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Old 17-07-2012, 18:05   #1
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Harken Car Bearing Replacement

I have Harken big boat (5") cars on the genoa leads and travelor. The boat is a 1990 J34C and new to me. The cars ride rough on the track and I think I need to replace the bearings. Does anyone know where to find directions on how to do this? The Harken site doesn't seem to have anything nor does Google turn up a useful search.

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Old 18-07-2012, 17:31   #2
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Re: Harken car bearing replacement

First thing to do is give them a GOOD rinse in fresh water. They often get a salt build-up which makes then run rough.
If the easy way out doesn't work you will need to take off one end stop and run the car onto a short piece of track (if you take off the car without this extra piece of track the balls will escape ! ) Get the car to a safe place and remove it from the little track to empty out the balls. If you can get the special piece of track from a Harken dealer it has a loading hole in it to replace the balls. If you don't have this special track it is still possible to reload but just takes a little longer. Warning: the life's ambition of every ball is to escape ! Be prepared Good luck

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Old 19-07-2012, 05:30   #3
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Re: Harken car bearing replacement

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Stallturn.

Excerpted from the Harken Big Boat CB Traveler Car Instruction Sheet:

“... Position car on edge with retaining clip in place.
Gently push one ball at a time into car from center of clip.
Allow balls to roll into return race and insert remaining balls.
Do not overfill the car! ...”

Instructions Here ➥
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"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 07-06-2014, 16:06   #4
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Re: Harken car bearing replacement

We replaced all the bearings on our IP38 battcar system without any special tools in about 90 minutes. (That's at least 8 cars, and I think 32 bearings per car).

Remove all the cars from the sailtrack; each car has 2 sets of bearings, one on the right, one on the left, and each set has about 8 that are "hidden", and about 8 that are visible. Load the hidden ones on one side, then load the visible ones on the same side (you will have an assistant hold the car, slightly canted toward the side you are loading).

Now take a strip of electrical tape and put it over the loaded side. Leave some of the tape (an inch or two) hanging down. Stretch it just a little and press it to the ends of the car.

Now load the other side (cant the car the other way so the bearings don't escape). Tape it.

Now slide it onto the track. Once it is on the track, you can strip the tape out through the gap, and the bearings will stay (the gap is big enough to allow the tape to come out, but will keep the bearings in).
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Old 08-06-2014, 05:22   #5
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Re: Harken car bearing replacement

No fancy tools needed, nor even Harken's hallowed blue plastic capture tracks. However, BEFORE you remove the car from the track, build a 360 degree dam out of duct tape around the end of the track from where you intend to remove the car.

AND if you're feeling paranoid, have an assistant standing right next to you with a Shop-Vac, to assist in endeavoring to prevent bearing escapees.
Okay, I'm making up the Shop-Vac thing, I've never actually tried it, it just sounded cool in my head.

Once everything's been removed, & hosed out, the new bearings standing by in a Ziploc or bowl.... Take some tooth paste, or shaving cream & lay a light coating into the recesses of the car where the bearings go.
Then put a dab or two on each bearing & insert them carefully into the car (while working over a bowl with a cloth in the bottom so the bearings don't bounce out when you drop them).

Now, once you're done re-installing the bearings, & the ends are on the car, slide it back onto the track.
Affix the end stops to the track, but don't pull off your duct tape dam yet.
Try rolling the car around a bit & test it for function. And yeah, I know, it'll be a little sticky at this point.

Assuming it checks out function wise, grab a garden hose & gently start to rinse the shaving cream/tooth paste out of the car. And if bearings don't flying helter skelter, just use a bit more water pressure to fully rinse out your temporary "ball bearing adhesive".

Oh, & when choosing an "adhesive", keep in mind that shaving cream breaks down somewhat quickly with time. So, while it's easier to rinse out, you have less working time (AKA it's for "Pro's").

Once the car's fully tested, go have lunch, & think over the install. After which, have the village idiot come over & test out the car/bearings (to see if he can break it).
If all works well, THEN remove the duct tape, anti-escape barrier.
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Old 08-06-2014, 06:33   #6
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Re: Harken car bearing replacement

I used the fancy blue loader from Harken. The instructions didn't make much sense reading through them, but it was pretty easy once I sat down with the car, the loader and the bearings in hand. Except I broke one of the retaining clips. Oh well, I just put some painter's tape on that end when needed. You really only need one clip at a time, anyway.

Harken instructions

Have the end piece ready when you put the car back on the track. Pre-cleaning and replacement, the car stayed where I put it. Post-replacement, it was very slidey.
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Old 08-06-2014, 06:48   #7
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Re: Harken car bearing replacement

Assuming you have to remove the cars...

If you can get one, the Harken loading car makes it much easier to put the bearings back in. We borrowed one from a local rigger who also showed us how to use it. I'll bet a friendly chat with a rigger in your area would result in use of a loader for a day or two. At worst, he may ask for a deposit. Doing this without a loader looks to me like a chancy proposition. Lots of opportunity for little bitty expensive balls to go swimming.


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Old 08-06-2014, 06:57   #8
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Re: Harken car bearing replacement

All good advice, especially the propensity of the balls to run away to the farthest reaches of the planet.

If you need balls, here is a source for plastic bearing balls. Keep a few hundred spare. Delrin or Torlon.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:11   #9
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Re: Harken car bearing replacement

PS: I just used a ziploc sandwich bag to catch the balls as I removed the car from the track.

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