Back It Up

Installing new backing plates where hardware and fittings are mounted on your rig is easier than you might think.

backing plates

Jeffrey M. Stander

Not long ago, I was checking the machine screws that held my gooseneck hound to the mast. I backed them out to renew the anti-seizing, but when I tightened them, two of them kept turning—the threads had stripped! Several solutions to this problem exist, including up-sizing the fasteners or using stainless-steel or Monel blind (pop) rivets instead of screws. But rivets aren’t appropriate in high-load areas, and up-sizing requires redrilling the hardware and results in even fewer threads through the cross-section.

For strength and durability, the best solution is to add an aluminum backing plate permanently attached inside the mast or boom. This method works on old hardware with stripped mounting holes, but there’s no reason not to use backing plates when installing new hardware, too.

There are several tricks to doing this job, but the key is to fabricate some "alignment rods" and to use a magnet on the outside of the mast to pull a steel nut tied to messenger lines fed inside the mast so the alignment rods can be pulled through the mounting holes. Here's how it's done.

Jeffrey M. Stander has sailed thousands of miles and completed many projects like this one aboard his 44-foot Peterson cutter, Beatrix_. He currently lives on board_ Beatrix_ in Seattle, Washington._