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Old 14-04-2008, 17:47   #1
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Swaged vs STA-LOK...Please Discuss

Ahoy, All;

I am soliciting quotes from riggers in Trinidad for a complete overhaul of my standing rigging (Ketch rig, 59' LOA, 53' LOD, 23-ton displ). All quotes so far have made me wonder how healthy my heart is, but those with user-friendly fittings (Sta-lok) exceed machine-swaged by 25%. In my case, that's a $4,000 difference.

My intended use will be all salt water, coastal/island for most of the time, but someday I intend to head across one pond or 'nother.

Only thread dealing with fitting types I scanned here was for the new Blue Wave brand, and as advised there I do intend to keep all the old rigging and the makings of a new Sta-lok stay in spares.

My question is: is Sta-lok better/stronger/more durable than a properly machine-swaged rig? Or is the whole price delta about the owner being able to re-rig without a shop?

I'd welcome any empiricals and personal experiences, too!

Thanx,
Geoff
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Old 14-04-2008, 19:00   #2
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I have done a ton of research on this as part of my boat buying process. Several very experienced riggers have told me the same basic thing: They have never seen a rigging failure at a Stay-Lok or Norseman fitting. They have seen many failures of swaged terminals. 99% of failures occur in the wire at the terminal fitting.

Swaged fittings are simply not as strong and they are prone to cracking. Practical Sailor tested various fittings and gave the actual lbs of pressure it took to generate a failure. The swaged fittings were the weakest of all.

Another thing.... you can reuse your Stay-Lok fittings.

The boat I just bought (Stevens 47) was totally re-rigged in 1999 with oversized 316SS wire and all Stay-Lok fittings. It has been in the tropics. Given that this rigging is now almost 9 years old, I was worried and I had the rig carefully inspected. I had 2 different riggers inspect it and both told me the same thing: Replace the wire at the first sign of a broken strand, inspect it frequently. For the lower terminals that show some rusty discoloration, disassemble the Stay-Lok fittings, clean and polish everything, inspect the wire in the fitting, reassemble with a new cone and sealant. If the wire that was in the fitting is damaged, cut it off and install a toggle or extender to make up the difference in length (or replace that wire).

I had assumed that I would need to replace all rigging that was 10 years old. The riggers all tell me this is baloney. Inspect, clean and polish, reassemble... replace only worn parts. BUT, this is with Stay-Lok fittings. (I am also going to pull and dye test all the chain plates)



Terry
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Old 14-04-2008, 19:31   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff S. View Post
....
My question is: is Sta-lok better/stronger/more durable than a properly machine-swaged rig? Or is the whole price delta about the owner being able to re-rig without a shop?

I'd welcome any empiricals and personal experiences, too!

Thanx,
Geoff
I have recently gone through the same analysis of Sta-lok verus swaged and finally opted for Sta-lok (but on a much smaller scale - being only 31 ft LOA).

My final analysis:

1.There was probably no real difference in strength and initial reliability between a well made swage and a correctly assembled Sta-lok.

2. The jury is still out (IMO) regarding the long term reliability between the two but if there IS a difference, it would favour the Sta-lok

3. The additional cost of the Sta-lok has to amotisied (sp?) over the number of times you expect to reuse them i.e. how long you are keeping the boat and how many times you might re-rig it?

4. The "value" of doing it yourself - in terms "knowing" whether the work was done properly; being able to re-rig in remote locations; the labour cost of paying others to do the work I can do etc.

In the end I chose Sta-lok because I placed a high value on item 4, a reasonable value on item 3 while item 2 just might be a bonus.

I must add that I am a confirmed DIY nut AND a firm believer in being solely responsible for the seaworthiness of my boat so that did pre-dispose me to adding additional weighting to item 4.

However I do think that swaged fitting are prefectly OK for many situations.
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Old 14-04-2008, 19:53   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tspringer View Post
....

I had assumed that I would need to replace all rigging that was 10 years old. The riggers all tell me this is baloney. Inspect, clean and polish, reassemble... replace only worn parts. BUT, this is with Stay-Lok fittings. (I am also going to pull and dye test all the chain plates)

Terry
I would have to dis-agree with these riggers - IMHO you can't find potential S/S failures by a visual inspection and how are you going to polish each strand of 1x19. If it is bad enough to see, it is already very bad. They are probably very good at rigging but I would not trust their professional opinion finding potential stress failures. They probably mostly see the results of the failure rather that the indicators.

