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  #11  
Old 05-19-2014
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Re: How much rust is too much?

My lifelines had some visible rust, and not that long ago I took apart and cleaned and lubed the threaded fittings and figured that would help for a while. Last week I grabbed the port bow section of the lifeline while repositioning a dock line and it broke completely off. The threaded portion of the line broke off flush with the turnbuckle. A wake up call to say the least!

I replaced the entire mess with bare stainless wire with all new fittings (turnbuckles, gates, pelican hooks and all). It was really not that expensive and the feeling of security is worth every penny!
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Old 05-19-2014
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Re: How much rust is too much?

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Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
This is true, however, I race my boat and need to have uncoated wire for the offshore stuff. Stripping the wire was going to be my first step. I was just surprised at how much rust I'm seeing. A friend who is doing the same on a newer boat has shiny wire. Before I started taking the coating off, there had been slight discoloration at the swage fittings, which was worrisome, but I didn't expect there to be as much rust as there is all along the wire. I pretty much knew my lifelines needed to be replaced once I saw their condition. Thought I'd ask the question and see what great info I could glean from the answers. I always have gloves on so how it feels is not a strong argument for me. Since I short-hand and single-hand, no one is hanging off the lifelines either (ugh). Truth be known, I actually dig the look of bare SS.
If you are planning on racing then I would suggest going to synthetic anyway. Much more comfortable if you have someone hanging off the rail. Especially if you want to DIY it is much better as you can do the splices yourself, and use lashings to put them on.
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Old 05-19-2014
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Re: How much rust is too much?

Rust... depends on how much you can take visually. However, if your feeling cable spurs, replace it, no question. Whether you go coated or bare is up to you.
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Last edited by Dave_E; 05-19-2014 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 05-19-2014
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Re: How much rust is too much?

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Originally Posted by miatapaul View Post
If you are planning on racing then I would suggest going to synthetic anyway. Much more comfortable if you have someone hanging off the rail. Especially if you want to DIY it is much better as you can do the splices yourself, and use lashings to put them on.
I already race and no one is going to hang outside the lifelines on my boat, which doesn't seem safe and always seemed contrary to the racing rules. Besides, winning is just an ego boost. It's not what drives me.

I really have struggled with whether to replace with synthetic. Done a ton of research and just can't balance the pros and cons between the two. My biggest concerns about synthetic are that you can't really tell when there's UV damage, the periodic loosening of the lashings, and my lack of confidence that I can splice them correctly. The biggest issues with steel are the weight and not being able to fix it like you can with synthetic. (Maybe that 3:2 issue ratio is the tipping point right there...) I've read where costs are not really a factor between the two, but haven't priced them out. So, yeah, I'm leaning toward bare SS because I like the fact that I can assess its condition over time and it will last longer, but I'm really still on the fence!

Last edited by gamayun; 05-19-2014 at 02:08 PM.
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Re: How much rust is too much?

I prefer coated S/S and have found that putting heat shrink tube over the joint between the coating and the swage fitting will extend the life of the lines dramatically. As long as the coating remains unbroken the wire stays dry.

Wiping them down regularly with Armor-All or similar and removing them during the off season helps a lot as well.
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Re: How much rust is too much?

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There is nothing wrong with replacing coated wire with coated wire. You have a cruising boat and the quoted recommendations are for racing boats in races. By just stripping the plastic coating you will find the wire is murder on wet hands. Keep with plastic coated it looks and feels better, just change it if rust appears.
Yes there is. Coated wire is a known corrosion problem and there is no way to prevent water from migrating under the coating. The raci rules were developed as a safety issue, and coated wire was specifically prohibited because there is no way to do it safely. Which is why many of the best riggers just won't install them anymore, they are dangerous, and there is no advantage to them over synthetics.
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Re: How much rust is too much?

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Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
I already race and no one is going to hang outside the lifelines on my boat, which doesn't seem safe and always seemed contrary to the racing rules. Besides, winning is just an ego boost. It's not what drives me.

I really have struggled with whether to replace with synthetic. Done a ton of research and just can't balance the pros and cons between the two. My biggest concerns about synthetic are that you can't really tell when there's UV damage, the periodic loosening of the lashings, and my lack of confidence that I can splice them correctly. The biggest issues with steel are the weight and not being able to fix it like you can with synthetic. (Maybe that 3:2 issue ratio is the tipping point right there...) I've read where costs are not really a factor between the two, but haven't priced them out. So, yeah, I'm leaning toward bare SS because I like the fact that I can assess its condition over time and it will last longer, but I'm really still on the fence!

It's pretty simple, synthetics (dyneema only) is stronger, lighter, cheaper, and easier to replace. The downside is that they are not as cut resistant as stainless.

Recent testing on chaff found that assuming a 316 stantion, properly sized dyneema will actually wear away the cutting edge of a sharp stantion edge long before the line looses significant strength.

As for cost... I replaced all of the lifelines on my 30' boat for $120, or about the cost of one turnbuckle fitting. They are cheap enough to replace every year, but I haven't bothered. Mine are going on five years old now and are still in good shape. Their absolute strength is an open question, but they are still far stronger than the bow stantion, as evidenced by the fact that the bow stantion had to be replaced last year when a crew member fell onto the lifelines and two of the bow legs ripped out, but the lifelines were un damaged.
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Re: How much rust is too much?

Thanks Greg. It's posts like yours and miatapaul that have kept me on the fence about this.

But it won't be for much longer....I just removed all the lines and will need to make a decision by the morning.
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Re: How much rust is too much?

Hmmm......I see some have "night glow fibers" woven into the line to highlight the deck edge at night. I could be possibly swayed by a bioluminescent boat.
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Old 05-20-2014
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Re: How much rust is too much?

I expect to have to replace my lifelines soon. Thanks for asking all the good questions! Please keep us updated as to what you find, and what you do. I've seen articles on replacing the steel with synthetic, and I'm leaning in that direction, but like you I have concerns about my ability to put in a good splice (though the Dyneema I bought for making soft shackles seems easy to splice).
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