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Old 22-01-2011, 14:54   #1
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Mainsail Track Systems

We are in the process of getting a new mainsail and one loft had recommended considering a mainsail track/slider system. Although likely beyond our budget the obvious preference would be to do this retrofit when we getting the new sail. We are getting a full batten main which may make this system more useful.

What comments are there on this technology and how do the various products rate, please?

We currently cruise the great lakes but have ambitions of going south in a few years so I would want to consider how effective the technology is in more challenging environments.

Regards and thanks in advance,

Andrew
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Old 22-01-2011, 15:17   #2
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I was going to get a slider system for my new main but decided against it for cost reasons. Haven't had a problem with the full batten sail dropping, however. The mast has 5/8" internal slugs. Was a little hard to hoist the last few feet with the heavier new sail. I went up with a spray can of dry lubricant and thoroughly soaked the internal track. Main is easier to raise and drops like a shot, now. Am I still allowed to say 'shot' in this new age of less confrontational rhetoric??
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Old 22-01-2011, 15:25   #3
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Thank you Peter. What lubricant did you use?
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Old 22-01-2011, 15:36   #4
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Can't remember the name. It's one of a range of lubricants put out by the company all with near identical silver cans. Believe it was simply called 'dry lubricant' though may have had teflon in there somewhere. It sprayed on wet but dried almost immediately. Used most of a can to do the track on 40' mast. Did it about 6 months and it still seems to be working after a TransPac.
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Old 22-01-2011, 15:56   #5
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Most popular seems to be the Strong Track system, Tides Marine - Manufacturer of the SureSeal Shaft Seal , which is what I have. The track fits into your existing track and is made of UHMWPE, very slippery. Slides are chrome-bronze usually, and it is much easier to install it on the new sail when built-you need slides anyway, after all. Pretty much the standard for stack pack type systems with lazy jacks to the cover, but the sail really comes down fast no matter what you have and is much easier to hoist. Highly recommended improvement.
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Old 22-01-2011, 16:16   #6
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Thanks. Did you consider other products and if so, why did you go with this one. The one that was mentioned to me was from Harken.
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Old 22-01-2011, 16:35   #7
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I did look at the Harken cars and track, which were significantly more expensive and complicated to install (sail setbacks, stack height) and may well be slightly better. But after seeing several friends Strong track systems and talking to them and sailmakers I went with the Strong. I got my mainsail from Quantum, and it is also the system they recommended with the stack system. No buyers remorse after 2 years.
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Old 22-01-2011, 16:38   #8
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I too went with the tidal marine strong track. I have a full batten main and it was always binding. The strong track makes it almost effortless. I think the Harken system might be a bit better if one is not directly into the wind but it was much more expensive. I think that the additional cost of the strong track when I bought my new main was around $800 total. I very strongly recommend it, its made a world of difference.

Rich
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Old 22-01-2011, 16:47   #9
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I've had a Strong Track for 6 or 7 years. Good piece of gear. I guessed I'd have to ask what problem you are trying to solve on your boat? For me, raising the main by myself was just too much work. The Strong Track significantly reduces friction. When dropping the sail if you let it run free you better stand clear - it comes down fast. Makes reefing and unreefing less work too.

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Old 22-01-2011, 17:34   #10
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Quote:
Most popular seems to be the Strong Track system
That is what I'm considering when I replace the main sail. Slugs just are too hard to handle with a full battens. I can lubricate using Sail Kote and it is easier but it does not last long. Fine for Wednesday night races but not on a long cruise unless you do it every day.

I also looked at a Ronstan bat car system that uses external rollers on the mast and you don't need a new track (or insert). It could help if your main sail was new. The sail has to be reworked for the different batten cars and some systems don;t use slugs. Strong Systems just has perfected the track insert approach so it's a good refit option. They have been well thought of at least 10 years that I know of.

I'm about ready to consider it safety equipmnet. Going up on the dog house in a gale is not something I would ask Santa Claus to do.

I can't raise the sail from the cockpit by hand, AT the mast I can get it a good chunk of the way. With batten cars I know the winch in high speed would do the job fine. I could pull it manually by hand with better cars.

I single hand and it's hard enough but when the Admiral is aboard it's even harder.
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Old 22-01-2011, 17:46   #11
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I have had the strong track for 3 years and it is a really good system. I can pull the main up by hand almost all the way from the cockpit and easily get it the rest of the way with the cabin top winch. I never have to leave the cockpit once I attach the halyard. And it comes down instantly which is great because sometimes you REALLY want that sail gone RIGHT NOW.
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Old 22-01-2011, 18:07   #12
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Thank you everyone for your excellent comments. It really looks like Strong Track is the way to go.

As for me, I am in the process of removing a behind-the-mast furling unit that was installed by the previous owner (I would NOT recommend that option) so I don't know how difficult it will be to raise and lower the new sail. As I sail short handed having the ability to not fight with the sail like Paul describes is a real benefit. I think that the technology is definitely worth a look.

Are there any special maintenance issue that one has to consider with this technology?

Andrew
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Old 22-01-2011, 18:09   #13
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Originally Posted by ADMPRTR View Post
....
Are there any special maintenance issue that one has to consider with this technology?

Andrew
The String Track itself is maintenance free.

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Old 22-01-2011, 18:37   #14
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Strong Track. No ball bearings. Lower stack height. Lower price. Maintenance free.
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Old 22-01-2011, 19:11   #15
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Another vote for Strong Track. But since you mention sailing short handed, I also recommend a properly set up Stack Pack type configuration with Jiffy reefing.
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