Better just to replace the wire - it is not that expensive if you already have the Sta-lok terminals. New wire has to give greater peace of mind than 10 yr old wire that has cleaned and (polished?).

As for dye testing, I don't think that is going far enough (again IMO); talk to some NDT specialists first, they would probably reccomend eddy current testing at least.
BTW, I took my 30 yr old rudder stock (2 inch S/S) to the local aviation NDT guys who put it through the ringer for a couple of cartons of cola (they didn't drink anything else ).

Now back to Sta-lok
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Old 14-04-2008, 22:30   #5
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I had 2 different riggers inspect it and both told me the same thing: Replace the wire at the first sign of a broken strand, inspect it frequently. For the lower terminals that show some rusty discoloration, disassemble the Stay-Lok fittings, clean and polish everything, inspect the wire in the fitting, reassemble with a new cone and sealant. If the wire that was in the fitting is damaged, cut it off and install a toggle or extender to make up the difference in length (or replace that wire).

I had assumed that I would need to replace all rigging that was 10 years old. The riggers all tell me this is baloney. Inspect, clean and polish, reassemble... replace only worn parts. BUT, this is with Stay-Lok fittings. (I am also going to pull and dye test all the chain plates)

What a load of crap!
These riggers are cowboys and wouldn't trust them at all.
Never reuse old wire. You will never be able to see anything apart from a broken strand.
You will get around 10 to 12 years out of your wire and a lot less if you have done a lot of miles. Insurance companies are looking at replacement a 7 years.


Terry[/quote]
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Old 14-04-2008, 23:38   #6
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The wire almost never breaks except at the swages. Initially swages may be stronger than Norseman/StaLok but all are stronger than the wire so it makes little difference. The problem with swages is internal corrosion that can cause them to fail without warning. External appearance is not a good indication of condition of swages. Destructive testing is the only way to be sure of swages but then you've destroyed the fittings.

It it was me, I'd buy 316 wire, mechanical fittings and do it myself. BTDT and it's really easy. Expect you could knock it out in two days. You'd probably find that the cost of doing it yourself with mechanical terminals is cheaper than swaged wires. If you are looking to save a bit, you can swage the upper fittings and use mechanicals on the lower fittings. With the swage facing down, it doesn't collect the water the way they do facing up so suffer less from corrosion.

If you are in the tropics be sure and use 316 wire. 304 corrodes badly and pits. I wouldn't trust 304 beyond 10 years. 304 is slightly stronger than 316 but not enough to make a difference. If you want super low stretch go with Dyform and Norsemans. Resist the temptation to over size Dyform. It gets it superior strength and resistance to stretch because there is more metal and less air per nominal wire diameter than 1x19.

Aloha
Peter O.

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Old 15-04-2008, 04:54   #7
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Why use stainless rather than synthetic?
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Old 15-04-2008, 05:42   #8
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Cost, abrassion resitance, and UV. Hard to beat rod.

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Why use stainless rather than synthetic?
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Old 15-04-2008, 05:51   #9
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I am also going to pull and dye test all the chain plates
If you pull them out there is no point to testing them. Just replace them. On most boats getting the things out is absolute hell.

The testing unless done with xray is not adequate and the cost and time associated is expensive. It's just as hard to reinstall new chain plates as old ones. If you could extract them in an afternoon and test them with a hand lens I might agree it's OK to put them back. You can't and it's not.
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Old 15-04-2008, 06:21   #10
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I would go so far to suggest even xray is not enough, there are more sure NDT procedures than that by I agree that if you have removed them, then put new ones in.
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Old 15-04-2008, 08:52   #11
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How about poured sockets (aka spleter sockets)? Just as strong as the new fittings, reusable and cheap cheap cheap. First thing you have to do is get away for sailboat rigging shops. Go to industrial riggers, the people who do cranes and the like. Look around any construction site, notice how hooks are attached the end of cables…poured sockets. In the old days it use to be poured zinc, nowadays they use epoxy. If it’s good enough for industrial use, it can hold up your mast. You can get your whole boat rigged for a fraction of the cost of what a sailboat rigger will charge you.


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Old 15-04-2008, 08:57   #12
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Thanks, Gents, it appears the Party is unanimously in favour of Stay-loks over swaging...unless there are any Special Delegates who haven't weighed in yet...

