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I bought our Beneteau 50 last July and the rig has never been inspected. I just bought an ATN Top Climber, so I can go up the stick at will. Do I need to have a professional inspect the rig, or is it something - with some research - that I can do myself?
 

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Do it yourself.. if you see something that looks questionable, bring in a pro. :) Meathooks, excessive corrosion, kinks in the wire, etc... are all signs of problems.... if you don't see them... you're probably okay.

Of course, if your boat is rod-rigged, then you have no warning signs.. :)
 

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I bought our Beneteau 50 last July and the rig has never been inspected. I just bought an ATN Top Climber, so I can go up the stick at will. Do I need to have a professional inspect the rig, or is it something - with some research - that I can do myself?
I don't see any reason why you can't do a pretty good inspection of your standing rigging yourself.
If you are comfortable enough, carry a good camera and take some closeups of the areas of concern. You can show them to your rigger and ask his advise.

To inspect swaged terminals: Start with a brand new green Scotch bright pad and a magnifying glass. Wear a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.
Spit on the scratchy and use it to remove all surface corrosion from the swage. Wipe it clean with a rag and inspect it carefully with the glass.
Look hard at any areas on the swage that had a buildup of rust. If there are cracks in the fitting, you should be able to see them pretty easily.

There's a little crack near the eye end of this fitting.



Look for areas of heavy rust buildup on the wire itself. If you see them. You very likely have a broken strand under it.




Take a little bottle of corrosion block or an equivalent oil. If you see areas of heavy corrosion at the spreader tips or clevis pins or wherever, you can puts a few drops on.

Look for chafe, potential problems and indications of halyard wrap at the top of the furler if you have one.
The ProFurl in this picture could have used a halyard restrainer even though they come with a wrap stop. A little close to that cotter pin for my liking.



And notice the mismatched clevis pin and hole at the top of the forestay.



Have someone on hand to flip switches so that you can test all the lights.

Lube the masthead sheaves if you can. You need to have a straw and a spray can for that though.

Have some tape for your spreader boots. I have always used 7 to 10 wraps of cheap black electrical tape covered by a few wraps of good white rigging tape. The kind that sticks only to itself. You get the strength from the cheap tape and it's protected by the expensive tape.

I've probably left a lot out, but just examine everything, look for anything that doesn't look proper and take some pictures of anything you suspect.

You'll do fine. :)
 

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While you're up the mast... check cotter pins... and make a list of what size clevis and cotter pins your boat uses, so you can run out and pick up spares before you find you need them.
 

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Without doubt Knothead gave you some things to think about, but I think the answer to your question depends to a large extent on the cirucumstances of your knowledge and sailing plans: First ask yourself how confident are you that you know what you're looking for? Research is fine and I'd encourage you to read everything you can on the topic, but do you know what you don't know about the signs of rigging failure? Second, what are your sailing plans in the immediate future? Are you going to be in a situation where it's critical you dont' have a rigging problem?

In areas where I have yet to develop real competence (and confidence) my philosophy has always been to hire a pro and learn from them while they're in my employ. I shadowed a professional rigger the first couple of times they looked at our rig. I now DIY most of the inspections, but if I have the need to have a rigger aboard for something else, I may still ask them for a second opinion on the state of the rig. This is particularily true if the person I'm dealing with seems to know what they're doing (after a while you can tell).

Circumstances are a very important consideration: my rig is now 15 years old and bears careful watching -- if it were 5 years old I probably wouldn't be so quick to hire a pro. But given the age of the rig and the critical importance of keep it vertical, I think a few hundred dollars spent on a professional rigger every year or so is worth while. I also tend to seek a second opinion on the rig before any major offshore passage. If my plans for the summer call for coastal sailing, I will inspect the rig myself. If I'm headed off shore for ten days or more, I'll get a pro to do it (and I'll be there to watch and learn from them).
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
+1 knothead. (Billy you got a +1 from me already, can't give you another one yet. Someone give him a rep point for me.)

There's much in what you wrote that I'm going to have to read it a few more times. And thanks for the encouragement.

I'll look at the rig myself and take pictures. The idea of going up is a bit unnerving, but I figure I'll get used to it. And I'll probably call in a pro anyway - one that will give me a bit of training. There's a reputable rigger at Brewers where she is now, but I'd rather make the request after she's back in the water. (If I ask now, they'll fire up the crane and I'd have to pay a lot of extra $$ for it. Better to wait a bit.)

