Sunday, October 20, 2002
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10/16/02 - Pondering the Mast
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Now, on to the mast. The specs for the mast call for a 9'3" spar, tapered from about 1 1/2" at either end to around 2" and some change at its widest point. The taper at the base is quite pronounced, going from the thinnest point to one of the thicker points in 12 1/2", followed by additional taper points every 16 1/2" over the length of the mast. The mathematically inclined idiot savants among you will quickly calculate that this actually results in a spar 9' 3 1/2" long, a total of 1/2" longer than the specification calls for. I speculate that this is no error, rather, that the missing fraction of an inch actually projects into another dimension to allow for quantum stability. So I'll have that going for me on blustery days.

10/16/02 - The Victims
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As always, finding wood for the mast is so far the most difficult element of the process. Naturally all the books call for a spar made of clear, straight Sitka spruce, a wood found only in natural history museums and on Howard Hughe's monstrosity the Spruce Goose. At first I was completely convinced that this wood never actually existed, but with a little research I found out otherwise.

Apparently, the entire nation was once covered with thick, verdant forests of the stuff from sea to shining sea, but then crazed white men, addled by small pox, venereal diseases, racism and rum chopped down and burned every stick of kindling from Portland, Maine to San Diego, California to make religious icons and implements of torture, with the consequence that contemporary self-loathing historians and radical environmentalists now enjoy a pretty good living.

In the end I settled on Douglas Fir. Over the course of several days I made trip after trip to lumber yards all over town, collecting reasonably straight, reasonably clear 1x3x10 planks till I judged that I had enough to make up the length.

10/16/02 - Let The Inquisition Begin!
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Yes, I have ways of making wood talk, do I not? Heh heh heh.

Every clamp I owned was used in the mast gluing process, along with more epoxy than I have ever used at one time. Four planks were coated with a starvation prevention coat of pure epoxy on both sides (except the outer sides) followed by a layer of goop thickened with micro-balloons. Lots and lots of goop. Much Saran Wrap was stretched about the place in a futile attempt to prevent gluing the mast to my house. The mast supports in the photograph were carefully placed and leveled using state of the art laser measuring devices costing millions of dollars. Strangely enough, the mast came out quite straight, with nary a bend or twist.

10/16/02 - Safety First, by Golly
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Safety is an important concern of mine in all aspects of wood work, so I engaged a highly recommended expert to monitor all processes and procedures to help insure a maximum level of protection for all concerned. He is quite good at what he does, but he does have a tendency to lick my face whenever he wants to go to the bathroom.

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