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Old 18-02-2019, 18:18   #1
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What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling out?

I've recently acquired Sparkman & Stephens Falcon 24 in Auckland and need to get some work done to get her in ship shape.

We already got her our couple of times and biggest pain at the moment is getting the main out. No lazy jacks on anything on it and track has this little gap here, which I am not sure what it is for? Something for reefing? How do I plug it so my slugs don't fall out? From what I was told before, there's a little pin you leave at the bottom track, but in this case this wouldn't seem to work.

Unless I put 3 pins or so? Two in that smaller track, one at the bottom of main one. Before getting out, move the slugs up a bit?

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Old 18-02-2019, 18:25   #2
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pirate Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

Never seen anything like that before.. cannot imagine why its like that.. but maybe someone can enlighten both of us..
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Old 18-02-2019, 18:43   #3
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

Just a guess here but it looks like
The track is perhaps not original to the mast.
Bottom section is different from the two above it,
maybe so the gooseneck can be moved.
The gap in the next two sections would be the equivalent to a
slot in the mast for the Sail slides.
The gap/slot is where the slugs are inserted.
For masts with an internal track there is a great product called
“Mastgate” that holds the slugs in But is easily removed when
taking the Sail off.
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Old 18-02-2019, 18:45   #4
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

You can buy a sail stop/gate for about $30 or drill and pin it. FYI you will lose the stop eventually.
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Old 18-02-2019, 18:53   #5
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

It appears to be a gate, so that you can load the slugs for the mainsail (starting with the bottom one) and leave them there when the sail is furled. There needs to be a filler piece - which seems to be missing- so that the gate can be closed when the sail has been bent on so that it can be hoisted without the slides coming off the track. Just a guess, and it is hard to tell in the photo, but are the rivets missing from the top pair of holes for the bottom section of track? These holes might have had the fasteners for the missing gate section. Once the sail is bent on there isn't much need for the gate, so the filler can be screwed in place until the sail needs to come off again.
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Old 18-02-2019, 18:57   #6
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

As mentioned , the lower track is to allow the gooseneck to slide up and down. You hoist the main until the goose neck is midway up the lower track, then tension the luff of the sail with a down haul tackle pulling the goose neck down.

The opening between the two aluminum sections is to allow the entry of of the sail slugs, and there should be some sort of gate there to retain the slugs when reefing or dropping the sail. Mostly these gates are screwed to the mast or fastened to the mast to retain them in position.

If you Google "mast gate" or "mainsail gate" you will see a variety of gates and perhaps figure out which type will work for you.

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Old 18-02-2019, 19:15   #7
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

I think you are missing a pc that looks very similar to the track above and below. If you put a stopper at the gap then the sail will be very high for flaking.
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Old 18-02-2019, 20:16   #8
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

I believe the gap is there to allow for removing the slugs when reefing or removing the sail. The gooseneck is out of the photo but it appears to slide up close to the bottom of the lower track. A pin should be in there at the bottom of the upper track to pull when reefing IMO. I had a similar arrangement on my 24' Columbia many moons ago. It was kind of a hassle, but I liked it when I reefed. I had a track stop at the bottom of the upper section. Yours is really high though.
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Old 19-02-2019, 08:20   #9
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

Adding to what Don C L said, I think the gap is there for reefing.
It looks like you will need to remove the slide just below the first reef cringle before you can place it on the reefing hook.
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Old 19-02-2019, 09:09   #10
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
I believe the gap is there to allow for removing the slugs when reefing or removing the sail. The gooseneck is out of the photo but it appears to slide up close to the bottom of the lower track. A pin should be in there at the bottom of the upper track to pull when reefing IMO. I had a similar arrangement on my 24' Columbia many moons ago. It was kind of a hassle, but I liked it when I reefed. I had a track stop at the bottom of the upper section. Yours is really high though.
Without seeing entire sail, I would suspect that at some point it may have had a solid mainsail head and possibly a previous furling type of main. I have two slots in my main track and it basically is as mentioned- bottom is for removing the slugs when getting into second and third reef, and the top was for removing the headboard and full length batten cars. The upper should have a spacer to pass the sail lugs to the bottom. The bottom should have a stopper pin or bolt.
Either way, adapt the system to work for you and this sail.
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Old 19-02-2019, 09:12   #11
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

See if you can make something that will fit in there to let the slugs pass.


If not I'd be tempted to move that bottom sail track up to meet the upper piece. If needed, you can lift the boom a bit.

