Topics

Mast Step Box fix


Charlie McMillan
 

All,

The dreaded Mast Step rot is indeed a challenge but in my opinion well worth the effort to repair. There are 4 Sabres of the vintage Tony mentions below in our club, ALL have had the problem.  I discovered it on Isle of Skye the 2nd season I owned her and on hauling her mid-February 6 years ago to do a “quick fix” of that problem, spent the next 2 month's of long days repairing the mast step problem and replacing the cabin sole. I have a few images attached. 
Now I have people come by to look at the wonderful cabin sole on that Sabre! It was a bit of a challenge but it is a great boat that I’m proud of and that still places in the top 3 while racing and provides a great ride for cruising. Real teak sole makes the boat faster!
The pics look a bit messy but know things are quite tidy now.

Charlie McMillan

McMillan Group Inc
25 Otter Trail
Westport, Ct  06880
203-227-8696 office
203-291-9764 mobile 
www.mcmillangroup.com

On Feb 4, 2020, at 2:32 PM, Jim Starkey <Jim@...> wrote:

There really isn't anything you can do about it, though a 30 year boat without the problem (after careful checking, of course) is probably OK.  I don't know the current state of the market, but mast stepped Sabres of that era (34s, 36s, and 38s) with a solid repair were going for $15k to $20k more than unrepaired boats.  It may be the only instance in the used boat market where a mismatched cabin sole increases the value of the boat.

I suggest that you make sure that your surveyor knows exactly what to look for (and why) and listen to his advice.  If you surveyor isn't completely familiar with Sabres of those years, find one who is.

There are two other issues worth mentioning.  The 36 has a plastic elbow under the aft starboard scupper.  It breaks during the first frost after the boat is uncovered in the spring letting every drop of water that hits the boat flow into the quarter berth.  The repair (with metal!) is easy and cheap, but it requires that an invisible part of the headliner be cut away for access.

Finally, if the boat still has the W&C Headmate Jr., plan to replace it with a Raritan PH-II.  And if the boat has the original hot water heater, you'll want to replace that too (lots of alternatives).


On 2/4/2020 1:49 PM, Tony Billera wrote:
What can be done to prevent or minimize this problem ? 

Tony

Tony Billera

Please consider the environment before printing this email. Thank you.


On Feb 4, 2020, at 10:35 AM, Jim Starkey <Jim@...> wrote:



The mast step box is the critical item.  It tends to rot from a poorly sealed limber hole, which is not inspectable.  Once the rot starts it will progress to the main bulkhead.  The repair is very expensive and time consuming.  The first external sign is usually a cracked mast step bracket.  The repair involves ripping out the cabin sole, rebuilding the mast step box from scratch, repairing any damage to the main bulkhead, and rebuilding the sole layer by layer.  It's impossible to match the original Sabre teak veneer, so a mismatched cabin sole around the mast step is a very good sign.

Not all Sabres of that vintage have problem, but 25 - 50% do or will.  It is repairable, but it is almost impossible to get a hard quote since it's impossible to know the extent of the damage until the boat is ripping open.

S36s are great boats -- I had one new from the factory for 22 years.  I did face the dreaded mast step disease, but the repair was well worth the money.

An S36 will a hull number >= 56 will have an ABYC compliant gas locker that is almost trivial to convert to propane; earlier, no so much.

Oh, and you will just have to get used to people telling you what a pretty boat it is.

On 2/4/2020 1:08 PM, Sabre36 wrote:

Hello Everyone,

 

I am hopefully soon to be the owner of a 1985 Sabre 36 center board. My primary question is if there is anything in particular I should keep an extra sharp eye out for on the survey? Any known issues with Sabre 36s in general, the center board in particular, the earlier models, etc.? The boat seems to be in very good condition overall and well kept, but obviously the survey will hopefully reveal any issues.

 

Any other general info, advice, or wisdom is also appreciated.

