I can attest that the joints disassemble readily years later, and never leak.

It is readily available here in the US from most automotive parts and hardware stores.

TDS and MDS available at:
http://www.permatex.com/products-2/product-categories/gasketing/gasket-sealants/permatex-form-a-gasket-no-2-sealant-detail

Of course it is also useful for its original purpose as a gasket compound for replacing or helping seal gaskets on engines, fuel tanks, etc. In my experience a tube will last for years [10 and counting on one…] if kept tightly capped.

Note that this is not a modern, silicone based super high-temp gasket compound… This is old style black goop similar to roofing mastic in appearance…

And like all goops if this ilk, your degree of meticulous application is inversely proportional to how much of it will mysteriously appear on everything imaginable when you are finished with the task at hand… (But it cleans up readily with isopropyl alcohol or waterless hand cleaner.)

Thank you again for your contribution to this great arsenal of reference materials.

Colin Speedie

Hi Bill

thanks for the heads up on the Permatex product, which I believe I’ve used some time before.
For any diesel fittings I go with Loctite 565 as it is totally resistant to diesel, where other products simply degrade over time. The only other product we carry is called Gastite, which is a thread sealant for (you’ve guessed it!) gas joints.
But there’s always room for more good products, and I prefer non-hardening sealants in many ways.
Thanks for the good reference and the kind words.
Best wishes
Colin

SteveA

Hi,
Nylon shoulder washers are great for mounting pumps etc that you need to isolate electrically, and can eliminate nylon spacer sheets & starboard in some lower load applications. Just drill the hole to fit the od of the sleeve and push it in. I use them for #8 machine screws up to 1/2″ bolts. They only cost about 5 to 20 cents each, depending on the bolt size. Match the shoulder size to the od of the stainless steel washer you use. Many different sleeve thickness and depths are available. No more messing around fitting pieces of hose for a fast clean installation. Available in the USA at Non-Ferrous Fasteners.

Colin Speedie

Hi Steve
good point and definitely worth carrying a few dozen. I’ll try to pick some up myself when we get to the USA, land of choice! After Africa and Brazil going to the USA will be like landing in Aladdins cave!
Best wishes
Colin

Max Shaw

Excellent and useful article. I would add JB Weld High Temp to the list for temporary engine repairs. We carry lots of spares on our family South Pacific adventure but you do not always have the right one !

Max

Colin Speedie

Hi Max
another good product. The Belzona we carry is supposed to be fine with high temps, so we’re covered for that, and it’s always good to have something for things like exhaust elbows of heat exchanger flanges that get affected by corrosion, or crack. Some of these products, correctly handled have got the potential to get you home when you haven’t got the right part.
Best wishes
Colin

RDE

Hi Colin
Great article and follow-ups.

One thing I would add to the epoxy kit is a bit of powdered silica — 6 oz of WEST 406 or equivalent. With it you can thicken epoxy to almost any consistency, and create a very tough gap filling casting or superior bond to irregular surfaces. Along with 50% of graphite powder you can even produce a poured-in-place temporary rudder bearing. I used teflon tape to create bearing clearance (which eventually wore away leaving a perfectly fitting low friction rudder bearing that lasted for several thousand miles.

Colin Speedie

Hi Richard
I used powdered silica in my (grim) repair of the holding tank to fill the raggedy holes left from corrosion and it did a great job of bonding to a rough (but very clean) substrate, having already put a couple of layers of cured epoxy/mat underneath to stop it sagging. Cured beautifully and made a perfect repair – wonder stuff, epoxy.
As you rightly point out, it’s absolutely amazing what you can do with epoxy and other modern materials in terms of emergency repairs, some of which are better than the materials they replaced….
Thanks for the contribution, and I’ll definitely add some of your suggestions to my locker.
When you’re on your own to there such things can come into their own – isn’t it great that we have them?
Best wishes
Colin

Bill Koppe

Hi Colin,
Thanks for the detailed suggestions.
There is an issue with Buna N as a gasket for diesel if there is any ethanol in the diesel.
Also I have found Stag paste to be an excellent thread sealant and note it is suitable for potable water as well as diesel.
Graphite should never be used with stainless steel.

