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Old 12-02-2021, 11:17   #1
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Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

Apologies in advance if this stirs up some strong opposing opinions. At least it's not an anchor discussion.

I have been sailing keel boats for about 20 years. Just recently I started hearing people making statements about replacing standing rigging every 7-10 years. I work in high-tech. My experience in my industry has been that when one way of doing things has worked perfectly well for a long time and then suddenly I start hearing of something different that needs to be done, it's usually because a specific vendor is pushing their new way hard, even if it isn't really required. In no way am I implying that's what's happening in the marine industry and I don't mean to offend anyone in the rigging industry.

That said, I am curious. Wouldn't standing rigging replacement depend a lot on how the boat is used, the type of rigging (stranded or solid stainless steel), what's the relative gauge of the rigging compared to the amount of sail? How flexible the mast is?

And finally, and most importantly, does it really need to be changed if it doesn't show signs of wear (I'm aware that some of it is hard to see).
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Old 12-02-2021, 11:27   #2
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

The answer is that it always depends.
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Old 12-02-2021, 11:36   #3
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pirate Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

In most cases it's down to your insurance companies requirements/clauses..
In other case's it because they can.. Loadsa money..
Others will happily go 15 or 20 years before they'll think about rerigging.
I am often amused when someone posts they have just bought a 20+ year old boat and are planning on crossing the Atlantic or whatever.. this is usually greeted by multiple posts saying fit new standing/running rigging, rebuild engine and other silly (to me) must do's..
Makes one realise why people hire delivery skippers.. we're cheaper than the refit..
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Old 12-02-2021, 11:48   #4
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

The issue with stainless steel rigging wires and other stainless steel parts is that for all practical purposes it is not possible to inspect an aging system and confirm that it is still in satisfactory condition within original design load specifications

Therefore, it is a crapshoot on when to replace the wires. Conservative sailors use 10 to 15 years for rigs used in salt water. Rigs used less, in less salty water, and in colder water all last longer. How much longer? I don't know. I do know tht all smart sailors who cross oceans and count on their boats to stay alive are by nature conservative.

When ever the topic of when to replace rigging comes up, there will soon be somebody posting here who claims they have rigging that is 40 years old and they have no plans to replace it anytime soon. Reminds me of the old George Carlin joke, "I'm planning on living forever.... So far... so good!"
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Old 12-02-2021, 12:19   #5
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

A lot depends on the original stainless quality. It is correct, itís very difficult to determine the condition of wire IF it looks ok under magnification. Not where it enters a fitting...thatís the usual problem spot. If you are asking the question not just about the wire, but about everything...the terminal fittings, the mast attachments, the rigging screws...I donít think itís possible to say that that rig has X or Y number of years and therefore replace it. Neither can you say itís only a few years old so there is nothing to worry about.
I was in a boatyard recently and stopped to look at the stainless anchor chain hanging down. I guessed it once was the very best quality but even without a magnifying lense, it was easy to see the pitting. If you pull apart lots of Norsemen fittings, you learn you cannot judge the interior by the exterior.
Go to a good rigger or two riggers and have them look over things. Itís always interesting to get a few professional opinions . Maybe post some pictures but I think itís best to see it in person. Please remember to pay them even if you donít like what they have to say. Please let the readers here know as much as possible as well about the history of the vessel and rig and where you intend to sail.
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Old 12-02-2021, 15:54   #6
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

My two cents - 18 years after replacing the chainplates and (rod) rigging I decided my rigging had reached its end of life because I am planning an extended period of offshore voyaging again where reliability of rigging is crucial since I will be in remote areas without ability to replace broken rigging, and regardless, who wants their mast coming down in mid-ocean? Manufacturer says rigging is only good for 15 years. But I thought the chainplates would be fine, so I planned to remove and have them inspected by a pro, and then reinstalled.

So, we disassembled all the interior joinery to access the chainplates and what we found was shocking - something like 15% of all the bolts just sheared the heads off when we tried to remove them. They looked fine visually, except for some surface rust, but even a small amount of pressure from a wrench and snap. Two chainplates had cracks in them visible to the naked eye - one of them almost completed traversed the width of the chainplate, and on one of them the crack was at the top-most bolt-hole!

