Mast Assembly Instructions

Last updated January 4, 2019

Please read before attempting to assemble mast.

Unpack mast carefully and check to be sure that you have received all necessary parts. if there is any hidden damage, it must be reported to the trucking company and Ballenger Spar Systems immediately (see shipping damage info sticker on package).

All painted spars must be unwrapped immediately upon receipt and never wrapped in plastic or laid on any wet, non porous surfaces or blistering of the paint may result. This occurrence is not covered by our warranty. anodized surfaces must never be washed with any strong base solutions (caustic soda, some paint strippers, some bilge cleaners, etc.) or the anodize may be stripped from the surface of the spar. this is also not covered by our warranty.

Mechanical Splice Assembly

Some masts are shipped with the mechanical splice disassembled for shipping reasons. Assembly is quite simple. One side of the splice is shipped assembled and can be used as a guide. Sometimes there are different length screws used in the front of the mast versus the sides so be aware of that. One can double check by removing a screw from the assembled splice side to double check.

Both sections should be placed on a relatively level surface such as saw horses. Line them both up and tie the corresponding halyard tag lines together. There is a PVC splice piece in the electrical tube that helps to guide the joint together. Slowly slide the two mast pieces together making sure that the PVC splice connects and that the tag lines don’t get pinched in the splice. It helps to tighten the tag lines as the splice is pulled together. A ratchet strap or block and tackle can be used to pull the mast sections together, but usually this is unnecessary. Once the two mast sections meet, start to install screws in the front of the mast first. Use Loctite, 5200 or silicone on the screw threads and under the heads. Tighten each of the screws. After the front row (s) are installed, go to the next row aft on one side. After that row go to the same row on the opposite side and complete that row. Follow the same sequence, alternating port and starboard, working aft until all of the screws are installed. There are usually a couple of aluminum bars on the aft face. Those should be the last to be screwed together. Check for alignment by sighting the sail track. The splice screws can be loosened and the re tightened if required to help realign the sections. In some cases installing the aft bars first will help align the sail track.

Spreader assembly

The mast is easiest to assemble if it is lying track side down on saw horses. the first step is to install the spreader bars. They are usually marked with their position and direction forward. they are pre fitted at the shop before painting or anodizing. the bars are installed from the starboard side of the mast with the angle in the bar up and they should be a very snug fit. It may require tapping into place with a rubber mallet. do not use a steel hammer- it will mushroom the end of the bar and make the spreader fit impossible. sometimes a tiny amount of filing is required to remove some of the paint or anodize buildup around the hole. Do this very carefully and keep it to an absolute minimum because you want a very tight spreader bar fit. the halyards should all be behind (aft) of the spreader bars. the only exception is when a pole lift or staysail halyard is very close to a spreader bar. be very careful not to snag or pinch one of the tag lines or halyards when installing the spreader bars.

On all but the smallest spreaders, spreader keys are used on the spreader bars to fill the space between the bar and spreader. the 3.25" wide spreaders use one in the front and the back and the 4.75" wide spreaders use only one in the front of the bar. these again were prefit at the factory and should be used in the position in which they were installed on the spreader bar. lubricate the bar and keys with lanocote and slide one of the spreaders on the bar until the bolt hole align and bolt in place. if the bolt holes don't line up, you may have the bar backwards. coat the bolts with lanocote and install. make sure that the first spreader installed is flush against the mast and install the second on the other side. you will probably notice that the bolt holes on the second side to not exactly line up athwartships. this is intentional, do not drill them out. this slight mis alignment insures that the system will be tight after it is bolted. use either a clamp to compress the mast athwartships or use a drift pin in one of the bolt holes to align the holes. bolt as before.

Rigging assembly

Install the shrouds and stays on the mast. there are many different terminations for standing rigging, especially with rod rigging. the two most common with wire rigging are t tangs and external tangs. external tangs require pinning with the clevis and cotter pins supplied. bend the cotter pins open a minimum of 30 degrees. It is best to have the cotter pins on the inside of the tang. be sure that the cotter pins are large enough and that the clevis pins are long enough so that the cotter is not bearing hard on the tang. the wearing of the cotter on the tang can cause the cotter to fail.

