Any advice on which tools work best for this? I've been using a ball peen hammer and a punch but am not making much progress on those four steel rivets. It seems like they're starting to crack a little as they mushroom out.
You're tolerance for risk is apparently considerably greater than mine. I can't imagine using one of those other than in an emergency situation. I doubt the link will work with you're windlass once you smash the rivets with a ball pein hammer and a proper size punch which I believe are the proper tools for the job. Like you, I would be curious if there is a better suited tool for the job. Might be able to do it with a jig and a press but still think you have to worry about distortion.
There's definitely a lot of discussion as to the wisdom of using a connecting link. Based on my reading, from those that have actually used them, they last a long time. And it should pass through the gypsy no problem. Eventually I would like to have 250 - 300 feet of contiguous chain but for now need to settle with joining two lengths together.
While I'd personally struggle with this, as a semi-permanent fix, I understand c-links can be as strong as the chain itself. The issue is corrosion, which should be monitored carefully, especially if the act of peening the rivets causes any failure of the galvanizing. The mating surfaces can't be examined, so you'll never really know if rust has started from the inside out.
No way a ball peen hammer could be sufficient. A small sledge jig and anvil of some sort.
Same experience as Mark's above. Used them for years full-time anchoring with no problem. If they start to rust earlier, then just cut them off and put on a new one. Goes through the gypsy perfectly. I used a hammer and a center punch - One good hard whack and the rivet is mushroomed.
I used those hammer tight repair links on some tow chains back in the 1980's. They seemed kind of soft. I didn't really trust them. I ended up welding them after they had been installed. That being said, they did not fail. I have a faint recollection that the strength rating on those repair links was lower than the base chain. I would need to look that up again before swearing to it. It was a long time ago.
When I hammered them together, I laid them on a block of wood that was on top of a big rock & just hit them with a baby sledge hammer, maybe about a 3lb sledge.
A quick look on the west marine site shows that the 3/8" links are rated for 2,750# while 3/8" HT is rated for 5,400# & 3/8" PC is rated for 2,650#
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There is a reason for the ball on the other side of the “ball peen“ hammer. It is to flatten and form rivets. As the rivets on the “C” link are driven into a chamfered hole, the best method for complete mushrooming of the rivet is to clamp both sides of the link together with vise grips and using the anchor as an anvil, peen the rivet into the chamfered hole using the peen end of the hammer.
I have used this method for years with no negative results. The last chain I applied one to lasted for the ten year lifespan of the chain. As explained earlier, corrosion can be a problem but for a couple of dollars, a can of galvanizing paint can be had to recoat as necessary.
Success. It definitely helped to have a second set of hands. I used a small ball peen hammer as the punch and hit it with a 5 lb sledge. We also used a cylindrical piece of iron held upright as the anvil, so that the force transferred to the rivet which was directly above the anvil. My neighbor held the anvil and the chain in place. I held the ball peen hammer on top of the rivet and whacked it with the sledge. The small ball peen made nice dimples in the rivets. I can't imagine it coming apart, though I plan to mark it with some bright paint so that it's easier to spot for inspection. Thanks for all of the advice!