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Old 05-04-2001
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Testing the condition of bronze turnbuckles

I recently purchased a 1967 Cal. Going into the purchase I knew some items would need to be replaced. Specifically the standing rigging. I know that good guality bronze should last a long time. My question is how do I tell if a bronze turnbuckle or the attached fittings are about to fail. I recently used "CLR" to remove any corrosion and ended up with a nice shiny bronze turnbuckle that looks great but how do I know there is''nt some microscopic crack that will send the mast crashing down around me.
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Testing the condition of bronze turnbuckles

If you want to do it yourself, there is an ink-like substance that will seek microcracks in hardware and define them. Use a loupe or a magnifying glass. The cracks show up as black or dark blue lines in the hardware. Call a rigging specialist and ask where you might get a little of the magic goo...but don''t forego the expertise of a rigging RIGGING surveyor if you have serious concerns. Many surveyors check for hooks, do an overview inspection but aren''t necessarily rigging experts....
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Old 05-04-2001
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Testing the condition of bronze turnbuckles

The BEST inspection is done by taking the rigging to one who has the magnetic field (Magnaflux®) analysis equipment. The next best is to remove the rigging and use a specialized dye penetrant, also from Magnaflux. I would NOT do this on the boat .... a degreaser, a dye, and a developer. Macroscopic cracks due to embrittlement failure (cold working) will show as faint red lines on the developer. I think West Marine also sells the dye system. OR... go to a Magnaflux distributor, be super polite, etc. ... and they just might give you a "freebee" small sample/demo kit that would be enough to do a moderate sized sailboat.
Otherwise, simply clean (but dont polish) the terminal ends and inspect carefully by eyeball or with a magnifying glass, etc. ... for visible "teeny" cracks (not deformations due to swaging), especially those running longitudinally (lengthwise) on the fitting or those across the end from where the cable inserts to the outside surface of the connection. Hope this helps.
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