Saturday, November 2, 2013

Mast, step, partner, gaff

I bought SPF (spruce/pine/fir) 16-foot studs for their easy availability and low weight, which is a higher priority than high strength and stiffness, since the mast is stayed.  Low cost is a nice extra.  I chose two that were as straight and knot-free as possible.  Taking them home was a bit of an adventure, involving foam rubber, duct tape, cinch straps, staples and a red rag, but all went well.  Next I glued them together with epoxy.

Next in line was cutting and laminating the bowsprit as described in the previous post (first photo).  I test-fitted the slot over the bow extension.  Then I cut and laminated the bowsprit brace out of a piece of 2x4 and ¼-inch plywood.  There is a 1½ x 2¼ inch rectangular hole on its bottom center, and the bottom is curved to fit the foredeck.  A 1¾ x ¾ inch piece was removed from the rear top of the bowsprit to fit the hole.
I also cut and laminated the parts of the mast partner, which may be sturdier than it needs to be but I wanted plenty of strength for bolting to the bulkhead.  The mast step was laminated from a layer of cedar board and two of 3/8 inch plywood (second photo).

Then I set up the table saw outdoors (I needed 34 feet of space for the job, plus who wants to clean sawdust indoors), with my sturdy sawhorses doctored to have supports level with the table saw.  With a friend’s help I trimmed two sides to achieve a 3-inch-square cross-section, then cut off the four corners into an octagon.  All standard procedure I have used before.

The following weekend I hand-planed, tapered and sanded the mast into a smooth cylinder.  As before, I was not intent on perfect roundness or smoothness: this is a home-made mast and a slight hand-hewn look is fine by me.  Here is the new mast along with the old cracked one (third photo).  Exaggerated perspective notwithstanding, you can see how much sturdier the new one is.

The next step was to saw away a 3/8 inch layer from each side of the tip of the gaff (former mainmast) and cut oak pieces that will be glued there to make the jaws just over 3 inches apart.  The four layers of the jaws proper were cut out of 3/8 inch plywood.  The gaff tip was then rounded so it can pivot around the mast with ease.  The various parts are shown in the last photo.

Next steps, hopefully to be completed before the real cold sets in, will be:

  1. Laminate the jaw layers in pairs and screw and glue the entire jaw assembly to the gaff.  The holes for the parrel line will be drilled after careful fitting.
  2. Try out the mast in its step and partner.
  3. Bolt and glue step, partner and bowsprit brace.
  4. Glue and screw oak pad eyes near the mast top.
  5. Finish all with epoxy and varnish.

Then it will be time for the standing rigging, making the sails and fitting the running rigging hardware and lines, if all goes well in plenty of time before the spring.

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