Colin Speedie

Hi Bill
I hadn’t heard that about nitrile rubber, and it does lead you to wonder just what we are going to be able to use if ethanol/diesel hybrid fuels become more prevalent. It’s worth bearing in mind that this will also be a problem for older diesel engines that use nitrile rubber seals etc., juts as it has been in the car and motorcycle world. Progress, they call it!
Best wishes
Colin

Patrick Genovese

Excellent article.

Referring to the comment below in relation to riveting a SS/fitting to an aluminum mast.

> An alternative is to separate the two metals with a suitable plastic
> sheet cut to shape, although in my experience Duralac is far better
> in the long term. This alone will make a huge difference down the line.

Do you see Tef-Tel and Duralac as interchangeable ? I.e. would you just as well have used Tef-Gel. If not … When do you prefer Tef-Gel over Duralac or vice versa.

Regards
Patrick

pat synge

Both are excellent.
Tefgel is more expensive but perhaps slightly easier to use and certainly less obvious (Duralac is bright yellow).
I would probably use Tefgel on threads and Duralac on fittings.

John Harries

Hi Colin and Pat,

I have always used Tefgel for pretty much everything (along with plastic spacers) but after reading all of this we will definitely get some Duralac. Thanks

Colin Speedie

Hi Patrick, Pat & John
I think the two products have different purposes, although it’s true that they have some common benefits.
Duralac I’ve always used for fittings, especially on spars, as a means of isolating two dissimilar metals. TefGel I always use in screw threads and where fixtures are through bolted.
There’s an element of pragmatism about this – Duralac is relatively cheap, so you can put a decent coating on a large fitting, whereas TefGel is ferociously expensive.
Best wishes
Colin

Marc Daceu

I am going to have to follow up on my own info and see if I can’t order some of this miracle product. Colin, what amount and in what format would you consider appropriate for a steel 40 footer with a fair number of aluminum bits on deck? A tube, a pot or a bucket? Is Duralac thinned with common chemicals, like acetone or turps? Will it survive in a tin for years? I have a half-bottle of Ospho that looks 20 and still sloshes gratifyingly, but some paints barely last 18 months even in sealed tins.

Colin Speedie

Hi Marc
I’ve got a part used 115ml tube on board that I’ve had for at least seven years and the contents appear to be fine. I’ve seen it in a tin (larger size) and can’t see any reason why it should not last for ages if properly sealed.
A few points when you use it:
A little goes a long way
Like Sikaflex you’ll get it all over you
You shouldn’t as it’s nasty stuff – so wear gloves
Clean up excess before it dries and hardens
Best wishes
Colin

Marc Dacey

Thanks, Colin. Maybe I just need something like that: toothpaste-sized!

I hear you on the Sikaflex. There’s a Dow liquid gasket/sealant called 735 that I recall stayed on my hands for days.

Bill Attwood

Here my contribution:
Thin (approx 1 mm) macrolon sheet is excellent as an isolating underlay. Flexible, incredibly tough, easy to cut, and relatively cheap.
Duralac is also available in tins. I bought a small tin from a specialist supplier of parts for Lotus cars based in Holland at a quarter of the chandlery price. Ask me for contact details if you are Europe-based.
Regards
Bill

Colin Speedie

Hi Bill
makrolon is tough stuff, and would make a good insulation material, no doubt.
I may be missing something between the UK and USA with Duralac, as although it isn’t that cheap in the UK, neither is it extraordinarily expensive either.
And the Lotus – that would likely be for the 7 which has lots of aluminium panels mounted on steel stringers, at least the wreck of one that I owned in the early seventies did. Great car – when it ran. Or didn’t rain!
Best wishes
Colin

Marc Dacey

My son’s name is Lucas. I’m sure you get the reference!