 

I am going to join some of the other Sabre forums out there, so you may see this post repeated elsewhere.

 

THANKS!!!

SwS

-- 
Jim Starkey
-- 
Jim Starkey


Philip Horn
 

Hi Charlie,
Looks like you did a great job. I have an older 34 that not only had a rotted step box, but also
the sub floor, the bulkhead & the floors (cross supports). It's been a multi year effort but I'm seeing
light at the end of the tunnel. Spent all my "spare" time on it this Winter, am fabricating the sub floor pieces now.
Have over 1000 hours into it, a labor of love. If you're interested I've posted many pictures in the photo section.
By the way, I'm right across the Sound from you in Huntington.
Phil Horn
S34 Scimitar


Charlie McMillan
 

Phil,

I’d love to see your progress shots, can you direct me to where they are on the site?

Would love to get together sometime, we often head to Loyds and have a mooring at PJ, you're welcome to stop into SHYC as my guest if you are interested. Always good to see what someone has done first hand.

Charlie McMillan


McMillan Group Inc
Isle of Skye S34mkII
25 Otter Trail
Westport, Ct  06880
203-227-8696 office
203-291-9764 mobile 
www.mcmillangroup.com

On Feb 5, 2020, at 12:46 PM, Philip Horn <philhorn48@...> wrote:

Hi Charlie,
Looks like you did a great job. I have an older 34 that not only had a rotted step box, but also
the sub floor, the bulkhead & the floors (cross supports). It's been a multi year effort but I'm seeing
light at the end of the tunnel. Spent all my "spare" time on it this Winter, am fabricating the sub floor pieces now.
Have over 1000 hours into it, a labor of love. If you're interested I've posted many pictures in the photo section.
By the way, I'm right across the Sound from you in Huntington.
Phil Horn
S34 Scimitar


Terry
 

Charlie nice job it looked quite a project. I managed to catch the mast/sole rot issues on our S38 before it got too bad. I cut out about1/2 inch of really bad stuff and applied a wet rot solution that turned the rest rock hard. 
But I was wondering if you or anyone has drilled bigger or extra holes to allow the water to drain more easily into the bilge. Any clever solutions out there?

Terry


Rick O'Donnel
 

Terry
Responding to your question about water draining...….
I've used a thin, flexible antenna with a piece of cloth tied at the top to clean out the weep holes from fore/aft. Kind of like swabbing out a rifle barrel by braille. It seems to work but there's no way to see anything.
Rick
Innisfree
Annapolis


Philip Horn
 

Charlie,
Thanks for the invite, would love to get together sometime, maybe after the boat is commissioned this Spring.
I've had the boat for 35 years, love how she sails, and have spent many thousands of hours on maintenance and upgrades.
Go the photo section, then photo albums. Then do a search for "S34 #67 step replacement & bhead repair".
Also search for "S34 #67 replacement of salon floors". The pic's were originally posted chronologically
at the Yahoo group and when the group moved to .io they got a bit scrambled, but you'll get the idea.
I also repowered Scimitar 10 years ago with a Beta 25, that album is "Scimitar S34 #67 repower".
BTW, I love your custom epoxy cast moat. All the my replacement woodwork (white oak) is encapsulated
in fiberglass cloth and West Epoxy, totally waterproof. Will out live me for sure.
Regards, Phil
S3 # 67 Step replacement & bhead repair
S34 # 67 Step replacement & bhead repair
S34 # 67 Step replacement & bhead repair
S34 # 67 Step replacement & bhead repairS34 # 67 Step replacement & bhead repair
S34 # 67 Step replacement & bhead repairS34 # 67 Step replacement & bhead repairS34 # 67 Step replacement & bhead repair


Charlie McMillan
 

Terry,

Indeed a limber hole was part of the re-build. Since I replace the entire mast step with G10 boards laid up, I left a roughly 1-1/2” limber hole fore and aft in the bottom layer against the hull. There was lots of cleaning involved forward of the mast step as water had sat in that area for years. Now all is clean and any water flows easily into the bilge.

