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Old 01-08-2014, 17:25   #1
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Galvanized Standing Rigging: Is it Safe? How to Know?

Our "new to us" 46' Cutter has Galvanized standing rigging that is wormed parceled and served. (6x7 7/16" and 1/2" is the builders spec on the cable used) The marine surveyor cautioned us against sailing with it, because he couldn't verify it's condition. The rigger I spoke to also cautioned us against sticking with the rigging, since he has no experience with the material, and again, can't inspect it for damage/corrosion. The rig is approx 14 years old, and has been hard standing for the last 4.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to inspect? What are some good references? Know of any riggers in the Chesapeake VA area that aren't afraid of the material who can give an unbiased assessment of the rig?

Thanks in advance for the info!

Shawn and Frances, crew of the Firefly.
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Old 01-08-2014, 17:38   #2
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

We have 25 yr old gal rigging and it is due for replacement. In my view gal is far superior to stainless and a fraction of the price. Apart from the forestay where the gal rubs off, I cannot understand why people use stainless wire.
To verify the condition of your rigging you will have to remove some of the covering to inspect the wire underneath.
If the gal looks ok and there are no heavily rusted areas or broken strands then it should be OK. No problems with work hardening like SS.
Maybe remove the bottom few inches of covering above the eyes for inspection.
I paint ours with a mixture of silver paint and fish oil every few years.

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Richard.
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Old 01-08-2014, 17:54   #3
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

What Richard said

It easy enough to do yourself if you are at all mechanically minded.
If there is no rust or broken strands, then gal. rigging is perfectly serviceable. You will have to remove some of the covering (and also open up the lay of the wire in a couple of places if you are really thorough - but this isn't usually necessary).

You might have to google how to worm and parcel(sp?) it but again this is not a black art, just a technique to learn.
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Old 01-08-2014, 17:57   #4
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

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Originally Posted by boden36 View Post
If the gal looks ok and there are no heavily rusted areas or broken strands then it should be OK. No problems with work hardening like SS.
Maybe remove the bottom few inches of covering above the eyes for inspection.
I paint ours with a mixture of silver paint and fish oil every few years.

Regards,
Richard.
So I should be looking for discoloration from rust and pitting. Is there any concern about the masthead? As for painting, I noticed that the paint/coating on the serving is wearing away. Can I just paint over it? how to you apply fish oil? mixed with the paint?

Thanks for the info!

Shawn
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Old 01-08-2014, 19:57   #5
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

Hi there, That is the beauty of galvanized rigging. If it's not rusty, its fine. I worked as mate and skipper on a 1942 freighter with a 1930's union purchace cargo setup. The wire had to go through strenuous Canadian Steamship inspections every couple of years and passed no problem. It is still going strong now in 2014. The only downside of galvanized rigging is the SWL which usually calls for a lot of extra weight above. I don't think there is ever a case of a rig with galvanized wire failing without some prior indicators.
Greg
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Old 09-08-2014, 14:09   #6
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

Greg,

Thanks for the input. We are going to stick with the Gal. Rig, but are going to have to wait to inspect the fittings at the top of the mast until we get her into the water. I'm just not keen on going up the mast while we are on the hard.

Any tips on tuning the rig? Most techniques I have seen so far don't apply to a rig that parceled and served.


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Old 09-08-2014, 15:20   #7
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

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.... Any tips on tuning the rig? Most techniques I have seen so far don't apply to a rig that parceled and served.


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Yep, don't worry. All the tuning techniques apply to galvanized, pretty much in the same way as stainless. Except you don't want to tension galvanized as if you are trying to hold down the space shuttle. Years ago I had a 35 ton William Hand designed 63' wood ketch, with galvanized rigging and wonderful tall solid wood masts. Just tighten up the shrouds until the mast does not bend to leeward when sailing. Doesn't matter if the lee shrouds go slack - they will as galvanized is more stretchy than stainless. But doesn't matter if the windward side is taunt enuf to keep the mast in place. The parcel and serving will move around with the wire and have no effect on tension.

I doubt you will find fish oil anywhere except health foods stores nowadays. Traditionally, riggers soaked the wire in linseed oil, then wrapped the wire with linen cloth, something like first aid bandage gauss rolls in first aid kits. Then painted the wrap with enamel boat paint, then served and parceled - Ahaha, or was it parcel and served, with two layers of twine. Then paint again over the top of the parceling to waterproof. Usually you only need to parcel and serve 10' to 12' up the wire from deck level, as the salt spray doesn't go much higher than this- which is what causes the wire to rust. So,the parceling acts as a rust preventative treatment.

Btw, I am guessing your mast head fittings are most likely wire eye shackled to tangs. Check 'em out with binoculars. Or if really traditional rigged then wire spliced to itself to form a loop, then placed over tops of the mast and brought down to mast patrners which hold the wire in place at the correct position. Like threading a giant needle with the mast and rigging- although this was most common on solid spar wood masts.

Galvanized wire bends readily around thimbles at the usual ratio of 5:1. So 1/4" wire would have a 5/4" eye, roughly 1 1/4" diameter eye and be shackled to a tang. Seize the shackle pin closed and your good to go for decades. Something no one can say about stainless, unfortunately.

BTW, If you haven't gone up the mast yet, consider having a boom truck pull the whole thing and lay it on the ground for a really good going over. Much easier and quicker to check/repair/replace sheeves, electrical wire, light fixtures, etc on the ground than in a bosun chair. Ultimately cheaper and quicker to repair stuff.

Have fun with your boat- sounds like a great adventure.
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Old 09-08-2014, 16:47   #8
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

Glenn, my memory may be playing tricks on me, but I think that you have some of the steps mixed up in your description of treating galvo rigging.

