Mast Support Crutch & Tiller Arm

When you live in Idaho, traveling with a sailboat is a necessity.   I like my gear neat and secure.  I hate disorganization…I knew I needed a system for all this to come off right.  I also wanted it simple, fast and convenient.  Here’s what I came up with.

DSC00439Meet my mast support crutch.  I’m using 3/4″ baltic birch.  It’s strong, has no voids and works up beautifully.

DSC00440I cut out the center area to reduce weight and provide a convenient attachment point to tie down to spars.DSC00442I notched out the back of the transom cap to allow the crutch to mount tightly against the transom.  The blue tape helped protect the painted surface. DSC00444Mocked up here to check for rudder head interference.  None.  Also, I needed to check and make sure I could still remove the rudder.  No problem.  Notice the length of the lower support arms (8″ – 9″) which stabilize the crutch in the fore and aft direction.  This thing feels very secure.  DSC00443Notice the shape of the upper support arms.  They looked OK to me…but this is all about to change.  DSC00445(First Generation Ham n Egger Enters Stage Left)  Pops was not fully satisfied with the shape of the upper crutch arms.  Before I could say a word, he was reshaping the arms on my band saw.  I quickly snapped this photo as proof of him tampering with my build.  I was forced to give a pass to this unauthorized procedure.  DSC00446No doubt the upper shapes of the crutches benefited from his eye.  DSC00447The front support will be bolted to the forward face of the mast box.  It was curved slightly to match the shape of the cabin top.  I kept it low so it wouldn’t interfere with the boom (which will extend forward of the support when sailing).

Summary:

I designed the mast crutch with one spar support cutout as opposed to two.  This will reduce the time and effort required to secure the spars.  I plan to wrap something around all the spars and simply tie them down to the supports.  This design provides about 3″ of clearance between the bottom of the horizontally secured spars and the top of the veranda.  I needed clearance to accommodate the bundle of sail, spars, lines and sail cover.  

Now for the tiller arm.  

DSC00448I had this piece of red oak laying around (left over from my skegs).  It looked like it might just work as a tiller handle.  After drawing a design that fit the stick, I decided to proceed with the cutout.  DSC00449Rough cutout waiting patiently for the refinements of life to follow.  DSC004502 minutes with the venerable Shinto rasp cleaned up the ends.

Now for the refinement of the tiller arm.

DSC00408 DSC00412 I made this cutout on the underside of the arm where the arm passes through the rudder head assembly.  It provides clearance for my rudder up/down haul lines.  DSC00409

DSC00454Now I’m ready to clean up and do something else for the rest of my Saturday.  

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2 thoughts on “Mast Support Crutch & Tiller Arm

  1. Do make sure that with your supports in place, with the spar bundles potentially tied in, that there will be enough vertical clearance to roll the boat on the trailer in and out of the garage. I had to shorten Noddy’s a wee bit to be able to clear my garage door overhead 😦

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