Can you determine the manufacturer? If so, contact them about it.
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Old 19-02-2019, 09:30   #12
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

It's a gate to keep your sail stack from being too tall when deeply reefed. But I have no idea why there are two?
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Old 19-02-2019, 09:49   #13
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

This is a puzzle but that's not unusual on sailboats

My best guess is that the stop for the upper track is missing. It was probably a slug with a knurled nut that clamped it at the bottom. These are available or you could just drill a hole in the track and put in a cotter pin.

My theory is that the lower track was for the Cunningham (that round stainless ring at the base of the sail is likely part of a Cunningham). The Cunningham is used to tighten the luff of the sail after the sail is fully raised. Friction in a fully raised luff makes it very hard to get enough luff tension just from the halyard at the top. It helps to tighten a few inches from the bottom too. My guess is that there was a a ring or block on a slide on the lower track. A hook or rope would thread through the ring on the sail, through the block on the mast and then down to a winch or tackle below the boom. Once the sail is fully raised and the halyard tight, the Cunningham would be tightening to pull that silver ring down while holding it against the mast.

Or - option 2 - that round cunningham ring is meant to be hooked to the horns on the boom gooseneck to put in a "flattening reef" when going upwind. After being hooked on the horns the halyard is tightened. As I mentioned, it's often hard to get enough luff tension for best shape going upwind using just the halyard. A rope cunningham to a tackle is better. Going downwind where you want a loose luff, you let off the Cunningham.

Of course, racers are the ones who really pay attention to luff tension. But I've never met a cruiser who isn't a little bit a racer when a similar size boat is in sight. Especially if the other boat is supposedly faster.
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Old 19-02-2019, 10:08   #14
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

The bottom piece of track – correctly called “track” because something, in this case the gooseneck, clasps around it – is, as others have said, a device for letting the gooseneck slide up and down for the purpose of adjusting the luff tension of the sail.

The upper piece of “track” is more correctly called the “cove” because the “slugs” on the luff of the sail slide internally in the cove.

The middle piece shown in your photo is a “parking place” for the slugs, which you feed in from above when you “bend on” (attach) the sail. The slugs sit one above the other in this piece of cove while the sail is in a “harbour stow”. This piece of cove therefore has to be permanently closed at the bottom, and it needs to be long enough to accommodate ALL the slugs. When the sail is “harbour stowed” (or “furled”) the “bunt”, (the “middle” of the sail, i.e. all the cloth) is let fall so it lies in folds alternatingly to one side and the other of the boom. The bunt is then held in place on the boom with “robands” aka “gaskets”. A roband is a piece of light line as long as it needs to be, but no more. You don't want loose ends (“Irish pennants”). The robands are tied around the furled sail at intervals of a coupla feet, and tied off with “roband knots”, a knot you will know as a “square knot”.

Set up correctly, the gap between the top and the bottom cove (called “the gate”) is filled with a piece of cove mounted on a hinge so the gate can be closed, and the slugs can slide directtly from the “keeper cove” via the hinged gate cove up into the working cove on the mast. The reason you need the hinged gate is that having it permits you to have both hands free for the halyard. If you don't have the hinged gate, hoisting sail becomes endlessly frustrating.

Furling and reefing are NOT the same thing. When reefing, the gate stays closed, and the slugs below the reef will find their own place in the cove. At the reef points there are gaskets permanently attached to the sail – or at least there should be. These gaskets are called “nettles”, and when you reef they are taken below the bolt rope in the foot of the sail and tied off there with the tension of each one adjusted to give you a nice “belly” in the sail. If the entire boltrope in the foot of the sail is fed into a cove on the boom, as it sometimes is, then, obviously, the nettles need to be tied off under the boom, but again you adjust their tension to give you a nice belly. The first step in reefing is to lift the gooseneck a few inches so that after having completed the reef, the gooseneck can be brought down again by the gooseneck downhaul so as to put the proper amount of tension on the luff.

With all due respect to those who suggested above that the gap is there to facilitate reefing, you will see that that is not so. The gate is there ONLY to faciltate bending on the sail and striking it. It has nothing whatsoever to do with reefing or even furling. Set up correctly, it is doubtful that you would need to open the gate more than once a year or two.

There you go – more detail than you asked for, but all this stuff needs to be considered as a cohesive entity. If we can help in any other way, sing out :-)!

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Old 19-02-2019, 10:19   #15
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Re: What is the purpose of this gap main track and how to stop my slugs from falling

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Originally Posted by TrentePieds View Post

The upper piece of “track” is more correctly called the “cove” because the “slugs” on the luff of the sail slide internally in the cove.

TrentePieds
Perhaps you meant to say groove as opposed to cove?
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