How to Restore and protect an Aluminum mast?
Damon Gannon asked:
I have a sailboat that has seen a lot of ocean miles in the past 3 decades. Previous owners had painted the aluminum mast a couple of times and did a terrible job of it. The paint has failed so I stripped it all the way back to bare aluminum. I want to leave it bare but I want to protect it. Do you recommend that I use Aluma Brite, Alumetron, and/or Aluma Buff? Which ones and in which order should they be used? Thanks.
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The choice of products and use depends a lot on the final finish that you want. Now that you have it stripped to bare metal, you can choose between a chrome finish or an anodized appearance.
Aluminum masts are made from extruded aluminum, so they do not have a grain-like mill finished aluminum plate. It’s quite easy to buff it to a mirror or chrome finish using Alumabuff, a rotary buffer, and wool pad and then you can protect the finish with Alumetron. I’ve talked to a few sailors that did this but after the novelty wore off, found the glare from sunlight annoying and objectionable when under sail.
If you want an anodized look, you can get this using Alumabrite CBX. First, you need to scrub the surface well to remove any pollutants that can affect the even penetration of the Alumabrite CBX. Failure to do this step first could result in streaks and splotches where the contaminants were not removed.
Next, spray on Alumabrite CBX, (be sure that the entire surface is evenly wet and do not allow it to dry before rinsing it off), and allow it to work until the aluminum starts to turn a milky color, similar to anodized. When you’re happy with the color, then rinse it off with a pressure washer or garden hose. After it’s dry you can apply 4 thin coats of Alumetron.
Alumetron will protect against corrosion, even from salt air, and give you better protection than paint. Alumetron will bond chemically to the aluminum for maximum durability. If you’re sailing in salt water and are concerned about keeping salt off the mast, you can overcoat it with VS721. Salt can’t stick to VS721, so cleaning the mast consists of rinsing with a garden hose. The salt just falls off.
Thanks for your question,
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