Bill Attwood

Hi Colin.
Sounds as if you may have bought my Lotus Elan, which I sold in desperation late 60`s.
I updated myself on the relative prices, and the best Amazon UK price I could find was GBP 15 for a 125 ml tube. The shop I mentioned is actually not “Lotus” but “Elise-Shop.com”, even more specialised. Their price for a 250 ml tin is GBP 7.60, so they are still about a quarter of the price. The US prices may be different, but it would certainly benefit european cruisers to buy from the Dutch firm. German chandlers tend to charge inflated prices, to the extent that many of my sailing friends find it substantially cheaper for big-ticket items to buy in the UK and pay the shipping charges to Germany. Hard to understand, as many UK chandlers quote € prices, making it easy enough to do price comparisons.
I found your article interesting and useful, but it did cause me some concern that aluminium boats are so vulnerable to galvanic corrosion. John´s comments in past posts have tended to describe this fear of corrosion as being over-rated (apologies to John if he feels this is an unfair interpretation). A further observation is that your holding tank was built out of aluminium. Although I have a GRP boat, I have replaced all tanks (stainless) with PE, and all sea-cocks with TruDesign nylon – with the exception of the 2 Blakes for the heads. Of course, the holding tank was built in, and needed surgery to remove it, but the replacement can be easily removed. Do you have any view on why boat-builders don´t use these plastic-type materials as standard? It seems to me to be a no-brainer.
Yours aye,
Bill

Marc Dacey

I may have an idea here in that I had an HDPE holding tank of at least 6 mm thickness “fret” through inside a cabinet. Nasty, if easily repaired. HDPE is excellent but it must be mounted so that it is both secure and unable to touch a harder surface…wood isn’t going to cut it. So while I am switching to HDPE water tanks, I am going to be quite careful to mount them on non-perishable rubber strips over epoxy painted steel welded and bolted frames.

I have seen minimally secured tankage and battery boxes on new production boats from firms that should know better.

Colin Speedie

Hi Bill
don’t get away with the idea that I was suggesting that aluminium boats are too vulnerable to corrosion – that was not my intention, and if it came across like that then I should have chosen my words more carefully. I have found all worst of stainless screws etc in our boat over the yeas with no apparent ill effects. Bear in mind too that 99% of us are going around with aluminium masts with stainless fittings and they have a pretty good record of reliability.
What is important is that care is taken with assembly, particularly from day one, to reduce the risks. It will also save you so much time and effort in the long term when it comes to maintenance and disassembly.
Holding tanks are best made in high grade plastics by the likes of TekTanks in the UK, as long as they are securely and robustly mounted – see Marc’s excellent comment below. I can only assume that ours was made from aluminium because of cost – it’s the wrong material, really.
Best wishes
Colin

Bill Attwood

Hi Colin.
Thanks for reassurance that alu boats aren´t a corrosion risk. Not that I shall ever be able to afford a Boreal, but at least I shan´t have to strike it off my lottery win list.
Marc´s point about securing and padding PE tanks is well taken. I believe I have done all I can in this regard, but it has prompted me to take a second look.
Yours aye,
Bill

Bob Muir

When I bought my new halyard winch, the rigger recommended using Lanacote to keep the two metals apart. Any experience with this? It’s only been a year, so I can’t test the efficacy yet, but it’s a lot cheaper than Duralac.

John Harries

Hi Rob,

I definitely don’t recommend Lanacote. Stick with plastic sheet or Duralac, the difference in cost is maybe a dollar (for that job) to protect a mast that cost thousands and a winch that cost hundreds. Also, put the coat the machine screws with Tefgel or Duralac.

Bill Attwood

Hi Bob.
Lanacote is anhydrous Lanolin, which is probably even cheaper from the chemist or chemicals wholesaler. It is called wool- or sheep-fat, as it comes from the wool (mainly) of sheep, but is actually a wax. I use it for disimilar metals, but only where they are not permanently in contact, ie rigging screws, and as lubriation on my WindPilot. It is very resistant to water, and seems to shrug off being sprayed with fresh and seawater. I think Duralac is better for permanently fixed items like mast fittings because it dries to a varnish-like film, whereas Lanolin remains “greasy”. I have also tried it as anti-fouling on my propellor, but this only achieved moderate success.
I should certainly add it to any list of essential maintenance items on board.
Yours
Bill

