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Old 30-08-2014, 04:00   #1
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Rust on New Standing Rigging

Greetings,

Here's a mystery...

I changed all my standing rigging just under two years ago, buying the wire from a reputable US outlet with swaged upper ends and, after cutting to length, added Sta-Locs myself at the bottoms. We then set off on a round-Atlantic cruise that has just ended in France. Re-rigging was a major time/money item in my pre-cruise preparations, so I've been very disappointed to find rust, or at least brown stains, appearing on all of my stays/shrouds.

The stains vary a little in intensity from wire to wire, but they have the same characteristic spiral, as if only one or two strands at a time were affected. The spirals can be highly visible in some lights, but nearly invisible in strong sun, since the wire in general is so shiny. I've also got some rust stains collecting around the upper rims of the sta-locs. These stains come off with a bit of hard rubbing, however they appear to originate from within the wire rope, not just on the exterior.

I've attached a characteristic photo.

The people I bought the rigging from originally suggested that there are commonly contaminants in wire from the manufacturing process and that these may need a couple months to wash out in the rain. Well, we've had a lot of rain and 14 months, so that probably is a non starter.

I asked two riggers this summer to take a look, one in England and one in France, and they were both baffled.

So what is it and is it serious? I don't like to have my rig anything other than A1.

One might suspect that my wire came from a bad spool. However, my standing rigging includes three different diameters, so that would mean three different bad spools all at once -- which is a lot less likely scenario. Also, my cap shrouds come from an entirely different outlet, yet they have been affected in exactly the same way.

The sellers are checking things out with their supplier. Maybe I'll get an explanation.

I saw a discussion on this forum from some time back where Lynn Pardey mentioned volcanic dust being corrosive. We weren't near a volcano, but we did spend about five weeks in west Africa, where the rig and boat became absolutely layered in red Saharan dust. That all washed off once we began crossing to the West Indies. A couple weeks were spent in the very polluted Dakar harbor. On the other hand, I've not heard of anyone else having a problem as a result of such a short stay.

I know there are some seriously knowledgeable people on cruisersforum, so thank you in advance if you have any suggestions.

best, Sebastian (Valiant 40 'Moon River')
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Old 30-08-2014, 04:54   #2
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Re: Rust on new standing rigging

Maybe some stray current finding its way to the rigging?
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Old 30-08-2014, 05:22   #3
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Re: Rust on new standing rigging

Thank you for that suggestion. Would this cause rust in a pattern like that? I have noticed several pitting pinholes on a couple strands of one stay and have no idea where they come from, but this could be part of it. Does electrical corrosion manifest itself in this way in rigging, though? I don't see signs of other corrosion in tangs, radar bracket, or other things on the mast.
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Old 30-08-2014, 06:39   #4
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Re: Rust on new standing rigging

I'm just guessing.
Maybe the other parts have a different composition and therefore only the rigging strands are acting as anodes. One of my neighbours had stainless corroding over quite an area as a result of a crushed wire to nav light. Perhaps corrosion occurs only while nav lights are on???
I could be way off the mark - need someone who knows how to check it out.
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Old 30-08-2014, 06:50   #5
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

I've got the same sort of thing going on, near as I can figure is that the dies used to make the wire are not stainless, and left a film of ferrous material on the shrouds. I have opened one of my Hayne hi mod terminals and found no corrosion from this "candy striping"


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Old 30-08-2014, 07:35   #6
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

Did you wipe it down with a material which may have removed the passivating coating. 2 years after a welder did repairs on a stanchion for me, something similar happened at his work spot.
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Old 30-08-2014, 07:42   #7
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

I had rust on 6year old rigging that was like you describe, but it occurred in areas where the strands were opened up, often to the point where you could see the core of the wire. It looked like the twist was a little relaxed, less twisted. Every shroud had open strands, not the larger shrouds. Our riggers, Port Townsend Rigging, told us our rigging (which came from one manufacturer) had a condition called "open strand" and that it was manufactured that way. They recommended replacing the rigging since we were going offshore, which we did. Wish I had a photo but it's all gone now.
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Old 30-08-2014, 08:00   #8
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

Our new rigging did the same thing within a few months of installation. After I polished it and used Spotless Stainless, it hasn't really come back (much). I've cleaned it two times in the past two years...when we have fresh water from a marina.

Matt
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Old 30-08-2014, 08:12   #9
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

Like everyone responding here, this is just speculation but...
I think you answered your own question. Most often the simplest explanation is the correct one.
Red Sahara dust is red for a reason, it's full of iron.
It is also an insidiously fine material.
I've lived in the Virgin Islands where it clogs windows screens during the Christmas winds, to the point where a high pressure hose is required to clean it out.
The screen can become so clogged it becomes opaque and looks like a dryer lint screen.
So for that reason, I don't buy into the theory that it washed out of the grooves in your standing rig.
Seems possible it remained, & got infused with salt. (then even perhaps locked in and exacerbated a bit by airborne petroleum/carbon pollution from the harbor in Dakar? or even a wax agent...?) and began to oxidize, causing a cascade of corrosion which is being dragged down by gravity and rainwater.
Moreover, on it's own stainless corrodes from the inside out.
It typically gives little indication that ions are being swapped until the point of failure.
This is why crack indicator sprays are used.
Surface corrosion of the nature you are describing, if not caused by dust, could be from:
End fittings that are made of inferior metal. Corrosion is running down with rainwater.
Poorly insulated rig - Stainless Tangs on mast etc. are not insulated from Aluminum of Mast itself (or the fastener threads)
Poorly grounded boat with stray current - are you using a fish zinc...? Is your rig part of the ground? Perhaps ground it separately?
Neighbors on the dock with terrible or no ground - you are their ground via shared dockpower...check your zincs.
Poor installation practices - did the rigger use nice clean stainless tools or old &$&^%?
Did the rigger backfill all fittings w/ appropriate bedding compound? ...Some silicons are corrosive to some metals and are formulated accordingly.

