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Headaches In The Mast-Head

Masthead on Prout Escale

Besides the obvious pin and stay terminal problems, our mast head adventure led us down further paths towards upgrading and improving the infrastructure in the mast. After ten of light use, it was time to replace all the halyards - they had gotten stiff with age and the UV degradation wasn't going to help. Given how easy it is to fish a new halyard while the mast is on the ground, we just did them all. As previously mentioned, we also replaced the electrical wiring for the navigation lights. The only notable conductor we did not replace was the RG-8X antenna cable. While upgrading it to a RG-8U would have been desireable, we didn't order the RG-8U ahead of time... so we didn't replace the antenna cable.

The mast-head is a solid section of Aluminum extrusion which was machined into its present shape by ZSpar. The two backstay pins are visible to the right, while the forestay is to the left. While we had already replaced the rotten pins that used to hold the stay toggles, we still had to rewire the inside of the mast and install the lightning protection at this point. Along the way, we also replaced substandard hardware as we ran across it.

Mast top on Prout Escale

Here we are peering into the mast once the head had been removed. Note the four L-shaped bolts that are used to keep the mast-head in place. Three pop-rivets at the bottom hold the VHF antenna bracket, while the white line towards the left is the mouse for the mast conduit. Only two wires remain inside the conduit: the RG-8X antenna wire and the wind-sensor wire bundle.

Masthead lights on Prout Escale

One of our replacement jobs was to put a new lens on the tri-function mast-head light we have. The housing and the lenses had gotten tired due to constant UV exposure and thus had to be replaced. Given the good design by Aqua-signal, this was done in very little time. Further cheers to Aqua-signal for making such lens-replacement kits available!

Masthead shackles

Naturally, a couple of minor Prout-inspired doozies also had to be adressed. Here is one of our halyard shackes and the assembly that attaches it to the mast-head extrusion at left. Note the use of a very small, flat u-shackle with a proper shackle to right. The flat shackle has no means of securing the pin to prevent it from coming undone. The shackle to the right can be safety-wired, even if Prout elected not to.

Masthead shackles

Given the age of the equipment and the its condition, we replaced it all. Our new shackles are safety-wired and the sheave assembly should last for another ten years or so.

Best Estimate of Time Required:
Run new halyards N/A
Replace bad shackles 15 min
Replace masthead light lenses N/A

Total 0.25 hours