I looked at all riggings available when it came time to re-rig our self-rebuilt Solaris 42 ketch catamaran
Sta-Lok was the strongest and best engineered of the options. We live on a remote
island where swaging is only available to 6m. So the DIY aspect was important factor since we needed larger sizes. Living and working in remote Alaska
taught the importance of self-reliance.
One of the problems we faced was that our shrouds fit into the mast via swaged T-slots. The other masthead fittings were not a problem because Sta-Lok made and stocked the necessary eye and fork fittings.
I spoke to Sta-Lok in Essex, England
about the problem and they would produce the swaged fittings onto the chosen wires but this was no real advantage.
Fortunately we have a top stainless welder and engineer
on the island and took his advice
. In the end I was able to cut the old forks off the old turnbuckles. These were then butt welded to the old Tee masthead fittings cut from the old swaged wire joint. Welded butt fittings are stronger than the Sta-Loks and the wires.
With this system I was able to have lengths of rigging with Sta-Lok at both ends. I bought reels of the two wire sizes and Sta-Lok fittings.
There is one major caveat with this system. Since you have Sta-Lok at both ends of the wire it is imperative you have normal right handed threads at BOTH ends of each wire. That way any attempt by fittings to turn loose under strain will be countered by the opposite twist at the other end.
If you had right hand thread at top and left hand at bottom the whole rig could get away with disastrous consequences.
Left hand threads are marked with a red sticker on Sta-Lok turnbuckles. Make sure these are always at the bottom.
I am a bit doubtful of the barrel fittings that I chose because they rely on tightening via a cylindrical bar (not provided) through turnbuckle centre. I am not happy with that arrangement since it is not always possible to find a suitable bar in a hurry. So I asked Sta-Lok to put wrench flats in the centre of all my turnbuckles. I am pleased to say they did this for me at no extra expense save for return postage.
I also put tightening nuts at both ends of the turn buckles.
So now I can tighten my turnbuckles against two wrenches very quickly with bog standard wrenches from my tool box.
But being a belt and braces man, I also put a few turns of stainless wire through the slots and holes in the turnbuckle shaft. This just means one has to line up the hole in the threaded shaft with the slot so the wire will go through easily.
The whole system had to be tensioned and checked after a couple of sea trips to get everything balanced. I used a 4ft level to make sure the masts were both at the same angle and vertical. It was easy to cut the wire with a thin stainless cutting disk on board with the rotary cutter
. I trimmed the wire edges smooth to get rid of burs the same way. I filled the fittings with marine grease and tightened the Sta-Loks till the grease came out. There is no need to over tighten.
When wires were shortened after use, it was easy to replace the cones with spares kept on board. It is fairly simply procedure. There is a slot in the cones that allows compression on tightening. This cone is the heart of the system and puts the wire under huge pressure through its two tapered surfaces. So it is important to make sure a wire strand (one of 19) does not get into the slot. It is not difficult to keep out since the slot runs up and down while the wire twists across.
We have tested these now over several years in quite strong blows with no problem. It is a delight to be able to fix one’s own rigging wherever we happen to be.
We were out having a fantastic sail when by genoa roller furling motor
broke its shaft. We were trying to reef in the genny to enter a harbour in a busy shipping
channel. I could not budge the rod furler
manually from the bow either. So being unable to wind
the genny round the forestay, I had to roll the boat around the sail. With the rudder
hard to starboard, one engine
in forward the other reverse my wife and I wound the genoa
up. We must have looked an idiotic sight going round in tight circles through 6 foot waves in a hard blow. But necessity is the mother of invention and it did the job.
I later found the rod furler
had been put on to tighten in the wrong direction. It was designed to reef tighten against an internal thread against a cone bearing. But it was put on to furl that way and the whole pressure for reefing was against a cotter pin. The result was the shaft broke at the cotter pin. That jammed up the whole thing. Otherwise the furler built in 1975 in Southampton
was in perfect shape with its gears pristine in a sealed oil
However the same engineer
that did the stainless was able to make a new shaft out of stainless. We improved the thrust bearing and oil seal
arrangement and the over-engineered furler has a new lease
of life along with the Sta-Lok fittings.
I hope this helps.