Travler ball bearings fell out - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 08-05-2009
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Travler ball bearings fell out

Hi All, I have the Harken traveler discussed in this thread:

Improving mainsheet traveler ergonomics?

Tonight, I pulled the main sheet and a bunch of the little ball bearings fell out the bottom of the main car. I was told I could get new ones at West Marine, but, why would they have fallen out? I don't want to dismount the traveler and put new ones in if its just going to keep happening.

I don't care for this traveler anyhow, maybe its time for a new one, but in the meantime, what should I look for as the problem?

Thanks...
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Old 08-05-2009
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There are (or should be) stoppers at the left & right for'ard and aft ends of the traveller to keep the bearings from rolling out, it would seem that you have lost one or more of those. You won't need to take the whole traveller apart to replace them or to plug the "leak".
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Old 08-05-2009
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The only thing keeping the balls in the track on that model is the track itself. Harken shipps the car with short plastic track that allows you to load the balls off the track, then butt the section against the track and slide the car on. They have a newer version now with a guide wire that captivates the balls on the car. However as long a your end stops are in place the balls can't come out.

I used to be pretty big Harken customer. I bought 200 cars and 1800 feet of track in one pop! It didn't go on boats though, it went on a greenhouse.

Gary H. Lucas
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Old 08-06-2009
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The balls seemed to fall out whenever I sheeted the main hard, as the traveler car lifted a bit. I'm not sure what changed because I have done this before, but I'll have a look. Unfortunately it will have to wait until the weekend

Thanks everyone...
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Old 08-06-2009
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If the balls are falling out under load then something is seriously wrong. Those balls are made from Torlon and can take tremendous loads without damage. I would be supicious that someone loaded the wrong size balls in the past. If the balls were too small they could come out. I also can't imagine the car being damaged to the point where the balls could fall out, that would be some really obvious damage I would think.

Gary H. Lucas
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Old 08-06-2009
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Two things might have happened.
[1] you have gotten dirt/salt/grime in the ball bearing raceway, causing the balls to break or deform. The fewer balls there are the more heavily loaded each one is that is left. Eventually enough balls drop out the car will pull off, then you loose the rest.
[2] I have also seen one of the plastic End-Caps on the traveler car that is broken such that a few balls have fallen out over time.

old version vs. caged version


Unless there is some exceptional reason not to do so, I recommend you remove the traveler car and inspect the race and the end caps. Determine the size and model of your Traveler Car and then call Harken. They have an excellent customer service department. They can also ship parts direct.

You will need to know what size traveler car you have, and
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