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Thread: Scarfing spreaders?

  1. #1
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    Default Scarfing spreaders?

    My boat has wooden spreaders. Most of the wood is fine, but the tenons that fit into stainless steel sockets on the mast have deformed over the years, and some of them have a bit of rot. This has made the spreaders loose, and thus they need to be replaced.

    Or so I thought at first. Last night, I was looking at them, and wondering why I couldn't just cut off the tenon ends, and scarf in a new piece, rather than replace the whole spreader.

    The spreaders were made of Balata, a South American hardwood:

    The tree is a hardwood with a red heart, which is used for furniture and as a construction material where it grows. Locals often refer to it as bulletwood for its extremely hard wood, which is so dense that it does not float in water. Drilling is necessary to drive nailed connections. In trade, it is occasionally (and incorrectly) called "brazilwood".


    Comments or thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Scarphing would be OK, if done right, depending on the rigging load. Being a wooden boat, I suspect that the rigging loads aren't too terribly high. The spreader should be in pure compression (if the rig & spreader placement are done right), so plan your scarph to deal with this type of load, and make the scarphs so that there is a lot of bonding surface. Investigate the gluing properties of balata, and use the appropriate glue and procedures for that wood species.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Spreaders are exposed to extremes of temperature and humidity.
    This might be a good place to use a resorcinol glue rather than epoxy.
    I think that I would prefer to use solid wood...
    Good luck.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Because the force is all compression finger joints could be used if you had the right tooling. A high quality paint for UV and weather protection is in order no matter how you make your joints.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Having both made and repaired various wooden spreaders, it's my experience that just making a new set is actually easier and probably in the end no more expensive.

    I'm not familiar with balata. The spreaders can be almost any good quality wood. I like spruce for it's lightness. If you're not transferring an end fitting, be sure that just inside of the notch for the stay you have a rivet across the grain to insure against splitting the spreader.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    I'm thinking I'd agree with Ian on the wood choice. The Balata sounds strong, but as an old racer I'm always reluctant to put that kind of weight aloft.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    even new aluminum spreaders are pretty cheap. but new makes way more sense either way.
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    New, out of a lighter wood makes more sense to me. It would probably be less work.

    They'll be prone to rot in the same place, so stand the tenoned end in a can of wood preservative for a few days before applying whatever finish.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    As Ian notes, indeed making a new spreader is less work than splicing an old one!
    Jay

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Paint the tops of the spreaders, saves some pain.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    I used to non skid the top of my spreaders.... a million years ago when I last owned a macaroni rig.
    They get "painted" with bird doodey any hoo.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    If you varnish the spreaders, paint the upper surface white. No matter what you paint the spreaders, make the top white.

    There are many ways to deter birds. Some stretch a bit of razor wire close atop the spreader - close so the sail can't shred when you're running. Some glue on tacks with the points up. Some have propriatary gizmos that look like a fringe sticking up from the spreaders.

    We have cormorants and ospreys. The best is monofilament in one of two lay outs. The first is three strands stretched above the spreaders from one stay to that on the other side nice and tight passing in front of the mast and the lowest perhaps 4" to 6" above the spreader. If the birds learn how to balance on the top mono - they managed this on Granuaile after a half dozen years - add a steep sloping top wire.

    G'luck

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Well, I find that the varnish I use lasts long enough to allow me to not to worry about painting the tops of my spreaders. By the time they need a fresh up other parts of the rig need help with a fresh up of two coats as well. With this little boat, it is easier to pull the sticks than to swing in a boatswain's chair.
    Jay

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Ok I’m back to building new ones. Can anyone recommend a lumber yard in north east Florida? We are in St. Augustine at the moment.

    Spruce sounds good, but last time I went looking for it, I couldnt find anything approaching boat quality spruce. Even Condon up in NY said they hadn’t seen good quality spruce in years. Am I looking in the wrong places?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    The spreaders are painted white. Actually, the tops of the spreaders are fine. It’s just the tenons. Oh well.

    I’ve been looking at what’s available in Florida in the thickness I need... any thoughts on Cypress? That seems to be a local wood that compares favorably with Western Red Cedar.

    I think I can also get Sapele, Western Red Cedar, or Santos Mahogany.



    this is for my Joshua 40 ketch...wood mast and spars.


    Last edited by jalmberg; 02-11-2018 at 09:25 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    My old schooner Goblin was cypress planked. Nice wood and it will work.

    Very good boat you have.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Thanks Ian. We were looking for a good and interesting cruising boat, and I think we found her. We’ve been restoring her to near original condition. Its a pleasure to sail her.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Was your boat for sale in Mexico/Panama about 7/8 years ago?

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Quote Originally Posted by lupussonic View Post
    Was your boat for sale in Mexico/Panama about 7/8 years ago?
    No but there were 70 French built Joshua’s, and a number of US built boats as well, so not uncommon.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    I sailed around with oregon / doug fir spreaders for a couple of decades, I don't think I'd want spruce and never would have thought of WRC.

    Where are you going in that nice boat? It'd look good in the Pacific , just saying.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Scarfing spreaders?

    Well, so far we’ve sailed from Martinique, where we bought her, up to the BVIs, then to the Bahamas, Florida, and up to Norfolk VA, where we had her professionally painted from stem to stern by Howdy Bailey, one of the best steel boat builders in the US. Huge job. We focused on varnishing, repairing/refinishing the teak cockpit seats, and a bunch of other jobs mainly to do with wood.

    We are now in St. Augustine FL, working on the rigging and sails, preparing her and ourselves for her 12th Atlantic crossing. After that, we shall see!

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