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Check that rigging!


This month we focus on doing a visual inspection of what keeps your mast(s) standing upright on your sailboat–—the rigging.


By Jack and Alex Wilken In this article we will not be


attempting an in-depth explanation of sailboat rigging or solutions to all things you may encounter. Our primary concern is inspecting the chain of hardware that provides fore ‘n aft (from bow to stern) and athwart ships (across the boat from side to side) support for your mast. We will start from the deck up and cover chain plates, turnbuckles, clevis and rigging pins, wirerope, spreaders for the shrouds, lower and upper wirerope terminals, ending finally with the tangs at the top of the mast. Each one of these pieces of hardware will show specific signs if they are in need of attention. Some of the tools which may be useful in your inspection are as follows: a 50x to 100x magnifying glass, a boatswains chair for going up the mast, polishing and metal cleaning materials, toilet paper (Yes, you read correctly!), a cotter pin puller—one of our favorites (left), side cutters, needle nose pliers, along with wrenches, screw drivers and punches that fit in the holes in turnbuckles, etc.


Metal chainplates (CP) are bolted


to the boat so that shrouds and stays can support the masts. They can be


” ”


Figure 1: Crack in deck where chainplate passes through.


48° NORTH, JULY 2011 PAGE 34


anchored to the hull directly by thru- bolts or bolted to bulkheads or some other structural member. If they pass through the deck, you should inspect for cracks in the gelcoat, paint, wood, or


metal decking. (Figure 1) Discoloration from rust warrants a closer look. The fastenings below decks should be properly seated and not show any signs of rust or distortion. All bolt and clevis pin holes should be round and have undistorted edges. Inspect down below for any signs of rust or water leaking and running down the CP or in the surrounding area. This may indicate localized corrosion that can lead to failure. (Figure 2) Turnbuckles are made in both


closed and open barrel varieties. Closed turnbuckles need to have a minimum of 1.5 times their thread diameter of engaged threads. (Figure 3) Open turnbuckles need the threads to enter the barrel enough to be secured by a cotter pin or ring. Check


Figure 2: The broken chainplate was the victim of corrosion. Notice it broke above the hole.


Figure 3: Turnbuckle threads should have a minimum of 1.5 times their of diameter engaged for closed barrels and enough threads engaged to insert a cotter pin or ring for open barrels.


Figure 4: Turnbuckle needs to be free to move in fore ‘n aft and athwart ships to prevent damage.


to make sure that both the upper and lower threads on your turnbuckle turn easily. It should be noted that if the threads are stainless to stainless do not continue to tighten or loosen these if they begin to be harder to turn or heat up as they can readily gall. This can result in the turnbuckle freezing up completely. If this starts, cool it down by using water, for example, slow down and lubricate. The suggested lubricants should contain molybdenum disulfide (known as ‘moly’ for short),


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