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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone. As our boat nears splash day, one of our last projects is the topping lift. Could anyone tell me if the loads on a topping lift are ever significant? I am buying the blocks for it and my mind tells me the loads are essentially lifting the boom, but is there ever a time where there are more? Light wind you could use the lift while sailing for additional draft but the stresses would be very light no?

Any thoughts? Thanks again. You have all made this maintenance/update season much easier. I owe you all a beverage! :D

EDIT: Oh yeah, that would be on a Mac 25.
 

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I can only think of a few cases when the load would be greater than the weight of the boom and folded mainsail. I do sometimes stand on the main boom close and foreward, near the gooseneck when I first lifting myself for a trip up the bosun's chair to the masthead. There are also times when I tighten the main sheet with the sail down in order to keep my main boom stil in a chop at the dock or motoring. If the main is not snug with the sheet the shock load on the topping lift as the boom swings with a rock can be significant.

I must confess that I adjust my topping lifts on my main and mizzen booms with a half Duncan Yo-Yo passed through a loop. My half plastic yo-yo disc is likely my weakest link, but I haven't had them fail....


.... I replace them every five years due to UV damage.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Great points! No issue here on going up the mast as it is a trailer sailer and I wouldn't trust my weight up that mast. Instead I would just crank it down with the mast raising system I built. I also tension the main sheet when at anchor or dock for the same reasons at times, but never anything that would put too much on a block or rivet to strain it.
 

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The biggest load you'll see on your TL is when you forget to ease it and haul on the mainsheet.... ;)
 
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Living the dream
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The topping lift needs to be able to survive hauling down hard on the mainsheet.

On a trailer sailer maybe not so important, but I use spectra to keep the diameter small but load capacity high so I can also use the boom as a makeshift crane, including MOB recovery, if needed. Also for mast climbing the topping lift is often used as an additional safety line.
 

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1/8" amsteel has a breaking strength of 2300lbs and makes a great topping lift. The small Harken carbo block is good for hundreds of pounds, which has been enough for my topping lift.

7/64" is more than strong enough too, but it's a bit harder to splice when it gets that small.

My main sheet is left adjusted so that it is slightly longer than the leech of my sail, and so it is slack when you are out sailing.
 

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My main sheet is left adjusted so that it is slightly longer than the leech of my sail, and so it is slack when you are out sailing.
Alex, I assume you meant to say that your topping lift is left adjusted slightly longer than the leech, not your main sheet, correct? If not, could you clarify?
 

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I recall times when I or someone else happened to be up on the cabin while flaking the main while the mainsheet was eased, just when some power boat wake comes by and rolls the boat. Loosing balance grabbing the boom, and sometimes swinging almost over the rail. Full weight of one crew member on the little topping lift.

That stress is still less than someone hardening down on the mainsheet while the topping lift is not eased. Keeping with a line that can take 1000+ lbs of load would be a good bet.

If you use the boat hard and want to get through heavy weather without incidents, oversize everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks everyone! This is just what I was thinking but wanted to be sure. I will have 1/4'' line with a 2000lb breaking strength, harken block with a 400lb + working load at both ends and a jammer to match so I think all will be well.
 

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Barquito
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Captianforce - I LOVE the yo-yo. Post this idea on the 'Low Buck Projects' thread! Yo-yo's on a sailboat, that has panache.
 

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Alex, I assume you meant to say that your topping lift is left adjusted slightly longer than the leech, not your main sheet, correct? If not, could you clarify?
That is correct, sorry about the confusion.

I made my topping lift extremely light and it is carefully adjusted so that I don't have to touch it on the vast majority of my sails. It is light so that it blows out of the way of the leech when sailing. It is carefully adjusted to be just longer than the leech so that it is short enough to keep the boat's boom from touching the dodger when the sail is lowered, but long enough to avoid changing the sail shape.
 

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On my former 25' boat, I only used the topping lift to briefly keep the boom from falling into the cockpit while raising and lowering the sail, and when reefing. Except for those brief moments, I had the pig tail hooked up. I unhooked the pig tail just prior to raising the sail and immediately after lowering it. My crew knew they couldn't lean on the boom during those few seconds, and steadied themselves elsewhere, such as at the mast or a grab rail. Because it was so briefly used, I used the lightest nylon line possible. I think it was 1/8 inch nylon. It was enough to do the job required of it, and, if I ever forgot to ease the topping lift after the sail was up, it stretched so easily that it wasn't a problem. If my boat didn't have a pig tail or boom crutch or similar device, then I'd want a light, but strong, non-stretching line.

I'm not an advocate of the "oversized line" theory. I generally prefer to use the size of line that is just right for the task, and no more. Oversized lines often don't run freely through the blocks, and they are often too thick or too heavy to work well. I'd rather have it work properly, and, if I wear it out, then replace it, and use the old line for lashing things or other uses.
 

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with the newer tech lines and stronger lines per size if you will Im a great fan pf going one size under...

the amount of friction lost and ease of sheeting in, hauling, pulling etc...is significantly reduced

for my boat for example its in the builders forums, that its recommended to downsize both to save some cost but for these reasons too

especially when going from wire rope halyards to all rope...

there is nothing worse in my mind than chubby lines stuffed in blocks...so clumsy...
 

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I weigh 230, the Admiral sent me over the side while securing the mainsail, hung on to the boom until I could get her to turn the boat back into the wind. Sure glad the topping lift held. ( I now have an electric tiller pilot)
 

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Unless you have a boom crutch or a hard vang, you are going to put some tremendous loads on your topping lift, to keep the boom from swinging around, when NOT sailing. Your main sheet is a larger diameter line and on a multi-purchase block and tackle system which you are tightening against the lowly topping lift. Nuff said?
 

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it has worked for me quote well

in bigger boats you just tie up some preventers to each side

simple enough

my topping lift is one size smaller than my main sheet
 

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Unless you have a boom crutch or a hard vang, you are going to put some tremendous loads on your topping lift, to keep the boom from swinging around, when NOT sailing.
Or unless you tie off the main halyard to the end of the boom when the mainsail is put away. That keeps it away from the boom and supports the end of the boom.
 
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