I would love to do all this myself and enjoy the hands-on thing very much, but find myself in that all-too-common conundrum of being the Absentee Owner during much of this refit. Too busy working like a dog up here paying for all this! I have a project manager to qualify and monitor contractors, but it's necessarily a hiring-out situation. Now, where did I put that Powerball ticket...?

Efraim, that poured fitting concept sounds good, but I have to wonder what a marine surveyor might say about them. The repetitive strains of sailboat rigging might be different than (e.g.) a crane's workings on a molecular level.

So, any opinions between the various do-it-yourself terminal brands? Sta-lok, Norseman, Blue Wave, and what is it...Dyform? Not familiar with the last two.
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Old 15-04-2008, 09:27   #13
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I agree with all the statements about Sta-Lok over swage. On the point of visual inspection made by Tspringer and Wotnam, both are partly right and wrong. You would be crazy not to inspect your rigging very often -daily if actively cruising. A small 3x or 6x magnifying glass will "help" to find problem. Obviously, this type of inspection is limited to what you can see. I have friends that were sailing across the Indian Ocean; and in their daily inspection found a broken strand in one shroud. They jury rigged the shroud and altered course to Sri Lanka for a permanent fix. Had they not found it the rig would have come down. All the other variables (salt exposure, cycle loading, age, manufactured quality etc.), need to be considered as to when new rigging is required - proactively. If you start to think it's time, more then likely it is. Wire is cheap, Sta-Lok reusable; a new mast is $$$.

Tspringer, I have an 1982 Stevens 47 - also with standing rigging that was replaced in 1999, and lots of tropical sailing after that time. My rigging inspection said more or less the same as as your riggers said. After getting the boat I found some things that made me more skeptical, so I pulled the rig this winter and have found numerous problems, including:
-questionable at best condition of the wire
-a very discreet crack under a weld at the gooseneck
-the anchor light wire had no proper strain relief and so the insulation was chaffed through, creating a little galvanic action
-chainplates that ranged from ok, to condemned. If your chainplates are like mine, they were torch cut and not polished, except what stuck through the deck. As Pblais wisely points out, if you're going to pull the chainplates - and it requires creative deconstruction with the way the cabinetry is done - you might was well replace them. I just did it - copied/tweaked the shapes of the original, had new ones water jet cut and then mirror polished for the bargain price of $2700. Oh, reinstalling them is no party either. If you want, I would be happy to give you the chainplate cad files I made.
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Old 15-04-2008, 09:43   #14
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Efraim, that poured fitting concept sounds good, but I have to wonder what a marine surveyor might say about them. The repetitive strains of sailboat rigging might be different than (e.g.) a crane's workings on a molecular level.
He shouldn't say anything, since poured sockets were used on sailing vessels long before the more expensive stuff came out. Since they are commonly used in industrial applications their properties are well know and extensively documented for insurance purposes.
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Old 15-04-2008, 12:47   #15
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svTOTEM,

Yes.... I would be interested in the CAD files for the chain plates!

A bit of clarification relative to my situation: My boat is now in St. John and we are bringing her to Savannah, GA in late May. Given that the rigging is 9 years old, I was concerned about making this passage. We are going to be doing a lot of refit work in Savannah over the next couple of years including having the rig down. THAT is when I want to replace the wire, when I have everything disassembled and can do it all at the same time. Also, this will then give us a new rig right before we plan to start cruising. The plan to disassembled the Stay-Lok's, clean and polish everything (not the wire.... just clean that. polish the fittings) repair anything with issues and then reassemble with new sealant is what is being done before we head back to Savannah.

When we have the rig down, we will replace all the wire. Not necessarily because I view that as mandatory due to age.... but more due to the fact that the wire is not that expensive and if the rig is down its crazy not to replace it. I will re-use all the fittings after having them magnafluxed and polished.

The chain plates in my boat were all replaced by Bennett Brothers when the boat was re-rigged in '99. The new ones they made were polished 316 and oversized. When we do pull them, I will have them magnafluxed along with the fittings and will replace any that are suspect.

Wire does not have an expiration date. Just because it is X years old, does not mean it must be replaced. A boat used a couple of months a year on a fresh water lake in light winds would be a whole different deal to a racing boat sailed very hard in the tropics year round.


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