The first task on this glorious April Saturday morning, apart from the varnishing, was to drive to the local hardware shop and try to buy some long cable ties. They had some that were suitable and I returned for my breakfast with 200 x 14" ties. I need the length to be 15" but this was the longest they had and I can joint two together easily enough.
After breakfast the task was to construct the plugs. The timber was made octagonal and then fed into the mast to check the fit. Once that was satisfactory the timber was cut into two 2' lengths and the appropriate ends tapered.
The two tapered plugs. Note that I have marked on face with the number 1. This is so that I know which way upt the plugs go as they are not symmetrical and fit better one way than another.
Offering the bottom plug up to the mast.
Slides in nicely. I didn't put it in all the way for obvious reasons.
The strakes were numbered, the 1 on the plugs matching the 1 on the strakes.
Time for a tea break.
The next part of the mast construction needs to be timed correctly. Three sides of each strake and all of the plugs get covered in neat epoxy and left to start curing. After a couple of hours or so the notches in the strakes get epoxy thickened with silica applied all in one go and the strakes are then assembled starting with no. 5, the bottom one. Once five of the strakes are in place, nos. 3-7, forming a U-shape the plugs are covered in the thickened epoxy put into the correct place. The remaining strakes are added to completed the mast. The mast is then clamped up with ten or so cable ties and is checked for straightness making any adjustments as required. Lots more cable ties are added to ensure that the mast is evenly clamped. Finally the straightness is checked. If the epoxy is still workable at this point then the mast can still be straightened if required although this might need the use of a wooden mallet.
All sounds reasonable until I tell you that the entire process from starting to mix up the thickened epoxy to finishing the clamping has to be carried out in 30-35 minutes. Longer than this and the epoxy will not be workable any more.
I can safely say that I would not be able to do all this by myself, so I have asked my beautiful assistant to give me a hand when the time comes to carry out the final assembly.
While I am waiting for the correct time for the first part of the process I have a few small tasks to be done.
I have added bungees to the cockpit cover. this side uses double loops...
...and this side uses single loops. By the end of the season I'll know which are the best to use.
The result is a tightly fitting (almost) cover that should keep the rain out of the cockpit.
The mast assembly went well. No photos taken during the event, there was not enough time to do that.
One very sticky mast.
The plug is set in by 5" as the mast is too long and will need 6" cutting off, 5" from this end and 1" from the other.
By the time we got to clamping the area around the second plug, the cable ties were not up to the job as the epoxy was thickening as it cured. So we resorted to some G-cramps but only tightened just enough to make the epoxy squeeze out of the joins.
At the thinner end we could use jubilee clips and they were certainly up to the task.
Tomorrow we will see if the job has been done correctly.