Lifting Handles and Mast Support

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  • #27309


    I want to make a pair of lifting handles and a mast support (for going under bridges) for my Wayfarer Mk II. Are there any drawings/sketches available for them?



    Hi, Gary,

    Can’t help with the lifting handles, but dimensions for a boom crutch are available on “The Wayfarer Institute of Technology” website. The right-hand column about 1/3 of the way down down.

    Regards, davdor



    Hello Davdor,


    Got it! Many thanks for your help




    Bob Harland

    If you want a mast crutch for going under bridges on the Norfolk Broads it will need to be much lower than the tent boom crutch on the transom.

    The mast will need to be near horizontal to avoid fouling the burgee on the bridge! You might find that the mast will rest on the spreaders ok. Sometimes the boom crutch will do if it is rested on the floor rather than the transom.

    hope that helps




    Dave Barker

    For the old bridge at Potter Heigham (for example) we often dispense with the crutch altogether and just sit on the back tank with the mast propped on one shoulder. The person doing this can steer the boat while the other person deals with the actual lowering and raising of the mast, with a little help from the sitter.

    For a single-hander this isn’t really an option, so a very short crutch – either scissors type or perhaps one that slots over the top edge of the transom (but still allows steering) – would be an answer.

    Handles – I’ll see if I can find my sketches…


    Dave Barker

    OK – here’s more than you could ever want to hear about boat handles.

    The first thing to say is that there seem to be two commonly used patterns, a symmetrical and an asymmetrical version. To my eye the asymm. version is more elegant, but the symm. one is perhaps more authentic?

    For no particular reason I’ll start with the asymmetric:-

    I think I probably traced this from an old handle that I took off someone’s boat and subsequently printed two copies of it at 100% scale and pasted them (Prittstick) onto the timber when cutting out the blanks. (The illegible dimensions marked for the threaded rod are 145 mm and 35 mm, but these are arbitrary unless you’re replacing an existing handle and want to use the same holes).

    I have always used M6 316 stainless threaded rod for the studs, and epoxied them into the handles. Most of the commercially-made handles seem to use bolts, but for me this spoils the top of the handle, even if a neat job is made when plugging the hole. On my handles I tend to drill the holes significantly oversized, say M8, and thread them with a coarse tap, not to hold the threaded rod directly but to give the epoxy a better key. (This is almost certainly overkill, but takes almost no extra time). On the first pair that I made I did drill and tap for M6 (i.e. a screw-in fit), but the hydraulic pressure made it really difficult to screw the rod completely into the holes, and in fact squeezed some epoxy out along the grain and slightly split/burst the wood on the top of the handle! If you’re anxious about the studs turning on their own axis then just file a slight flat on one side before gluing.

    This photo illustrates an unfinished handle (in oak, because I had some), showing some of the other dimensions, all of which are approximate.

    Given that the holes in the handles are oversized I have found it easiest to align the studs by using a jig to hold them in position while the epoxy goes off. Because I’ve made quite a few handles it has been worth me making a reusable jig (from HDPE, which cleans up well) but for just a couple of handles some sacrificial scraps of softwood with the holes carefully set out and drilled would be fine. Bear in mind that whilst you can simply screw the studs into the softwood before gluing the handle on, you cannot unscrew them again afterwards – you’ll have to cut or split the jig unless it’s made in two parts, and even then there’s a good chance it will have become glued together (hence my HDPE jig). Take time to adjust the amount of each stud protruding from the jig to match the drilled hole depth in the handle.

    The holes in the handles are drilled as deep as you dare take them, basically. Some epoxy may bleed out along the grain, but this is no problem, especially if you plan to epoxy the whole handle anyway, prior to varnishing, which is probably a good idea.

    The symmetrical handles are broadly similar – this photo shows one that I removed from a boat and used as a pattern. I would actually tend to make them a little beefier than these dimensions, but that’s optional, obviously. These were originally made with bolts, and the washers were far too small.

    Basic method – having cut the blanks from an appropriately thicknessed piece of hardwood stock, sand to the finished profile before rounding over – this is vital if you’re using a bearing-guided router bit otherwise the bearing will follow any irregularities in the profile. Ideally use a router table, not a hand-held router. Some of the round-over cuts are potentially hazardous – extreme care is advised! There are also some cuts where the grain runs the wrong way. If you don’t understand any of this then you shouldn’t attempt this with a router. It would be a lot more work, but you’re unlikely to lose a finger or an eye if you sand the round edges onto the blank.

    The most time-consuming part of the job is finishing the handles. Even if you are able to round over the edges with a router you will still need to spend quite a while sanding up through a series of grades of paper to get a good finish, then epoxy, sand, varnish, sand, varnish, sand etc. Wet sanding is recommended, especially for the epoxy stage, which produces irritant dust.

    When it comes to fitting the handles to a boat you’ll be glad that you used a jig to space the threaded studs, because the required holes in the boat will then automatically be spaced at known intervals, and the studs will also be parallel, which is the only way they’ll fit through sensibly-sized mounting holes.

    If drilling through gelcoat you can avoid chipping the gel by drilling only a very small pilot hole and then enlarging it carefully with a countersink bit. Alternatively run a full-sized drill in reverse, which still drills surprisingly well. (If you go straight in forwards with a full sized bit, the flutes will tend to grab and tear off chips of gelcoat, as I discovered a long time ago). In both wooden and GRP boats it’s probably a good idea to seal the inside edges of the drilled holes with some epoxy (or at least some varnish), but make sure the epoxy has time to go off before fitting the handles.

    A timber backing piece under the deck – perhaps some ½” or ¾” marine ply (varnished) – will spread the load if there isn’t already anything suitable in place. Some 316 stainless penny washers and nyloc nuts will complete the job.

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