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Old 01-04-2010, 09:13   #1
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Standing Rigging Gradual Maintenance

Our boat is 10 years old, and has been used lightly (830 engine hours since new) in non-tropical, coastal conditions. I would have expected the standing rigging (consisting of a lot of wire rigging -- it's a three-spreader Selden mast -- and Norseman swageless terminals) to be in fine shape for a while.

My extremely picky, critical surveyor had inspected the lower parts of the standing rigging and had informed me that it appeared to be in excellent condition and that he thought it was likely to have a lot of life left in it.

But then recently I took advantage of a "free rig inspection" deal from our marina and was dismayed to hear that one cap shroud has a broken strand in it. The on-site riggers suggested replacing the entire rig at astronomical cost.

I was not able to (or was not inclined) to go up the mast myself last weekend because of rainy weather, but will do so soon, to put my own eyeballs on the situation. I would not be surprised if there are no broken strands and the riggers were just trying to drum up some business.

But supposing there are broken strands, then what is the right way to deal with it?

I don't want to just replace the whole rig at once if I don't have to; I have a long list of other expensive things to do to the boat.

Can I replace one wire at a time as I have time and inclination, maybe magnafluxing the terminals or carrying out some other kind of non-destructive testing? The terminals look like new to my eyes.

Would it be a normal situation that wire needs replacing, but terminals, turnbuckles, and so forth are still good?

Or should I get all nervous that there is some problem with a strand and immediately replace all of the wire?

Or indeed, pull the mast and replace everything as the riggers suggested, at the cost of many kilobucks, because it's just not safe otherwise?


I have been in some very heavy weather which could explain a broken strand or two. But this year we will not be doing any passages longer than across the English Channel or across the Irish Sea.

Is it ok to do this work with the mast in the boat?

Is there some other reason I might want to pull the mast?

I will very much value your opinions, as I don't entirely trust the riggers.
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Old 07-04-2010, 17:32   #2
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It would be unusual for turnbuckles etc to fail before the wire... particularly the wire at the swage. It is definitely a good idea to replace the wire first, if you are going to gradual maintenance. We recently replaced all the shrouds on our boat, but only the wire (and swaged studs)... the turnbuckles and associated fittings will be good for a nother couple of years yet.

I think it is a great idea to get into a situation where you replace one section at a time... this defrays the cost over a longer period, and makes it more manageable.
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Old 07-04-2010, 18:45   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weyalan View Post
It would be unusual for turnbuckles etc to fail before the wire... particularly the wire at the swage.
According to Norseman, turnbuckle screws - their threaded SS part is prone as much as, if not more than, wire - due to the way the metal is cut to make the tread and then possible oxygen starvation too.

So you can keep the bronze barrel part but you are supposed to replace the threaded studs at least as often as the wire.

Sort of like makes loads of sense to me but I have never seen a broken turnbuckle. Plenty of broken toggles seen though - esp in the jib roller-furler area.

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Old 07-04-2010, 19:46   #4
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My advice

My boat is 26 years old and has had only one lower shroud replaced in 2002. The mast has been pulled each year during winter storage so the rig is closely inspected at least twice yearly. I've decided to replace all my standing rigging this year because I know I'm pushing my luck. If I was in your shoes I'd replace the one shroud only. I would consider gradual replacement of all standing rigging over the next few years to keep the cash outlay reasonable. There is no need to replace all your standing rigging at one time unless there is a physical need to do so. I would not advise most people to wait as long as I did.
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Old 07-04-2010, 23:10   #5
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Hi Dockhead,

Always replace a shroud on both sides, so start with both capshrouds. I have swage fittings aloft and Norseman down, you have Norseman in the top too? Anyway, you only need new cones for the Norseman fittings. You can do the job yourself of you have Norseman at both ends.

In your shoes, I would replace the lowers too and the stays next time and intermediates after that.

We replaced all the rigging without pulling the masts. I would never have any rigger pull masts for replacing rigging; there's no reason for that at all.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 07-04-2010, 23:23   #6
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Thanks guys. That's encouraging. I hope to get up the mast soon to really take a close look at it all myself. At deck level, it all looks immaculate including the wire, and like I said the boat is only 10 years old with few sea miles and no long passages on her. On the other hand, I have had her in some pretty heavy weather.

Aren't those Norseman fitting things of beauty. Massive pieces of finely crafted stainless steel. Here is what Mauri Sailing say about maintenance, inspection and so forth of them:

"Norseman Swageless terminals are manufactured with 316 Stainless Steel and generally have a life span greater than the wire they are terminating. This lifespan can last through a wire re-rig, but Navtec recommends the replacement of the internal cone with each inspection. It is also important to carefully inspect the socket internally for signs of wear, and any sign of cracks would require replacement of the whole assembly."


That sounds like a good idea. Maybe I need to undo all the terminals and inspect the wire underneath? Replacing the cones afterwards? I know that 99% of wire failures on swaged rigs are at the swaged terminals but I don't know about rigs with swageless terminals like these. But it would seem to be logical that the stresses are highest there and any failure would start at the terminals -- what do you guys think? So if the wire is ok inside the terminals, I should be able to get a few years more out of the whole rig.

And maybe magnaflux the terminals themselves-- anyone do that?
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Old 07-04-2010, 23:43   #7
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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Hi Dockhead,

Always replace a shroud on both sides, so start with both capshrouds. I have swage fittings aloft and Norseman down, you have Norseman in the top too? Anyway, you only need new cones for the Norseman fittings. You can do the job yourself of you have Norseman at both ends.

In your shoes, I would replace the lowers too and the stays next time and intermediates after that.

