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Old 19-01-2016, 22:32   #1
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Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Hi, What are the Pros & Cons with Gal Rigging, compared to Stainless?.
A boat I'm considering is in need of Rerigging (SS is 14 years old)
If I bought it I'm thinking Gal might be the way to go for economy.
What would the approximate cost comparison be for both types?
The boat in question is a 38ft Cutter Rig, in Australia. Cheers Jeff.

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Old 19-01-2016, 23:23   #2
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Research dyneema

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Old 20-01-2016, 02:34   #3
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

With galvanized, it'll require a lot more TLC, so as to keep it servicable. And odds are, that even if you're upkeep is meticulous, you'll be replacing it more often than you would with stainless.

Plus, you have to be super careful, regarding protecting your sails from chafing on it. As the galvanizing on most wire is coarse enough to shread a sail in the time it takes to down a beer or two, if the sail is rubbing directly on said wire.

Though there is the full on parcel & serving route. Which will make it last a good bit longer, when done properly. Plus, you can add lots of Baggywrinkles, to protect your sails. Though they add a lot of windage.

Needs be, I could suggest a few books which make a bit of reference to it's use. But to really get schooled on the stuff, you realistically have to go back to the '50's or earlier. As once stainless came onto the scene, galvanized quicky disappeared from yachting.

In terms of it's upsides. It's initial cost is less, & also it's a bit stronger than stainless, for a given diameter, but...

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Old 20-01-2016, 03:26   #4
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Gal would only be better than stainless for halyards and even then only jib and main halyards. Dyneema and vectran are both better than both stainless and gal for halyards.

Bottom line = why bother ?

For standing rigging use stainless unless you really, really want the historic look.
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Old 20-01-2016, 04:25   #5
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Ive used both, with galv I get good quality certified class A galvanised 7x7 (typically sold as Travelling Irrigator Galvanised Wire Rope, get 2070 grade) in the 10mm size as it seems to last about 10 years or so depending on use, at least in my experience in cooler waters with minimal care except from keeping chafe items away from it. For some reason 1x19 galv seems more prone to rust?

This lifespan is comparable to what most insurance companies seem consider the recommended replacement interval with stainless. Though galv can get some minor surface rust showing around 5 years on the outer edges of the strands, it doesn't seem to get any worse while the majority of the galv coating is intact. Ive pulled stuff off a square rigger that was 30 or 40 years old and still near perfect, but it was wormed, parcelled and served, and regularly slushed with tar. Snowpetrel1 rig has had no preservative oils applied for about 12 years now and is still fine except for the stb lowers where the ratlines where seized on, trapping salt water under the lashing, so the stuff does last OK if you source decent stuff. Some of my parents 6x19 wire has lasted 30 years with very sporadic treatments of linseed oiled or fishoil over the years, though its being renewed now with 7x7 galv. Use stainless for forestay that have hanks on them, though galv ones can work OK they get pretty dirty and stain your sails, and the hanks don't slide as well on them.

Uncivilised's chafe issue is valid, 7x7 is pretty rough, but black poly pipe over the chafe sections works well. It can be an issue to find the good stuff and find a company thats happy to do it for a yacht these days, and most yacht riggers don't touch it, and if they are forced to will usually put a huge overhead on it, and winge mightily about it during the whole process. It might be harder to get insurance for the rig with galv, because insurance companies are generally stupid.

Be aware that some tangs and other fittings will not fit the swaged galv eyes in them, and the stainless to galv interface can be a minor problem, chewing away the galv faster through galvanic action.

7x7 galv stretches more than 1x19 which can effect some high tension noodley rigs badly but not the average cruising rig. Theoretically the thimbles can collapse under very high loads, but I've not seen it happen on a rig. There can also be a theoretical loss of strength in the clevis pin due to the rounded shape of the thimble, but again this doesn't seem to have been a problem on any conservatively rigged cruising yacht I have seen.

Still trying to work out how to do 1x19 galv on my new boat... Far too noodly a rig for 7x7 unfortunately. Need to break out my old marlinspike and see if Brion Toss's 1x19 splice is as much of a prick to do as it looks. Maybe 1x7 if and a molly hogan splice if I can find any of a reasonable grade.

If you go galv get the test certificates for the wire and the swaging work. probably even worth getting a sample break tested to help with the devil Insurance.

The biggest issue with stainless at the moment is the amount of rubbish quality stuff being sold as a premium product. I've heard you really need to go to something like the very expensive compacted strand stuff to be sure it's not garbage. I think most stainless fails due to chloride stress corrosion cracking not fatigue or overloading. Most galv looks pretty badly rusted by the time it's ready to break, plenty of warning with galv.

Saying all this Stainless is pretty easy, and it looks nice and shiny and you won't forever be dealing with comments or snide remarks from clowns who don't know what they are talking about.

Still down south? I spent a few days at the base during the resupply. Thanks for the great hospitality.