Two questions:
1) Can I go up the mast while she's on the hard, or would you advise against it? I could wait for a day when there's no wind.
2) After she's back in the water, could I go up the mast at the same time as the rigger, to watch? That would be my 210 pounds plus say another 190 for the rigger. With a 6 foot draft (call it a 5 foot center of gravity on the keel), an 8,000 lb keel, and our 400 lbs at 65 feet. Effectively there'd be less that 3000 lbs of keel left for righting moment. Seems like it might be too much for the rig anyway.
 

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Bene505—

Don't go up the mast with the boat on the hard. It is a really bad idea. If you cause the boat to start to tip, it won't stop and self-right like it would in the water. :) And the chances that you hit a hard surface coming down are much higher...

Also, I'd highly recommend not taping rigging. Stainless steel needs to have oxygen to not corrode... I know it doesn't make much sense, but if you seal off the stainless with tape and water gets trapped by the tape, the water will cause the stainless steel to corrode rather quickly, especially if it is salt water and 304 grade stainless. BTW, 316 grade stainless, while a bit weaker than 304, is far better a material, since 304 grade stainless is far more prone to chloride ion stress cracking.. :)
 

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Bene
Make sure you read all the fine print on that top climber. Most folks rig a dedicated line just for the TC with the exact recommended line. Then of course there is the issue of how to get up the first time to set the line.
The idea of the TC it to go it alone but your first time plan on some help.
Bring an extra light line because once you make it to the top you don't want to go all the way down and back up again for a small part.
A helper and some small stuff in your pack saves the day.

Also what some folks do is to tie a halyard to the chair and have someone tail the line as a safty. Maybe overkill but a line that has recently been used for several hundred pounds of pull makes me feel better.

I'm the out of shape guy so I probably couldn't do it but two of the guys I sail with just use a halyard and haul themselves up. I tail the winch with both hands. I find that I can not crank with one hand and tail with the other. The winches are self tailing but I wouldn't trust that with a guy aloft.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Maine sail -- another great post. Where is the defect in this picture. (Hard to see is right!)


'dog -- Got it. No going up on the hard. (Well, maybe just a few feet to test out the rig.) Can I just measure the length of the clevis pins and cotter pins, to determine their size? I'm tempted to take pictures of them in front of a measuring tape, so I can look at them later.

David -- I have the separate the line for the TC. Actually I bought the TC used and it comes with the line. I'll have to ask the guy if it's the exact line that ATN sells with it. Either way I'll check it to make sure it's the right size. I'm figuring to attach the TC's rope to the main halyard. And I'll use the spinnaker halyard as the secondary, using one of those knots recommended in another thread. IIRC, the TC has a clip on it that I could attach to the safety rope using that knot. Good idea on the small line for hauling things up.

I really can't wait to go up. Funny how that works. A couple of weeks ago it scared me to no end. Now I'm psyched and can't wait. I'll be able to straighten out the bent windex "arm". I can replace the burnt-out anchor light. I can see about putting a more powerful bulb in the deck light. (The current one is really dim.) And I'll be able to get a look at the mystery antenna, and maybe figure out what it's for.


Thanks for the great replies.
 

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One point on the Top Climber. Make sure the shackle is installed the right way. If installed the wrong way, it can come loose, which would be less than pleasant for you... or anyone standing under you for that matter.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
One point on the Top Climber. Make sure the shackle is installed the right way. If installed the wrong way, it can come loose, which would be less than pleasant for you... or anyone standing under you for that matter.
LOL, I hadn't thought about the other guy.

Not sure which shackle you mean (and what the right/wrong way is). I'll take a look at it when it gets here.
 

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50' is a long climb unless you have no help and have to go up that way

We have the climber on Zzzoom and prefer to be winched up with two halyards One to lift and one just in case

I have never been that comfy on ONE line
 

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Maine sail -- another great post. Where is the defect in this picture. (Hard to see is right!)
I put that in there to show why and how difficult it can be. That fitting was junked because the owner used and under sized pin and made the hole out of round in doing so.

The correct size pin in the correct sized hole distributes the loads the way they are intended. With an oblong hole you will have stress points that are uneven and could cause or lead to a failure.

Look close and you'll see how out of round it really is.

Professionals, at least good ones, would pick up on a problem like this in seconds
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Humbled. Enough said.

I put that in there to show why and how difficult it can be. That fitting was junked because the owner used and under sized pin and made the hole out of round in doing so.

