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Randy Jones

painting aluminum masts

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I've tried to read every old post on painting aluminum mast.  Proper preparation is a consistent theme but I have a few questions:

1. Who's got an old mast paint job in good condition and how did you do it?

2. Do you prime and paint prior to attaching the sail track? 

3. Do you leave the B&B aluminum track unpainted?

My current plan is to degrease, sand, and immediately spray with 3 coats self etching aluminum primer. Then prime with System 3 Silver Tip primer and top coat with Systems 3 white LPU.  Since I don't a have a spray gun the self-etching primer will be from a spray can, the Silver Tip and LPU will be brush and roller.  

I'd appreciate guidance.  

Thanks

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I did what you did....except with awlgrip products and was all roll and tip. Paint has done well for approx. 3 years. Chips/rubs off in high friction areas (mast tube opening/bottom). Also bubbles around screws etc that were not initially sealed.

 

I put on sail track after painting. Would not paint, as that would potentially affect the ease of hoisting the sails. I have limited experience...only my opinion.

 

Will

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Randy, 

I've seen some in great condition painted and I think the secret is not letting ANY salt water get to the aluminum after painting. Joe's EC-22 mast for example hasn't a flaw on it. He has the ss track. 

 

I plan to prime and paint my mast prior to attaching the track. I too want to try etching primer. In the past we've just cleaned the surface really well and went straight on with awlgrip 545 followed by topcoat without sanding between. a good spray job and the result is still pretty smooth and it beats sanding the primer by hand. 

 

The track itself is anodized clear so no need to paint it. 

 

I think you have a sound plan. If you wanted to you could put on all your hardware (or at least drill and deburr holes for it) then prime and paint in hopes of getting that last bit of primer needed to protect the aluminum. Bedding compound everything going down. I like butyl rubber for that. 

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I used Amerlock 2/400 epoxy primer and Amercoat 450H two part polyurethane. Exactly same system I put on the boat. Got good mileage out of my paint cans that way. Not a marine paint as such but it is a GOOD stuff. Both were actually designed for metal application so the mast makes for a preferred application from manufacturer's point of view. Glass comes close second in my experience. Held up really well over 5 years. Sprayed the boat and rolled the masts. Installed hardware after painting, Used Tuffgell on screws.  PeterP

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I used Rustoleum products on my masts.  I took care to sand immediately before applying the etching primer.  The paint is holding up very well after four years’ use, with one exception.  The high stress areas around the base are too much for this paint.  As you can see, it has chipped off.  Everywhere else, it looks perfect.  Not sure if any paint could withstand this stress.  If I were to do something differently, it would be to not paint this part of the mast.

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I was thinking of drilling the holes for the new aluminum sail track before taking the masts over to be locally powder coated. Has anyone gone down this road?

 

I still plan to use tuffgel upon mounting the track, but I think the spars should be pretty well protected with exceptions of excessive wear i.e. snotter.

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I retract my previous post due to my oversight in searching earlier posting topics on powder coating. I found insightful information which is leading me to rethink the opinion of painting as per Don’s process using Rustoleum or similar.

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Another option would be to have the tubes anodized before applying the fiberglass collars and installing the track. Graham has been collecting sulfuric battery acid thinking he might try some diy anodizing in his "extra" spare time. We probably all know about that mythical concept (spare time).  

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I have hollow bird's mouth Douglas Fir masts.  I like everything about them except they are a bit heavy to step.  I still do fine, but I can see the day I won't want to lift them any more.  My next set of masts are possibly going to be thin wall wooden masts with a carbon sleeve epoxied over them.  Graham says he has done the math, and this will meet spec.

Another thought I had was to build a thinner wall aluminum mast and epoxy the carbon sleeve over it.  Would this be strong enough?  I figure by plugging, the sealed sleeve and epoxy it would make the mast water tight.  Then by bedding all hardware to the epoxy it would end up very light and float.  Does anyone with knowledge of carbon, epoxy and aluminum have any thoughts on this?

 

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What's the latest thinking regarding the "ramps" under the sail track where it spans from one aluminum tube size to another?  Do you build these up with thickened epoxy before track installation or is there an easier way?   I seem to be making this harder then necessary.   

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I made some ramps with epoxy.  There wasn't much to it, pretty simple, especially on the joints that had the taped gasket, since I let that run out some into the exposed section of the smaller tube.  Looked nicer that way. 

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For what it's worth: I made long tapered ramps out of Starboard, bedded all with 3M 4200, and I also used Rustoleum products. What I wish I had done differently is to make an attractive taper all the way around the mast to conceal the steps between sections. I have admired masts where folks did that. Maybe that is a revision to try when repainting is needed.

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