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post #1 of 12 Old 07-02-2003 Thread Starter
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Lifelines - need help

We have just recently bought a 25 ft sailboat. As our first project on the boat, we need to replace the lifelines. Any suggestions or websites to go to for instructions? What do I need in terms of tools and supplies? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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post #2 of 12 Old 07-02-2003
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Lifelines - need help

If you are going to replace your lifelines yourself, I would make a suggestion. First of all stay away from the traditional plastic coated lifelines. The long term prognosis for vinyl lifelines is not good as the cable can deteriorate undetected and not be as reliable as a lifeline should be. You will probably end up using nicropress fittings for the wire ends. There are inexpensive nicropress crimpers but I would try to get one end of the lifeline done in the store where a good marine suplly store usually has a nicropress crimper that you can use in the store. (The other end must be crimped on the boat so the lines can be thread through the stanchions.)

Plan ''B'' which is more expensive is to have a rigger put a swage type turnbuckle screw on one end and you nicro-press the other so that you can remove a stanchion if you need to.

Make sure that you use the correct thimble at the eye for the wire that you are using for the lifelines and I would do a double nicropress at each terminal if I were going to use one of the inexpensive crimpers.

Its not all that hard to do.

Good luck.

Jeff
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post #3 of 12 Old 07-02-2003
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Lifelines - need help

What you typically do with lifelines is measure them, then get a rigging shop to make up the vinal-covered wires with swaged threaded studs on the ends. Then you have small turnbuckles and perhaps a gate. Most catalogs have the parts listed. I believe even West Marine would make them up for you. ABI has a nice gate shackle. While there are drawbacks, per the last post, this method has been used for years, and new lifelines should have several years'' service in them.
You can use the bare wire and nicropress--with the advantage of do-it-yourself. This is certainly as strong, but does not look as traditional.
Third way is to use some of the new, hi-tech ropes. Yale''s Crystalyne, New England Ropes'' V100 or T900 have amazing strength for the size. In fact, the same diameter as vinal-covered wire and the rope will be stronger. However, the splices are "core-to-core" splices and a bit of a challenge if you have never done them before. A local rigger might charge $12-15 for a splice, while a national outfit might charge 25-40. Or tie a knot. Check the specs on wire and the rope to get comparable strengths. I would guess 1/4 or 5/16 rope is probably more than enough. If I remember right, 3/8 T900 has a 10,800 load limit. Again, however, this does not look "traditional".
Just some thoughts. You pays your money and takes your choice......
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post #4 of 12 Old 07-02-2003
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Lifelines - need help

MLC101 claims Nicopress to be "as strong" - I say, not so.
Hand swages are generally rated between 60 - 80% strength of the wire; whereas machine crimps and mechanical (Norseman etc) terminals are usually rated at 100%.
Don''t skimp on your crimp!
OMO
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post #5 of 12 Old 07-02-2003
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Lifelines - need help

Yeah, I agree with Gord. I did not intend to rate the nicropress strength compared with the wire when I used the phrase "as strong". Should have said something like "strong", or "strong enough IMO". I have been using nicropress for about 35 years now and they are adequately strong in most cases, if ugly. A little splitting hairs, but the clarification is good.

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post #6 of 12 Old 07-02-2003
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Lifelines - need help

I did this job last year, and more recently I added another gate on the starboard side just aft of the bowrail. I replaced the worn 1/8" vinyl covered wire with 3/16" vinyl covered wire. I bought all the wire and the hand-swage fittings I needed from Defender as well as the cutting tool and hand swage tool. Their catalog has a diagram of how to measure for gates, etc. The hand swage method is supposed to only reduce the connection stregnth by 20%. Considering that I went to a larger gauge wire with about 50% more streght than the original, my lines are probably 30% stronger than original.

The overall cost was not expensive, and it didn''t take to long to do. Plus, I still have the tools for future use. ;^)

~ Happy sails to you ~ _/) ~
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post #7 of 12 Old 07-03-2003
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Lifelines - need help

Would like to add a suggestion re lifelines. Am seeing many boats with lifelines rigged with turnbuckles or shackles to the bow & stern pulpits. Our lifelines end in eyes that are lashed to the
pulpits. This makes it easy to cut the lifeline and get it out of the way if we need to retrieve someone over the lee side and they''re not in condition (unconscious?) to use the gate. If the mast goes over and is catches on a tight lifeline, the pressure could torque several stanchions off the deck - with the attendant problems of opening holes in the deck and damaging the the hull-deck joint . One swipe of a sharp knife might avoid this problem. Or you could unscrew the turnbuckle if you can remember which way to twist the barrel while you watch the stanchions pop off. Fast is fun - and safer. After an immediate crisis is over, lashings and lifelines can easily be returned to normal. If turnbuckle or shackles are damaged in the excitement, do you have spares? Do you want to be fitting small parts together by flashlight between waves at 30 degrees of heel?

Just some things that don''t come up in conversations in the showroom.
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post #8 of 12 Old 07-03-2003
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Lifelines - need help

So here''s a novel idea. We had to replace our "lifelines" on a 30 ft boat. The retail price to have this done professionally by a rigger was in the area of $800+. This is a double lifeline setup with single gates at the cockpit. My question is (and was), what are we expecting lifelines to do for us. On a typical 25 - 30 ft sailboat, they are at just the right height (just below te knees) to trip you are you are on your way over the side! The stainless steel stantions will break off at the rail or break out of the deck if you hit them hard enough. We replaced our "lifelines" with 3/8ths dacron line with snap shackles for the gates. Yes, there is more stretch. We do not depend on the "lifelines" to keep us on deck or rest against them at anchor. If it gets rough, the harnesses go on and jacklines are rigged on both sides of the boat along the cabin trunk, a much safer way to go anyway (you should NEVER rig your harness to the lifelines, a great way to get dragged for miles). The whole setup cost less than $150 and there is no corrosion. The dacron is easier on the hands as well as looking better (we went with black lines). Just food for thought. I suspect I will be soundly critizied by all sorts!!
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post #9 of 12 Old 07-03-2003
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Lifelines - need help

I have been thinking about this myself recently and was considering getting some Tee fittings for 1" stainless tube and a few lengths of tube to take the place of the top lifeline. This seems more secure to me, although I have never seen this done. Many of the serious cruising boats that come through here have solid welded rails instead of lifelines. Any thoughts on this?
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post #10 of 12 Old 07-03-2003
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Lifelines - need help

Just want to add my two cents worth. It strikes me as just a little ironic that all this is being discussed on a web-site sponsored by a company that probably is fabricating lifelines just about everyday in their rigging shop and selling all the materials and tools necessary to make them yourself also.
As is the case with almost every subject, the opinions are varied and interesting. For what it''s worth, machine swages look and hold up alot better than hand-crimps and a good looking nico-press is not that easy to acomplish.
In my opinion, speaking as a rigger, uncoated 3/16" 1 X 19 makes the most sense. Gates often add the most to the cost of a set of lifelines and aren''t all that compatable with stiff wire without using all the extra hardware; single gate eyes, double gate eyes and toggle jaws. The wire also kinks pretty easy. The other problem is the uncoated wire is not that comfortable to lean against. That can be overcome with the use of lifeline cushions. Also available from your local rigger.
When it comes to lifelines and rigging in general it really pays to do the research and get intimately involved with the systems. A good rigger will help you acomplish that.
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