If you planning any further work, I can send you images of how the limber hole was made.


Charlie McMillan

McMillan Group Inc
25 Otter Trail
Westport, Ct  06880
203-227-8696 office
203-291-9764 mobile 
www.mcmillangroup.com

On Feb 5, 2020, at 6:32 PM, Terry <webonomist@...> wrote:

Charlie nice job it looked quite a project. I managed to catch the mast/sole rot issues on our S38 before it got too bad. I cut out about1/2 inch of really bad stuff and applied a wet rot solution that turned the rest rock hard. 
But I was wondering if you or anyone has drilled bigger or extra holes to allow the water to drain more easily into the bilge. Any clever solutions out there?

Terry


Terry
 

Rick, I tried something like that but the hole didn't seem to go all the way through. As you say it's hard to see what you're doing. I'm going to explore Charlie's idea but thanks any way.
T.


Terry
 

Charlie,  yes, please send details of your solution if it's not too much trouble.
T.


Charlie McMillan
 

Terry,

Per your request, attached are a few images showing the limber hole running through all stringers and mast step.
A-5-Fully Monty:
A drawing I sent Glen at Sabre prior to my ripping the boat apart to make sure I understood what was under the cabin sole. Fairly close to what was there but this shows the location of the limber hole.
IOS-Step repair-1.png: 
Shows built-up G10 board (6 layers of 1” material). I made a fiberglass tube which was glassed in place before the G10 build-up and filled everything with West system and 404 microfibers. I wrapped the cables with plastic to avoid an epoxy mess and for future removal if needed. Note the G10 at the base to the head door which had also rotted. At this point, I cut off the bottom 8” of the bulkhead, supporting it while I fashioned a replacement of marine ply, tabbed in place and later covered with a teak panel towards the cabin.
IOS-Step 2.png:
Basically the same as the first shot but the step is covered and tabbed in to the hull, all with West epoxy.
IOS-step-Limber hole.png:
Shows the assembly with the epoxy mote and mast plate in place under my plumb, Bob. I had not yet ripped out the rest of the cabin sole here but you can see where I let-in a plywood filler at the bottom of the bulkhead and tabbed that into the new mast stringer.
Sealed & Painted-1.png:
The limber hole is just under the right leg of the mote, a dark cable can be seen running through it, I believe power for the running lights. The step was not yet painted here.

I also have a sequence showing the new Teak & Maple sole installation.



Charlie McMillan
McMillan Group Inc
25 Otter Trail
Westport, Ct  06880
203-227-8696 office
203-291-9764 mobile 
www.mcmillangroup.com

On Feb 6, 2020, at 11:41 AM, Terry <webonomist@...> wrote:

Charlie,  yes, please send details of your solution if it's not too much trouble.
T.


Peter Tollini
 

Tony -
Your 30 has a deck stepped mast, so it is not as much of a problem as the keel stepped mast boats, like the 34 and 36.
Just keep a dry bilge and you are good.
Pete

On Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 3:19 PM Charlie McMillan <charlie@...> wrote:
Terry,

Per your request, attached are a few images showing the limber hole running through all stringers and mast step.
A-5-Fully Monty:
A drawing I sent Glen at Sabre prior to my ripping the boat apart to make sure I understood what was under the cabin sole. Fairly close to what was there but this shows the location of the limber hole.
IOS-Step repair-1.png: 
Shows built-up G10 board (6 layers of 1” material). I made a fiberglass tube which was glassed in place before the G10 build-up and filled everything with West system and 404 microfibers. I wrapped the cables with plastic to avoid an epoxy mess and for future removal if needed. Note the G10 at the base to the head door which had also rotted. At this point, I cut off the bottom 8” of the bulkhead, supporting it while I fashioned a replacement of marine ply, tabbed in place and later covered with a teak panel towards the cabin.
IOS-Step 2.png:
Basically the same as the first shot but the step is covered and tabbed in to the hull, all with West epoxy.
IOS-step-Limber hole.png:
Shows the assembly with the epoxy mote and mast plate in place under my plumb, Bob. I had not yet ripped out the rest of the cabin sole here but you can see where I let-in a plywood filler at the bottom of the bulkhead and tabbed that into the new mast stringer.
Sealed & Painted-1.png:
The limber hole is just under the right leg of the mote, a dark cable can be seen running through it, I believe power for the running lights. The step was not yet painted here.

