Spar Maintenance

Here's simple tip for anyone laying down their masts and have need to repair checks and also essesntial for the top of your bowsprit.  Keep the water out and so will the rot.  The spar must be horizontal.  Can't do this aloft.  Last summer we went through Blackbird's masts and opened all the checks, small and large with tip of a hot putty knife.  Some people use beeswax to fill checks, Blackbird's sitka spars which are impeccable with respect to rot after 83 years have always had checks filled with pine pitch.  Its a very simple procedure. If there is old pitch just melt out any voids with a hot putty knife.  The old pich will stay in, no need to try to get it out, it will melt together with the new pitch.  I set up a small tin can on sterno, with a small heavy gague wire handle and melt pitch in that.  Tape off the checks and then quicly putty in the molten pitch into the check.  I usually keep another can of pitch on the burner so I awalys have one hot.  I use old pitch from the bilge, though new pitch also works fine.   Within minutes of cooling, pull the tape and trim any excess cold pitch with the side of a chisle or a sharp chisel if you are careful.  You can also smooth things or wipe of excess with a clean rag and acetone.  You can varnish over within a few minutes.   So if you have a check in the spar, especially one that causes varnish to split and peel, fill it for the spars sake.  The maintenance should last about 20-30 years before it needs to be redone.   I'll post pictures when I find them.