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Old 13-04-2010, 07:50   #1
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Experience with Harken vs Schaefer / Lewmar / Ronstan Gear for Cruising ?

Hello everyone,

I have raced boats with Harken gear and have heard mixed reviews of their durability from those who own them. Then I have read, both on this forum and elsewhere, that they are second to none, from other people.

I'm considering putting a LOT of new blocks, line stoppers/jam cleats, and a couple winches on my boat, and would like to know what other people's experience is with Harken gear on a long-term use basis, particularly compared to Lewmar, Schaefer, and/or Ronstan gear (the major brands I am currently considering).

I've heard reviews from soaringly positive to "never buy again", so obviously I'm not looking for "Harken is totally rad you should only buy them" but rather actual experience reports, e.g. "my Harken cheek block has held up for Y years without any problems whatsoever" or "having owned <list of items> by Harken and <similar list of items> by Schaefer, I'd be comfortable/uncomfortable recommending one/both brands for cruising use".

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Old 13-04-2010, 08:10   #2
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I've replaced all of the schaefer blocks on my boat with Harken. There is no comparison between these two manufacturers, Harken wins hands down with regards to durability and reduced friction. Can't comment on Lewmar or Ronstan as I have no personal experience with them.

Regards, Carl

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Old 13-04-2010, 08:19   #3
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Carl, thank you for that - its the kind of info I'm looking for. Did you choose a particular series from Harken (classic, 'm', etc.) or a mix-and-match?
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Old 13-04-2010, 08:20   #4
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Avoid the ultra-light racer toys. Harken makes an ESP line of blocks especially for cruising situations. They are a bit heavier than the racing gear, a bit less expensive, and ultimately more durable.

Whenever I blow out one of the Ronstan blocks that came with my boat, I replace it with a Harken. Some on my last boat, except that those were Shaefers.

I don't like the Harken fairlead blocks I currently have. Too light, too noisy. Whoever designed them failed to consider that crew might be attempting to sleep below decks while the fairleads were in use. The Shaefers I had on the last boat were beefier and far more quiet. Unfortunately, the blocks go with the tracks.
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Old 13-04-2010, 08:21   #5
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I have a Schaefer Furler and Iv reefed and flown a partially reefed genoa in 47 issues.........boy! do the wraps get nice and tight.. smallest rolled up 135 I have ever seen...
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Old 13-04-2010, 14:34   #6
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Have you considered Garhauer? Garhauer Marine Hardware -949790 Made in the USA, good prices, 10 yr unconditional guarantee. Quality can't be beat.
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Old 13-04-2010, 14:55   #7
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Almost all the deck gear on my 30 year boat is Schaefer and has yet to brake down. I've even up graded some it to ball bearings. Their customer service was excellent! It's H D stuff for H D work!

I've tried plastics and it brakes too EZ for me!
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Old 13-04-2010, 15:06   #8
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Another vote for Garhaurer - if they have the size/mount you need. Simple, strong, great bearings - and much less expensive.

My "durability" experience with both Schaefer and Harken durability has varied by size. Small and very big I prefer Harken. Mid-size I like Schaefer. I don't have experience with the newer Harken carbo blocks.

Mauri Pro Sailing's web site is a convenient place to compare even if you don't order through them.

Sailboat Blocks at Mauri Pro Sailing

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Old 13-04-2010, 22:31   #9
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I have one boat with Harken and one that I am putting on Schaefer. I think it is like Chevys and Fords. Haven't had major issues with either one. My Harken RF did start binding, I called the factory and it turned out I had set something up wrong.
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Old 14-04-2010, 02:11   #10
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They are prolly pretty similar in quality - and all hugely priced.

I wonder, if you are getting so much stuff, would it be worth putting a list together and going bust some asses at a boat show?
They all hate each other and if you walk the promanade between each of them you might save some good dollars...
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Old 14-04-2010, 03:17   #11

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Schaefer blocks with white scheaves are crap. Very impressed with garhauer. I'm going with them.
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Old 14-04-2010, 04:43   #12
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Garhauer is Great....and Harken, Schaffer are both good...

Well, my vote is solidly for Garhauer.....
Not only are the products very heavy duty and well made, but their service is spectacular!!!

While I do have a couple of Harken blocks on board and find them to be high quality, it is the Garhauer stuff that really stands out!!!

And, ever since I changed my old furler bearing out, to the new design (2006???), I find my Schaefer 3100 furler to be a dream....I can fuler my > 600 sq ft genoa in a stiff breeze one handed....never need a winch to furler, like some others comment.....
(Schaefer was very up front about their "old design" bearing being a poor concept for a salt water environ, and even though my furler was > 7 years old, they sent me a new bearing and instructions for about $125.....although later I found that if it had been ~ 5 years old, they'd have sent it for free....)

But, as for Garhauer....
Boy, are they Great!!!
I find their design and build quality to be the highest around.....

I had a few 10 year old blocks that were a bit "sticky".....they've been in direct sunlight and covered in salt water their entire life (and survived 3 direct hits with Cat 3 hurricanes).....and sailed 12,000+ miles offshore, including two Atlantic crossings, and Garhauer being completely aware of all of this, said to send them in, and they'd send me out some new ones....
And, they did....
3 brand new (new design) big 3+ inch blocks, sent to me in a few days...all for free.....
Now that's a real 10-year warranty!!!
(try getting Harken to do that!!)

Bill and Guido are truly super guys.....

Go for Garhauer, you'll never regret it!!!

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Old 14-04-2010, 20:23   #13
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I agree on the Garhauer stuff,top quality and one of the few manufacturers in the sailboat world that gives true value for your money.
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Old 14-04-2010, 20:50   #14
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+1 for Garhauer over anything else. Very well built, very smooth running gear. Seems solid.

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Harken, lewmar

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