I also have a sequence showing the new Teak & Maple sole installation.



Charlie McMillan
McMillan Group Inc
25 Otter Trail
Westport, Ct  06880
203-227-8696 office
203-291-9764 mobile 
www.mcmillangroup.com

On Feb 6, 2020, at 11:41 AM, Terry <webonomist@...> wrote:

Charlie,  yes, please send details of your solution if it's not too much trouble.
T.


douglas.wachter@...
 

I'm considering a 1978 Sabre 34 that has spent most of its life in freshwater. When I look at the mast step, it appears to be mounted on fiberglass with no wood visible. Does this mean the wood box was replaced? The fiberglass box appears to be very sturdy. The floor support seems terrible, so I imagine quite a bit of water has been down there in the past. The present owner (3 years ownership) doesn't seem to know about "mast step disease". Thanks in advance for your replies.


 

Charlie,
Thank you for such an informative post. I am under contract on a Sabre 34 MK 1 and the survey is in about 10 days. What is the best way for the surveyor to determine the condition of the mast step with regards to mast step rot? Appreciate any insights or suggestions for the surveyor.
Thank you!
Greg Hawkins
Essex, CT


Jim Starkey
 

Gene Barnes of Gloucester, MA, is the best, period. I first met him when he was head of warranty maintenance for the Marblehead Sabre dealer where I bought my S36 in 1985.  He has owned an S34, among other boats. When I hired him to do an an insurance survey, he went below and said, “Ah, non-standard cushions.” He probably knows more about mast step disease than anyone alive.


On Sun, Oct 4, 2020 at 1:32 PM GregoryH <pangiagreg@...> wrote:
Charlie,
Thank you for such an informative post. I am under contract on a Sabre 34 MK 1 and the survey is in about 10 days. What is the best way for the surveyor to determine the condition of the mast step with regards to mast step rot? Appreciate any insights or suggestions for the surveyor.
Thank you!
Greg Hawkins
Essex, CT









--
Jim Starkey


Charlie McMillan
 

Greg,

The sure fire way to find if the mast stringer is saturated is to take a core sample. Not likely something the owner will like.   Glen at Sabre suggested this, basically a very small drill bit to the side of the mast, down through the cabin sole and into the mast stringer at couple of inches into the stringer. If it comes out with wet funky smelling wood, you have experienced the traditional Sabre mast stringer rot. It actually is not rotten or moldy as there is little oxygen sealed in the stringer under the fiberglass. It is however a problem that will only get worse if not repaired. If there is no way to do the core test, another tell tale thing to look for is blackening of the cabin sole around the base of the mast and bulkhead to the head. 

Chances are very high this problem exists but I would not make it a deal killer. It’s a good negotiation point for a wonderful boat. Some of the $$ estimates thrown around seem pretty accurate to me.

When we first got Skye, the slight blackening didn’t bother me too much. When I started to realize the issue was while sailing on a port tack, we got a nasty holding tank oder. After removing and steam cleaning the holding tank and replacing all the plumbing, the problem still existed. What I realized was that the pressure from the rig was actually squeezing the saturated lay-up of plywood that makes up the stringer and some of that 26 year old “juice” was being pushed out and it was nasty. Thats when I called Glen and he suggested the core sample. As soon as I pulled out the drill (used an 1/8” bit) I knew I had a problem.

