I re-rigged my Ketch catamaran
completely with StaLok. Insurance
had demanded replacement after 15 years and the existing fittings were a curious mix of threads and replacements
Our shrouds fit into stainless Tee slot plates bolted inside the mast
. The stainless Tees were swaged to the old wires. I arranged with a local specialist stainless welder to weld the old cutoff strong forks from the turnbuckles to the Tees cut from the swages. I was assured the complete weld was stronger than the original fittings. The stainless tee-fork fittings could then be easily slotted into the masts. This allowed me to have a complete wires with top and bottom in StaLok eyes.
I figured this would save when the wire needed replacement in 10-15 years.
A stainless specialist told me the secret in cutting the wire is to use a stainless steel
(Inox) thin blade in a side cutter
. These discs cost about one pound here in Europe
. It has revolutionised my ability to work with stainless. One can get a good clean cut of the 1x19 rigging
wire. I usually run the blade around the wire edges to round any sharp edges. I have used these blades subsequently to cut stainless plate as thick as 5/8 inch. I have triangular SS plates to split the fore and back stays to port and stern corners.
I also beefed up the plates and drilled them to take the 5/8 and 1/2 inch fork pins for main and mizzen respectively. The secret of stainless drilling I was told was slow speed. I managed to find a 24V professional drill at B&Q (a UK-base DIY store with branches overseas – even in China) which had three ranges the lowest to 350 rpm
with 20 different torques. I could not find any other drill that worked that low. My Sears Craftsman drill press goes lower but that is in the workshop and not always convenient to the boat.
By working up in size I was able to drill holes as large as 16mm with a hand held drill. Cutting fluid liberally applied helps keep the drill cool. If one drills at too high a speed the bit will fuse and harden and you will have ruined the work. So keep the drill bit slow and cool. It also helps to keep the drill bit sharp. Drill Doctor make a good drill sharpening tool with settings for different cutting angles.
In fitting the StaLoks I put marine
grease liberally in the fitting and around the wire after putting the cones in place and replacing the outer wires so they did not jam the compression
gap. When the fitting was tightened the grease was squeezed out and wiped off so I knew there was less possibility of seawater ingress. They recommend not over-tightening the fittings.
I was not happy with the StaLok securing method on the turnbuckles or bottlescrews. They require a rod (not supplied) inserted midway through a hole and some sort of wrench to tighten the nut. It was not easy to find a rod strong enough to fit the turnbuckle, at least not in my tool box.
I talked to StaLok and they agreed to machine spanner flats in the middle of all my turnbuckles free of charge if I returned them. I did just that. This way I can tighten all my turnbuckles with a couple of adjustable wrenches or spanners. One can usually find these in an emergency
at sea. It is much better to have common tools than search for a specialty tool in any event. For safety
I also wire them with stainless wire through the holes and slit in the fittings. This is a belt and braces safety
measure. Another sailor hear uses cotter split pins through the same holes.
It should also be noted that if you have screw fittings top and bottom of a wire you must be sure to have right-hand to right hand threads at the opposite ends. This is because tightening in one direction will loosen in the opposite end and so be self correcting. The StaLok turnbuckles have an orange sticker at the left hand thread end (I have left hand lock nuts as well on mine – ie lock nuts on each end). This should always be placed at the bottom next to the chainplate. This is the rigging
convention in any case. This way all the turnbuckles will turn in the same direction to tighten or loosen. Again it is helpful in an emergency
Repeated tightening and loosening when underway could result in loss of rig if the turnbuckle is put on with the left-hand thread upwards if there is a right hand thread at the top of the mast
We have had the rigs working for three years and I had occasion to disassemble a couple this year. They showed no wear and were still full of pristine grease. I can say we are very happy with StaLoks. On our island there is no professional rigger so there is a strong DIY culture and lots of help from other professional marine
and boatyard staff. We were the second or third boat to use StaLok and there are now several others re-rigging using these fittings. Potential loss of insurance
is proving a great incentive.