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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 07-06-2007
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Broken Spreader

I finally finagled a few days off this past week and was looking foreword to some sailing on lake Muskegon and lake Michigan on me and my wife's ranger 26. We bought the boat this spring and have avoided almost all the problems that rangers were infamous for such as leaky keel bolts, leaky hull to deck seam ect... But naturally on Thursday afternoon as I am giving my in-laws a lesson on why heeling is ok and that keel boats will not flip or be damaged by the 15 degrees of heel we were feeling right then my windward, port spreader snaps showering the deck in wood splinters and and terrifying everyone on board. We got the foresail rolled in as we tacked to take the pressure of the main sail off the port shroud. Everything is fine as far as I can see except for one snapped rotten spreader. The shrouds are in great shape and so is the rest of the rigging except evidently the spreaders, I am having a professional rigger install new aluminum spreaders and check over the rest of the rigging. What I am really wondering is has anyone ever had a wooden spreader break before and is there something that I am not seeing causing this. Also there is a very good chance that my in-laws will never set foot on the boat again...not all is lost.
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Old 07-06-2007
Whampoa
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Can you post any photos of the broken spreader ? Hard to say without looking at it. What maintenance (ie paint or varnish) was done to the spreaders over the years?

Last edited by Whampoa; 07-06-2007 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 07-06-2007
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If the spreaders weren't meticulously maintained, it is very likely that dry rot set in, and was the cause of the spreader failure. However, without seeing photos, it is hard to say what happened, since we don't know your boat, haven't seen your boat, and haven't seen the spreader.
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I will take some photos hopefully early next week when I move the boat back to the yard that is fixing it. The spreaders were painted white and it would be my guess that nothing else was done to protect them. Is there any advantage to staying with wood spreaders or would it be wise to just use aluminum for the new ones?
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Old 07-07-2007
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Spreaders should also exactly bisect the angle formed by the shrouds, where they meet the shroud - that is they should be angled slightly upwards. Many a spreader (and mast) has been lost due to this being incorrect.
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Old 07-07-2007
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I would go with aluminum ones, they're stronger and lower maintenance overall.
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Catalina 30s originally came with wooden spreaders. As the wood aged, some sailors soaked them in epoxy and put them back up. The replacement is aluminum and costs something like $300. Too bad the inlaws were on the boat at the time. That was painful to read...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JomsViking
Spreaders should also exactly bisect the angle formed by the shrouds, where they meet the shroud - that is they should be angled slightly upwards. Many a spreader (and mast) has been lost due to this being incorrect.
That sounds a bit extreme when you consider the angles presented... is there any reference for this?

It seems that it would only be true if you were only considering compression force of the shroud onto the spreader only.
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I'm really curious if having the spreaders angled up slightly is correct as well, mechanically it would make sense in a static system but the rigging is going to have many different forces on it not to mention the mast will bend. If you have a resource for this I would love to see it, but either most new boats come incorrectly rigged or there is more at play here.
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Old 07-07-2007
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The comment above refering to bisecting the angles at the spreaders for proper alignment is supported in the following text on rigging.

The Complete Rigger's Apprentice: Tools and Techniques for Modern and Traditional Rigging (Hardcover)
by Brion Toss (Author)


If you don't have this book in your onboard reference library I recommend it highly. The book is well regarded in the sailing community.

Go to Amazon.com and search for this book online. Then search for page 281 and you will find a discussion of this topic.
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