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Old 02-06-2014, 11:27   #1
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Rod Rigging Life?

I've have my rig out right now because the hull had to be put in a shed for some surprise work (long story) so I've taken the opportunity to have the rig inspected while it's out. I've had my Little Harbor 46 for less than 3 years, and it was built in 1988 with NavTec rod rigging. It's the conclusion of the RigPro/Southern Spars guys that I still have the original rods and fittings. They also say the recommended life span for the rod is only 12 years, and I'm well past double that. There are no visible flaws or issues, just age. I don't have an exact quote but the ballpark is $8k for full replacement. Gulp!

I use the boat for mostly coastal New England cruising but will certainly head to Bermuda and the Caribbean in the coming years.

Rig Pro isn't being pushy but I can't argue with their comments. It's my first big boat and first dealing with serious rigging.

Would love comments from the experts here.

Thanks,

JR
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:39   #2
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Re: Rod rigging life?

Rod Rigging Lifespan
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Old 02-06-2014, 12:56   #3
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Re: Rod rigging life?

As the OP of the last thread on this my final decision was that if the ends dye test well with no cracks the rods are fine. But a case can be made for reheading the ends if the rig is down as a preventative measure, but the rods themselves don't really need replacement.
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Old 02-06-2014, 13:04   #4
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Re: Rod rigging life?

The Navtech guide is http://www.navtec.net/assets/img/dat...ng-Service.pdf

Generally you are fine until year 10 at which point you really need to consider replacing the standing rigging. By 15 years even if everything looks good I would replace it no matter what. Masts are too expensive and the consequences of loosing them are too high to mess around with questionable rigging.
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Old 02-06-2014, 15:23   #5
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Re: Rod rigging life?

We were told by a rigger at Svendsen's in Alameda, CA, that the Nichronic 50 alloy was good for 20 yrs., so I think sailorboy1 has the right of this.

However, Stumble also makes a good point: you will be at sea. So maybe the real question is whether you are happy to go offshore without replacing it now that your rigger has made you wonder about it.

Ain't decision making fun?!

Safe sailing,

Ann
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Old 02-06-2014, 16:07   #6
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Re: Rod rigging life?

Thanks for all the input.

If this was my only surprise at the moment I'd just go for it and replace everything just for the confidence. But my hull work is a $20k surprise and that has my wallet screaming. Practical but kinda dumb reason based on timing. I agree with comments to be more safe than risky.
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Old 02-06-2014, 17:21   #7
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Re: Rod rigging life?

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Originally Posted by jr_spyder View Post
I've have my rig out right now because the hull had to be put in a shed for some surprise work (long story) so I've taken the opportunity to have the rig inspected while it's out. I've had my Little Harbor 46 for less than 3 years, and it was built in 1988 with NavTec rod rigging. It's the conclusion of the RigPro/Southern Spars guys that I still have the original rods and fittings. They also say the recommended life span for the rod is only 12 years, and I'm well past double that. There are no visible flaws or issues, just age. I don't have an exact quote but the ballpark is $8k for full replacement. Gulp!

I use the boat for mostly coastal New England cruising but will certainly head to Bermuda and the Caribbean in the coming years.

Rig Pro isn't being pushy but I can't argue with their comments. It's my first big boat and first dealing with serious rigging.

Would love comments from the experts here.

Thanks,

JR
The Navtec advice is pretty clear in their documents and it confirms what your riggers said. I have 12 year old rigging and am faced with this decision too. The advice is to replace the lot. Some of my rods were actually replaced at 6 years as they couldn't be cold headed. These new rods can be cold headed again and used on parts of the rig where shorter rods are needed, but after 12 years the rods need to go. i.e. you can't rehead twice. (assuming you stick to 6 years). The tip-cups last 18 years, so actually not everything must be replaced. Also if you have bronze components in the turnbuckles, they can last a bit longer too.

If you use the boat in cold water and or fresh water you can stretch the guidelines a little, but corrosion in stainless is not to be messed with. You can't see the cracks easily and it can break without notice. So err on the side of safety. For you, there is no doubt you have to replace. You have some choice as could look at wire. A little fatter (windage) and a little heavier, and a little less long lasting (is a lower grade of stainless), but it is cheaper and you can fix it out in the back of beyond yourself. You can even do the whole thing next time in 6 years or so yourself.

Wish I could do the job for anything near that price...
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Old 02-06-2014, 17:41   #8
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Re: Rod rigging life?

I'm in the same situation. Interesting question about whether to spend extra now to convert to wire rope and then be able to re-rig much more cheaply later. Performance goes down, lifetime of the standing rigging goes down, but cost is better. I should get a real quote and do the financials on it.

Being able to fix it in the back of beyond is also very nice, though.
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Old 02-06-2014, 17:55   #9
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Re: Rod rigging life?

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Originally Posted by cwyckham View Post
I'm in the same situation. Interesting question about whether to spend extra now to convert to wire rope and then be able to re-rig much more cheaply later. Performance goes down, lifetime of the standing rigging goes down, but cost is better. I should get a real quote and do the financials on it.

