Mast Lowering: from Legos to Stainless Steel

Raise and Lower Your Mast Faster and with Less Hassle

In an earlier post, I put up a little video of a system to raise and lower a mast with relatively little hassle. Since then I've had the system fabricated and tested it – and it's a thing of beauty and a joy to behold! I still have a little tweaking to do, but the system works well. I intended to put up a video of the new system in use, but I've run out of weather, so I'll just put up pictures of the pieces as food for thought for anyone following along.

The support legs

As shown in the video, there are two support legs. The mast on the Rhodes 22 is 26 feet long, and I found that making the legs about 7.5′ long would put the mast down with the foot of the mast about 2′ past the bow pulpit and the foot of the mast about the same distance past the stern.


I had the parts fabricated from straight pieces of stainless steel tube, but later found I needed to put a slight bow in them to clear the pop top when it was raised. Oops.

The legs have pivots at the top and at the bottom to allow them to swivel at the mast and at the cabin top, but the two legs are locked together as they pivot. I don't want to have any other “oops” when the mast is half down!

The mast collar

Collar to hold the mastTwo more pieces of stainless steel make up the collar that is permanently attached to the mast, and hold the mast while it is being raised or lowered. It was a bit ticklish trying to get the shape of the part to fit that of the mast exactly. In the end, I got some card stock paper and printed my best guess for the shape of the mast using a CAD program. I then cut out the profile of the mast, went out to the boat and tested the fit. After a lot of trial and error, I got a form that fit snugly – and that's what I asked the fabricator to make. There were also a number of tricky bits to address when the parts were made, but I couldn't ask for better than the parts I received.

Getting the collar mounted in the right position on the mast proved to be a little challenging, but after a few trials I'd found the spot that worked best, and attached the support legs to see how it would all come together.

The assembly

support_assemblyI won't bore you with the details of the mounts on the cabin top or the pivot connecting the legs to the collar – let's just cut to the chase! A picture of the assembled collar and legs is shown to the left. I've changed the lines controlling the mast a bit from those shown in the Lego video, but the concept remains the same. In a similar manner, I've added a pulley so the mast is more stable while being raised or lowered. I haven't taken it under any bridges or through any locks yet, but it's a lot closer to being roadworthy than the Lego prototype was!

This has been an interesting project, and I'm looking forward to dropping the mast for that first bridge.

One step at a time though. I'll be back with a video of the beast in operation this spring. Enjoy your winter – whether you're able to sail or you're ice fishing!

This article belongs to Great Loop, little boat ! The original article can be found here: Mast Lowering: from Legos to Stainless Steel

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