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  #1  
Old 05-30-2009
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Question Improving mainsheet traveler ergonomics?

I crewed on a friend's 37 foot J boat for years, but got away from racing after a back injury had me laid up for several seasons. I'm recovered, and started crewing again a couple of weeks ago (but I'm a lot more careful and sensitive about the potential for re-injury. On the first sail this season, it was obvious that the ergonomics of the main traveler set up are a challenge for me. Here are a couple of photos to illustrate the set up.

[IMG]J37 mainsheet traveler[/IMG]

[IMG]J37 mainsheet traveler[/IMG]

It's a 3:1 purchase which is on the heavy side. It's manageable for cruising, but challenging for racing. The main issue is getting the line into the cam cleat quickly while trimming the traveler after tacking. Because the crew member's body is well above the deck, the line naturally lifts up away from the cam cleat, while trimming. The problem is it's difficult to get the line into the cam under load once the traveler is trimmed going to windward. In order to secure the line after a tack, the trimmer must draw the line down through the cam cleat at an angle that is essentially parallel with the deck, which requires extending your forearms down to the deck, or bringing your body down very close to the deck keeping your arms close to your body to minimize the leverage you are working against.

I'm not the strongest crew that ever sailed, but I'm not a 98 lb. weakling either. (windsurfing and indoor rowing keep my upper body reasonably fit.) I'm looking for cost effective (read inexpensive) ideas to improve this set up.

I was wondering if it is possible to flip the plate on which the cam cleat is mounted from facing up, to facing down and mounting the plate that holds the cam cleat on the top of the control block instead of underneath it? I'm thinking that would help because, when the traveler is trimmed, it would be pulling the line up into the cam cleat instead of away from the cam's jaws. Has anyone done something like this? I did see the other active thread here about frozen screws on a traveler, and I'm concerned about that also. This is a late 80's boat, and iI suspect it won't be that easy to disassemble the hardware. Would a remote cam cleat be a much simpler solution?

Or maybe someone can recommend a better technique to trim the traveler that I should be aware off?

I did find this on Harken's on-line compu-spec. The image below is one of their recommendations for this boat, which can be set up for 5:1 or 6:1 purchase, but is otherwise similar to what is installed on the boat now.

But it doesn't meet my "cost effective" criterion at $557 list price (per side)

P.S. Just for the record, my back injury flared up at the office during the off-season, not on the boat.
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Old 05-31-2009
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It looks like the sheave is a bit higher than the claet, Maybe put a block under the cam cleat to put it more in line with the sheave. As it looks, any tension on the line is going to lift it out of the cams. (That's not really a bad thing since it removes friction, but means you have to lower the line more to get it to lock.)

Can't tell exactly where you are when using it, but it looks out of line for any convenient location to use it. If you pull the line from where you normally would it should be a perfectly straight line from the block to your hand, passing directly over the space between the cams. it looks like the cleat is at the wrong angle on the end of that plate (which I assume swings?) If that's right, then the line won't have a straight drop into the groove, and you'll have to 'fight' it in. it almost looks as though the plate is on the wrong side, or possibly flipped over.
A straight down picture with the lines led where you use them from the most would help you figure out the hangups easier.

Ken.
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Old 05-31-2009
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That's the same traveler I have

I posted about the frozen bolt, and those pictures show exactly the traveler I have. The three bolts on top come out easily, and when they do everything falls apart. There are little black spacers so watch out.

The bolt that was frozen is hard to see in your pictures, but if you look you can see it in the bottom pic, just below the line which is covering it. And letting it soak in the T9 and using the proper size screwdriver fixed it.

I also looked into some improvements and decided it was not worth the $$$. Have not put much thought into it after that.
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Old 05-31-2009
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Another possible solution that is going to be considerably less than the Harken one is going with Garhauer gear. They can often make a semi-custom piece up for you at prices lower than the stock prices of other manufacturers.

Also, it looks like the line on the car above doesn't lead fair into the cam cleat. The cam cleat would be better served if it was mounted a bit further outboard or to the left in this photo, since it would be leading into the center of the cam cleats, rather than to one side, which makes it harder to seat the line in the cam cleat.

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Old 05-31-2009
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Actually on mine, the cam cleats both point toward each other (and the centerline). You can adjust this by taking it apart. Be cautious! Many little parts.
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Old 05-31-2009
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ChuckA, I 'm sure if you have the room because of the mainsheet winch. But if you have a SS bracket fab'ed that turned the end car 90 degrees so they pointed up I think you be in good shape. That Harken traveller works good for the cabin top but down low end booms as most jboats are they not very friendly. I installed a gaueher traveller but designed my own 3:1 system where the end turning blocks are mounted further back and the cam cleat is up on the side. Adjusting the traveller under a full load is a breeze, even for my female main trimmer.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfdubu View Post
I installed a gaueher traveller but designed my own 3:1 system where the end turning blocks are mounted further back and the cam cleat is up on the side. Adjusting the traveller under a full load is a breeze, even for my female main trimmer.
Do you have any pictures?
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Many thanks for the ideas & suggestions. I think Ken is right that the cam cleat is lower than the sheave. I'll take a closer look at it when I get back on board Tuesday (now that I have a better idea what to look for). I also thought the plates with the cam cleats look backwards, but they do pivot, allowing them to face toward the direction where you are pulling from. It seems like they were originally set up to trim the traveler from the leeward side of the cockpit. Maybe I'll try that when we race this week.

There isn't room to raise the end sheave because of the winches (jib sheet).

Are Harken assembly drawings available online showing how the spacers are supposed to be assembled? I found an installation drawing for the end control block here, but I'm looking for an assembly drawing.

Updated - This install drawing from Harken clearly shows the cleat is below the top sheave. Do you think we would get some improvement by re-routing the traveler line to feed into the cleat from the bottom sheave rather than the top?
Harken_big_boat_track_control_blocks
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Last edited by ChuckA; 05-31-2009 at 11:14 AM. Reason: found more info
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Mine is rigged so the control line comes through the bottom sheeve to the cleat. I have never had any issues with it, but I don't have any back issues. And, I don't have a winch sitting right above it.
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That would explain the issues with cleating the line. In the pics it didn't look that low, looked to be roughly centered between the sheaves. rerouting to use the bottom would make a big diffeence.

Ken.
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