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tagster 07-12-2007 04:51 PM

Aging Rigging
So, having consulted a rigging specialist who suggested my rigging cannot be tuned because the turn buckle bolts are buried and there is no more room to take up slack. Now replacing the rigging will run me $5000 around here, but I'm about to do a passage (which is actually a required, not for leisure) and I don't have yet another $5000 to dump into vessel, which I am considering renaming to "Wallet Eater" or maybe "Billfold Breaker".

Next year, I plan on doing of course another round of maintenance. And by then, I may very well have the amount of money required to fully replace the old and tired rigging, the reasoning being it's too stretched out to re-tune and with the turnbuckle bolts buried into the ends he can tighten them no further. The current rigging is very traditional, and the stuff this guy uses would look like crap on my old boat. He suggested I talk to some guy in port townsend whom specializes in more traditional rigging. I'm sure it will cost the same or more.

So to get me by for this trip and until next year, I have concocted a plan. My turn buckles are the type with two threaded knee-ends, and a double threaded bolt (threads in opposite directions) going into each end. The bolt has a hole in the center so you can stick a screw driver in it and twist it tighter or loser, and it will tighten from both sides. I intend to pull these bolts, and grind them down to buy me some space to take up slack. Put them back and tighten them up. What I was wondering is this: Does anyone think this is an absolutely horrible idea for a temporary solution, and think I will die or break my mast or sink my boat and have to row sixty miles back to shore. And secondly, does anyone know of a good reference I can find for reading about determining necessary tension based on gauge, mast size and configuration particularly for wood masts and unique rigging configurations (like a schooner!).


sailingdog 07-12-2007 07:42 PM

Yup...that's exactly what boats are... floating accounts payables. ;)

sailorjim99 07-12-2007 07:53 PM

Whip off to your library and get acopy of A SEA VAGABOND'S WORLD by Bernard Moitessier.

Page 42 might have a simple way of getting you out of trouble for a short while. He used chain to secure his rigging. If you loosen off your adjustment, cut the wire, add the chain and tighten it all up, it just may work for you.
Get the book and have a look.


sailingdog 07-12-2007 08:09 PM

Actually, come to think of it...there might be a better solution if the problem is that the rigging is too stretched out to tighten further. Cut a bit off the bottom of the shrouds and stays, and then put a StaLok or HiMod swageless fitting on there... That would remove some of the length, and still allow you to adjust the rigging properly. Also, you could re-use the fittings for when you replace the rigging. :D

danjarch 07-12-2007 11:05 PM

You might try your local hardware store. See if you can get shorter tunbuckles.

sailingdog 07-12-2007 11:08 PM


Originally Posted by danjarch
You might try your local hardware store. See if you can get shorter tunbuckles.

Bad idea... the local hardware store won't have stainless steel turnbuckles... and generally nothing as large as the ones used in rigging, since most home uses of turnbuckles don't have breaking loads in the thousands of pounds.

hellosailor 07-12-2007 11:14 PM

I'm with sd on cutting the ends off and putting on new fittings, but I suppose that would ruin the "traditional" look of your rigging? So trimming down the bolts would work.

More problematic is that if the rigging has stretched out that far, it may also be unsafe. The recommendations today are to change standing rigging after 10-20 years, depending on the service and condition. Or, if you run a cloth up the wire and you find ANY meathooks--replace it. Any meathooks at all mean the cable is failing.

Sometimes you've got to make do...but how much stress will this trip put on your rigging, and what could a rigging failure cost you?

sailingdog 07-12-2007 11:22 PM

If the cables are meathook free.. they may be okay to temporarily use a bit with non-swaged fittings so they can be tensioned properly.

The question HS asks is the key one to ask. If you don't replace the rigging, but jury-rig a workaround, regardless of the workaround, what is the worst possible scenario if the jury-rig fails? You could lose the mast and possibly the boat.

danjarch 07-12-2007 11:45 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong but your talking about replacing it all in a year. The galvinized turn buckles on the three tall ships I've worked on had lasted over twenty years, so I think it will be ok. If the turnbuckles at the local hardware store aren't heavy enough, try your local tractor suply house. They should deffently have something that would work. As to not streching the shrouds and stays any futher, it's a risk you have to decide for your self. Your not suposed to recut a motorcycle chain either, but I've meet more then a few who have done it to buy another couple months before they have to replace it. I've done it myself. You know your boat, do you expect this passage to be rough?

Gramp34 07-13-2007 12:31 PM

I'd be very surprised if the rigging has stretched. I think it's much more likely that the rest of the boat is moving, for instance, the mast step getting soft, or the cabin roof is rising and pulling the topsides in, or the tangs on the mast are working downward.

Shortening the studs on the turnbuckles is a perfectly fine fix. Just make sure that the remaining engaged thread length is at least twice the thread diameter (e.g., 1" minimum engaged length on 1/2" diameter threads).

By "traditional", do you mean galvanized steel wire and turnbuckles? If so, shop around. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised on prices. For instance, look at McMaster-Carr (McMaster-Carr Supply Company. Search for "turnbuckle". They carry a lot of parts in forged galvanized steel. Stay away from hardware store products because a lot of Asian pure crap is being sold. McMaster-Carr is an industrial distributor with no minimum order, so they carry decent quality. They also carry galvanized wire rope and other fittings. Figure out what you've got now and you can probably replace it all, and for far less than you've been quoted for stainless rigging.

When you do unstep the mast, I'd make a very careful inspection and not stop until the source of these loosened shrouds is discovered and fixed.

Good luck,


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