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lsusailing 09-03-2008 06:57 AM

Cotter Pin
On my first sailboat, my rigging had circular cotter pins. My current sailboat uses normal cotter pins. I read a UK sailing publication and a writter stated he always used circular cotter pins because he has never seen one fail while he has seen many normal cotter pins fail.

So, as I think about this I am thinking of replacing everything with circular cotter pins. Wanted to poll the spiritied group on sailnet on their experience, thoughts and comments. Probably something silly but the article stuck with me.

sv Daphne

sailingdog 09-03-2008 07:50 AM

I like circular cotter rings for certain pieces of rigging, but they're not always practical or safe. :)

dealweb 09-03-2008 08:30 AM

My sailboat has mostly circular cotter rings and I believe that is so if a sail gets bumbed againsted the cotter ring the odds of it ripping the sail are reduced vs. using a normal cotter pin.

14432 09-03-2008 09:01 AM

Also the cotter rings are reusable

camaraderie 09-03-2008 09:54 AM

Dawg...pls. elaborate on applications where they are not safe.

Fstbttms 09-03-2008 10:40 AM

Cotter rings can work themselves off whatever they are attached to. Cotter pins cannot. For this reason, cotter rings should not be used in situations where a rigging failure would occur if a ring did back off.

sailingdog 09-03-2008 10:42 AM


Cotter rings, IMHO, are far more likely to work loose, and I don't use them in the upper rigging, where inspection is more of an issue. I also don't use them in certain locations on my boat, like near the ama folding mechanism, since they'd take up more room and would be more likely to get damaged or jam the folding mechanism.

IMHO, they're best used where they can be, and should be, inspected regularly. Their greatest advantage is that they are relatively easy to remove and re-use, so I use them on things like the gooseneck pin of my boom, where it is easily inspected, and easily reused—since I generally remove the boom when I lower the mast.

SEMIJim 09-03-2008 11:52 AM

I used cotter pins this year on the turnbuckles for the shrouds. Never again. What a pain in the backside. As for ringdings working themselves off: Yeah, they can. Saw it happen on one of the fine tune blocks on the mainsheet of a J35, just as we were setting out to race. For the fixed rigging you're going to want to tape, whether you use cotter pins or ringdings, because both have sharp ends that can damage your sails and catch pant legs or shins of people working the decks. The downside to ringdings is the taped finished job will be a bit bulkier, a bit uglier than taped cotter pins. The advantages are they' re much easier to get on and off and they're more-easily re-usable.


h2obo 09-03-2008 12:16 PM

In my turnbuckles, I tapped the holes and screwed in bolts with a nyloc nut on the other end - nothing to snag and bullet proof.

Elsewhere, I tend to use rings and rigging tape on the rings without taping them to the fitting.

Maine Sail 09-03-2008 12:23 PM

One important thing..
One important point no one has brought up is pin to hole clearance. We all know a clevis pin must be the right size for the hole it is fit into to avoid failure and maximize the contact surface area of the clevis pin to the hole in say the chain plate.

I don't like rings and neither does my rigger. Why? Pins are very hard to find in the right wire diameter for the clevis pin end holes they are intended to fit into. These holes need the proper size coter pin and that's easy as coter pins come in many diameters. A cotter pin or ring sized too small for the clevis pin hole IS a potential failure point!

I never reuse a cotter pin and I would never re-use a ring. Talk about being "penny wise pound foolish". My entire lifetime supply and assortment of stainless cotter pins cost me about $35.00 over seven years ago and I still have a LOT left.

The most important thing to consider when installing cotter pins and or rings is the fit in the hole. The pin should be as large as possible yet still fit into the hole.

Years ago I had a goose neck failure on my boom because someone at the factory used an undersized cotter pin that slopped around in the hole until it failed. I replaced it with another cotter pin, of the right size, and it's still going strong over ten years later. In fact I just passed my old boat while sailing yesterday..

I have yet to see a properly sized, bent and taped cotter pin fail though I'm sure it could happen. I have seen one ring failure due to it being undersized..

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