October 16, 2015

Replacing a broken gooseneck on my sailboat mast

Well, it finally happened - the cast aluminum gooseneck connection holding my mast to the boom crumbled. My boat is a 1976 Newport 30 MkII, so that means this old goose neck was cast at least 39 years ago. I suppose I should be happy it has lasted this long.

Here's a shot of us coming back to port after the gooseneck busted.

returning to port after my gooseneck busted


You can tell by the next image that the metal has a grainy, deteriorated look to it. The fixed loops jutting out of the goose neck are supposed to hold a nice fat clevis pin.

busted goose neck no longer holding a clevis pin


And as you can see, the pressure on the rings was finally too much and they opened up and the boom dropped.

Up till this point, I was okay with the minor carnage. Things break all the time on my boat - maybe once a month something goes. It's just a matter of wrapping your head around the project and fixing it.

The real challenge (time-sink) to this project was the removal of the busted gooseneck. As you can see, the goosneck is bolted onto the aluminum mast by 5 large stainless steel bolts. Well, 39 years of ocean living, had oxidized and melded these two metals together. Plus, these bolts had phillips heads. This means they strip easily. So, these bolts were not coming off.

Every few days for about 3 weeks, I soaked the bolts in WD-40 and Knock 'em loose and all other sorts of industrial rust solvents and then wrenched on the bolts with a large screwdriver and a lot of leverage. But, they still weren't budging.

stainless bolts oxidized to the aluminum mast, not budging

Finally, I borrowed my friends Propane torch and that's when things got interesting.

I heated up the bolts so as to shake off some corrosion and free them from the mast. I'm not sure if that did anything...but - what did happen is that the gooseneck started to turn soft.

The heat from the torch on the old cast aluminum made the gooseneck very pliable - to the point where I could break off pieces with a screwdriver.

So that's what I did, I snapped off the corners that held the bolts in place.


after heating with a torch, I could break off pieces of cast aluminum

This basically solved the problem, once I could break apart the goosneck and separate it from the mast, then I was left with 4 exposed bolts stuck in a mast. Therefore, I had a nice half inch section of bolt exposed, which I could wrench out with visegrips.

So - that problem was solved, now I just needed to find a new gooseneck for an old Newport sailboat.

I asked around on the Newport Facebook group and was told it would be worth my time to drive up to Newport Beach and visit Minney's Yacht Surplus. Makes sense I suppose, if you need something for a Newport sailboat, drive up to Newport.

Well, anyway, that was good advice - after 5 minutes in the shop, my girlfriend found 2 exact replacements. And, each one was 7 bucks. That's the best news of all...

We drove back down to San Diego - installed the new gooseneck, re-attached the boom and went out for an afternoon sail.

That's it - just a happy ending to a boat repair story...

For more detailed instructions on how to repair or add features to your mast, the Stingy Sailor has a series of articles on DIY mast projects. Here's one to help you replace sheaves at the top of your mast.


my new gooseneck holding the boom to the mast

2 comments:

captgatt g said...

Captain Curran,
The problem I have is the stainless steel car that attaches to the mainsail clew is stuck inside the aluminum boom groove. I have tried striking it with a mini sledge and now I am a little afraid it will break the car in half instead of loosening it if I hit it with all of my force.

I am tempted to try heating it with a propane torch to loosen it up. Do you think this will work without causing weakness or sag to the aluminum boom.

Thanks.
captgatt@gmail.com
S/V Zig Zag

Kevin Curran said...

I'm a fan of the propane torch

I would just go easy
A few seconds of heat in the right spots

Then start tapping with a mallet

A good pre soak with solvents should help
But only if you can get the solvents into the contact points

Good luck and keep me posted!