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Question Wire / Rope Halyard

Hello all,

First time poster but really enjoy the forums. I have an Islander Bahama 26 made in 78. My halyards are in desperate need of replacement and are wire to rope. My question is, do I have to replace wire to rope or can I use full rope? The latter seems the easiest fix and with a little ingenuity I might not even have to go aloft. (not a fear of heights necessarily but a rather a fear of falling from them!) Purely recreational lake sailor and could use some advice on replacement and possibly tricks to easiest method of replacement.

Thanks in advance and really enjoy the insight I gain from your varied experience.

RumorHazit26
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-27-2007
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While you can often replace wire-to-rope halyards with all rope halyards, you need to check the masthead sheaves to see if they are large enough to accept the rope and of the right profile to not damage the rope.

Sheaves used for rope generally have a u-shaped profile to the groove, while sheaves for wire generally have a v-shaped profile to the groove. While you can sometimes use v-shaped wire sheaves on rope, it will tend to cause the rope to wear through faster than if you had the proper sheaves.

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post #3 of 15 Old 08-27-2007
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I am about to change mine over to all rope. In the old days the line available did not provide low enough stretch characteristics. Now there are lots of choices. You can go to the rope manufacturers web sites and use their selection tool to find what you need. ( New England or Sampson are two).

However you need to be sure that your hardware is compatible. Starting with the sheaves at your mast head. They must be large enough to handle the line size, likely 5/16" or 8 mm in your case. The sheaves must also be smooth, any damage by the wire will result in damage to your halyards. I have been told that if they are the correct size but a little rough you might be able to file/sand them smooth. I am replacing mine.

Second your turning blocks at the mast base are also likely meant for wire so they may be rough. Again I am replacing these with new ball bearing units that will be much lower friction.

Finally your halyard clutches must be able to take the new line size. My halyard tails are currently 1/2" and 7/16 ". I will be going to 5/16" and 3/8" line for my 30 footer. So you guessed it new halyard clutches are also required. Hopefully you will not need all of this but your do need to check.

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post #4 of 15 Old 08-27-2007
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Hi,

I did this to the J/30 that I bought in May. The halyards were ancient and were wire/rope halyards. I replaced them with all rope. The original purpose of wire/rope halyards was to minimize the stretch that was inherent in older, lower-tech line. Many newer lines have less stretch, are lighter, and are vastly easier on the hands.

Before you put up a halyard, it is critical to inspect your sheaves. Sheaves are usually cheap and easy to replace, but if you skip the step, you can destroy a new halyard, a lesson I learned the hard way when I rolled the dice on the main halyard sheaves on my boat. I only have the main halyard that goes to the masthead and I didn't want to go up on a single, old halyard. If you're curious, a write up of that experience is here: http://www.rambunctiousracing.com/sheaveissues.html

If the sheaves have a deep groove that is meant just for wire, then they'll need to be replaced. Many can accommodate either wire or rope. If the latter applies, examine the sheave for any burrs or wear spots that can abrade the line; it doesn't take much. See photo below for an example of wear spots.

As far as line goes, if you are just doing recreational lake sailing, then you do not need high tech line, tapered halyards, or anything else that will make the replacement unnecessarily expensive. I would suggest a decent quality line, probably with an 8mm diameter, that is easy on the hands. StaSet X is a good choice. Have the vendor install a shackle on an eye splice and a reeving splice if you aren't comfortable with splicing your own halyards (I wasn't).

The reeving splice is just a loop made from the line's cover that makes running the new halyards easier. I just cut the old halyard above the crimp and secured it through the reeving line and along the new halyard with rigging tape. Then, simply pull the old halyard out backwards and the new halyard will feed right through.

Good luck. New halyards are very nice to use and really make it look like you care about the boat. By the way, I ordered all my running rigging from Layline and they did an excellent job.

