Sailtec "locking" hydraulic backstay adjuster - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-14-2010 Thread Starter
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Sailtec "locking" hydraulic backstay adjuster

I do not want my hydraulic backstay adjuster to fail!

Questions for the group, especially and Wauquiez Pretorien owners.
  1. Who has installed a hydraulic backstay adjuster?
  2. What type?
  3. How much throw do you use (how far fore and aft does the head of the mast move?)
  4. What considerations for safety or reliability should I consider?
I have the original Barbarossa manual backstay adjuster on Fianna, my 35 foor Wauquiez Preorien. I rarely adjust it because it is a pain, but I know I can tighten the headstay if I use it upwind. I decided to get an integral hydraulic backstay adjuster but ran into a couple of issues. My 2 year old standing rigging has HiMod terminals, and the aircraft style fitting on the backstay is pretty large. I had specified a Sailtec #8 series cylinder for 1/4" wire (http://www.sailtec. com/hydraulic_ integral_ adjusters. php ), but the jaws of the adjuster were too narrow for the fitting. We went up two sizes to a #12 SI. This is 24" long when closed. the distance pin to pin (upper fitting to toggle at transom) is only 26". this would provide me only 2 inches of usable throw length. I am sure I can tighten the existing backstay more than that, so 2" of throw is not enough to really tighten the headstay (I believe). So, I may have to shorten the backstay. If I do so, I could potentially add a much longer, 40 inch, integral backstay adjuster which has a "locking option" that allows you to relieve all hydraulic pressure and mechanically secure the backstay in the event of a hydraulic leak. Sounds like a few hundreds dollars of safety factor.

So, do any of you have strong opinions or experience with such an upgrade? Do you have a recommended product I should look at? Does a locking option sound like a prudent choice?

I heard from one Wauquiez Pretorien owner who was dismasted when a Nactec hydraulic backstay adjuster failed. Where is the belt to go with my suspenders?

As always... Thanks!

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post #2 of 6 Old 06-14-2010
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Thumbs up SailTec

I have used a Sailtec hyd. backstay adjuster since sometime in the 90's. Our '88 Olson 34 came with a Navtec, and after a rebuild of the cylinder failed, I changed brands.
I have not tried the "Locking" version of the Sailtec, but it sounds interesting.

We did a full re-rig in '02, just 'cause it was time. Our rigger advised me to add a turnbuckle right above the Sailtec -- the logic being that if we were on a cruise and the cylinder ever failed we could could just leave it at full extension and take up the turnbuckle all the way, or as far as needed.
Perhaps a bit like tying a belt to your suspenders, sorta kinda.

Like the former Navtec (when it was newer) the Sailtec will slowly bleed out and release over several days or a week. We do not mind that, since there is no catastrophic loss of tension.

It seems like all solutions carry within them... sometimes... new problems...

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post #3 of 6 Old 06-14-2010
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I've used them but not on a WP. The limiting factor "should" be the strength of the forestay and backstay. In theory, one of those should burst (rather violently) before you can rip any fitting out of the boat or the masthead. But in'd be safer asking the maker what the maximum safe tension is, and then of course using a tension guage on the hydraulics, or a pressure guage that you can correlate to tension, so you don't exceed the design parameters.

And of course, remember to slack it off before leaving the boat.

The only hydraulics I've used fail if they fail. That is, if the cylinder loses pressure (usually from a seal leaking) it is simply lost, and the cylinder extends out to full length. The "locking option" sounds nice but I suspect something like a couple of bulldog clamps and a spare piece of cable could be used to a similar effect.

I haven't looked into what is available out there, but surely someone is making backstay adjusters with a pressure relief valve on them, i.e. if your rigging can take 8,000# of tension, a hydraulic rig should be able to pop a safety valve, or hit a limiter, so it can't put more than 6-7,000# on?
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post #4 of 6 Old 02-03-2012
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Is everything OK with you?
Please let me know and thanks.
Kevin Anthony Savitt
Mobile: 920.203.2827

Marine Hydraulic Systems
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post #5 of 6 Old 05-28-2012
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Re: Sailtec "locking" hydraulic backstay adjuster

Sailtec Hydraulic backstay adjusters locking problem, Jaws do not line up properly
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post #6 of 6 Old 05-29-2012
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Re: Sailtec "locking" hydraulic backstay adjuster

Be very careful with hydrolic backstays. They are great pieces of gear, but you can very quickly over tension the rig and cause yourself major headaches.

The first time you install one take a measuring tape and run it from the bow pulpit to the stern, then hang a heavy weight 30-40lbs from it to keep the tape tight. Then run a second tape from the tow rail on one side to the other and add another weight. Start adding backstay preassure until the boat starts to shorten or get wider, (this is cause by flexure in the hull itself). Make a note of the preassure when this happens and do not exceed it.

For a J-35 figure around 3,000lbs, of course other boats will vary when this happens. You can reinforce a hull to carry more backstay preassure, but rarely outside of pure racing boats is this justified.
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