We replaced all the rigging without pulling the masts. I would never have any rigger pull masts for replacing rigging; there's no reason for that at all.

cheers,
Nick.
Thanks; that's very useful.

I hadn't thought about what fittings there are aloft; it's a good question. The shrouds go into these chrome things on the mast which look like scuppers. Looking at photos of the mast, I can see that the stays seem to have Norseman fittings aloft. I bet the shrouds are swaged. Man, there are a lot of them (because of three spreaders) -- I'm not even sure what they are all called. I start to understand why the rigger wanted a fortune to replace it all.

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Old 08-04-2010, 00:37   #8
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Swages for aloft is fine because water can't run/stand in them there.

When you open a Norseman for inspection, cleaning and re-bedding only you don't have to replace the cone. Only when you take it off the wire. Use a polyurethane or silicone sealant, not polysulfate.

I think Norseman was Gibb before Navtex took them, just like the Navtex turnbuckles.

cheers,
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Old 08-04-2010, 01:04   #9
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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Swages for aloft is fine because water can't run/stand in them there.

When you open a Norseman for inspection, cleaning and re-bedding only you don't have to replace the cone. Only when you take it off the wire. Use a polyurethane or silicone sealant, not polysulfate.

I think Norseman was Gibb before Navtex took them, just like the Navtex turnbuckles.

cheers,
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Thanks! How often do you do that, yourself (take apart your Norseman fittings)? Does the wire tend to break down at the top, or the bottom?
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Old 08-04-2010, 02:05   #10
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Replace forestay?

The only standing rigging I have ever had break was a forestay. The turnbuckle broke after too many flaps of the jib.

It does seem to be the one that carries the most cyclic stress.

So I'd suggest regular replacement of the forestay and fittings.
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:29   #11
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Thanks! How often do you do that, yourself (take apart your Norseman fittings)? Does the wire tend to break down at the top, or the bottom?
I never took one apart for inspection. We replaced all rigging 2 years after we got the boat (10 years old + hurricane) and there were no broken strands and the Norseman fittings looked fine inside but there was some algae and corrosion on the wire (stainless corrosion is black not red).
The rigging is 5 years old now and the sealant in the Norseman fittings looks so good that I'm not ready to open them yet.

We also put sealant in the swage fittings, before making the single-pass swage. Do not let them do multiple pass swages. If you don't want the two ridges (they don't bother me at all) the swages should be done with those rotating swagers that almost no rigger has (but hydraulic shops have them).

ciao!
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:34   #12
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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
I never took one apart for inspection. We replaced all rigging 2 years after we got the boat (10 years old + hurricane) and there were no broken strands and the Norseman fittings looked fine inside but there was some algae and corrosion on the wire (stainless corrosion is black not red).
The rigging is 5 years old now and the sealant in the Norseman fittings looks so good that I'm not ready to open them yet.

We also put sealant in the swage fittings, before making the single-pass swage. Do not let them do multiple pass swages. If you don't want the two ridges (they don't bother me at all) the swages should be done with those rotating swagers that almost no rigger has (but hydraulic shops have them).

ciao!
Nick.
Did you keep your old Norseman fittings when you re-rigged, or replace them?

If you kept them, did you test them somehow (magnaflux, x-ray, dye), or just inspect them?
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:40   #13
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They were all inspected and some (random) dye tested and none needed replacement.

ciao!
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Old 08-04-2010, 17:19   #14
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G'Day Dockhead,

We've used Norseman and Sta-Lok fittings for about thirty years now, and have re-used them each time we re-rigged (three different boats). Never found any reason to replace them. With the Sta-loks we did replace the loose "former" that they employ as well as the cones.

The only rigging failure we've had was a forestay that broke just where the wire exited the upper Sta-lok. At the time the wire was only about 4 years old, but there was a furling headsail on it... something that I believe adds to the fatigue loads on teh stay.

Do try to be sure that the Norseman fittings are genuine. We encountered a German yacht a few years ago that had some bogus Norseman knockoffs, and they ALL were cracking. Kinda scary, but he found them before the rig crashed!

And we have done the "one wire at a time DIY" replacement a couple of times. A bit tedious, but it saves big bucks, and isn't really difficult, as long as you don't mind working aloft.

Good luck with it, and we all await your inspection aloft report. If the broken strand isn't there, one might consider hiring a knee-capper for the sleazy riggers!

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Lake Macquarie NSW Oz
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Old 08-04-2010, 22:01   #15
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Dockhead,
A Moody, how nice! I also like the mechanical swages and have Norseman's all around.
I may have misunderstood what Jedi meant by "cones" but the soft internal cones should definately be replaced. They have been compressed and scored already and it is possible that the strength of the assembly will be compromised. They cost about $7.50 each so it is a cheap replacement on a critical part.
I just replaced mine and noticed that the old norsemans were stamped with a different measurement; both quarter inch but the new ones also read 6mm while the older ones read 6.5mm. This along with the fitting's obvious age and Brion Toss's on-line advice to play it safe and start fresh with new fittings which you then can re-build as needed encouraged me to bite the bullet and go new.
I did my own, wanting to go one at a time w/o dropping the stick but sadly the backstay fittings at the mast-top were frozen so I had to drop the mast onto the boat go back to the slip and do them all on deck.
Hope you can do them one at a time though and while you are at it replace all the old stainless pins with brand new.. they also are cheap enough.
Oh, and don't forget to check and grease the sheeves!
P;enty of help here for the DIY on these for sure so work on pairs of shrouds, shop the hell out of the wire and Norsemans... if you work it right you should be able to avoid paying full monty for the bits.
Good luck!
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