Testing a wooden mast

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phil58490
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Location: Kellow, Looe, Cornwall

Testing a wooden mast

Post by phil58490 » Fri Sep 26, 2014 8:39 pm

I have a fifty year old Solo wooden mast which has been hanging in various dry garages unused for thirty to forty years but looks to be sound. Before I spend any time and effort rigging it is there a reasonable way of testing it to see if it is strong enough to use albeit only gentle use anyway?
Just across the Tamar in South East Cornwall

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JimC
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Re: Testing a wooden mast

Post by JimC » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:37 pm

Most likely problem is glue failure and the two halves splitting apart. Might even go as far as to say almost inevitable. I guess the way to test any mast is to bend it, but am not sure how you know what a reasonable simulation of working load is.

Michael Brigg
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Re: Testing a wooden mast

Post by Michael Brigg » Sat Sep 27, 2014 8:32 am

JimC wrote:Most likely problem is glue failure and the two halves splitting apart. Might even go as far as to say almost inevitable. I guess the way to test any mast is to bend it, but am not sure how you know what a reasonable simulation of working load is.
Wooden masts being really the same construction as Racing Oars, I would say the simple answer would be to put the mast between two stools and gently sit on it until it has bent to a point consistent with what you see in your mast when you sail it.

This would be perhaps with a depth of arc to @6inches.

If the glue fails you may hear a loud crack, but no harm in that, it is simply the glue letting go. The wood itself should not be harmed, and all you have to do then is finish splitting it apart and re glue it.

If the glue has already failed then the mast might pinch you on the bum as you stand up! :oops:

In practice I don't expect you'll have a problem s the mast must be warm and damp for Glue failure as the older Casein based "epoxy" glues were based on Milk protein and subject to bacterial digestion.. (In warm damp conditions) A cold dry garage for 40years does very little harm.

The Reynolds Topmasts I have used have mainly suffered through winter storage in the rain. All Reynolds masts on fireflies are now @ 50+ years old and those I have seen still in action, the Wooden tops ( Made by the Oar maker, Collar's of Oxford) are holding together well, rather better in fact than the aluminium bottoms. (Take a look at Laser tourist's most recent post.)
Michael Brigg

chris
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Re: Testing a wooden mast

Post by chris » Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:17 pm

Try tapping a bluntish kitchen knife in the glue seam. To be confident I would definitely open it up and reglue, I have done several and it is unnerving how easily they come apart. Though if you are satisified it is 100% sound then fair enough. One that I didn't reglue broke!!! Not due to fore/aft bend but side ways bend which tends to work the two halves against each other. We saw the bottom few inches open up and before we could stop... the bottom 18" shattered.

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