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Old 20-01-2016, 08:25   #6
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

You definitely dont want galvy headstays. The constant small motion of the hanks up and down on the headstay will wear out hanks much too fast. S.S. 1 by 19 is much smoother. Actually I think (an opinion) that anything you save on going galvy will degrade the value of your boat much more than the savings, so it depends on if you can accept that or not? Just another opinion. _____Grant.
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Old 20-01-2016, 08:28   #7
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Also, any 7x7 wire will stretch more than 1x19, S.S. or galvanised.
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Old 20-01-2016, 08:28   #8
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Galvanized stays can last 20-30 years if properly coated and parceled. Has much less stress induced breakage than stainless and you do not have to worry about the lack of oxygen to the metal like you do with stainless. It also has more give. All in all, a better way to go for standing rigging if, and this is important, it is coated with tar or tar like substance(car undercoating will do) and then well wrapped and served to cover the wire to protect from the elements. Go look at some old fishing boat's galvanized wires used to hold their hoists and drags. Most many decades old and still serviceable.
Downside it is not pretty and will not get the yacht club set's accolades. We used galvanized standing rigging for over 18 years after giving up on stainless. Be sure to size it correctly. Some of the old sail design books have the tables you need to size to your boat. Skene comes to mind as one source.
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Old 20-01-2016, 08:45   #9
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Good article on Dyneema used for standing rigging. You will see Dyneema sold as emergency shroud replacement kits at boat shows.
Synthetic Standing Rigging: The Modern and Traditional | Sailfeed
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Old 20-01-2016, 08:56   #10
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

there's galvanizing and then there's galvanizing. Be sure to get good stuff. But realistically, the cost of the wire is not the big cost in rerigging. Get good SS.
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Old 20-01-2016, 09:05   #11
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

I had swaged eyes installed on the upper ends of my new S/S shrouds, had the stays cut a bit longer than the ones that I was replacing, installed Sta-Lok eyes on the lower ends after cutting the stays to the correct length. Bought new bronze and stainless turnbuckles and a Schaefer 2100 roller furler, all for less than 4 grand. Paid a rigger by the hour to help me install it all.

Boats that have their masts standing when on the hard have shorter standing rigging lives.
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Old 20-01-2016, 09:09   #12
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Btw check out poured socket terminals. polyester or epoxy easier than lead for filling.
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Old 20-01-2016, 11:13   #13
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Just to be clear when people talk about 'the good stuff' I am assuming they mean hot dipped. much thicker and more durable. On any gaff rig or wooden mast I would definitely go for it, on a modern high stress rig not so sure. I have found problems if you use stainless shackles with galvanized wire or vice-versa so would say one or the other. The main advantage seams to be that galvanized does not work harden like stainless so is not prone to sudden failure. On the other hand if you keep cyclic stress under 10% in stainless the problem goes away. The 10yr rule for stainless has only come about because of the drive to reduce cost and weight. Properly sized rigging on a crusing boat can last 20years for both. It may be that the extended life on galvanized rigs is more to do with size and low stress designs than material.
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Old 20-01-2016, 11:27   #14
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

I admit I don't know anything about rigging or costs of various materials, but this is one of those sailboat-only issues which kind of gets to me -

You've got a pole, guyed, which has to resist saltwater corrosion - OK, so, that's a specialized application - but you look at the cost - I was looking at a boat which had a temporary replacement mast and the broker told me a new mast would be around $12,000 - is that necessary, really?

Yeah, a proper mast extrusion is supposed to be aerodynamic, at least to the extent it does not spoil the air going to the leading edge of the mainsail, and it's some kind of partly corrosion resistant alloy- stainless looks very nice, stays clean and smooth and is low drag- but plenty of people don't have $12,000 for a new rig - and lots of good boats are thrown away now because of things like this - is the boat worth a lot more than $12,000 with a new mast ? No? Chop her up!!!

Sorry to rant on, but I think It's not too much topic drift, the question was about galvanized but how about everything? Can I make serviceable stays out of dacron rope? A mast out of an I Beam, telephone pole, straight tree ????

Just ranting and nothing against the industry or having a really pretty first class boat with all the top of the line stuff but someone should write a book about how to get around all those $$$$ sinks.
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Old 20-01-2016, 11:28   #15
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Re: Galvanized or Stainless Steel Rigging?

Originally Posted by Boxertwinjeff View Post
A boat I'm considering is in need of Rerigging (SS is 14 years old)
SS rigging that is 14 years old isn't that old. Maybe you have more info you didn't include in your post (a rig survey that found serious issues? or all 14 years were in a tropical region?) or maybe you're planning to head off on an ocean passage right away, but numbers I've heard are 15 years for ocean voyaging and 20 years for coastal cruising. But I know many people doing coastal cruising with 30-35 year old rigs.

Just saying, if you haven't even bought the boat yet and the rig is 14 years old without any signs of serious degradation, it may be a bit premature to consider it requiring replacement. It's a personal decision and if it makes you comfortable and you have the money, I don't think you'll regret it. I'm just surprised SS rigging only lasted 14 years, and would be curious to hear the full story if there were special circumstances.

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