The correct size pin in the correct sized hole distributes the loads the way they are intended. With an oblong hole you will have stress points that are uneven and could cause or lead to a failure.

Look close and you'll see how out of round it really is.

Professionals, at least good ones, would pick up on a problem like this in seconds
 

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You make a good point billyruffn. I often encourage my customers to take into consideration how they are planning to use the boat in the near future when deciding how long to put off maintenance of their rigging. If they are planning to be cruising the Caribbean in the next year or so. I strongly urge them to replace the rigging here.

Unfortunately, that's the way it often is. I find myself in the position of trying to convince people to change their priorities. Replacing a set of standing rigging is a big expenditure. I fully understand when someone is trying to extend the life of it all they can before biting the bullet.

As much as I might agree with your analysis of the point loaded StaLok MainSail, I'm pretty sure that it would be near the bottom of my priority list on most all of the boats that I inspect.
It's not easy to get people to spend money on their rigging and most boats have much bigger issues.

The reality of it is this. Rigging is marvelously forgiving. I know this without a doubt.
I have seen some of the most horrendous examples come through my shop and most of them had served for years.
There is another reality however. The sea is not forgiving at all. It only takes one screw up to ruin your day and possibly end your life.

So most of us, keeping those two things in mind will, if we are smart;
Be reasonable about how we take care of our rigging and realize that it doesn't last forever and needs to be inspected and maintained. (Now, as to whether or not someone is capable of performing a perfect inspection or just a competent one the first few times? Who can say? Only the man himself.)
We will also realize that there is a limit as to how much we should test our rigging. That limit should be based on what kind of shape it's in, how old it is and how much confidence we have in the guy who inspects and maintains it.
If we race, are planning to cross an ocean or go cruising or if we want to shoot a BFS video for our favorite website, then we need to have rigging that we can push to a higher level.
If we just want to load up the kids and a six-pack and sail around the bay on a nice afternoon one or two days a week. Then our standards don't have to be quite as high.

I don't want anyone to think that I advocate letting your rigging go. Just the opposite is true. The rigging is what makes it a sailboat. It's more important that the damn engine, the electronics, the fancy electric head or anything else.
But, at the same time. There are times in life when you may have to run your tires a little bald, or wear socks with holes in them or even put off a new forestay.

If you are a prudent sailor, and don't go buying new chart plotters or fancy radio's when you know that you have cracked swages on your 15 year old rig. You don't push the rig when you should reef. And don't sail when the conditions reach a certain point. Then your rigging will probably not fail you.

Now, after saying all that, let me add this.
I charge one hour labor to do an inspection at my dock. Andrew lifts my fat butt up with the crane and as long as it takes less that one hour, that's what the customer pays. Not a bad deal.
If we go to the boat, the customer pays travel and for two men. Still, not a bad deal.
A good rigger can be a source of peace of mind. Unfortunately, a bad rigger can be a source of a false sense of security.
I am a strong believer that a man should be able to take care of his whole boat. Rigging included. But nobody knows this stuff instinctually. So hiring a trusted rigger might be a good place to start learning.
 

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I realize the pin being the right size is a BIG deal BUT


With #2930 being my second 1981 J24 ,it is also the second rig i have found fom the factory with the mast drilled for a 5/16 pin for the headstay and 1/4 for the backstay

BUT :eek: the orginal headstay has a 3/8 eye and the backstay 5/16 ,I know the headstay is orginal because i know the orginal owner and it still has the foil feeder on the headstay from before they changed J24s to hanks


I figured at 28 years i was really pushing my luck and drilled the mast to 3/8 because the rigger i sent the parts to to be copyed had a stroke :D and they think they can make the new backstay in 1/4 or i wil drill it to 5/16 also ;)


BUT it lived through 28 years of racing
 

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I'll bet two cents that the mystery antenna was intended for a cell phone.

There are lots of folks who would say if the rigging is 20 years old, just replace it, don't waste your time inspecting it. And the radio coax cable, to replace after 5 years, ten at the outside, while you're pulling wires.

When you replace the anchor light, put silicon grease (aka light bulb grease, aks high temperature brake grease) into the socket to prevent corrosion while you are up there.

Any good machine shop should have a dye check kit available, which you can use to check the stainless fittings. Eyeballing them often is not good enough, the dye check kits use a dye plus a developer, and give you bright red dye filling in cracks that your naked eye would not see.

Hiring a pro can be a great way to save time--assuming you can find one that you are sure is a real pro, not just an alleged one.
 
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