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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 03-19-2008
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Rig tuning

Hi All,
I am going to attempt to tune the rigging on my Niagara 31. I have never done this before but have read a number of threads on this issue and have also read Ivar Dedekam's book (Sail & Rig Tuning). What I'm not sure about is if I start by loosening off and lubing all the rigging before starting to tune. This seems like the thing to do, but I have not seen this stated anywhere so I thought it best to ask. I am very open to any tid bits of wisdom anyone is willing to share. Thanks.
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Old 03-19-2008
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You will need to loosen it all off, just don't overdo it as you obviously don't want the mast flopping around like the proverbial drunken sailor but loose enough to allow you to get the mast centred correctly. If you try to tension the rig in the wrong order without loosening you'll probably end up with your mast bending in all the wrong ways.
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Old 03-19-2008
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Thanks. Thats what I thought.
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Old 03-19-2008
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Having just gone through this myself on my Gulf 32, I have a few pieces of practical advice. I just replaced all the original 20 year old standing rigging, and so had a bigger job than just tuning. For starters, I think you are on the right track by reading all you can get your hands on. If you have a good local library, Brion Toss produced a video on tuning your rig that is comprehensive. Any of these good sources are going to spell out the procedure.

You can do it "scientifically" by getting a tension gauge or do as Nigel Calder does it and just "feel it". As for lube, you'll hear and read different things. I finally settled on a light treatment of Lanocote, though it is sticky and will attract some grunge. Prevents corrosion and freezing though, and those are bigger ills.

It really all just comes down to sighting up the rig from various angles and keeping it standing straight up and down. After that, you tighten everything to reasonable, not bar tight, tension. After that, you have to do a "dynamic" tuning where you take her out and sail her in 10-20 knots and make sure your leeward shrouds are not going completely slack and that your sail shape is right as far as mast bend and such.

I've learned that it is completely possible to be fanatically zealous about minute details of rig tuning. If you race, then so be it. If you don't, then the perfect is the enemy of the good.

You might want to start messing about, using common sense to not drop your mast on the deck (liberal use of halyards is great), and then come back and ask more specific questions.

In any case, good for you, and don't be scared off by it.

Best wishes
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Old 03-20-2008
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I start by snugging up the upper two shrouds then raising a 100' tape to the mast head and measuring from side to side and adjusting until they are exactly the same. Then I tighten each the same number of turns; 5 port/5 stb until I've got the about the right tension on them. The intermediates and lowers I do by sighting up the mast making sure it is straight. I tend to err on the side of being too loose, then adjusting after observing the rig during a sail. I've found that none need be bow string tight.

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Old 03-20-2008
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Thanks for the advice. I feel better about doing this myself. You read the books but sometimes they can be intimidating. So far I have not found much that I'm not willing to try. This forum is great for guys like me who want to try to do it all. Thanks again.
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Old 03-20-2008
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Get the appropriate tension gauge; you won't regret the purchase. The only way to know how tight the rig is and how much tension to apply is with a good Loos gauge (or similar). The Loos gauge manual has some good info on how much tension to apply also...
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Old 03-20-2008
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Quick question: Is the niagara 31 rod or wire rigging?

In either case, starting off by loosening the rigging and cleaning and lubing it is a good idea. Depending on the rig, you may or may not want to use a halyard as a safety line when doing this. Do one section at a time... and mark the turnbuckles so that you can get them back to approximately where they were when you're done cleaning and lubing them.


You really will want a Loos gauge. Don't bother getting the non-pro gauges, since they're not anywhere as useful as the pro Loos gauges. You may need more than one, depending on the diameter of the standing rigging on your boat. I got the two gauges last summer for less than $300. Rigging Only in Fairhaven, MA is a good source for them. LINK
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Old 03-21-2008
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Do as above to straighten out the mast, also sighting up the mast helps too.

Then I "ALSO" recomend the loos guage. I did my rigging by feel, came pretty close, but after borrowing a Loos guage, I found out how loose I still was in tightness!

If a tape is not availible to figure out the side to side straightening of the mast, the jib or main halyard will also work.

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Old 03-21-2008
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Tighten until it feels right and looks even, and then use a gauge to confirm that. Most non-racing boats are in my experience 20-40% "slack" in stays than gauges suggest is ideal.
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