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Old 26-04-2010, 19:04   #1
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Is it Common for SS Rigging Wire to Directly Contact Aluminum Spreader Ends ?

Hi folks,

I made new spreaders this year (to replace the old ones which were somewhat pitted after 30 years.) It is a simple single spreader masthead rig. The spreader are just the proper size / schedule aluminum pipe, cut to proper length, with small vertical slots cut / honed at the ends to hold the upper shroud wires out. The old ones had no chafe protections to protect the SS wires.

Is the SS wire hard enough that no damage can result from rubbing against the aluminum slots? The old shrouds didn't seem to have any damage after 30 years. I am replacing the 4 shrouds this year, just to be safe. Replaced the headstay and backstay last year as well.

Thanks in advance for any input!
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Old 26-04-2010, 19:12   #2
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316 stainless is harder than 6061 aluminum.
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Old 27-04-2010, 05:41   #3
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Tager - thanks for the reply.

I guess what I still wonder - Is it that much harder that there will be (virtually) zero scratching or damage to the aluminum?

I would also like to know if many boats are set up that way, or if most have some kind of chafe protection for the wire. To do this I would have to hone out a larger slot, to fit the extra material (leather) for example....
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Old 27-04-2010, 12:53   #4
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MY THOUGHT WOULD BE... it's chaff protection for the spreader hole. Using a press in stainless grommet would be ideal... that would insure the same or close to it, hardness on both moving parts.
The stainless wire will act like a saw blade if enough force and movement is seen against the aluminum.
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Old 27-04-2010, 13:11   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northeaster View Post
Hi folks,

I made new spreaders this year (to replace the old ones which were somewhat pitted after 30 years.) It is a simple single spreader masthead rig. The spreader are just the proper size / schedule aluminum pipe, cut to proper length, with small vertical slots cut / honed at the ends to hold the upper shroud wires out. The old ones had no chafe protections to protect the SS wires.

Is the SS wire hard enough that no damage can result from rubbing against the aluminum slots? The old shrouds didn't seem to have any damage after 30 years. I am replacing the 4 shrouds this year, just to be safe. Replaced the headstay and backstay last year as well.

Thanks in advance for any input!
You only need chafe protection in places where you have movement. There should be no movement between the wire and the spreader tip. The wire should be seized securely to the tip.
However, it is never a bad idea to try to eliminate or lessen corrosion between the two dissimilar metals by applying something like Lanacote or Tefgel.
Don't wrap a bunch of tape or especially cloth around the tip. Just use a proper spreader boot that allows a bit of air circulation.

If the four shrouds are thirty years old, they are overdue for replacement.
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Old 27-04-2010, 14:58   #6
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Knothead- thanks for the reply. I do use regular spreader boots that do allow airflow. The wires are not seized to the spreaders though. There is a bolt that keeps them from flopping out when loose (like stepping the mast). Otherwise, once tight, only the tension keeps them in the slot, and has for 30 years. I just assumed this was "normal".

I don't entirely agree with your statement about the shrouds being overdue. The boat is only used about 4 months a year, and the mast is unstepped and stored most years. There were zero meathooks / broken strands in the old wires. Of course, there could be weakness just inside the swages, and that is the reason I replaced them - to be on the safe side.
However, there are many, many boats up here, coastal sailing in Nova Scotia, with original 20 - 35+ year old rigging. Very few stories of losing rigs.
I think that those who advocate replacing rigging every 5-10 years are buying into insurance demands and consumerism, as opposed to a real need for new rigging. Of course, if the sailboat has sailed tens of thousands of miles, and / or been used year round, it certainly would shorten the life span.
Most local sailors think I am nuts for replacing after "only" this long!
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Old 27-04-2010, 17:38   #7
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I didn't know that the rigging was stored inside for most of the year. Actually I didn't even notice that you are in Nova Scotia.
I see rigging that more often lives it's life in the sub tropics and the Caribbean.
But to be honest, even here you don't hear of that many boats losing their sticks from old neglected rigging. It's very forgiving stuff.
I did a rig inspection on one of the boats in the Mexico race last week and found a couple of cracked swages on the mizzen. I didn't tell the owner that he shouldn't race, just that he should be aware of it when conditions got rough.
I recommend to my customers that they replace their rigging after 12-15 years in this area. If I were in your area, the Great Lakes or something, I would have an entire different base line.

As for your spreaders, I would still recommend seizing them in position. A couple of very small holes is all it takes.
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