Replace cotter pins with welding rod - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 35 Old 07-12-2013
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

The problem with either the wire or cotter pins is that once bent, they may break due to hardening. This seems to be especially true of overly-expensive cotter pins which seem to be a fairly brittle alloy. At least with recycled wire (see post above), you're not throwing away a lot of money when replacing. Cotter pins are a royal PITA to unbend and pull every time you want to make an adjustment. As mentioned, they are prone to become "meat hooks." Both the single wire and rings are better in this aspect, being easier to remove/replace with fewer sharp ends. Being able to quickly remove pins makes it more likely that fine adjustments will get done.

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post #22 of 35 Old 07-12-2013
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

I use the approach recommended by Bill Seifert in OFFSHORE SAILING: 200 ESSENTIAL PASSAGEMAKING TIPS...

He actually suggests tapping and threading with round head machine screws, but I've just used Allen head machine screws with locknuts... Very secure, and easy to remove... No way the turnbuckle body will ever rotate past them, not sure I'd entirely trust circle rings to guard against that...

I'm a big fan of turnbuckle covers, as well... Of course, you have to make it part of your routine to lift them for inspection regularly, but they do a great job of protecting turnbuckles from the elements, and you'll never have anything snag or catch on them again...


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post #23 of 35 Old 07-12-2013
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

That may keep the body from separating completely but it does nothing for them loosening right off.

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post #24 of 35 Old 07-12-2013
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

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Originally Posted by SloopJonB View Post
That may keep the body from separating completely but it does nothing for them loosening right off.
Perhaps the shot doesn't illustrate clearly the clearance between the Allen head/locknut and the turnbuckle body, but there's no way it can rotate more than perhaps 1/4 of a turn before being stopped...
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post #25 of 35 Old 07-12-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

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That may keep the body from separating completely but it does nothing for them loosening right off.
The bulkiness of the head and/or nut prevents the turnbuckle from spinning. From his pic, it looks like the head is big enough for that. That's what makes me worry about the welding wire in my turnbuckles - it looks like the bends could be small enough that they don't have enough bulk to prevent spinning the turnbuckle.


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post #26 of 35 Old 07-14-2013
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

I've seen 1/8th inch and larger s/s cotter key heads bent over and wedged into the turnbuckle; I don't see how the welding rod would do much to stop the turning on bigger boats.
The threaded bolts seem to be even more labor intensive than cotter keys when adjusting the rig and lots of small bits to keep from going swimming.
I use rings in many places, lifelines, main & mizzens sheet tackle pins, but, though I've thought of them for the rig, I'm just not sure if they are strong enough and, as mentioned above, would be a bear to remove if bent.
Tape and turnbuckle covers may be rather nautical and esthetically pleasing, but every time I walk around the deck my eyes fall on the turnbuckles and I can see if anything is amiss, if uncovered.
We do most of our 2500+ miles a year hard to weather in 20 to 30 knots of wind, so I think I'll stick with the cotter keys on the 70' mainmast turnbuckles. Perhaps I'll try the welding rod on the mizzen, it's much more lightly rigged. Thanks for the idea.

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Last edited by capta; 07-14-2013 at 04:21 PM.
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post #27 of 35 Old 07-14-2013
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

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I've seen 1/8th inch and larger s/s cotter key heads bent over and wedged into the turnbuckle; I don't see how the welding rod would do much to stop the turning on bigger boats.
The open cavity type turnbuckle with a divider between top and bottom has the welding wire running from the shroud end to the chainplate end and it runs from one cavity into the next (see earlier post with pics)

Given that the chainplate side can't turn, only one part of the assembly turns, the shroud end and that means that the welding wire will go tight - there isn't an awful lot of pressure on the turnbuckle to turn so it doesn't take a huge effort to stop it. And to pull a piece of 316 SS TIG wire straight when bent like shown takes a very considerable effort.

Having said all that, there doesn't seem to be any comment in this thread on the concept of simply putting a lock nut above/below the turnbuckle. That way it is neat, no snagging, easy to undo and will never come loose (assuming it is properly tightened) and it also provides an instant reference as to where the turnbuckle was before you started undoing it. I have mine like this.
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post #28 of 35 Old 07-14-2013
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

Don't want to derail the thread but has anyone tried Toss' idea about using lanolin to lube and protect rigging parts? I picked up a jar of the smelly stuff (it smells like....well...sheep) but have yet to smear it on any of my old bronze turnbuckles. I have those PVC tube turnbuckle covers. They do protect the turnbuckles but the only thing I don't like about them is they are a pain to keep up when trying to work on them. I usually use a spring clamp to keep them up out of the way. I also routinely forget to put the darned things on when stepping the mast.

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post #29 of 35 Old 07-14-2013
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

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Originally Posted by Omatako View Post
Having said all that, there doesn't seem to be any comment in this thread on the concept of simply putting a lock nut above/below the turnbuckle.
Locknuts create significant risk of galling the threads if tight enough to rely on. Heavy rigging strains will stretch the turnbuckle enough to let the locknut loosen and turn. To prevent this, you must have them tight enough to be right up against the yield stress of the metal, not good.

You'll probably get away with locknuts in casual weekend duffing around but not if you drive the boat hard and frequently as you will in deep water sailing.
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post #30 of 35 Old 07-14-2013
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Re: Replace cotter pins with welding rod

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
Don't want to derail the thread but has anyone tried Toss' idea about using lanolin to lube and protect rigging parts? I picked up a jar of the smelly stuff (it smells like....well...sheep) but have yet to smear it on any of my old bronze turnbuckles. I have those PVC tube turnbuckle covers. They do protect the turnbuckles but the only thing I don't like about them is they are a pain to keep up when trying to work on them. I usually use a spring clamp to keep them up out of the way. I also routinely forget to put the darned things on when stepping the mast.
I use Lanocote (Tef-Gel would probably work nicely, as well) on turnbuckle threads to prevent galling, but I've never thought there was any need to smear it elsewhere... Keeping the external stainless or bronze surfaces clean/polished seems a far better strategy, to me...

One of the reasons I favor turnbuckle covers, in the tropics or extreme heat, they help inhibit the liquefying or thinning of the Lanocote on the threads...
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