Installing the 32 folding mast steps
The fateful day came Saturday to install the mast steps. Debbie had suggested we ask our nephew Peter to come by and work for us for the day. This turned out to be a real good idea.
The mast step in the boat - not yet cleaned
We are off to see the mast
Our goal was to have fun and we did
We met up with Peter at Driscoll's Boat Works and Debbie and I started the mast step (MS) planning. We had spent some time before deciding were to start. My fear was doing one whole side then flipping over the mast and finding we did them all off or wrong in some way (or some bad thing like that). I guess I put too much power into the mast steps. My mind was looking at all these steps that would need to come off and all the holes in the mast.
It had rained and was threatening to some more but we got lucky
Debbie had gone to Home Depot and bought some floor board molding, the rubber stuff found in a lot of bathrooms. She cut out one step and then measured the correct distance and cut a hole out for the next steep. Once we placed the first step on the mast and got it screwed in the rest followed quickly following the jig as Peter would say.
The first mast step is sitting in place in the jig.
You can see the spot for the next one.
That did not happen. Not as far as we can tell at this time. We have not actually climbed the steps yet but they good.
We decided to have them 15” from the flip out step to the next flip out step. That would make each step 15” in height, not 15” from the bottom of each step but from the step itself. This made the jig 30" from step to step because there would be one on the other side of the mast at 15".
We borrowed a Dewalt drill - the battery lasted for the whole project and it was a dream to use.
A dab of WD 40 and drill then about half way through drilling the hole another dab of WD40. This worked good.
A dab of WD 40 and tap
We did not need to go back and forth with the tap. The aluminum is soft enough to just screw the tap through.
I tried to put a mast step in place and then drill the holes for the screws. I did this on the first one. Then tap the top hole and place the step part into the body of the mast step and tap the rest. This would hold the step into position. This did not work as the step part was in the way of the tap. So I tapped the holes and then screwed in three screws and found the fourth was off. They need to be spot on. So we put the screw in a bit side ways and the step did not close completely.
OK first one in and still stressing because of the cockeyed screw.
It is the screw you can not see.
We purchased three different screw lengths. We did this because the steps have different thicknesses where the screws go through the step. We do not want the screws to stick into the mast too far. Debbie organized the screws into separate Snapwhere bins to keep them separated. (We purchased them from Wade at United Fasteners - he was a huge help in getting the correct size and length.)
Now for the second one!
The next step we tried the center punch we purchased. It worked better
Wacking the center punch.
Checking the holes for accuracy.
We placed the jig over the first step and then we would hold the step we just tapped the holes for over the holes and center punch the next one in the jig holding that step in place. One of us would then tap the holes.
Then we put the step in the MS and screwed in the four screws first coating them with LanOcoat.. This worked out fine. We used the same step that we were going to put into that spot because we were told they are not all exactly the same. This turned out to be true but was not an issue because of this method.
Now that we had a method of installing the steps we started sort of a production line. We first had Peter doing the LanOcoating of the screws. Then as we built up trust with him he did the tapping. Finally he ended up doing the drilling. The drilling needed to be perfect. Peter did great. In fact he did better than I did . I screwed up two steps with a screw being off. He did only one. They are not screwed to the point they need to come out. They have one screw that is cockeyed and it prevents the step from closing exactly all the way. This can be fixed if we decide it is an issue. Only three steps out of thirty two steps are like this.
When we got to the spreaders on the first side we had to decide where to get the best step. There is radar just over the spreaders and so now what. We decided to put two steps side by side then use the spreaders (where they screw into the mast) as a step and then the next step would fit in between the radar mount. Off we went again to the top of the mast.
You can see where the spreaders bolt on, where the white tape is.
At the top of the mast it was decision time again.
It was time for Peter to head on out. THANK YOU!