Swage vs mechanical fittings
I'm about to buy a Newport 41. The original rod rigging is 27 y/o and the consensus seems to be that (even without a rigging inspection) its time has come and its time to replace it (based on its age alone).
I'm planning to re-rig with wire (rod seems to be prohibitively more expensive, - the quote was x3 for materials). My surveyor recommended using mechanical fittings (e.g. Sta-lock). I'm told these don't allow water to collect so easily and so are less prone to corrosion, they permit disassembly, inspection and cleaning inside the fitting.
On other boats, I have seen the wire around where water collects inside swages start to rust less than 18 months after installation.
So, my original plan was swage at the top and mechanical at the bottom.
However, the advice from my yard is that mechanical fittings are less reliable when poorly installed -- they have seen instances of wire pulling out of terminals. Another complaint is that you need to take the fitting apart to see whether it was assembly correct the time.
They somewhat like inflatable PFDs. If you *really* want to know whether the thing was put together right last time, you need to throw it in the bath to set it off. But if you set it off, you will need to service it then you will still be worrying, "did I put that together back together right last time?"
So, why go for something more complicated?
So, what do you say? Swage or mechanical?
Could the bottom swages could be filled with sealant? I'm thinking of maybe using something wax based. My thinking is that wax is naturally water repellent and easily removed to allow cleaning and drying? Ever heard of this?
I belive that Sta-Lok and Norseman both recommend sealing the fittings, but HI-Mod recommends that you do not. If you follow the manufacturers recommendations and instructions closely you should have no problem.
I think you should ask a professional for an opinion. As far as I know rod rigging may last indefinetly. Rod rigging is more expensive to begin with, perhaps thats why it can have a long life.
Hayn hi-mod go on FAR easier than Norseman or stalock. The retaining ring accepts the individual strands and keeps them in place while you assemble. They look better and seem to resist surface corrosion better too. I've used Stalock, Norsesman, Hayn and swage; Hayn wins hands down for ease of use and re-use. When new they look like jewelry on your boat. 2 cents.
I would be wary of sealing fittings; sealed ss is liable for crevice corrosion when deprived of 02; I'm surprised the manufacturer suggests this.
I would suspect that wire rusting after 18 month exposure might not be very good quality; simple exposure shouldn't rust high quality ss.
I have Sta-Loks, but should I need to re-rig, I am hearing good things about the Hayn Hi-mods as well.
As for the rod rigging, 27 years, especially in salt, is old. Rod-rigged race boats here on Lake Ontario have seen failures at the 12-15 year mark, and realistically our season is only six months long. I think that if you are going to do this, do it right. You should consider replacing your halyards at the same time and that might mean replacing your sheaves. The good news is that the mast is usually OK, but old spreaders, tangs and similar fittings need a close look.
I re-rigged my entire boat top to bottom with Hi-Mod fittings, and I can say it was pretty easy going. The crown inside the fitting that accepts the wire strands works great and makes it easy. You would have to try hard if you wanted to botch the procedure. Just remember to measure 5 times, cut once (Okay, so I'm a little OCD). I know alot of cruisers that swear by Norseman just because replacements can be found almost everywhere in the world, which might not be so easy with Hi-Mod. If that isn't a concern, I highly endorse the Hi-Mod fittings just because they are so damn easy.
Ditto on mechanical. We have stay-locks...but I think any of the 3 are fine. For a cruising boat, the ability to make jury rig solutions underway was my main reason for using mechanical fittings.
I just re-rigged this past spring and chose swages at the top and Norseman's at the bottom.
Honestly you'd have to be a complete blundering idiot who can't read to screw up installation of any of the brands. I have yet to hear of a mechanical fitting failure and I know many boaters who use them. Perhaps your yard just wants the business of swaging??
In the past I've used Sta-Loc and they too are a great product but Sta-Loc's prices went through the roof this year so much so that my rigger dropped the line. I don't know much about the Hayn Hi-Mods but Hayn is a very well respected company.
I will never use a swage at the bottom again...
I'd go with Hayn Hi-mods, as they are the easiest to install and maintain IMHO.
Properly done, rod rigging is very long lasting and very durable... but the key to that is if it is properly done. If the cold-formed heads aren't done right, they will fail catastrophically with little or no warning...
You could go with swaged fittings, but IMHO, mechanical fittings are more reliable, since a bad swage is hard to determine visually and they're more prone to corrosion problems as well.
Personally, if you're planning on cruising long-term, I think that mechanical fittings and wire rigging is the best way to go... carrying spare rod rigging is difficult at best, and fitting wire to the rod terminal points is often very difficult. Mechanical fittings allow you to easily do repairs and carry spares.
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