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Old 11-13-2008
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Furling Line Hardware -- A New Option

I thought I'd post about a small upgrade we just made on our boat.

Like many of you, we have a roller-furling headsail. The furling unit is manipulated by a line that is lead aft to the cockpit, via a series of blocks and fairleads attached to the pulpits and stanchions.

I never liked the fairleads on our boat. They attach to the stanchion base, and lead the furling line inboard along the edge of the side-deck. The Schaefer hardware we had, called the "clamp-on stanchion block", looked like this:



Installed on our boat, it looked like this:




The biggest problem with this old hardware system was that the blocks stuck out on the inboard side of the stanchion, right at ankle-bone level. I cannot tell you how many times I smacked and sliced my ankles on those blocks -- believe me it hurts like the devil!

To their credit, about seven or eight years ago Schaefer came out with a much-improved stanchion fairlead, called the "clear-step":



The advantage of the "clear-step" is that the block slides down over the stanchion, and leads the line outboard, which cleans up the side-decks and reduces the chance of scraping your ankles on the hardware.

Unfortunately, we could not upgrade to the "clear-step" because it has to drop down over the stanchion. In our case, our boarding-gate stanchions have support "knees" welded to them, preventing installation of the "clear-step" system on 2 out of 4 stanchions.

Another option available from Schaefer is a simple clamp-on bulls-eye fairlead, which can be oriented inboard or outboard. I wasn't keen on this solution due to the increased friction, but it might be a good option for smaller boats:



But at the Annapolis Boat Show in October, I noticed a new solution from Harken. It's called the "Outboard Stanchion Lead Block Assembly" (OSLBA). It combines the best of the two Schaefer solutions, i.e. outboard blocks that can be clamped-on. Have a look:



I ordered four and installed them this past weekend. They are great! They are lower profile than the "clear-step" system (i.e., on the inboard side, they don't stick out hardly past the stanchion), and the twin-block assembly improves the fairlead.

Here are some photos, which I must apologize for their poor quality (the close-up macro on my camera isn't the best). The first two photos show the old and new blocks side-by-side, the last photo shows the completed installation. In the last photo, you can see the problem I mentioned with the boarding gate stanchion and its welded knee:










NO MORE SLICED ANKLES!!!


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Last edited by JohnRPollard; 11-13-2008 at 03:01 PM. Reason: added abbreviation OSLBA
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Old 11-13-2008
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Very tidy, John.. that's a good idea from Harken....

No sliced ankles on our boat, our furling line (and the spinn downhaul) run THROUGH our SS handrails... another good idea from Camper Nicholson!!
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Old 11-13-2008
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The Harken "Outboard Stanchion Lead Block Assembly" looks like the cat's meow.
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Old 11-13-2008
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The one problem I've found with some of Harken's stanchion mount blocks is that the screws fasten into a press-fit threaded insert, and if you're not careful, the inserts can be pulled free...making the mounting system not hold very securely.
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Old 11-13-2008
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Prices, please, and estimates as to when Garhauer will have something similar that weighs 30 grams more and costs 50% less...

Good idea, though...thanks!
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Old 11-13-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
Prices, please, and estimates as to when Garhauer will have something similar that weighs 30 grams more and costs 50% less...

Good idea, though...thanks!
Val,

The Schaefer "Clear-Step" pictured above retails from Defender at US$40/each.

The new Harken OSLBA units I installed retail from Defender at US$28/each. Price-wise, it is a no-brainer.

Garhauer has something similar that lists for about US$32/each. However, I examined their offering at the boat show and it was very heavy and klunky by comparison -- not a very elegant solution. You can see it here:

Garhauer SB-3 Stanchion Block

Edit: Oops, that link won't work since it's a search result. Just follow that link to Garhauer and search the product name.
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Last edited by JohnRPollard; 11-13-2008 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 11-13-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
The one problem I've found with some of Harken's stanchion mount blocks is that the screws fasten into a press-fit threaded insert, and if you're not careful, the inserts can be pulled free...making the mounting system not hold very securely.
I agree with the Dog, it happened to me. The insert partially pulled free and the plastic housing cracked.

Be very careful not to over tighten the screws... It didn't take much torque for the above to happen.
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Old 11-13-2008
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Hello,

That Harken piece is nice. However, if there is no significant change in direction, a simple fairlead won't add any friction. I have a real block where the furling line comes off the drum and then just fairleads along the stanchions.

You can easily detect how much friction the fairleads or blocks add by just furling the sail by standing near the bow and pulling the line where it comes off the drum.

Barry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryL View Post
Hello,

That Harken piece is nice. However, if there is no significant change in direction, a simple fairlead won't add any friction. I have a real block where the furling line comes off the drum and then just fairleads along the stanchions.

You can easily detect how much friction the fairleads or blocks add by just furling the sail by standing near the bow and pulling the line where it comes off the drum.

Barry
Fairleads will definitely cause more friction that a good leadblock unless you have a straight line. I have confirmed this more times than I can remember.

You are correct that you can detect how much friction the fairleads or blocks add by furling the sail standing on the foredeck by you have to try it in all conditions.

The Harken blocks look pretty good to me. Side decks are narrow enough to begin with.
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Old 11-14-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
The one problem I've found with some of Harken's stanchion mount blocks is that the screws fasten into a press-fit threaded insert, and if you're not careful, the inserts can be pulled free...making the mounting system not hold very securely.
The advantage of these blocks is that they're mounted outboard of the stanchion so the preesure of the line pushes against the stanchion and doesn't pull on the screws.

These are sweet blocks, I might have a look at them for our boat.
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