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Old 27-02-2017, 08:53   #1
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Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

Anyone else having had the unfortunate experience that rope clutches disintegrate during sailing?

2 of my Spinlock XAS rope clutches disintegrated during sailing in moderate winds the other day. (See attached photo.)

The obvious cause is brittle / fragile side panels, which hold the clutch together and also carry all the weight when the clutch is locked.

The clutches are the original ones mounted on my 2005 Bavaria 38C, with 4 single clutches mounted side-by-side. They are located under, and benefit from the protection of the dodger.

Is this a known issue with these products, ie. that the side panels become brittle over time and that one can expect breakages after a limited number of years?

If it is the case that these products have a limited lifespan that is significantly shorter than other deck hardware on boats, take this as a warning that they need to be replaced regularly, and even long before the ropes need replacement, as in my case, in order to prevent serious accidents.
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Old 27-02-2017, 13:56   #2
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

The attached photo didn't attach.
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Old 27-02-2017, 14:06   #3
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

It's a fairly well known (common sense) issue to those of us who sail a lot. Though it's worth contacting Spinlock about it if you're unhappy. However when you replace them, & buy hardware in general, metal's a better way to go than plastic, for obvious reasons of UV degradation. Aluminum Spinlock's have great lifespans, they just occassionally need new internals if they're used a lot. And one needs to match line size properly with the internals in order to get max holding power.
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Old 27-02-2017, 15:34   #4
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

Here's the missing photo. (Hope the upload works this time around.)

To "UNCIVILIZED": In fact, I did contact Spinlock and the response contained the following: "We very rarely see issues like this from normal use." I find that to be an odd response, since there is a market for replacement side panels, which they price as high as around 1/3 of a brand new clutch.

One would reasonably expect that a clutch would last much longer than the rope it is clutching/locking, which is obviously not the case here. (I still use the original ropes, so only Spinlock would know how they define "normal use".)

I agree that plastic does not seem to be the best material for this type of hardware. It is well-known that hard plastic materials may turn brittle over time, especially when exposed to sun and/or heat.

However, that was what the boat came with when new....
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Old 27-02-2017, 16:33   #5
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

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Originally Posted by viben View Post

I agree that plastic does not seem to be the best material for this type of hardware. It is well-known that hard plastic materials may turn brittle over time, especially when exposed to sun and/or heat.

However, that was what the boat came with when new....
So...your boat's an '05 & it's '17- and you're on original equipment.

You even answered your own question.

Sounds like an opportunity to upgrade!
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Old 27-02-2017, 16:46   #6
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

Still on original standing rigging, been checked lately?

Wish I could get 12 years life out of running rigging. Starting to replace or end for end my sheets and halyards after 4 years, wear and UV take there toll.

Fact of life things made 40 years ago lasted longer than things made four years ago, they where also a lot more expensive in relative terms 40 years ago. That's what I believe anyway.
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Old 28-02-2017, 04:17   #7
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

You might try having a friend with an address in a town near you send them to Spinlock or one of their primary distributors expressing his dissatisfaction with them, & why. And see if maybe they'll ship out some new ones, or parts to fix these, gratis. Can't hurt to try.
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Old 01-03-2017, 04:55   #8
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

I have had something similiar happen on Spinlocks used on davits. After about six years they showed cracks on main pivot point. Their repair kits include new side panels and I now carry spare kits for all sizes. Still not a good track record in my opinion for such a key peace of equipment.
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:08   #9
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

Go Garhauer with your replacements. All metal, 2/3 the cost.
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Old 01-03-2017, 06:16   #10
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

Plastic is not great outside, but often the problem is overloading the clutch.

The XAS is only rated to 600kg. This should be enough for most applications on a 38 foot yacht, but not all, depending on the purchase etc.

Manufacturers are reluctant to specify suitable sizes of clutches because the cost increases dramatically for the larger models. It not unusual for the clutches to be underspecified.

Check before you replace "like with like".
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Old 01-03-2017, 08:14   #11
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rock-Head View Post
So...your boat's an '05 & it's '17- and you're on original equipment.

You even answered your own question.

Sounds like an opportunity to upgrade!
Both of my current boats are 35+ years old. Both have the original hardware which is still working fine. The 36 footer was surveyed when she was about 30 years old and the rigging was found to be more than adequate for coastal cruising. The surveyor did recommend changing it prior to going far offshore but only because he felt the insurance companies would not be happy with the original set. I already written in some old thread about new WM supposedly ss bolts, nuts and washers which we used when making DIY swimming platform. And how we ran out of those in mid process and picked up some old ones from the boat junk yard next door and how next season the new ones were all bleeding rust and the old ones were fine. I know for sure which were which as the ones picked up at the junk yard were about 1/2" longer so I ground them down to size and could later spot them from he grind marks.
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Old 01-03-2017, 08:23   #12
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

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Originally Posted by PaulinOz View Post
Still on original standing rigging, been checked lately?

Wish I could get 12 years life out of running rigging. Starting to replace or end for end my sheets and halyards after 4 years, wear and UV take there toll.

Fact of life things made 40 years ago lasted longer than things made four years ago, they where also a lot more expensive in relative terms 40 years ago. That's what I believe anyway.

I have all Barlow winches on both boats which were built by the same US builder in the early 80s. I asked some old salts as to why Barlow and not Harken or Barient was used by a better than average builder. They all said that back then (as is again now) Australian dollar was so low that it made sense to get their best products. And that over there most of the marine stuff is made well enough to get you safely from Aus to NZ. Same goes for my 35+ year old made in NZ Nielsen windlass which when I purchased it used a few years ago was opened up for anticipated service and refurb but was found to be in pristine condition inside while being very scruffy looking outside. Try that in 35 years on today's new windlass.
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Old 01-03-2017, 14:24   #13
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

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Go Garhauer with your replacements. All metal, 2/3 the cost.
My last boat had Garhauer my current boat as Lewmar, imho no comparison, Garhauer is just much more robust.

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Old 01-03-2017, 17:17   #14
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

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My last boat had Garhauer my current boat as Lewmar, imho no comparison, Garhauer is just much more robust.

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Dale, can you release the Garhauer clutches under heavy load? My Spinlocks will not for sure, but my Lewmars will (I use them for the runners, and being able to release quickly under fulll load is important for tacking, etc).

The Lewmars are now 13 years old, never under cover, much time in the tropics.

Jim
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Old 01-03-2017, 18:00   #15
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Re: Brittle Rope Clutches - warning

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Dale, can you release the Garhauer clutches under heavy load? My Spinlocks will not for sure, but my Lewmars will (I use them for the runners, and being able to release quickly under fulll load is important for tacking, etc).

The Lewmars are now 13 years old, never under cover, much time in the tropics.

Jim
Hi Jim, yes Garhauer can be released under full load. In fairness to the Lewmars I haven't used them enough to have a valid opinion, they just dont seem to be as robust to me.

Cheers Dale.

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