Dick Stevenson

Hi Colin, John and everyone,
This is in the vein of a helpful hint, so feel free to move it to where it fits best.
It is spring launching time and I have the mast out for the first time in a while. Some of the machine screws (in an aluminum mast) were a little stiff to extract so I removed them all, cleaned things a bit and returned them with Tef-Gel. Tef-gel is very like 5200 as it leaves the jar, maybe even a bit stiffer. My hint is to use a mascara brush to get the Tef-Gel where you want it. Nothing else I have used even comes close. The brushes get the TG into the threads and grooves and I get far less where I do not want it. The brush is small enough for even small holes, has a little dog-leg at the end which is handy and mine has lasted 3 years now doing many dozens of applications.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Ps. As an aside: Duralac coated screws were stiff to remove after 10-12 years in the mast while the screws with Never-Seize (15+ years in place) backed out easily. None needed more than muscle power and no corrosion was noted.

John Harries

Hi Dick,

Interesting on the brush, but I’m a bit confused in that the tubes of Tef-Gel that I have all come with little brushes attached. Did yours not come that way or perhaps the mascara brush is just better?

Good to hear that both Duralac and Never-Seize worked well. We have had the same good experience with Tef-Gel over similar periods, so I think it comes down to whether or not one is concerned with the screws backing out, and if the answer is yes, Duralac is the the best option.

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
My Tuf-Gel came in a jar with no brush. A tube with a brush makes sense. Is Duralac best for keeping screws in place as it dries out and hardens? Never-seize is a bit thinner than the others, but all are thick enough to, I would suppose, keep screws in place. The mascara brush is good for other applications where you want control over where gunk gets to. Dick

Marc Dacey

I use Lanacote on turnbuckles…sometimes I dream of the rather barnyard smell, however, and am trying to source Duralac locally: one man in Burlington, Ontario, about 50 miles away seems to have it. I’ve never seen it for sale in chandleries here, which is admittedly odd. I use Never-Seize and Tef-gel and Loc-Tite and other strengths of binder or anti-seize; they all let loose with enough heat. Another lubricant I like a great deal, although it’s not particularly anti-corrosive, is Lubriplate 130-AA. My tools are doing better than they have in the past with a thin sheen of this on their shiny bits.

robert

Hi Colin and everyone, I would like to install a winch and rope clutch on my mast. What type of thread should i tap into the mast? There is a 5mm thick circular aluminium plate welded onto the mast which i suspect is the backing plate for the winch. Iguess the rope clutch goes directly on the mast. Thanks.

John Harries

Hi Robert,

You should use stainless machine screws and tap the hole to suit. Definitely do not use that invention of the Devil, self tapping screws.

Make sure you use a good quality tap (not a cheap home hardware type) and buy the appropriate drill (bit). Note that inch tap drills are, for almost all sizes, either letter or number drills and will probably not be available at your local hardware store. If you are in the USA or Canada, here is a good source for both tap and drill: https://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-taps/=179h975

You should also use cutting oil while tapping.

robert

Thank you John. Any advise on type of thread? BTW, is there anything on your thead by you on the use of whisker pole? I have converted my big Genoa sail to a cutter rig (as the boat was originally designed) and would likek to know how to use a whisker pole with a Yankee. It appears that the pole has to be very high, at clew height…

John Harries

Hi Robert,

A standard course thread is fine. And yes, we have chapters on polling out the jib. See our Sail Handling Made Easy Online Book.

By the way, don’t forget the search box at the top of the page when you are looking for this kind of thing. We use Google’s search engine, but just focused on this site, and it works really well. I use it all the time since with nearly 1000 posts I can’t always remember what is where.

Rob

Hi John, noted on the course thread. I was going to use unf thread. Search engine. I did try searching for whisker pole but it did not come up with the chapter on polling out the jib. Still getting used to the website..

