Spinnaker Pole track for E32

bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
...not sure how to go about calculating the proper track height, length, position, etc.
"it depends".

At the top end, the track needs to be at least high enough so that when the butt end is raised, the tip end can clear through the foretriangle in a gibe. It doesn't hurt to go a couple of feet higher than that (keep in mind that when you're racing, there may be a jib on the foredeck/in the feeder when you go to gibe, so... extra height can be useful. If you're going to store the pole vertically against the mast (I'm not a fan, but people do it) the track will have to extend at least a pole-length above the deck, plus room for the cars and track-stops and such.

At the bottom end, it doesn't have to go all the way to the deck. On hard-core racing boats they want the butt end all the way at the deck so that they can lower the pole to deck level and have it all hooked up and ready to use but still out of the way. On our boats, because of the cabintop shape and the guard around the dorade, we're never going to be able to get the butt end that low, so... judgment call, I'd think there's not much point in extending the track all he way to the deck (or, more specifically, the top of the mast boot) unless you're planning to store it vertically.

I've also never drilled/tapped aluminum so am a little concerned about getting it straight and not screwing it up...
Many masts have a slight indent extruded along the center of the leading edge. If yours does, that's the centerline. If not, it's easy to find the center.... take a flexible tape and measure from one side of the aft-side track, around the front of the mast to the other side of the track (easier to do than to describe) and then scribe a mark at the midpoint. That's the center of the leading edge. Do the same at the lower end. Then CHECK everywhere along that span to make sure there's not going to be interference with anything (an existing fitting, a wire run, whatever). We're fortunate in that (most of our) wires go down a channel in the aft edge of the mast, but there still might be halyards or coax or something to consider.

When sure there are no issues, centerpunch a point on that line at the right height for the top hole of the track, drill with the right-sized bit, and use a manual tap-handle to tap the (presumably) 1/4-20 threads. Use quality (sharp) drill bits, and quality (hardened) taps. Use some oil to keep the tap from sticking. When the tap "grabs", back it out 1/4 turn to let the chips come out of the threads, then go again. Be patient. I'm (personally) not a fan of running a tap in a drill, too much can go wrong and I'd rather do it by hand, go slow and get it right.

When the top of the track is fastened in the right place, scribe the centerline at the bottom end, centerpunch the point on that line for the bottom-most fastener, and repeat. Once both ends are in the right place and secured on the centerline, the rest are easy.

Two tips: 1), use DuraLac or TefGel or similar on the fasteners to help prevent the aluminum and stainless from marrying each other, and 2) if you have an adjustable backstay, ease it before starting. It's much easier to mount track to a mast that is straight than it is one that has fore-and-aft bend in the area.

If you want help when you're ready to do this.... let me know. Have tools, will travel.

Bruce
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Many masts have a slight indent extruded along the center of the leading edge. If yours does, that's the centerline......

.... if you have an adjustable backstay, ease it before starting. It's much easier to mount track to a mast that is straight than it is one that has fore-and-aft bend in the area......

Bruce
Geoff, Bruce,

I think Bruce covered it well. Only bits I can add:

I did tap a few holes in the mast this summer to attach a new halyard horn-cleat. I was surprised how easy it was to tap and so I'm encouraged about tapping more for a track. Some taps advertise as "self-aligning." I would opt for these, as cutting cross-threaded or crooked initial threads is about the only way to screw up tapping. Buy the proper sized pilot-drill for the tap (these sizes almost never correspond to regular x/64" drill bits, but vary from them by a few 1/1000 of an inch). A metal-shop guy told me that the type of tapping oil males a big difference. There are particular oils that are formulated for tapping aluminum.

I do have some concerns that tapping a lot of holes (one every 4" along the track) will result in a pile of aluminum shavings inside the mast step. Most of us have discovered that debris inside the mast step can cause water problems if water stops draining out that tiny weep hole at the bottom aft of the mast.

Apparently, 1-1/4" track uses 5/16" screws while 1" track uses 1/4" screws.

My mast does have the "centerline" scribe that Bruce was referring to (see below), so centering the track will be easy. As far as top and bottom heights--no reason to go any lower than the guard rail above the dorade (I'll be storing the pole on stanchion mounts). As for top height--should probably wait till I get the pole and then see what height is required to clear the headstay (as Bruce said). In the interim, I'll probably just install a short track to handle a whisker pole for either of my headsails.

My mast has a slight aft bend from the backstay tension (my initial riggers set the boat up this way). I've considered whether to relieve backstay tension or not before tapping. My concern is that a mounted mast track will act as a stiffener on the lower front of the mast, causing further backstay tension to bend the mast up higher than it would have before the track was installed. As such, I'll probably leave the backstay tightened and bend the track to meet the mast, rather than vice versa.

mast senterline.jpg
 
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supersailor

Contributing Partner
There are two ways to gybe a symettrical spinnaker. Dip pole and end to end. I always use the end to end on boats to about 30'. I tried it once on my 34 and never again. That 16' pole and 1700sq ft of sail was way too much for this old geezer. I like the end to end as you don't have to adjust the pole and it's faster. It's also fun to watch the daughter skate back and fourth across the deck trying to keep up with Dad as the foredeck hand. I now have a better way although slower. Pull down ATN sleeve, reset pole, raise ATN sleeve. Slower but very controlled. I also get to set the chute shorthanded.

How long is the pole on your boat? It makes a big difference in how you handle it.
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
How long is the pole on your boat? It makes a big difference in how you handle it.
Bob, I don't have a spinnaker pole yet, just now investigating all the parts/hardware involved in setting one up. I was under the impression that pole length would likely equal the "J" dimension of the boat (13.8 ft for an E32-3, 15.0ft for an E34-2). You said your spinnaker pole is 16ft--do you consider that an over-sized pole?

(ok, I suppose someone's gonna start with the "That's what she said" jokes.......)

1700 sq ft is a lot of sail area--nearly 3 times your boat's normal sailplan.
 
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kapnkd

kapnkd
Bob, I don't have a spinnaker pole yet, just now investigating all the parts/hardware involved in setting one up. I was under the impression that pole length would likely equal the "J" dimension of the boat (13.8 ft for an E32-3, 15.0ft for an E34-2). You said your spinnaker pole is 16ft--do you consider that an over-sized pole?

(ok, I suppose someone's gonna start with the "That's what she said" jokes.......)

1700 sq ft is a lot of sail area--nearly 3 times your boat's normal sailplan.
The length of the spinnaker pole should not exceed your “J” measurement. ...If you ever race in PHRF events, exceeding the “J” leaves you subject to a rating penalty.
 

supersailor

Contributing Partner
I layed out the chute on the parking pad for my garage which is which is 40 X 47.5 and it takes up approx. 38 X 48 less the rounded portions. The PO's 1732sf doesn't seem far off.



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