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Old 16-07-2008, 08:37   #1
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Amsteel for Lifelines, and...

Hi all;

I am about ready to pull the trigger on some 1/4 inch Amsteel to replace our original 1985 lifelines. The boat spent most of it's time in fresh water, but they are rusting in spots, so off they go.

In researchin all of this I came across Amstell line as a lifeline replacement. I have read some really good things about this, including some advice on Brian Toss' website, which I will use: Either a splice on both ends, or if one won't fit through the stantions, then a splice on one end, and a bwline on the other. I will be using 1/4 in Amsteel, and 1/8 in Amsteel for the lashings.

Here's where this gets interesting. I was browsing through the Defender catalog last night in bed (you all do this, right?) and came across two other uses I think would work. Jacklines and teathers. Now the eye splice for Amsteel looks easy. So each jackline is two eye splices, one each end, with lashings to the padeyes. Simple to create, inexpensive, they float, and are easy to inspect.

The other is for tethers. Simply make the the same as the jacklines, but with a carabiner on one end, and a snap shacle on the other.

What say ye?

Chris
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Old 16-07-2008, 12:16   #2
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Originally Posted by witzgall View Post
... The other is for tethers. Simply make the same as the jacklines, but with a carabineer on one end, and a snap shackle on the other.
What say ye?
Chris
Amsteel is not suitable for safety tethers.
Your want as little stretch as practicable in your lifelines & jacklines, and as much shock absorbing stretch as possible in your safety harness tether (lanyard).
This makes the Amsteel a much better product for lifelines and jacklines, than it is for a tether.

Pictured a 'proper' safety lanyard (tether)
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Old 16-07-2008, 12:19   #3
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Thanks Gord, That makes sense. I'll make up the teathers using proper webbing. They won't be the fancy "Self Coiling" ones like you show in the picture, but just as functional.



Chris
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Old 16-07-2008, 12:24   #4
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Your home made webbing tethers won’t be just as functional as the one I pictured. The “self coiling” feature is actually a built-in shock absorber, now mandatory on all construction safety belts.
They will, however, be “fairly” functional, just as the old 3-strand nylon rope lanyards of bygone days were.
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Old 16-07-2008, 13:51   #5
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We installed amsteel lifelines on our Cape Dory 33 this past January. Used the quarter inch, with two (2) twelve-strand splices per length. I would be careful with using knots since this is very slippery stuff. One note on measuring splices, the length shrinks as you make the splice since you are expanding the braid. We had do redo a short length as we could not stretch the extra 1 1/2 to 2 inches lost. We did manage to stretch the longer lines, and it actually worked better that way. We are very happy with the results, much cheaper and easier than wire.
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Old 21-07-2008, 15:56   #6
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I am probably to be considered a conservative fuddy-duddy when it comes to using exotics in this type of application. I'm sure Amsteel is plenty strong enough, but I just am very wary of using it for an application which has long term exposure to UV, because, frankly, it's resistance to UV degredation is not great.

Bear in mind that although Amsteel and the like have amazing tensile-strength, if you use a knot, that strength will immediately be reduced by at least 50%, if not more. Splicing is better, but still does reduce strength. Splicing 12-strand single braid Amsteel is not too difficult (locked-brummel splice with buried tail is, I guess, the way to go). Bear in mind also that almost any rope manufacturer will tell you to use a pretty big margin of safety when calculating applications for thier materials... tpically 5:1 to 8:1. I think that the ISAF regulations actually offer some guidance in this respect (I will check).

I know Amsteel (and the various other "exotics") do get used in these applications on state-of-the-art racing boats, but on these fully-sponsored machines, they probably replace the Amsteel anually. Of course, in their case, saving weight is the absolute driving force, not value for money, longjevity, or even strength.

Even in the short term, I don't think that you save very much money by using "exotics" over stainless, and certainly if you factor 15 or 20 years life out of your 1/19 316 stainless lifelines / jackstays, against recurring cost of replacing your amsteel every 3 or 4 years, it seems like the marginal weight saving isn't worth the through-life costs.

