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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Second Coast, Ross-shire, overlooking Gruinard Bay.
    Posts
    7,465

    Default Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    Be gentle with me I'm thinking of below decks at a convenient height for working access.
    Is it possible, without weakening the mast, to cut out a small (maximum "fist" size) inspection hole in the side or front or rear and then have a stout cover-plate well-bolted on to the mast.
    My keel stepped mast contains halyards coax-cable and lighting cables. Something is in the wrong place and "tings" right next to my ear when I'm in my bunk. It is infuriating and sleep-depriving.

    Leaving aside the obvious such as non-corroding metals/electrolytic action, shape-conforming "plate" etc, would this foolishly/dangerously weaken the mast?

    Any ideas/suggestions of how to do it, assuming it would be safe/possible/practical? And if so,at what height between deck-head and cabin sole?


    Many thanks for advice, one way and/or the other.
    Kay Sarah Sarah
    57°51.42' N 5°29.44' W

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Brixham
    Posts
    973

    Default Re: Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    You don't say how big your mast is. A fist sized hole could be relatively big. What about a small hole and an endescope?
    If voting changed anything, they wouldn't let you do it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Emsworth Hants
    Posts
    12,685

    Default Re: Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    I wouldn't take the risk of cutting a hole even with a cover plate.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Me: Johannesburg South Africa Yacht: Richards Bay East Coast Africa
    Posts
    7,347

    Default Re: Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    Cutting a hole in the side of the mast on the center line would not reduce the for aft bending strength.

    I would cut it narrow in width longer in height such the you can get an open hand in.

    i would round the corners to reduce stress concentration.

    Size may be 130/150 high by may be 25/ 30 wide.

    Make the cover as wide as possible and height just a little higher than the hole.


    I have holes in the bottom of my mast to fit halyard pulleys so the internal halyard an exit at the bottom. I do remove these to access any wiring inside my mast.
    Last edited by Rogershaw; 19-11-19 at 09:08.
    Life is too short not to have a sea view
    Distantshaws tinyurl.com/yclt6l68

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    Posts
    1,375

    Default Re: Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by KellysEye View Post
    I wouldn't take the risk of cutting a hole even with a cover plate.
    I too wouldn't cut any hole in a mast that isn't necessary for it's function (holding the sails up securely). I'm also pretty sure that a cover plate won't return the strength to a mast that has had a hole cut in it either.

    Might I suggest that you try tensioning some of the 'tinging' wires to see if it changes or stops the noise. Failing that, at your next mast-down inspection install the electrical wires in trunking in the mast. This will change their dynamic completely.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    On the Celtic Fringe
    Posts
    14,518

    Default Re: Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    What do you intend to inspect and how would you fix any issues once spotted?
    Cynical Scottish very nearly retired engineer who sails a Gib'Sea 96.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    River Itchen, Southampton
    Posts
    7,343

    Default Re: Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilson View Post
    Be gentle with me I'm thinking of below decks at a convenient height for working access.
    Is it possible, without weakening the mast, to cut out a small (maximum "fist" size) inspection hole in the side or front or rear and then have a stout cover-plate well-bolted on to the mast.
    My keel stepped mast contains halyards coax-cable and lighting cables. Something is in the wrong place and "tings" right next to my ear when I'm in my bunk. It is infuriating and sleep-depriving.

    Leaving aside the obvious such as non-corroding metals/electrolytic action, shape-conforming "plate" etc, would this foolishly/dangerously weaken the mast?

    Any ideas/suggestions of how to do it, assuming it would be safe/possible/practical? And if so,at what height between deck-head and cabin sole?


    Many thanks for advice, one way and/or the other.
    The right shape and size hole probably won’t weaken it, but in the event of an insurance claim I’d expect them to want you to prove that. Or even refuse to pay.

    Why not get a yard to lift the mast by 4 ft for an hour? You can slacken rigging and take out all the pins and replace them yourself so save cost it shouldn’t be too expensive.

    You can then inspect from below, and have some closed cell foam sheets to hand to shove up in all the right places.

    *just thought - a yoga mat or one of those camping mats. Cheap and you can cut sheets or strips and size to push up and become your anti rattle.
    Last edited by Elessar; 19-11-19 at 09:25.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Second Coast, Ross-shire, overlooking Gruinard Bay.
    Posts
    7,465

    Default Re: Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    Thanks for prompt replies, even though they conflict (as expected )
    I had thought of an endoscope (and have one to hand), but if I find the culprit I would then have to de-rig, hoist out mast etc etc, which I'd rather avoid if possible (at lest for this winter)

    Holes in the bottom of the mast for pulleys sounds an encouraging thought and I hadn't thought of that situation.

    I've tried tensioning the wires, to no avail. They exit through "grommeted" holes in the foot of the mast.
    I'm beginning to think the wires may have been re-routed out of the trunking when re-wired - but that was six seasons ago and I've only noticed it since 2015.

    As to fixing the problem, if I could find it, I shall have to wait to see what it is. Re-routing the wires, if that is indeed the fault, would be easy and a big relief.

    I do accept that cutting holes in masts should be avoided if at all possible.
    I suppose I was hoping to be bombarded with encouraging comments e.g. "I've done that." "No problem, get your drill and saws out and have a go" etc etc.
    Hey ho!

    Kay Sarah Sarah
    57°51.42' N 5°29.44' W

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Solent
    Posts
    6,758

    Default Re: Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    It is not unusual to have cables or internal halyards slapping the mast inside and causing irritating noise. The solution is to withdraw the cable with a "messenger" attached to the end to pull it back and wrap it in a soft "gasket" at intervals of a foot or so. Foam rubber makes a good gasket and if you can bunch up several cables together it will help. Halyards are more difficult but usually not a problem if held away from the mast externally when not sailing. As others have said, you need to be more specific about the size of your mast but a fist sized hole would seem to be in danger of causing excessive weakness and I don't see how it would solve anything as the slapping will probably be way up the mast, not at the bottom. Difficult to generalise though. Many modern masts have an internal partition for cables in the front and all cables should be run down that not elsewhere. If its one of those a dummy cable with fat gaskets can be used to pull down the hole after all cables are in place stopping them from slapping. Plumbing insulation works well in some cases. I have just replaced all the standing rigging on a fisher ketch with 1972 masts. I found the internal sections on these still lined throughout with polystyrene foam. Lovely! Many modern masts don't have this luxury but if you have the mast on trestles its an easy job to bunch all the cables and wrap in a soft gasket of plumbing insulation. Not so easy with mast in place of course! There is no one solution for every case but cutting a big hole is not a good idea!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    tayvallich
    Posts
    3,027

    Default Re: Cutting inspection "hole" in mast - possible, or downright stupid?

    pour in those irritating polystyrene S shaped packaging things, at a hole higher up the mast eg halyard sheave, until pinging stops...

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