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Old 03-20-2001
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Join Date: Jan 2000
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Dan Dickison is on a distinguished road

How do you keep stainless turnbuckles from seizing up?

Dan Dickison responds:

Most sailors who are concerned with this kind of corrosion inspect their turnbuckles often, rinse them frequently with fresh water, and sometimes use spray or jelly lubricants, such as Lanocote. The idea is to keep the salt water off and maintain a barrier between dissimilar metals. One of the more popular sprays on the market is CorrosionX. It doesn't hurt to re-spray or reapply the coatings once a month or even more frequently depending upon how much use your boat gets. 

On offshore vessels you'll sometimes see leather coverings sewn around the turnbuckles or tubular coverings enclosing them. These are there principally to prevent chafe on the sails and sheets rather than to keep moisture out of the turnbuckles. I'm not really a fan of such applications as they make it more difficult for you to inspect your turnbuckles, which you ought to do on a regular basis, which means at least several times a season if not more frequently. You might want to take a page from racing sailors on this issue. Because these guys pay a lot of attention to how their rigs are tuned, they're often changing the settings on the shroud and headstay turnbuckles, so it's difficult for corrosion to occur. 

If you use rigging tape on your turnbuckles and their respective fittings, make sure that the tape allows for water to drain out and air to penetrate. Most grades of stainless steel get rust resistance by developing oxides through contact with the ambient air, so you don't want to seal them off too securely.



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