Rob

Hi John, would you recommend a carbon pole or a traditional aluminium one? With short handed sailing, i much prefer a lighter pole but not sure if it is a wise choice with my limited experience on poles. Thanks,

John Harries

Hi Rob,

I would 100% agree with Dick. We converted to a carbon pole 12 years ago and I would never go back. Not only is the lighter pole easier to use, it’s one heck of a lot safer since since we can now move it around with one hand and so keep the other to hold on with.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Rob, I have 12+ years with my carbon pole and feel like it is one of the handful of things I have done over the years which has made sailing much safer. My pole is 20 feet long and 14 pounds without its light weight end fittings. I use the pole far more than I did before and wing and wing sailing is a joy. It is so light, that it stays up even when the jib is gybed ready to receive the jib when the winds shifts around again.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Rob

Thank you Dick for the affirmation on carbon poles. May I ask how is your pole rigged with regards to moving the pole from one side to the other on a gybe when the wind shifts. I am thinking of the type of car and pole end fittings I should get to facilitate this. Then again there is a forward and aft guy that needs changing sides as well… I have a cutter rig. Best regards, Rob SV Sunrise

Dick Stevenson

Hi Rob,
Mine is a cutter as well.
Gybing the pole takes a few minutes but is far safer and much less drama and angst with CF rather than alum. That said, it is mostly shipped and then re-set. My halyard, fore and after guys are marked for their settings which makes things faster and easier. The older I get: the less I need to think, the better. Single-handed it is light enough so I can keep the pole out of trouble when I am at the mast raising the butt end by handling the fore and after guys which are now in my hand. Then, dip it under the staysail and re-rig on the other side. If it swings into the furled jib or furled staysail while this is in process, the light weight means no problem. Mostly it goes smoothly.
No fancy equipment, just conventional fittings. Gybing the pole is not so much work as time. Racers would go crazy, but for cruisers…
Since we are on the subject, I am not a fan of extendable poles, line, button or otherwise.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Marc Dacey

Dick, wise comments as per usual. May I ask on what type of ring you raise your CF pole at the mast? And does this allow vertical stowage or do you pin the pole to the foredeck?

Rob

Hi Dick, thank you for your useful pointers. Best regards, Robert

Dick Stevenson

Hi Marc,
No ring. My pole set-up is fairly common I believe: the inboard end goes into a stud on a car on the track on the face of the mast. It stores on the mast with an endless loop moving the car up & down. This allows full rotation, but I have never needed it to my knowledge. A ring connection would likely not allow the kind of movement needed without jamming.
The outboard end is a jaws end fitting with high modulus line for attaching the fore and after guys and the topping lift. There is a fitting on the face of the mast (could also be on deck) for attaching the outboard end of the pole when stored.
I use my spinnaker halyard for a topping lift as it emerges from the mast into a fully articulating block hung outboard and forward. I have learned the hard way that (on my mast) halyards that emerge from the mast without this block (like my spare jib halyard) can chafe pretty quickly when the seas are an awful mess.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Marc Dacey

Good tips there, Dick. I would have to modify my current mast to accept mast top blocks for that purpose, but my previous boat had a sort of Y-shaped extrusion sporting two Ronstan blocks and about 85 feet of 7/16″ line served all sorts of purposes, mainly to hoist the cruising chute. Thanks.

Rob

Hi Dick, I have been thinking hard on your post and try to understand this bit : “The outboard end is a jaws end fitting with high modulus line for attaching the fore and after guys and the topping lift.”. If the jaw end is used for the fore and aft guys and the topping lift, where does the jib sheet go? I thought the jib sheet usually goes through the jaw? Unless you have 2 jaws on the outboard end piece. Also the topping lift. If it goes all the way to the top of the mast, do you have to remove and reconnect to the pole when the pole changes sides as the staysail is in the way?

Best regards,
Rob

Dick Stevenson

Hi Rob,
Sorry you had to think hard. The HM line goes through the end fitting (just abaft the jaws) and makes loops on top (for the topping lift) and on the bottom(for the guys). The jaws are exclusively for the jib sheet.
And yes, I disconnect the topping lift and need to bring it around the forestay and reconnect. Gybing is not hard, but it does take time on the foredeck. I am not racing and usually the boat is stable so this is not a big deal.
I have an exit box lower on the mast (empty) that would allow me to gybe the pole without undoing the TL, but have never bothered as I just do not want another halyard that needs care and silencing at anchor. I have also found chafe in really ugl seas where lines come out of the exit box and take right angles to the mast. Ruined a spare jib halyard that way that I used to use for a TL
Dick

Rob

Hi Dick, Thank you for taking your time to response. Now it all makes sense. I didnt know what a HM line is initially. Sorry about that.
Best regards,
Robert

Antony Smyth

Hi, how can I get the result of applying both Loctite and Ref-Gel at the same time?