I dont know much about wire and how long it lasts, but chainplates I can tell you from experience need to be inspected regularly and at minimum, X-rayed if you are unsure, or just replaced after 10-15 years. I replaced them all. The value of the peace of mind cannot be underestimated.

FYI. For rod rigging, its the rod-head at the ends which bears the force, and I had read a lot about how you could cut off the head and re-head the rod. However, in my case they examined several rod-ends (I am not sure what equipment was used but not with the naked eye) and found hairline cracks in the rod itself, after which they convinced me not to try and re-head the rods and just replace it.
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Old 12-02-2021, 19:07   #7
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

The Insurance requirement seems to come up over and over... I have NEVER had an insurance company even bring it up, at all. How many here have had them ask? (without asking)
Even if they did ask they wouldn't be smart enough to question chainplates.

Just curious? ... maybe it's the latest thing...
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Old 12-02-2021, 19:59   #8
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
The Insurance requirement seems to come up over and over... I have NEVER had an insurance company even bring it up, at all. How many here have had them ask? (without asking)
Even if they did ask they wouldn't be smart enough to question chainplates.

Just curious? ... maybe it's the latest thing...
I had a client who had his entire 18 year old rig replaced in 2020 with all new components, EXCEPT the forestay, because the previous owner didn't want to deal with the furling gear.

My client's insurance company was happy to insure the whole boat--with the exception of the rig, until the forestay was changed. So yes it is "A THING."

The thing is, insurance companies are smart enough to know that you can not inspect an old rig and be SURE it is OK. It's actually a very rare insurance company who will write a policy covering "agreed value, all risk, latent defect, and inherent vice" on a rig older than 15 years.
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Old 13-02-2021, 03:05   #9
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

as far as i know, no insurance companies in australia will cover rig if same is more than 10 yrs old.

you can argue if you like but more success arguing with wife about mother in law...

as you cannot use any marina or boatyard here without insurance, there is a lot of 10 yo rigging going to recycling.

personally i don't have a problem with it. s/s work hardens and rigging is extremely difficult to check. if i'm 1000nm from land, the less i have to worry about the better...

why take the risk ?

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Old 13-02-2021, 03:27   #10
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

During the span of 32 years owning my last boat, I replaces selected pieces of my 16 total stays and shrouds on three occasions, but inspected them regularly. I also removed and inspected my 8 chain plates and replaced one. Admittedly I did cruise coastal and avoided heavy weather, but I did use my boat often and almost continuously from 2002 to 2017.
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Old 13-02-2021, 05:24   #11
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

And what about the idea of switching from stainless wire to galvanized wire rigging?
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Old 13-02-2021, 10:28   #12
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

With stranded stainless the failure is due to metall fatigue, which depends to stretching and bending forces it has sufferd and how often and how long. Depends also of course on the quality of the steel plus the manufacturing process of the cable. It is sure difficult to keep track of that as well as to look inside the stays. But, failure never occurs at once and completly, single external strands start to unravel, which can be seen. So, if it is left to Your decision, just have some spare feet cable plus some wireclamps on board, so when individual strands start unraveling, You can bridge/repair, and You are warned that a replacement of Your standing rigging might be recomendable in the near future.

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Old 13-02-2021, 10:49   #13
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

If my mast and rigging are off the boat four months of a year and stored in a shed, than I should get 15 seasons before my rig has been used for "10 years".

No?
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Old 13-02-2021, 10:53   #14
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

People that leave their mast standing when their ship is on the hard subject their fittings and stays to much more cyclic loading. I would think that this causes metal fatigue and shorten the life of their standing rigging.
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Old 13-02-2021, 11:06   #15
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Re: Standing Rigging Replacement - How Frequently?

Before I left Puget Sound to head north on the inside passage on my sloop, a few years ago, my insurance company asked me hire a rigger to do a rigging inspection. My last survey and out of the water was 12 years prior at my purchase time. The rigger wrote a one page letter OK'ing what he found and all was well.
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