The old saying "Worm and parcel with the lay, then turn and serve the other way" comes to mind. Worming was laying a length of some sort of twine, marline for example, around the wire and lying in the grooves between the major cables. This was to make a more uniform diameter to base the next step which is parceling. As you said, this was wrapping the wormed wire with thin cloth, again going in the direction of the lay of the wire. Finally, one served with marline, wrapping in the opposite direction from the lay. The serving was put on very tightly using a seizing mallet. The various coatings used varied regionally, but fish oil and red lead paint stick in my memory, and the traditional last coating was indeed black.

It's all very historical and traditional and all that, but I must admit that for any sort of modern boat design*, good quality stainless 1x19 or Dyform wire seems a better choice to me. If one does a DIY job on the s/s it isn't all that expensive and once done there is little to worry about for well over a decade. There is all sorts of guff about s/s rigging failing after 7 or 10 or some other magic number of years, but there are all too many twenty plus year old rigs going sailing every day for me to believe the worry warts.

This opinion will bring forth blasts of rage from the traditionalists, and they are entitled to their beliefs. But for me, the only reason for using galvo is for very traditional boats and for those who are truly pinched for funding. I do recognize that it is less expensive, and that this can be a driving factor, so don't jump on me for that transgression!

Cheers,

Jim

* By modern, I mean not with pole masts, not with a gaff rig, not with a very low aspect rig... you know, a boat like most of the folks out sailing actually own and use.
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Old 09-08-2014, 17:55   #9
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

A few intereting facts about galv. Most of the modern stuff is stronger than 316 or 304 1x19 for its weight and is less stretchy! So 1x19 in galv is actually higher performance than stainless provided you can find 2070 grade. However the galvanising on 1x19 doesn't seem as good as the 7x7 which is nearly twice as stretchy from memory and not as strong for its diameter (though just as strong for its weight) . Rigging doesn't usually fail from straight tensile loads, at least not until after corrosion and fatigue have substantially reduced the strength. Whats more important is stretch for many modern rigs. Expect 5-10 years on hard used galv before rust starts, and longer on lightly used rigging. Regular oiling with linseed, fishoil or similar helps. Once light surface rust starts its still ok, but needs watching and regular oiling to prevent it getting worse. To really extend it life occasionally soaking the whole lot in a bath of oil helps.

I have seen well looked after galv last 30 years on yachts and square riggers, and done many offshore miles on galv rigged boats with no issues. I consider it perfectly safe. I have had many more issues with stainless steel rigging, and I am far happier with galvanised.

Serving works very well if its done right, have pulled it off 30 year old rigging to find good galv under it. I would strip a few areas and inspect it. In fact pulling all the serving off and redoing wont take long and is a handy skill.

The real issues with galvanised rigging are cost, It isn't as cheap as it once was. Unknow galv quality, the good certified stuff is only 1/2 to 2/3 the price of stainless. Stretch if using other than 1x19, chafe with most galv being rougher than stainless. Slightly more maintenance, and the fact that many surveyors dont understand it. I find it funny that most cruisers wont have stainless anchor chain, but are scared of galv wire...

Saying all this jims approach using good quality dyform and mechanical terminals is a good reliable way to go for stainless. And I am still trying to work out the best way to go on the new boat. My 2c
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Old 09-08-2014, 18:05   #10
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

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Originally Posted by AndDavRos View Post
So I should be looking for discoloration from rust and pitting. Is there any concern about the masthead? As for painting, I noticed that the paint/coating on the serving is wearing away. Can I just paint over it? how to you apply fish oil? mixed with the paint?

Thanks for the info!

Shawn
You need a good traditional rigger! Slight rust is ok. Any visible pitting or necking is not. Open the lay and inspect inside the wire. We mixed up goop from a mixture of tar, paint, varnish and teribine dryers. Mostly it dried in a few days. Occasionally it never dried…

Get a copy of Brian Toss's books. Most likely the rigging is fine. Surveyers and riggers are always reluctant to put their names on a guarantee that its Ok.
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Old 09-08-2014, 18:21   #11
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

Ben, I've never seen galvo 1x19 used, and it would likely relieve the excessive stretch worry I have about the 7x7 or worse, 6x6 cored wire often used in traditional boats. But, if you were to go to that wire, wouldn't you have to go to non-spliced or thimbled eye terminals? If so, that would loose much of the price advantage of galvo. As you know, the terminals are the big price deterrent for s/s, not just the wire itself.

I'm not knowledgeable about the current practices for such rigging... are there galvo equivalents to Sta-Loks, etc?

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 09-08-2014, 18:32   #12
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

Hi Jim. There are gavanised versions o staylocs, but they are about the same price as the stainless version. 1x19 can be spliced, but I've done enough splicing wire for it not to be fun anymore… Best option so far is poured sockets. But they are pretty heavy. Swages can also be used. But still under investigation. Biggest issue is getting it all past a yachty rigger for insurance.
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Old 09-08-2014, 18:40   #13
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

FWIW, one of the traditional coatings of the marline (and hemp) is Stockholm Tar which is still readily available, especially from equine outlets (worldwide). It is produced from pine resins.

As others have posted, fish oil and especially red lead paint is often had to find. Perhaps available in industrial quantities but still hard to source - at least in Oz.
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Old 09-08-2014, 18:45   #14
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Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

If you want to oil the galvanized wire raw linseed oil will do a great job. You should wipe off any excess a few hours later and before use or it will attract dirt and salt.

When I was a kid it was my job to oil the jib sheets and spinnaker guys which were made of gal back then.
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Old 09-08-2014, 19:17   #15
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pirate Re: Galvanized standing rigging: Is it safe? how to know?

This came up a coupla yrs back, and Boaty was saying how absolutely suitable galv was.

I haven't checked but is the higher cost of SS worth it?
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