Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Measure Thrice... Cut Once

My husband has always raced sailboats.  It was a difficult transition for him from racing to cruising and one that I'm not entirely sure has fully happened.  He will spend hours on the water tweaking sails to get every little bit of speed.  I will give him kudos, however, for the fact that he seeks a smooth ride as much as speed.  This makes me and the kitties very happy.

Dos Libras came with a plethora of odds and ends.  Two of those "ends", with the addition of a long aluminum tube, have become our new spinnaker pole.  This was one of the many projects in process when the previous owner sold the boat.  The hard work was already done!  There is a very nice track going up the mast for the pole, and of course the end pieces were pricey!  All we needed was the pole its self.

So we set out to find said pole.  Many phone calls later, we have reduced the overall price from more than a thousand dollars, to less than three hundred.  Now THAT'S more like it!  We found a place called Westbrook Metals in San Antonio, TX.  They got the 3 1/2" X 1/8" 6061-T6 Aluminum tube cut to a 17ft. 6in. length for us... all we had to do was drive there to get it.  Road trip!!!!  On our way home, we made a phone call that led us to the next stop at Protective Powder Coatings, LLC..  A little over a hundred dollars more got the tube powder coated white.  It looks SO much nicer now.  All we need to do is put it together!

We assembled all of our tools and set up shop in the shade under the Pavilion.  This would be a fun project, no worries, no hidden pitfalls...

I tapped some holes so the drill bit wouldn't walk
We marked where the holes would go, then inserted the ends into the tube.

Bruce drilled pilot holes and then the larger holes for the pop rivets.

Next come the pop rivets...  Why does my husband have these obscure tools???

Nicely done!  Just seven more to go and we're finished!

We just need to find and install a couple of guides for the line that releases the jaw and we're all set!

We each took an end, carried the pole to the boat and loaded it onboard.  It looks so nice and shiny white!

Bruce easily popped the pole onto the mast connection.

I took my place on the bow to guide the pole as it went up, up, up the track on the mast.

And this is where things went bad!  The pole was TOO LONG!  Now don't start yelling things at us about what a rookie mistake this is... we KNOW that!  We just stood there staring at this beautiful pole we had so lovingly assembled in stunned disbelief!

How could this happen?  We had the measurements from the paperwork on the mast track installation.  Whatever!  We never actually MEASURED!

(Long silence so that the magnitude of this can settle in...)


After we had a nice lunch and cooled off in the AC... After we mentally KICKED ourselves in the butt for this debacle...  We got busy with our new plan.  I even found a silver lining in that now, since we'll be cutting off an end... we can get that annoying piece of aluminum pop rivet that is trapped inside the pole OUT, so that we don't have to live with that rattle for the rest of our lives!

And that is how a simple two hour job turned into a two day, cross country project!

The next morning, we awoke with renewed vigor for getting this done right.  We drove to PSI, Inc. in Aransas Pass, where Bruce has had machine work done before, and threw ourselves on their mercy.  They were very kind and flopped our tube onto the band saw and, in the space of a few seconds, we had the correct length and were once again on our way.

The first thing we did was to run the pole up the mast to make sure it was going to fit.  We KNEW it would, but we AREN'T going to do this job again!

Back at the pavilion, I took a small file to the rough edges to smooth off the burrs.

Bruce drilled out the pop rivets holding the end piece in place from before.  Then we repositioned the end piece, measured and re-drilled the holes, and riveted it back onto the newly cut end.

We ran a trip line from the jaw end to the mast end and installed these nifty little nylon guides in place with more pop rivets.  And WE'RE DONE!

We ran the pole back up the mast and it fits very nicely.  The only thing left is to order a mast mounted pole chock to hold the lower end and it's ready for use.

We do feel a little sheepish about the whole not-measuring thing, but this gave us the opportunity to exercise our problem solving skills, hone our resourcefulness, and test our relationship all in the span of two short days.  We saved ourselves a bundle of money even if you count the amount of gasoline we spent running all over the state getting the parts together.  And we have a great how-not-to story to tell others!  What a deal.

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