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  #11  
Old 01-31-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
However unlike wire, which starts to break down in visible ways long before it loses critical strength, rod can appear healthy until it decides to suddenly part. For distant cruising and easier repair, wire would win out.

We've had both, did in fact have a couple of occasions where the rod failed suddenly, a quick tack saved the rig. One failure was traced to improper maintenance the other to bad fabrication (the rod had been welded into the turnbuckle end).
Faster,

So you have had a "couple of occasions" where your rod rigging failed? If so, that's the first actual case I have heard of rod rigging failure.

I have heard this "failure without warning" speculation over the years and have suspected it was purely theoretical, but if you have had it happen twice it seems to be a real threat.
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  #12  
Old 01-31-2012
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FWIW ...

According to Lin and Larry Pardey - "Capable Cruiser, 3rd ed":
"... avoid rod rigging like the plague - it has absolutely no place on an offshore passagemaker. We have seen it fail more often than any other type of rigging. No matter how carefully you inspect it, rod rigging can still fail with no warning signs."
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  #13  
Old 01-31-2012
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We lost a lower D1 shroud once when hard on the wind, in about 15 knots and flat water. The rigger later speculated that the ball end had siezed in the fitting, so one every loading the shroud would try to 'twist' and since the ball end couldn't move with it the rod broke just outside the end fitting. A quick tack saved the rig.

The boat was relatively new to us and we were uneducated on rod. Of course we immediately loosened the rig, opened all the ends to ensure they were free and coated with lanacote before reassembly. The rig was 12 years old at the time.

The other incident was actually a deck stay (from deck to mast step) inside the boat. Same problem in a way but this time whoever made the deck stay welded a fitting for the mast step tang onto the rod.. essentially created the same problem.

Rod can be coiled, and in fact if you stretch a section out on the ground it will hold a bit of a spiral until you attach/tighten it up. As a result there's a torsional 'motion' when the rod gets a load, esp a shock load like falling off a wave. The rod must be able to move inside the fitting otherwise it work-hardens and can fail. When we removed the failed shroud you could see where it had been cracked for some time before it finally let go, just inside the end fitting where it was out of sight.

But I don't think this should be alarming or indicates that there's an essential problem with rod for inshore sailing. It was clearly self-inflicted in a way, and as you indicated failures are quite rare. This just emphasizes the point that your entire boat (above and below decks) requires attention and maintenance.
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Old 01-31-2012
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I have heard you should inspect rod rigging after 50,000 miles (a lot) or 5 years, and especially the rod heads and end fittings. Obviously you would replace the heads that are cracked or worn and the rod would be re-headed. I would also replace the turnbuckle screws.

I don't know why Lin and Larry would say that "it has absolutely no place on an offshore passagemaker. " I would think an offshore sailor would regularly inspect the rigging and include the end fittings. And why would cruising high-end makers like Valiant and Hallberg-Rassey use them? It's more expensive, not less, so it isn't to save on costs.

Rod is of course only one strand, so at any time it is either continuous or broken. If there are any riggers on here, I would like to know if they have ever found a piece of rod that is cracked or broken. I suspect the "failures" cited are really failures of the fittings.
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Old 01-31-2012
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I can say for sure Zzzooms original rod wore out as when the time came to cut and re-head the rod it would NOT take new heads and that in fact is one of the root issues as it is the recommend way to test old rod for work hardening

The Navtec turnbuckle threaded sections are also a fail point and have a service life at which point they are a throw away item
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  #16  
Old 01-31-2012
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Lots of anectodal stuff showing up here, so I'll add some. We have rod rigging on our 1981 J/36. She's been raced hard, in 30 mile windward bashes in 35 knots of wind, as well as cruised long distances, when we've encountered 50 knot squalls and steady 40 knot wind (12.5 knots dead downwind with a reefed main...) We replaced our headstay when we added a roller-furler two years ago. When we removed the tuff-luff that had been on the headstay when we bought the boat (used), we found that the rod headstay was kinked. We don't know how it got kinked, or how long it had been kinked. In any case, it stood up to steady 40 knot wind and 50 knot squalls, and everything else we'd been through for about 10 years. We inspect the shrouds each year. As far as we know, they are original, and they've held up too.

On the other hand, I sailed transatlantic one summer aboard a 38' sloop. The skipper, a conservative type, dye-tested the standing ss wire rigging and inspeted it with a magnifying glass before we left in June. All AOK. The boat sailed from CT to Ireland, (three storms over 40 knots of breeze) up the coast of Ireland (including a 50 knot squall off Dublin), to Scotland, up to the Hebredies, back through the Irish Sea to the Bay of Biscay, where the lower aft shroud dropped to the deck off Arcachon. Surprise! You never know. Keep a weather eye out, and maintain a good watch. It's less exciting.

p.s. Even if you have rod rigging, you can carry ss wire to serve as a repair if something breaks. The mast isn't going to care. Kevlar line would work too. The issue is figuring out how to make the material the required length and attach them to the chainplate and the mast tang.

Last edited by paulk; 01-31-2012 at 11:07 PM.
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