Repairing a Gaff

  • Neil R
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08 Jun 2009 10:22 #20518 by Neil R
Repairing a Gaff was created by Neil R
After restoring a hull last year - the family had some great fun rowing and out-boarding (sea-fishing!) - this year's plan is to get it sailing.

The old gaff pretty much fell apart in my hands, so I'd really appreciate some wisdom on the following: 1) how best to re-glue the two halves of the gaff spar without getting glue squeezing out into the sail groove, and 2) what internal spacing should I aim for on the jaws - the existing ones were up to 67 mm apart which seeems excessive(?) for a 50mm mast. Many thanks.

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08 Jun 2009 20:07 #16533 by Martin Egan
Replied by Martin Egan on topic Repairing a Gaff
Hi Neil,

I suggest you clean any remnants of glue off the two mating faces with a sharp plane, just take off one or two thin shavings. It might also pay to clean up the edges of the groove while it is in two halves to get rid of any dribbles of varnish etc.

I would use epoxy resin plus thickening fillers such as colloidal silica and microfibres and follow manufacturers instructions (for example see www.west-system.co.uk ) to form a good gap-filling glue, but any good quality waterproof glue will do the job.

You will need quite a few clamps to hold it together. Use 2 scraps of plywood or similar with each clamp to spread the load out. Cover each scrap in newspaper to avoid it sticking to the gaff if things get messy. You can improvise clamps by cutting "U" shapes from thick plywood plus some wedges. I suggest clamping across the face of the gaff so that the groove is clear. Put a good coating on each half so when you clamp it some squeezes out. This shows there is enough glue in the join and is better than none coming out which could mean there was not enough.

Once all the clamps tight I would stuff a bit of rag into the groove and use a flat stick (like a ruler or plastic card) to move the rag along the groove to clean out any glue. You might need to use several rags depending on how much glue there is. You should be able to get the groove pretty clean. Soaking the rag in acetone might make this easier as it acts as a solvent for epoxy, but you don't want acetone getting into the glue in the joint, so try without acetone at first.

If you don't have enough clamps, and are having to use weights etc, or you want to be on the safe side, you could make up some spacers the same width as the groove which you can put in to keep the groove open and the correct width while the glue is going off. Make them before you start gluing and cover spacers in paper so they won't stick to the gaff.

I agree about gaff jaws, they should be a snug fit to the mast with just enough play so they don't bind when you pull the gaff up or down, so 51mm should be fine on a 50mm mast. I suggest you plane down the gaff jaw spacer pieces to get the correct width (and worth re-gluing these if the glue join looks in any way loose). When clamping the jaws on, I would put the mast (protected by newspaper) or a bit of 50mm tubing in the gap to act as a spacer.



Edited by - MartinEgan on 08 June 2009 21:07:51

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  • Neil R
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09 Jun 2009 08:23 #16535 by Neil R
Replied by Neil R on topic Repairing a Gaff
Martin - thanks very much for the comprehensive advice. The old glue pretty much flaked off on its own last night and a very quick sanding with a decent Permagrit sanding block from my model aeroplane building days did the rest. I'll be going back to the model shop to get some new marine ply to make all-new jaws and spacers; easier than trying to restore the old ones. Acetone and epoxy already in stock! A lesson learned is that it would have been cheaper and easier to buy a much better quality boat in the first place, but at least it's been vaguely fun doing the restore. Thanks again, Neil.

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