Flicka 20 Mast – Tang Removal

After lowering the mast on Sampaguita, my 1985 Flicka 20, disassembly was next. All was well until the shroud and stay tang assemblies. Even installed, I could see there was galvanic activity where the stainless steel tangs met the aluminum mast. Since the tangs share the same loads as the chainplates, and I would be removing and inspecting those, it made sense to do likewise with the tangs. The mast was 34 years old, and I suspected these assemblies had been together since then.

3/8″, stainless steel bolts with nylon, locking nuts, secured each tang assembly to the mast. These were removed with ease and looked great. However, the rest would not come apart with no obvious way to pry them.

The mast is a Kenyon spar and internet research turned up Rig-Rite as a vendor. Their website aided me in understanding the assemblies.

There was an aluminum compression tube spanning the inside of the mast. Inserted at each end of this tube, were stainless steel flange bushings that held the tangs. Finally, a stainless steel bolt held the assembly together.

I identified the stainless steel tangs as the “dog bone” type, which matched the shape. There was a commonly used flange bushing with these, which defined the size of the compression tube. The compression tube served three purposes. First, it prevented the mast from being squished from tightening the stainless steel bolt holding the tang assembly together. Second, it provided a large bearing surface for the assembly’s downward force on the mast wall. With aluminum on aluminum, this would mitigate galvanic corrosion on this high-stress area. Third, the stainless steel bushings fit snugly inside the tubing, holding the tangs and reducing the hole size. A lighter stainless steel bolt could then be used, reducing weight aloft.

After 34 years the stainless steel bushings, and the aluminum tube, dissimilar metals, had seized together. I came up with a plan, then called my local rigger to see what they thought. They were kind enough to spend five minutes talking it through, and they confirmed I was on the right track.

I heated the bushings on each side with a portable propane torch. I cycled through each one, three times, with 10 seconds of direct flame. Then, I sprayed Liquid Wrench on the assemblies and let them sit overnight.

I purchased a 6″ long, 1/4″ diameter, stainless steel bolt from my local hardware store. I inserted this through the bushing on one side of the assembly, into the compression tube. I placed it up against the inside edge of the bushing on the opposite side and gently tapped the bolt with a hammer. Checking that I wasn’t damaging the mast, I gradually increased the force. Eventually, it broke free of its bond, and I was able to tap the bushing out of the compression tube. With one bushing off, the rest of the assembly slid from the mast. In the end, I had to strike the bolt quite hard to break it free, but the compression tube did its job of protecting the spar. I repeated this procedure with the upper tang assembly, and it too came apart.

It was worth going the distance to inspect the state of both the assemblies and the mast. When I reassemble them, I will use new parts and add Tef-Gel, to inhibit corrosion and ease future repairs.



8 Comments on “Flicka 20 Mast – Tang Removal

  1. Josh, this is so cool! I feel like each one of these posts is written just for me, showing me all these little details of my former boat/home. It’s an amazing process, and I’m happy you’re the one doing it, learning so much, and sharing what you’ve learned and your experiences. Thank you for sharing and writing and keeping Sampaguita sailing and healthy!


      • Maybe I can talk you into an afternoon sail sometime this year, I would love to get out on her again for just an hour or two. 😍

        I’m sailing a Montgomery 15 again. Not quite as much room!

        Thanks again, Josh!


  2. Josh, I’m facing this exact challenge on a Kenyon 3350 MORC mast on my 39-year old Creekmore 23. I’ve managed to get one off through the use of liquid and tapping the inside of the bushing with a long punch. The other has moved out somewhat but is now stuck fast. I’ve tried heat, PB spray and the punch. I’d like to try what you’re suggesting with the bolt but am unclear from your description as to how exactly it works. I can see how this would tighten it back up but not how it would for it open. Sorry to be so dense, but can you explain in more detail how the bolt approach works? Thanks!


  3. Hi Josh. I’m experiencing this exact challenge with a 39-year old Kenyon mast. I was able to get one off but the other has opened up partway and is now jammed. Your approach with the bolt sounds interesting but I am unclear from your writing as to exactly how it works. Can you be more specific? Sorry to be so dense. Many thanks! – Tony


    • Your originally stated approach was how I did it and the way a rigger expressed how to do it. Liquid wrench, heat and the punch on the inside of the bushing. I remember having to lay into it it pretty hard. Its corroded from the SS and the Al.


      • Josh, thanks. I pursued your approach and was able to get one off entirely and one loosened but would not come off. Rig Rite has been able to send me replacement compression tube and flange bushings, so planning to now cut off the one that won’t open and replace – loosened now enough to fit a sawzall blade in without damaging the mast. DAYS invested in this, but I think finally worked it out. Thanks for your advice and support!


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