Being able to fix it in the back of beyond is also very nice, though.
I wonder if, in a modest cruising design like the Niagra 35, there would be any discernible performance loss if you changed to Dyform type wire of similar strength? The lifetime is similar, depending on whose rules you recognize, and the wire has the advantage of seldom suffering catastrophic failure.

And, if you are planning distant cruises to third world (or worse) destinations, the ability to replace a failed wire in situ is good. we once had to replace our forestay in Vanuatu (wire does sometimes fail... this was inside a furler foil and hard to do inspections on) and being able to ship in a coil of wire and two cones for the Sta-Loks made it possible... on the lawn of a friendly resort!

But, FWIW, we've seen a few cruising type boats with rod rigging (Valiant 40's for one example) and many of them have gone way past the 12 year limit for service. I wonder if those limits were predicated on a racing environment, and on racing scantlings for the rig, where a more conservative design would be longer lived?

Vexing question!

Jim
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Old 02-06-2014, 18:19   #10
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Re: Rod rigging life?

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
I wonder if those limits were predicated on a racing environment, and on racing scantlings for the rig, where a more conservative design would be longer lived?


Jim raises an excellent question.

If the rods were sat under static load in a dark, dry warehouse for 12 years, there wouldn't be a compelling argument to why they should be replaced.

The recommended lifetime of the rigging must be down to a predicted number (and magnitude) of cycles. Evidently, this will be different for a cruising sailboat (more, lower mag) compared to a racing boat (fewer, higher mag).

The fatigue variables must have been a factor in the lifetime. The shame is, I doubt that the manufacturers will commit to other information other than the "12 years, period" recommendation.



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Old 02-06-2014, 18:37   #11
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Re: Rod Rigging Life?

A smart and conservative manufacturer wouldn't differentiate between usage for racing or cruising. They's just pick the worse case and use that as the baseline usage. In fact they would probably take the worse case, figure the max number of serviceable years for that case, and then cut that in half (at least) to get to their service life recommendation. There's lots of advantages for them to do this including much safer equipment, and more frequent sales. I'm not being at all cynical here, just realistic, and I'm perfectly okay with manufacturers doing this. It also makes me comfortable going past the recommended service life on something if I know it hasn't been abused. But its a big guess/risk as to how much past is the safe limit.

Although my boat is a heavy cruiser I know it was raced in the past. It's a Hood design and Ted owned it himself (one of his "Robins") for a number of years and I'm sure put it through it's paces. That's partially why I'm surprised the rods are still original. It also has a taller mast and more ballast than it's sister hulls. Ted was up to something with this boat...

I should get full quote tomorrow and will make my decision. This thread has been very helpful. Thanks.
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Old 02-06-2014, 18:44   #12
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Re: Rod Rigging Life?

Jr, I'm not sure where I got the idea that you were sailing a Niagara 35! Sorry about the confusion... the Little Harbour is a very different boat, especially if equipped with an extra big rig. But I still doubt that there would be a significant loss of performance in a cruising environment if you went to Dyform.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 02-06-2014, 19:29   #13
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Re: Rod Rigging Life?

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Jr, I'm not sure where I got the idea that you were sailing a Niagara 35! Sorry about the confusion... the Little Harbour is a very different boat, especially if equipped with an extra big rig. But I still doubt that there would be a significant loss of performance in a cruising environment if you went to Dyform.

Cheers,

Jim
Very small loss of perfomance, rod dont strecht to much, so compared with wire the rig keep almost intact the tune under loads, perfect for racing, cruising dont make to much diference,
a 100 ft maxi with a tall rig with 5 spreaders probably need the rod no matter what , in a cruising boat the loads are not so extreme, and weight is not a problem, i even see a big old swan with stalock and wire terminals and some others swichting to wire, from what i see in the past wire fail before than rod, and rod fail without warning, at the cold heads .. inspections in old rod its expensive, when in wire its easy ...you can see a cracked rod head but you cant see whats going on inside of a wire swage, wire rust and nitronic dont, some rust and corrosion at the cold heads its posible but very unlikely , most rod failures are fatigue induced , at the head.. first a micro crack and later the rod part at the head.
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Old 02-06-2014, 20:46   #14
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Re: Rod Rigging Life?

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... wire fail before than rod, and rod fail without warning, at the cold heads ..
That pretty much sums it up. Unforecast potential catastrophic failure on a cruising boat? Hmm....

Good luck in your choice.
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Old 02-06-2014, 21:40   #15
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Re: Rod Rigging Life?

Frankly I wouldn't go back to rod on a cruising boat. The marginal benefit of windage compared to the extra risk of the rod frankly just don't seem to be worth it. But then I wouldn't switch to wire either.

When we had to replace the rig on our boat we switched the entire rig to Dynex Duc rigging. Not only does it really make a difference in how the boat feels, and was actually less than wire it is also completely replaceable anywhere in the world.
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