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Old 04-04-2011, 23:59   #1
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How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard ?

My mainsail Halyard sheave is stuck (probably corrosion). The halyard goes up, through the aluminum mast, over a aluminum pulley and back down the the mainsail. I climbed the mast (no easy feat) and tried to loosen it. I plan to dry dock the boat in the winter (for a bottom job etc), but don't want to do it until then. I can raise the sail with lots of winching, but it's a pita.

-Here is my plan- Climb the mast again with a bag of tools. I'm inchworming the mast, and someone is taking the slack out of the 2 halyards I'm using as safety lines. Then I plan on looping some good rope over the mast that I've tied some foot loops in. I will then stand on those foot loops to take off tension from the halyard sheaves.

-On freeing the sheaves, I've been told torch, pb blaster, sand paper etc.

I plan on lubricating it heavy with pb blaster while tapping with a rubber mallet, then use a thin hack saw blade to fit in between the sheaves and remove corrosion etc. I also can get a "Giant" pair of channel locks etc to maybe put some torque and break them free?

Is this idea at all feasible? Or am I just wasting a afternoon up the mast? I'd really love to free the sheave until the winter haul out.

-I am attaching a pic of the sheaves (one side) and a quick drawing of my method to take off slack from the sheaves.
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Old 05-04-2011, 00:59   #2
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

I like most of your ideas except Looping the rope over the mast to stand on. If that rope moves as your body moves, youre going to have a "bad time"
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:14   #3
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

Thanks Ozskipper. The rope will be mountain climbing rope, or mountain climbing strap. I need a way to release the tension on the sheaves (i'll still be attached to the halyards), and it's the only way I could come up with. I plan on putting most of my weight on them while doing the work. Is there another method to "get rid of tension" on the sheaves once I get up there?
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Old 05-04-2011, 02:48   #4
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

I'd be tempted to remove the mast (Not usually a difficult job) and attend to all the issues - but we have facilities here to do that easily.
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Old 05-04-2011, 04:28   #5
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

You can always hope that PB Blaster or a good whack with a hammer get these sheaves to turn again. The right way to do this however is to remove the shaft and sheaves and depending on what you find you might even need to replace something. I would not really like to do that job without pulling the mast.

I don't think that taking weight off the halyards is gonna help to free them. Why not transfer all weight to one halyard first and to the other one later?

ciao!
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Old 05-04-2011, 17:39   #6
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

Looking at your sketch, whats to stop the foot rope from moving around while you are wiggling about trying to free the sheave? Just draping it over the mast top is not conducive to a long life.

I'd wait til the mast comes down, do it on the ground where you can apply more force if needed, and not fall and punch a hole in the coach roof.

The other thing is that you may find the clearance between the sheave and its side walls very tight and filled with corrosion. A hacksaw is not going to cut it very cleanly if you can fit it in there at all.

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Old 05-04-2011, 18:50   #7
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

get a round wound guitar string like the 3rd or 4th down from the top of the neck. this is thinner than a hacksaw blade and abrasive enough to get through the corrosion and not do much damage to the aluminum. spray pb as you get near the axle. once you get to axle load up the pb and heat more pb and heat. try gently moving pulley side to side once you get it to rock a little it should break free. then go to next and do same putting water pump pliers on the pulleys will damage them wear the line rides. just putting a loop line over top of mast without securing it will make you a statistic or at the least a near one.
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Old 05-04-2011, 19:12   #8
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

The PB Blaster is a good start, but I wouldn't do the foot strap either. Once you saturate with the PB and let it marinate for a while just try winching the line under load. If it doesn't break free after a couple of tries its probably time to step the mast. Anything else you do risks making things worse 50 ft in the air. Be carefull up there.
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Old 05-04-2011, 19:26   #9
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

I use foot straps attached to an ascender, you could tie a climbers hitch if you don't want to use an ascender. Attach the foot straps to the jib or spin halyard to work on the main halyard. I agree with previous posters that trying to loop this over the mast is foolhardy.

There is a way to remove the axle for the main halyard, the tricky thing to do is to remove it without the sheave falling down the mast. Having a spare axle and sheave(s) in your goodie bag when going up will combat Murphy and help ensure that the originals stay in your hands (or vise grips!) during replacement.

Good luck!
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Old 05-04-2011, 20:38   #10
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

Thanks for all the excellent replies. I think the guitar string sounds like a clever idea. On the foot loop, I think I simplified it and did not explain it well. Or maybe I did and it's just that dumb of idea.
-the foot loop was not going to be for safety at all. I will still be attached to 2 halyards via my rock climbing harness. I just wanted to stand on the loops to take off tension on the sheaves to see if I broke them free. I was going to secure the foot loop rope to the mast, to prevent it from rolling. At no time would I be
risking a fall of more then 1-3ft max.

Safety is my number one concern. I don't enjoy being up there as it is lol. But, the loops were the only idea I could come up with to potentially fix the problem.
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Old 05-04-2011, 21:42   #11
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

You could install two folding steps 36 in. below the top of the mast. Then you would have your platform for future jobs up there. I have done this and have done the job you want to do. Makes life easier.
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Old 05-04-2011, 22:34   #12
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

You might also try locating a pier, bridge, etc., that you could tie up to that, at low tide, would get you to the top of the mast w/o climbing.
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Old 05-04-2011, 22:37   #13
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

If you really want to go up the mast and make repairs now, I'd look at getting an ATN mast climber. You will be secured and masthead would be about waist high.
As mike d suggested, or you could get one of the wire saws yjat is a wire with rings on the ends for gripping amd diamond dust on the wire for cutting..

Welcome aboard and enjoy CF.
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Old 05-04-2011, 22:56   #14
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

Totally viable plan. I did it in my climbing seat on the jib halyard, which wasn't much of a problem and squirted it all with lube. Our sheaves are not aluminum, they are a plastic/resin stuff so the corrosion was not too terrible. Just pulling the halyard back and forth thru it eased it up a lot.

Good luck, and make sure ya got someone on belay!
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:00   #15
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Re: How to Unstick Frozen Mainsail Halyard?

Remember to have someone on deck. With a video camera.

Personally I would just yank the mast down for the weekend.
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