Below is an example of wear spots on a sheave. The spots are on both sides on the sheave roughly near my thumb

-Jason

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post #5 of 15 Old 08-27-2007
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StaSetX is a good choice for reduced stretch, since it has a parallel core, instead of a braided core. However, it is a bit stiffer than regular Sta-Set lines. If you want minimal stretch and less weight aloft...go with NERopes T900, which has about the same stretch as the wire you're replacing—1-1.5%. The core on this rope is made of Spectra. However, be aware that the high-tech core lines are a bit more difficult to tie knots in, so you'll need to have the rigging shop put a shackle on the sail end for you. I prefer the captive screw pin shackles by Wichard, that have the blue plastic line thimble built in.

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post #6 of 15 Old 08-27-2007
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"Finally your halyard clutches must be able to take the new line size. My halyard tails are currently 1/2" and 7/16 ". I will be going to 5/16" and 3/8" line for my 30 footer. So you guessed it new halyard clutches are also required. Hopefully you will not need all of this but your do need to check."

Gary,

I may be too late on this but I generally have an extra layer of sacrificial cover placed over the cover on smaller diameter high tech halyards where they pass through sheeves and stoppers. This does two things; since it is the covers that typically wear out on high tech line, it extends the life of the line and second it improves the grip of the stopper, or in your case would keep you from going to a new stopper.

The trick is to buy cheap dacron line and strip the cover. I have not done this myself but I understand that the trick is to make a 2 foot or so long circular fid out of light gage electrical conduit. The cover from the sacrificial line is stripped onto the fid and then slip off onto the high tech line where you need it. The ends of the sacrifical cover are tucked through the cover of the high tech line at each end and then stitched into place.

One other point, since you can generally use smaller diameter line with high tech stuff, the price often ends up being close to stretchier low tech stiff.
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-27-2007
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Don't forget to through-stitch the sacrificial cover to the inner rope, to help keep the cover in place and prevent the inner rope from creeping out through the clutch.

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Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
"Finally your halyard clutches must be able to take the new line size. My halyard tails are currently 1/2" and 7/16 ". I will be going to 5/16" and 3/8" line for my 30 footer. So you guessed it new halyard clutches are also required. Hopefully you will not need all of this but your do need to check."

Gary,

I may be too late on this but I generally have an extra layer of sacrificial cover placed over the cover on smaller diameter high tech halyards where they pass through sheeves and stoppers. This does two things; since it is the covers that typically wear out on high tech line, it extends the life of the line and second it improves the grip of the stopper, or in your case would keep you from going to a new stopper.

The trick is to buy cheap dacron line and strip the cover. I have not done this myself but I understand that the trick is to make a 2 foot or so long circular fid out of light gage electrical conduit. The cover from the sacrificial line is stripped onto the fid and then slip off onto the high tech line where you need it. The ends of the sacrifical cover are tucked through the cover of the high tech line at each end and then stitched into place.

One other point, since you can generally use smaller diameter line with high tech stuff, the price often ends up being close to stretchier low tech stiff.

Sailingdog

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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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I am blown away by this forum and the detailed responses I received from all of you. Thanks so very much! This is a fabulous web site and I will be returning daily to listen in as well as post other questions regarding my boat.

Thanks again for your help!

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post #9 of 15 Old 08-27-2007
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Here's my questions. Why wouldn't you just replace with wire to rope? It's not any more expensive and seems to be alot less hassle. I don't know of any issues with wire to rope as they have been proven through time. Are there any issues????
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CSM-

Wire-to-rope halyards actually are a bit more expensive, since you need to pay for the wire-to-rope splice and the swaging of the terminal end or eye in the end of the wire section. Also, you can't end-to-end a wire-to-rope halyard to help preserve and extend its useful lifespan. Finally, with modern ropes, it is more weight aloft than necessary today. Also, if you're a long-term cruiser, it is often easier to carry spare line, than to carry wire-to-rope halyards... in case one breaks.

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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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