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  #1  
Old 02-05-2007
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Standing Rigging Too Old?

I have a 30 year old Cascade 36. It was a kit boat that was built by a private party.

I want to put a roller furling jib on it, and to do that I will most likely have to replace the forestay because it is way too big (by too big - I mean the gauge of the wire).

I was talking to a rigger at the Boat Show and he told me that 30 year old standing rigging was too old, and that it should be replaced. After doing some research on the internet, I found that the acceptable age for standing rigging is 10-20 years. Talking to my friends (boat owners), I hear that most 30 YO boats still have their original standing rigging.

I plan to have a couple of riggers look at the boat and estimate what it would take (if anything) to prepare it for a roller furling jib, and of course to evaluate the seaworthiness of it's standing rigging. However, I know that the rigger is going to be motivated to advise me to replace it - why shouldn't they?

The boat was "over-rigged", in that the rigging is way more heavy-duty than would normally be required. I examined the wires as far as I can reach (all nice and smooth) and the places where it joins to the deck. It all looks ok to me - no cracks or rust showing. I have not examined the wires all the way up, nor have I inspected the connections to the mast.

The boat has been up the inside passage to Alaska at least once, and it sat in a slip without being used for 15 years. That's pretty much all I know about it's history (except for my own use of the boat over the past year - which has been light-duty sailing).

I'd hate to replace perfectly good standing rigging. However, I'd also really hate to have my standing rigging fail when we are out sailing!
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Old 02-05-2007
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I don't believe you mentioned whether the original rigging was stainless or galvanized.

Probably no matter: the rigger is right...you can't trust 30-year old standing rigging. Worse, still: you'll probably be well advised to replace all the associated hardware including, perhaps, the chainplates.

Much depends on how the boat has been sailed and where. From your comments, it would seem the boat has seen some...maybe lots of...saltwater. Also, your decision may be tempered by the type of sailing you plan to do. If it's just local cruising within a short distance of your base, that's one thing. But if you're planning to do long-distance ocean sailing, that's quite another.

I'd find a reputable rigger and get his/her recommendations. Then, bite the bullet and do what's required.

Bill
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Old 02-05-2007
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Before you needlessly replace good rigging, suggest to the rigger that they do a ***proof-load*** test. For example: Die penetrant inspection of the terminals, then loading the rigging to 80% of its ultimate tensile values ... then replace that which shows deformation/elongation or fails at 80%.

Dont do this yourself as the rigging should be contained so as to prevent and control the 'snap-back' WHEN the rigging member breaks. If you dont know 110% how to do this you risk serious injury; but, a knowedgeable rigger with the proper equipment can do this safely. Proof-loading doesnt give a 100% guarantee ... but will show immediately when/what to replace.
Wholesale replacement of rigging at any age is ... silly and costly as there ARE methods to evaluate.
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Old 02-05-2007
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Rich,

"Wholesale replacement of rigging at any age is ... silly and costly as there ARE methods to evaluate."

Maybe so. But the insurance companies and many professional riggers don't agree with this notion. Many companies simply will not insure your boat if the rigging is over a certain age, and 30 years -- especially in a saltwater environment -- is WAY beyond any reasonable age to keep old rigging. Unless you're just gonna sail 'round the buoys'.

IMHO.

Bill
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Old 02-05-2007
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Ditto Bills comments. If the wire is OK still, the most likely failure points are the swages and other connection hardware. Here's a great exposition on what to look for:
http://www.dixielandmarine.com/yachts/DLrigprob.html

Personally, before spending my $$ on a new rig for something to be weekend sailed...I'd want to see some evidence of the deterioration from the rigger and not just an "it's old and needs to be replaced".
Having said that, we replaced the entire rig on both of our last 2 boats in the interest of peace of mind while at sea...so I guess it kind of depends on what is found and how you intend to sail the boat. BTW...If you do replace the rig, consider the mechanical terminals rather than swages. (Like Norseman,Staylock etc.)
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Thank you all for your replies. I read this board alot and have found answers to many of my questions here.

Ouch - replace the chainplates? I couldn't examine them because they quickly disappear. I'm not sure where they go LOL - I see bolts on the inside of the boat where the chianplates are, but the chainplates must be embedded inside the fiberglass.

I did find the dixieland website - that was how I figured out what to inspect. That is an excellent description of what to look for.
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S/S Crevice Corrosion

The following parts were removed from my boat when she was just 17 years old. She was rigged with top-of-the line Navtec rod rigging, and spent most of her life in salt water. She was sailed hard in the Eastern Caribbean.

In December 1997 we noticed the starboard topmast shroud was making a slightly weird angle with its rigging screw. Upon inspection, the rigging screw was found to be cracked, a victim of crevice corrosion. A pic of this rigging screw appears in Bill Seifert's wonderful book on offshore sailing.

The offending shroud was replaced, and a year later all the standing rigging was replaced with 10mm British s/s 1x19 wire. All the fittings were also replaced. As a precaution, we pulled all the chainplates. These were very hefty. The bolts in the pic below broke upon removal, as did others. The chainplates failed a stress test in a local machine shop knowledgeable about sailboat rigging. All were replaced, including the stempiece.

Yes, it was costly. Yes, I was in sticker shock. Now, ten years and many thousands of ocean miles later I'm VERY VERY glad to have replaced the rigging.

See pic at: http://gallery.wdsg.com/Miscellaneou...iceCorr?full=1

By the way, the item at the bottom center of the pic is the genoa clew fitting...just found and replaced last year.

Bill

Last edited by btrayfors; 02-05-2007 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 02-05-2007
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Generally, the first parts to fail are usually the lower fittings on the stays and shrouds, especially if they are swaged. These tend to collect and hold more water and are exposed to the elements more due to their orientation and location. The wire itself generally does not fail, unless it has chafed or fatigued from excessive movement in some way.

Rigging that is 30-years-old may in fact be okay...depending on the maintenance and the storage and usage of the boat. I would have them inspect it rather than doing a wholesale replacement without cause. However, if more than one piece is suspect after inspection, I would do a wholesale replacement at that point. The chainplates are also definitely candidates for inspection. They are often subject to far more crevice corrosion effects than is the rest of the rigging.
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Last May I purchased a 30 year old sailboat. Before I could take it home I had to replace the jib stay as it had a broken strand at the swagge fitting. In July the main halyard shackle let go (main goes down and halyard goes up). Then in September the port spreader end tip broke in half (looked up to see the upper shroud really really limp, what the????). Had the mast taken down and took everything off of it. Found the backstay had three broken strands where some type of fitting had previously been installed, but high enough up so as not to be seen. Under the lower shroud tangs found the start of pretty good electrolysis. Mast head looked good so just had to clean and service pulleys and clevis pins. Replaced back stay and upper shrouds. Running rigging was pitiful so replaced the halyards. Yes it was more money than I wanted to spend just then, but its really nice to sail without always worring about the mast falling down.
John
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BTW, this is a good reason not to tape your rigging... Taping the rigging is a good way to cause it to fail prematurely. It is also a wise precaution to use lanocote or some other heavy anti-corrosion type paste on the threads of the rigging, as it can help prevent crevice corrosion from occuring. From the photos in the link Btrayfors posted, most of those look like either taping or crevice corrosion-related failures.
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