Normal Lifespan (?) for Rod Rigging - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 08-24-2006
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Normal Lifespan (?) for Rod Rigging

Two years ago I purchased a 36 foot sloop equiped with rod rigging. For two season we have sailed (conservatively) and the fittings and rods are showing absolutely no sign of wear and tear.

My quesion, however, is how long I can expect to go without eventually having to replace the rigging? As far as I know the rigging has been in place since the boat was commissioned in 1986. We purchaced the boat from it's original owner who ordered the rod rigging as an upgrade, I think, when he purchased the boat.

I certailnly don't have the expertise to do the job and we don't have any rigger shops where I live.

V/R

Dave
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Old 08-24-2006
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The rigging is twenty years old. A lot of it depends on how the boat was sailed. If it was raced regularly, the loads on the rig are probably higher than normal, leading to shorter life. If the boat was only sailed on weekends, in light winds, on a freshwater lake, the rig may be in almost pristine shape.

The one problem I see with rod rigging is that it can fail catastrophically, with little warning. If you have inspected the ends and don't see any signs of rusting or cracks, then it is probably still in good shape.

That said, I was out on a C&C 38 last week, that had rod rigging that was 30 years old, and the rigging was in good shape. But that boat has a couple of people who do serious maintenance on it.

Rinsing off the rig with freshwater after a sail will help prolong its life. And as my friend on the C&C 38 said, if it hasn't given out yet, it probably won't for a good long while.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 08-24-2006 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 08-24-2006
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Dye Penetrate

Obviously a good visual inspection is in order but you may also want to try a dye penetrant. Basically a liquid that you apply that will highlight cracks that are not very visible.
This is a standard method used in various industries for inspection of all metals but in particular SS as it is prone to chloride stress cracking.

I work in industry so the guy at the next cubicle has some, but asking around at industrial supply houses should turn some up. Also a good marine surveyor may assist.

Gary
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Old 08-24-2006
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Magnaflux is one of the brands of penetrant dyes. BTW, IIRC, the chloride stress cracking is more of an issue with 304 than it is with 316 SS.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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One of the most critical factors in determining the longevity of rigging, rod or wire is where the boat is located. If you are in the tropics or subtropics you should not expect to keep your rig more than 12 to 15 years. Less if you talk to some of the wire manufacturers.
Rod rigging is very difficult to inspect. To do any sort of inspection every terminal, top and bottom, must be disassembled and the surface corrosion removed. The rod should be inspected with a magnifing glass and if there is any horizontal cracking the rod needs to be either discarded or reheaded. Some vertical cracking, according to the guys at Seco South who build it, is acceptable.
Needless to say, doing an inspection on a rod rig while the mast is standing is a very time and labor intensive undertaking.
I have seen rod rigging on boats in excess of twenty years old in the Tampa area but my partner, who races, replaces his every five years.
The scariest thing about rod, like Sailing Dog said is that when it fails it doesn't give you any warning.
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Old 08-25-2006
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Doing the kind of inspection you recommend would be great, but it's light years beyond my capability for now. I wouldn’t feel at all comfortable disassembling the rigging components. I've gone up the mast and inspected every fitting, though, and haven't seen anything amiss (at least to my untrained eye). I guess the two things I have going for me is that Seward, Alaska can hardly be termed 'tropical' and that, with the rainfall being what it is, a fresh water rinsing is almost a daily occurance for the rigging.

Honestly though, I wish we had a good rigger in the area that could assist me in a more thourough inspection, but the bottom line is that I don't know of one. I certainly don't want to risk the 'catastrophic failure' that rod rigging apparently has the propensity for, but I don't know what other options I have at this point other than visual inspections and conservative sailing.

Thanks all for your advise on this matter.

V/R

Dave
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave6330
I certainly don't want to risk the 'catastrophic failure' that rod rigging apparently has the propensity for, but I don't know what other options I have at this point other than visual inspections and conservative sailing.
I don't think I would go so far as to say rod has a propensity for catastrophic failure. It's just that when it does fail, which is very rare for a well maintained rig, it doesn't warn you.
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Got it. Thanks again.

V/R

Dave
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Navtec (the makers of rod rigging) has a "white paper" on the service life of rod rigging, available here: http://www.navtec.net/support/rodrigging.cfm

They also have a more general discussion of rigging inspections here: http://www.navtec.net/support/riggingmatt.cfm

You might also look over their list of FAQ's here: http://www.navtec.net/support/faqs.cfm

Regards,

Tim
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Old 08-25-2006
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Quote:
It's just that when it does fail, which is very rare for a well maintained rig, it doesn't warn you.
That is what makes it catastrophic... no warning of a failure in the rigging generally leads to greater problems when it fails. I've seen a boat lose its rig because of the rod rigging failing when under sail. Without having a way to cut the rest of the rigging and free the mast, they would have lost the boat most likely.

From what I was told by the owner of the boat above, is that he thinks the shock loading on the rig, caused by the windward shrouds breaking, led to the backstay breaking as well.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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