Hope something here strikes a chord and you figure it out.
It wouldnt hurt to get some crack checker and spray the worst areas for good measure.

Matt D.
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Old 30-08-2014, 08:17   #10
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

Quote:
Originally Posted by SebastianSmith View Post
Greetings,

Here's a mystery...

I changed all my standing rigging just under two years ago, buying the wire from a reputable US outlet with swaged upper ends and, after cutting to length, added Sta-Locs myself at the bottoms. We then set off on a round-Atlantic cruise that has just ended in France. Re-rigging was a major time/money item in my pre-cruise preparations, so I've been very disappointed to find rust, or at least brown stains, appearing on all of my stays/shrouds.

The stains vary a little in intensity from wire to wire, but they have the same characteristic spiral, as if only one or two strands at a time were affected. The spirals can be highly visible in some lights, but nearly invisible in strong sun, since the wire in general is so shiny. I've also got some rust stains collecting around the upper rims of the sta-locs. These stains come off with a bit of hard rubbing, however they appear to originate from within the wire rope, not just on the exterior.

I've attached a characteristic photo.

The people I bought the rigging from originally suggested that there are commonly contaminants in wire from the manufacturing process and that these may need a couple months to wash out in the rain. Well, we've had a lot of rain and 14 months, so that probably is a non starter.

I asked two riggers this summer to take a look, one in England and one in France, and they were both baffled.

So what is it and is it serious? I don't like to have my rig anything other than A1.

One might suspect that my wire came from a bad spool. However, my standing rigging includes three different diameters, so that would mean three different bad spools all at once -- which is a lot less likely scenario. Also, my cap shrouds come from an entirely different outlet, yet they have been affected in exactly the same way.

The sellers are checking things out with their supplier. Maybe I'll get an explanation.

I saw a discussion on this forum from some time back where Lynn Pardey mentioned volcanic dust being corrosive. We weren't near a volcano, but we did spend about five weeks in west Africa, where the rig and boat became absolutely layered in red Saharan dust. That all washed off once we began crossing to the West Indies. A couple weeks were spent in the very polluted Dakar harbor. On the other hand, I've not heard of anyone else having a problem as a result of such a short stay.

I know there are some seriously knowledgeable people on cruisersforum, so thank you in advance if you have any suggestions.

best, Sebastian (Valiant 40 'Moon River')
Hi Sebastian,

I've been working with different types of metal for 24 years in the automotive industry. Stainless, aluminum, mild steel, etc.

I have not much experience with standing rigging in particular, however, definitely spent a great deal of time and effort over those 24 years trying to understand the nature of corrosion.
Given the nature of global manufacturing, and extremely varied manufacturing standards, my initial response would be to fault the materials.

As a matter of interest, can the stains be removed easily with rubbing compound? If so, do the stains return?
Les
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Old 30-08-2014, 08:18   #11
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

This is a common issue with any newer wire. I suspect cheap metal or manufacturing.

At times this issue comes from cutting the wire with contaminated tools, but this is far less common.

b.
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Old 30-08-2014, 10:29   #12
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

Thanks so much for the brainstorming. The installation was done without any problems and I don't think the upper swages are leaching any muck downward. That leaves inferior wire -- but this would be from two different riggers and in three diameters, so people really not taking any care with their customers -- and the possibility of Saharan dust contamination and/or electrical strays.

Sounds like to do a control I need to give the whole rig a very severe washing with some stainless polishing product and water, then watch to see what happens. I have the mast unstepped right now so I don't suppose checking for the currents is going to work. However, there is a real possibility that one or more of the wires slapping around inside that mast have worked loose or have been chafed -- replacing and securing wires was one of the reasons I had the mast taken down in fact.

I can address both these issues, but what I won't know easily is if one of them is really to blame. Just as importantly, I don't know a way I can properly determine whether real damage has already been done yet, or not. We're talking about 500 to 600 feet of wire!

cheers, Sebastian
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Old 30-08-2014, 10:40   #13
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

Any chance they have all sold you type 304? It will show corrosion in just a couple of years.
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Old 30-08-2014, 10:46   #14
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

Get those cleaned up soon. It must be disappointing for sure. It is possibly due to not good enough cleaning (passivating?) after the individual wire is drawn down to size thru a hard steel die. Small amounts of steel are left on the wire. Chemical cleaning thoroughly should take it off. But they must have not done a good job of that. (just thinking out loud here)
OTOH... I will say... after a year or more at sea.. SS just starts to rust a bit here and there... fresh water rinses as often as possible may help. But you really need to clean it before any pitting starts.
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Old 30-08-2014, 10:49   #15
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Re: Rust on New Standing Rigging

No worries.
I agree it does sound like inferior materials in some respects.
The fact that it is evidenced on multiple diameters from multiple sources is really only an indicator of the poor quality metal that is being manufactured these days across the board before it reaches any rigger, or other industry professional.
If you have the stick out, and want to wash the rigging, see if the yard will loan or rent you the pressure washer to do so. If it is dust, this will give you an extra edge getting it out.
I would be wary of sealing in corrosion even after clean off with a wax or the like made for stainless. It rusts the most in an anaerobic environment.
FYI in re: Slapping wires in mast: Don't be a masochist!
Go to walmart or the like and buy some foam noodles for swimming.
Ensure that they are hollow core.(10-12 depending on stick height)
After running all wires through noodles, zip tie every 1-2 ft. to secure even more.
Then slide the whole sausage up the mast remembering to attach your messenger strings first.
Never hear a clank up there again. .
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