I re-iterate that exotics certainly have their place on a yacht. I have, since purchasing my old racing boat, replaced the (steel) headsail halyards with Spectra, the (steel) main halyard with Vectran, and the (steel) runners and checkstays with Vectran. Of course, these items will not last as long as the steel either, but the weight saving up the mast is significant, and weight saved up the mast improves the righting moment, so these changes are safety driven as much as performance driven. I have, however, retained my stainless jackstas and lifelines.

Of course, the above is all just opinion; I make no claim to expertise .
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Old 21-07-2008, 16:09   #7
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I just checked ISAF offshore regulations. As far as I can see, it is still recommended (required) that, for ISAF sanctioned offshore racing, lifelines be 1x19 stainless steel (preferably 316), and that jacklines be either 5mm (3/16") 1x19 stainless, or webbing, and if webbing, it must have minimum 2040kg (4500 lb) breaking strain.

Of course, the above only covers ISAF sanctioned racing, but I find the racing regulations a good point of reference.
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Old 21-07-2008, 16:37   #8
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Well, both the Navy and CG use Amsteel for lifelines on some boats, so can't be that bad...

I've been using Amsteel for some time, for running backstays, jacklines (covered by nylon webbing) and lifelines, plus for emergency rigging. My lifelines I stripped the core out of a solid white polyline and replaced the core with Amsteel. While that was as much for asthetic reasons, it also gave both chafe and uv protection. Regardless of the ISAF, I think an Amsteel lifeline is both stronger and more reliable than the traditional vinyl covered stainless wire lifeline. It won't rust and fail where you can't see it. For terminals (i.e a gate) I splice in a welded stainless ring on one side and a regular snap shackle on the other. Works really well and I can always tape it shut on passage. I've never cared for pelican hooks.

Also, with Amsteel I'd be very leery of using a knot with it - it's too easy to splice anyway. Just be sure to bury enough tail. I think Toss recommends 72 times the diameter - a lot more than with traditional dacron lines.
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Old 21-07-2008, 16:46   #9
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For what it is worth, ISAF no longer allows coating on lifelines (vinyl or otherwise), and if any sort of sleeving is used, it must be easily removable to facillitate regular inspecion.

I wasn't suggestion that the ISAF regs are any sort of boating gospel; merely that they are not a bad reference document to take into consideration when looking as these type of things.

Out of interest, how often do you/will you replace your lifelines & jackstays?
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Old 21-07-2008, 16:59   #10
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Out of interest, how often do you/will you replace your lifelines & jackstays?
I honestly haven't thought out that far, but since both the lifelines and jacklines are covered, they should last a good many years. My running backstays, which are not covered, will not likely last as long, but my rigger (who consults regularly with the nearby Samson engineers) tells me they should last as long as I will...

Also, many of my halyards are Amsteel. It's a very good replacement for wire halyards and you don't necessarily need to change the sheave.

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Old 05-08-2009, 13:09   #11
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I too am considering implementing AMSTEEL for my life lines the surveyor quoted me 2,600 Lbs strength. 1/4" Amsteel is rated at 6,700 Lbs. Min. Strength. My main concern is chafe at the stantions and termination techniques, has anyone sourced or contrived a turnbuckle appliocation?
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Old 05-08-2009, 13:19   #12
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Precourt Rigging - Internationally recognized for our synthetic rigging systems

look at his rigging terminals. Rather than a turnbuckle, you'll want something like this. Splice to one side, make passes with small line thru the other, just like the shrouds.

You might contemplate grommets of some sort in your stanchions, or just polish and fair the openings.
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Old 05-08-2009, 13:41   #13
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I installed 1/4" amsteel lifelines 4 years ago (3 years on fresh water, this year in saltwater). I have been very happy with the result. The strand covering still has a "slick" feel with no wear showing yet. I got the hardware from http://www.bosunsupplies.com/
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Old 05-08-2009, 13:49   #14
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or... redo the stainless, dont worry about UV and not worry about it until a another 25 years.... I'm just saying that if you are like me, you might be spending too much time with the brain gears moving and creating fun, maybe cheaper experiments to try... but a lot of the time they are not as elegant as what the other 80% of people do!
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Old 05-08-2009, 14:34   #15
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Can Amsteel be cut with a knife?? Or any sharp object?? If yes, then I'd be real reluctant to use as a lifeline...but maybe that's just me....
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