I am near finished a mast repaint and refurbish, including putting two pairs of steps at the top for working from. Following a very capable rigging firm’s advice the fasteners will be screws, but as its stainless into aluminium I would TefGel them. However, given the life critical nature of their role I would also blue Loctite them. Can I do both?

Any views most welcome please

John Harries

Hi Antony,

My experience is pretty much the same as Dick’s, so nothing more to add. I would just use TefGel

Neil McCubbin

Our ten year old mast steps are secuiwith 1/4” SS UNS machine screws, bedded in Tefgel
No problems
That said, I use a safety line with a Prussik knot when working up the mast

Dick Stevenson

Hi Antony,
Good and interesting question.
Just to appease my always suspicious mind: I would hope that the riggers are suggesting machine screws and not self-tapping. If self-tapping, I would look for another rigger, sorry to say.
I have never had a properly tapped machine screw in my mast or boom (stainless steel to aluminum) ever come loose or even give any signs of coming loose when aluminum and screw threads have TefGel worked into them (or Duralac or NeverSeize for that matter).
I do not believe Loctite is necessary.
My best, Dick Stevenson

Bill Attwood

Hi Antony
Have you thought of monel pop rivets, treated with Duralac before inserting? Tefgel would be as good as Duralac. If the mast steps are stainless, as mine are, then an isolating layer where the step would touch the mast wall is also necessary. I use a thin washer cut out of Macrolon.
Regards
Bill

Dick Stevenson

Hi Bill,
That is good advice to use an isolating layer.
Are there any advantages to rivets over machine screws? I suspect they are initially easier/faster to install (and fit flush), but the advantage of being able to remove over time seems to give machine screws a big edge. I have also felt, over the years, that the better built/designed masts/booms were done with machine screws over rivets. I am also aware that damaged equipment (broken horn on a cleat) is far easier to swap out with machine screws.
Are there other considerations that I am unaware of?
Thanks, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Dick Stevenson

Hi John, Just an FYI as I know you have been working on the site recently. I have started, once again, to receive copies of my own posts in my personal email inbox rather than just other people’s posts. Dick

John Harries

Hi Dick,

Hum, I don’t think that’s related, but rather a bug in the latest release of the comment mailing program. I will need to get on to the developer, so it may take a while to fix.

Is anyone else having the same issue?

Dick Stevenson

Hi John, It is certainly not a problem for me, just a quick poke at the delete button, but I thought you might wish to know. It may have to do with the “all” button I now push when first posting.
BTW, I appreciate being able to edit. Dick

Bill Attwood

Hi Dick,
I think you hit it – convenience in installation. Two other minor considerations: rivets are very easy to drill out, I replaced about half of those on my mast steps when I bought the boat; my purely subjective opinion is that rivets are more secure than machine screws when mounting fittings to mast or boom. There is also a third alternative, rivet nuts, which allow the use of machine screws. They come in stainless or aluminium, so corrosion remains an issue.
Regards,
Bill

Terence Thatcher

A question for Colin. I am installing some new winches on my aluminum mast winch pads. After reading this, I will get some Duralac Green. Available from Fisheries Supply in Seattle. They say to install the coated parts while the stuff is still tacky, to create a closed joint. But I want to be able to remove the winches; I don’t want to glue the winch to the mast. Do you assemble parts while Duralac is tacky or do you let it dry? And do I need to put it on both the mast and the winch or just one surface? Thanks.

John Harries

Hi Terence,

Colin will probably not see your question. See (#3) https://www.morganscloud.com/2013/11/10/aac-comment-guide-lines/

I would recommend using tefgel, not Duralac. Tefgel never sets up. I have winches and other fittings that I have easily removed from my boom after 20 years because they were isolated with Tefgel.

John Harries

Hi Terence,

Added to the above, I would place a mylar gasket between the winch base and the mast, in addition to the Tefgel.