I strongly feel the Sabres are worth the effort, well-built (with a few “issues” fast and a pleasure to sail. I put a few month’s into this fix but would do it again if I were to get another Sabre.


Charlie McMillan

McMillan Group Inc
25 Otter Trail
Westport, Ct  06880
203-227-8696 office
203-291-9764 mobile 
www.mcmillangroup.com

On Oct 4, 2020, at 10:48 AM, GregoryH <pangiagreg@...> wrote:

Charlie,
Thank you for such an informative post. I am under contract on a Sabre 34 MK 1 and the survey is in about 10 days. What is the best way for the surveyor to determine the condition of the mast step with regards to mast step rot? Appreciate any insights or suggestions for the surveyor.
Thank you!
Greg Hawkins
Essex, CT


 

Jim - Thank you for the recommendation, however, I already secured a surveyor a week ago. We are scheduled for October 15. Wish I had located this owner's group sooner - it is a very helpful resource. 
I am going to create a separate post regarding this Sabre with links to photos. If you have time to comment on that thread regarding any concerns or good things you can see, I'd be most appreciative. 
Greg Hawkins


 

Jim - I decided to reach out to Eugene. I'll see if he is available.
Thank you - Greg


Matt Quinn, SV Glendi, 1989 Sabre 36, East Falmouth, MA
 

Hi, Greg. Weighing in your questions regarding the mast step fix with a cautionary tale. We bought our second Sabre last year, a 1989 36. The boat was in excellent condition when we purchased it. Not quite Bristol but yard maintained at the solid boat yard since the original owner purchased her. The survey was extremely clean.

I knew about the mast step issue when we purchased and had my surveyor look at the step. 
My broker owns a Sabre as well and attended the survey.
The step checked out, a year later my step plate cracked, I did some test bores and found the step is wet. 
Now I am looking at a major repair this winter.

Others have said this issue can only be found by drilling a test bore to get some wood out of the step to see if it is moist. They are 100% correct. If you see any discoloration of the sole or bulkheads near it, or any other even very minor rot around the step, push HARD for test bores. Bring printouts of threads from this forum, even if you can get Gene, to substantiate the request. As stated by others Sabres are incredible boats, however this is a major potential issue that needs to be vetted before you buy.

Good luck and I hope it works out!!

-Matt


 

Matt - Thank you for taking time to share your experience with me. 
What you, Charlie and other owners are sharing is giving me perspective and I really appreciate it. 
I am going to first ask the broker to check in with the owners and see what they know about the mast step and if they ever addressed it. If they have not, then I will be pushing hard for test bores. 
With much appreciation! - Greg

On Mon, Oct 5, 2020 at 10:12 PM Matt Quinn, SV Glendi, 1989 Sabre 36, East Falmouth, MA <quinn.matt@...> wrote:
Hi, Greg. Weighing in your questions regarding the mast step fix with a cautionary tale. We bought our second Sabre last year, a 1989 36. The boat was in excellent condition when we purchased it. Not quite Bristol but yard maintained at the solid boat yard since the original owner purchased her. The survey was extremely clean.

I knew about the mast step issue when we purchased and had my surveyor look at the step. 
My broker owns a Sabre as well and attended the survey.
The step checked out, a year later my step plate cracked, I did some test bores and found the step is wet. 
Now I am looking at a major repair this winter.

Others have said this issue can only be found by drilling a test bore to get some wood out of the step to see if it is moist. They are 100% correct. If you see any discoloration of the sole or bulkheads near it, or any other even very minor rot around the step, push HARD for test bores. Bring printouts of threads from this forum, even if you can get Gene, to substantiate the request. As stated by others Sabres are incredible boats, however this is a major potential issue that needs to be vetted before you buy.

Good luck and I hope it works out!!

-Matt


Theoden
 

Okay - I'm seriously looking at a 1982 34Mk1 in Western CT and I'm looking for a surveyor who knows Sabres and the dreaded mast step disease? Any recommendations?