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Old 12-10-2006, 19:30   #1
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Replacing wire mainsail halyard with line

I want to replace my wire mainsail halyard with line. Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 12-10-2006, 20:40   #2
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You'll need to check the masthead sheeves. First, because the profile of them may be matched to wire and unsuitable to rope. Second, for the diameter of them. Depending on the type of line, some of the synthetics will actually break down if the diameter of the sheeve is less than 8x, 10x, etc. the diameter of the line. For each type of line, you can get that spec from the manufacturer.

You may also want to plan ahead for ending the line, meaning, to take it down and turn it end-for-end in order to spread the wear around and get longer life from it. That would also mean leaving the jacket on the whole line, but many folks strip the jacket from the section aloft in order to make it lighter--and only keep it below where hands, winches, and rope clutches need it. (Got to check that turning radius against the size of the winches, and any other turning blocks, etc. also.)
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Old 12-10-2006, 20:56   #3
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Vectran is probably the 1st choice for halyards, but it is quite expensive
Spectra is a close 2nd, still quite expensive but not as expensive as Vectran. spectra is similar in strength to Vectran, but has a little bit more stretch. After that, you have the conventional double-braid polyester ropes.

What thickness you will need depends on the size of your mast and mainsail area. For a 40' yacht, you might be looking at 14mm double braid, 12mm Spectra, 10mm Vectran. Although it might be possible to go smaller than 10mm from a strength point of view, people rarely do because smaller ropes are harder on the hands.

It is definitely worth checking your mast-head sheaves and mast exit rollers for wear and tear - steel halyards can roughen up the surface of the sheaves and if they are rough they will chew through your nice new halyard pretty quickly. Also, as mentioned above, the sheaves will not necessarily be big enough for your rope diameter.

At the end of the day, the advantage in going with rope over steel is weight saving (and weight saved up the mast is extra good). The advatage of going with the high-tech, more expensive rope is (a) less stretch, therefore better sail shape, and (b) higher strength allows smaller line diameter, saving more weight.

Nevertheless, rope halyards will not last as long as steel. If you are not racing, the difference will probably not be noticable. You may wish to consider getting a new steel halyard, or even just a new rope tail spliced into your existing steel halyard... in the long run, a steel-rope halyard is probably the least expensive solution.
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Old 12-10-2006, 21:09   #4
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Aloha Weyalan,
Thanks for that very honest answer. Have thought about the change myself and will opt for newer wire.
Kind Regards,
JohnL
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Old 12-10-2006, 21:24   #5
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Just as an additional comment:

With a steel halyard with a spliced in rope tail, the steel cable will, as a rule, easily outlast the rope tail, probably several times over. It is a relatively cheap and simple exercise to get a new tail spliced onto an old steel cable, and this may be repeated several times before the cable has to be replaced. In the end, this is what makes steel-rope halyards relatively economical.
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Old 12-10-2006, 21:44   #6
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Replacing wire halyard

I started with rope halyards. On the way to New Zealand from BC , the rope kept chafing thru and I had to make several trips to the masthead singlehanded at sea to replace them. Whenever a gale came and I had to drop sails, it took several days to winch the stretch out of them. Meanwhile the sails kept sagging.
In New Zealand I replaced them with galvanized 7X19 wire and lived happily ever after, for the next 30 years and 8 pacific crossings.
Friends with stainless halyards have to replace then every three years with broken strands . My galvanised ones last up to ten years with no broken strands.
I hoist the main up and put a thimble in the end of the wire a foot above the winch. I put the rope tail thru this thimble and tie a square knot in it . This eliminates the need for a rope to wire splice. The knot can be moved up the rope when needed.
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Old 12-10-2006, 22:10   #7
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The wire halyards on my boat are about 15 or 16 years old. They are stainless steel and they seem to have lasted just fine. I am actually going to replace them with rope (Spectra probably). There is no particular reason why rope halyard should chafe through provided the sheaves and exit blocks are correctly sized and are nice and smooth. One ought to be able to expect to get 6-10 years from a decent (properly sized) rope halyard.

Just out of interest, Louis, how does your thinble + knotted rope fit into the mast when you lower the sail?
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Old 13-10-2006, 07:58   #8
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Just out of interest, Louis, how does your thinble + knotted rope fit into the mast when you lower the sail?
I am not Louis, but I have the same set up. My Halyards are externally reeved, so the connection does not pass through the mast at all (I suspect the same of Louis' set up.) FWIW
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Old 13-10-2006, 12:21   #9
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Louis or anyone, I don't have anywhere near the Seamiles under my keel that you or others do. Can you explain why and where the chaff in rope halyard. I have never experianced this yet. Where does it occur so as I can maintain a watch on that area.
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Old 13-10-2006, 12:40   #10
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Alan-
Have you ever seen a halyard mast exit slot that was cut by a halyard? That's not uncommon, a rope halyard will chafe at the slot and actually can cut better than steel sometimes does.<G> Internal halyards may also cut the support bar between the spreaders, or chafe against it. And UV will degrade the core anyplace it is exposed--typically at the masthead--while there may be some chafe on the sailboard up there as well.

All of which are good reasons to buy halyards 5-10' too long, so you can either cut a foot off the business end, or end-for-end the lines, so any chafed or stressed sections get some relief.
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Old 13-10-2006, 12:59   #11
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I made a roller exit slot so as there was no chaff on the line and the mast was protected. Hmmm, I don't think I have a bar between the spreaders. Maybe yet another problem with my old mast.
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Old 13-10-2006, 22:14   #12
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Wire to line and the reason why

Thanks for all the sound advice. I especially appreciated understanding more about line, their characteristics and the differences in prices. Thank you.

I was intrigued by the idea of using wire and line spliced. The reason for my initial inquiry was that I don't want to trust the brake on the 40 year old wire winch to hold my mainsail up and I want to replace the winch with a line winch that is sitting on my workbench. My problem then is how to go about providing a block at the masthead for the line. How have you dealt with that if you want to completely do away with wire mainsail halyard?

Thanks again to ALL for the lively discussion.

Peter
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Old 14-10-2006, 03:37   #13
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Change your sheaves (masthead & exit block) to rope or combination (wire & rope) grooved type.
Because wire halyards were previously used in your mast, you must be very careful to make sure that the sheaves, wire halyards were ever used in your mast, you must be very careful to make sure that the sheaves, masthead crane, and exit blocks are very smooth and free of sharp edges.

http://www.rigrite.com/Spars/SparParts/Sheaves.html
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Old 14-10-2006, 18:20   #14
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Thanks Gord. As soon as I can I need to go up the mast and see what I need to replace the Sheave. I'll check back in when I have that accomplished.

I need to buy a new mount to install my winch. Do anyone know a supplier?
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Old 27-10-2006, 16:41   #15
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Halyards

It sounds likeyour wire halyards are lasting twice as long as roipe. So why go rope.
What it takes to chafe in daysailing and what it takes to chafe in 500 mileocean voyages is two different things.
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