Steve Gerry fabricates a new masthead crane

Over the last couple of years, I’d grown concerned about the condition of the rigging – the shrouds were presenting slight doglegs into the stem bolt fittings in particular, writes Steve Gerry.

To be fair this had been picked up on the survey and it was on my to-do list.

The age of the rigging was unknown, but I suspected it was last replaced in 2003 when the genoa furler was new so that made it nearly 20 years old.

In any event, the standing rigging was long overdue for replacement and to confirm my suspicions I got a professional inspection of the rig done towards the end of the season, which confirmed the standing rigging did need attention.

A new masthead crane on a mast

The refurbished masthead fitting with new stainless steel spinnaker crane. Credit: Steve Gerry

I had a couple of options, either I take the boat to a yard or get the mast removed at crane out time and do most of the work myself.

The latter option provided the opportunity to refurbish the mast fittings at my convenience at the club – as well as being considerably easier on the pocket.

One of the jobs on the list was to refurbish the masthead crane and replace worn sheaves, and see what could be done to move the top down furler for my spinnaker forward to provide more clearance.

Once the mast was down I removed the masthead casting which revealed the sheaves needed attention and the masthead spinnaker eye was gradually working loose from the casting… an accident waiting to happen!

A masthead crane in need of replacement

Inspection showed the masthead casting needed tidying and a sheave replacing. Credit: Steve Gerry

One of the four sheaves (probably an original) needed replacement, and the masthead light was also beyond repair having suffered considerable
UV damage.

To address the furler clearance issue I removed the stainless eye and made a replacement spinnaker crane fitting.

I set about designing a new spinnaker crane plate which was printed off as a template guide.

Continues below…

The new plate was designed to be a snug fitting using bolt entries in the existing masthead casting.

I’m fortunate to own a TIG welder, which allowed me to fabricate the bent plate.

The underside of the spinnaker crane was seam welded and drilled for 10mm bolts to match the location of the fittings on the masthead casting.

A mast of a boat lying on the ground

Spinnaker crane, complete with welded D-ring, bolted onto the masthead casting. Credit: Steve Gerry

It was made of 3mm-thick 316 stainless steel, with an 8mm D-ring eye.

The cost was just £18 sourced from offcuts advertised on ebay.

I got the design idea from online photos of spinnaker cranes sold for other models of boat and modified it to suit my rig.

As well as the spinnaker crane addition, I also fitted a new Nasa LED tricolour light and wiring.

a plate with a tricolour light fitted

Top plate with new tricolour light fitted. Credit: Steve Gerry

It provides brighter and more efficient lighting, and the new wiring provides greater reliability and longevity.

By taking a DIY approach to the standing rigging replacement and mast refurbishment, it’s possible to save a considerable sum.

However, it is important to seek professional help for tasks that require specialised skills, such as rigging surveys and major rigging replacements.

In this case, the spinnaker crane is subject to large loads so needs to be manufactured to meet those requirements.

Enjoyed reading Upgrading a masthead crane?

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