T tangs are very easy to install. turn the tang 90 degrees to its normal position and insert in the tang backer. install the appropriate rubber t tang plug above the tang. a small amount of clear silicone will insure that it stays in place. the plugs are not necessary, but they do help to keep water out of the mast and the shrouds in place when stepping the mast.

Since there are so many different terminations for rod rigging, it is best to check with the factory for instructions on specific installations.

Install the shrouds in the spreader tips. use lanocote liberally on all of the bearing surfaces and threads. tape and boot the spreader tips. use caution in protecting the spreader ends. make sure that the tips can drain so that water will not be trapped around the spreader tip. The combination of stainless, aluminum or carbon, and salt water make a powerful battery and galvanic corrosion will cause rapid deterioration of the spreader tip. leather boots or the molded rubber ones work well. teflon tape on the extreme ends of the tip are many times enough.

Lubricate the threads of the turnbuckles with lanocote, tef-gel or lithium grease. this is important to prevent galling when the turnbuckles are adjusted. be sure that there are no damaged threads or burrs on the cotter pin hole when assembling the turnbuckles. do not force the turnbuckles if they are binding, this will only damage the threads and compromise the strength of the turnbuckle. call the factory if you are having problems with thread fit.

If mechanical fittings are to be installed on the shrouds be sure to read our instructions on installing them. we will not warranty galled fittings unless our instructions are read and followed. please call the factory if you do not have a copy.

Installation of electronics

The mast mounted lights and wiring are tested at the factory but transportation can vibrate bulbs loose or destroy filaments so it is important to check the lighting before installation of the mast. Care should be taken to insure that the masthead instruments will not be damaged by the crane or hoist when stepping the mast. It is best to check with the yard for advice on weather to install masthead and other electronics before the mast is stepped. The wiring at the base of the mast should be arranged so that there is no danger of damage when stepping the mast.

Lifting the mast

The mast should always be lifted on the long axis of the extrusion, never sideways. the mast is strongest in the fore and aft dimension and may be damaged if lifted sideways. Lines on each spreader tip can be used to stabilize the mast during the initial lifting procedure. once the mast is vertical, it can be rotated to its required orientation.

Never stand directly under a lifted mast or put appendages under the butt.


Never modify, drill holes, or cut openings in the spar without first checking with the factory. Tthis is an engineered spar system and any unauthorized modification of the spars or rigging will void the warranty and may compromise the integrity of the system. Property damage and personal injury or death can result from improperly executed modifications. Consult with the factory before attempting any modification or addition to the spar system.

Other helpful tips:

  1. Use rags around the mast collar to protect the mast as it is passed through the deck collar.

  2. Set the center of the mast step slightly aft of directly below the center of the deck collar to allow for prebend in the mast.

  3. When the mast is on the step be sure that the butt of the mast comes in contact with the mast step evenly. the mast should be sitting on the step with full contact when the headstay is made to length. if the mast doesn't contact the step evenly, there is danger of damage to the mast and or the step. some bendy masts have a slight "rocker" cut into the front edge so that it will bend and not point load the front of the mast. this configuration will show a slight gap on the forward face of the mast and is normal.

  4. Be sure to pin a tape the turnbuckles after tuning the mast. this is very important because cotter pins are quite sharp and can cause injury unless they are bent so that the sharp edges are buried in the turnbuckle body and taped over. use plastic rigging tape.

  5. Using Lanocote or TefGel inside the base of the mast can help reduce corrosion at the butt. also coating the step bolts with Lanocote will make expedite later removal.

  6. Chock the mast with rubber chocking or Spartite and make sure that the mast is not point loaded in the collar. Use Spartite only on carbon masts .

  7. New rigging will stretch after a few sails and will need to be re tuned. make sure that this is done as soon as excessive play is evident in the leeward shrouds when sailing .

  8. We coat our anodized masts with a clear acrylic sealer before shipping. This wipe on finish can be reapplied yearly and will help protect the surface and keep it looking good. It is also helpful in restoring old anodized finishes. Spar Seal is available from the factory.

  9. Any questions? Please call or email.