Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 17 Old 03-24-2012 Thread Starter
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Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

I've got to believe that my old 28' sailboat once came with a backstay adjuster. I say that because between the backstay and the chain plate is about 30 inches of CHAIN .. ugly old galvanized chain.

The chain is completely incongruous with what is otherwise a nicely rigged boat. Clearly, there was a "strip" at some point in the past.

Now, it's not actually a problem; the math shows the chain to be much stronger than the stainless wire.

But it's just TOO UGLY to stay.

Simply replacing it with a similar length of 1x19 is an option, but I thought that while I was at it, I would add a backstay tensioner.

For price reasons, I started to look at the threaded models (as opposed to hydraulic).

But the more I stare at these, the more they look like (expensive) turnbuckles with a permanent handle.

Now, since there's already a perfectly good turnbuckle in the system and since fabbing some sort of handle/wheel is not that big a problem, it seems like I can use that existing turnbuckle as an adjuster and save myself about $500.

Am I missing something?

Thanks for any thoughts.

Alan

Last edited by alanrothenbush; 03-24-2012 at 01:39 PM.
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post #2 of 17 Old 03-24-2012
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Re: Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

Could you use a system that would permit you to use your existing wire?

A High modulus line on a block and tackle is much more easily adjustable.


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Re: Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

It does look like a fancy turnbuckle but it's not. The threads are quite beefy and are designed to be loosened/tightened repeatedly under load without self-destruction or galling. The thread pattern is also coarser making for more adjustment per turn. It would be a lot of work to tighten a turnbuckle as fast as you can turn a backstay adjuster. They also have some type of handle for leverage, and are fixed so it can be done with one hand.
You could add it in with Norseman/Hayn swageless fittings to retain your old backstay.
Jackdale is right that a block and tackle system is faster. These systems are installed on tens of thousands of boats and are trusted, but I prefer a solid connection. Imagine a block & tackle in parallel with the lower end of the backstay so that if the line came uncleated the backstay is still intact- that would be my preference.

Mark Smith
1977 C&C 30 Mk 1 hailing from Port Clinton, Ohio

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post #4 of 17 Old 03-24-2012
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Re: Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

Ebay has them from time to time!...Dale

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Re: Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

Thanks for the replies!

I considered the block and tackle, but did a bit of "back of the napkin" math and didn't like the answer.

My backstay is tensioned to about 1500 pounds. 6:1 tackle = 250 pounds pull, which means a winch. This is doable, but annoying, and maybe a bit of grief getting it into or out of the cam cleat.

I also looked at a multi-purchase system .. a 3:1 on the end of the 6:1, but the extra mount required just too many other problems and compromises. Plus, by the time a guy had bought suitable 18:1 hardware, he'd be close to the price of the "easy" solution anyway.

Mostly though, I'm just too chicken; in my head, standing rigging has to be made out of metal. I know, I know, rope worked for a couple of thousand years and 20 years from now, SS rigging will seem "quaint", but right now, 1x19 provides a certain comfort.


The comment about the threads does give me a bit of pause. I'm not worried about speed, I am absolutely a cruiser and not a racer. And the leverage can be overcome .. I'm a bit of an amateur machinist and so could easily fab up something suitable.

But the thread MATERIAL .. hmmm. All stainless would be fine, but I suspect mine are the typical plated brass and might very well start to wear.


Oh well, perhaps eBay it is!

Thanks again to all.
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post #6 of 17 Old 03-24-2012
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Re: Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

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Mostly though, I'm just too chicken; in my head, standing rigging has to be made out of metal. I know, I know, rope worked for a couple of thousand years and 20 years from now, SS rigging will seem "quaint", but right now, 1x19 provides a certain comfort.

There is huge difference between hemp and Spectra core. I sailed and raced a Beneteau 36.7 that had a Spectra core backstay. It was needed to accommodate a backstay whip for a high roach main.

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Re: Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

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There is huge difference between hemp and Spectra core. I sailed and raced a Beneteau 36.7 that had a Spectra core backstay. It was needed to accommodate a backstay whip for a high roach main.
I know, that's what I'm saying .. even HEMP kept masts upright for a long long time, so I really shouldn't be afraid of modern technology.

And I wouldn't be surprised if my _next_ boat used Spectra for stays and shrouds.

But I'm not quite there yet ...
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Re: Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

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Could you use a system that would permit you to use your existing wire?

A High modulus line on a block and tackle is much more easily adjustable.

Would you really put something like this inline in a single backstay? If the stopper knot came out and it were released when running in a breeze, it would run right out and the mast would come down...

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Re: Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

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Would you really put something like this inline in a single backstay? If the stopper knot came out and it were released when running in a breeze, it would run right out and the mast would come down...
That's what I was referring to in my post above. It would be acceptable to me if it were rigged in parallel to the backstay, so that the backstay is still intact if the adjuster fails. Otherwise I don't trust it, even though I've seen this system on lots of boats. Just running a length of wire rope or dyneema between beckets on the inner aspects of the blocks would do the job, provided the tensional strength of the blocks was sufficient.

Mark Smith
1977 C&C 30 Mk 1 hailing from Port Clinton, Ohio

Last edited by msmith10; 03-24-2012 at 09:54 PM.
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post #10 of 17 Old 03-25-2012
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Re: Backstay tensioner - just a fancy turnbuckle?

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Would you really put something like this inline in a single backstay? If the stopper knot came out and it were released when running in a breeze, it would run right out and the mast would come down...
You use a safety strop. That is standard practice.

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