Rod Rigging

Wally Day Sailor

    In the world of sailboat standing rigging there are three common materials used, stainless steel wire, Nitronic 50 rod, and various types of synthetic fibers, which are becoming more and more popular. I want to talk today about Nitronic 50 stainless steel rod. This specific type of stainless steel is very strong and noble. Rod rigging can provide lower stretch, less windage and reduced weight characteristics than its wire counterparts.

So if your boat is equipped with rod rigging, what maintenance schedule should one adhere to? In order to maintain your rod rigging or any rigging for that matter, it is highly recommended to simply wash and rinse the hardware with soap and water. This in itself      can make a big difference in its longevity. Mast Being unstepped!

The general guidelines for rod head inspection and service are 40,000 – 60,000 miles or 6 years, whichever comes first. Rods, tangs and fittings, generally should be replaced once the rig exceeds 120,ooo NM. This is a generalization that will vary by geographical region and use. Typically (at least in my experience) one will find that they reach the 6 year mark before the 60,000 miles. The rod head service is extremely important and should not be overlooked. In order to inspect/service your rod the mast will need to be un-stepped.

cracked rod head

Rod heads are made by a hydraulic cold press machine that utilizes a series of dies, clamps and rams to press a head onto the rod. The rod heads are responsible for keeping the fitting from slipping off. The rods themselves can last a very, very long time. Much longer than the expected life span of wire. This is due primarily to the type of metal used, how it is treated, and also the construction characteristics of the wire vs that of the rod. Rod cold heads however, are prone to cracking and should go no longer than 6 years without being serviced.

G100 eye dimpled fitting

Typically Rod Marine Eyes Get Dimpled!

With some type of rod fittings the head can easily be accessed, cleaned up and inspected for cracking. However, other types of fittings will be dimpled to lock the fitting and can therefore not be undone to be inspected. In this case you will need to replace the fitting as well as the head for a satisfactory inspection. This does not necessarily mean the rod needs to be replaced. The length lost will be minimal and is usually within the throw of a turnbuckle.

Navtec Rod Stud

Rod Studs Also Typically are Dimpled!

There are instances where the entire rod will need replacing. If the rod has been damaged, bent or kinked, one should replace it. Navtec guidelines talk about it being acceptable to bend the rod back only once if the bend isn’t too severe. Personally, I would get it replaced, because I don’t like ‘if’s’.

Navtec Spreader Bends

Aluminum Spreader Bend

Another situation that would call for rod replacement, is when a head needs to be replaced aloft on a shroud which utilizes a spreader bend. A spreader bend is an aluminum or stainless sleeve that is slipped onto the rod before heading and is bent in place to a designated angle at the point where the rod intersects the out board spreader end. As there is no turnbuckle at the top end of a stay (at least not typically, that would be weird), the loss of length can not be made up. In other words the spreader angle would no longer be the same. Lastly, you would need to replace any rod that simply does not have enough length for re-heading. This is rare but can happen especially if the rod has been re-headed several times.

Navtec C550 Rig Screw Style Turnbuckle

Navtec C550 Rig Screw Style Turnbuckle

Regarding terminals, if using a rigging screw type turnbuckle (see picture) make sure your rigger knows to replace the screw itself. These are also very prone to fatigue and aging. A good school of thought here is, any terminals that look extremely old and worn should be replaced. This should be evaluated on a case by case bases. Remember, it is always recommended to seek the advice of a professional. At least at The Rigging Company, advice is always FREE of charge.

Read here for more info from Navtec on how to maintain your rig!

Have a question or a comment? Just drop us a line below and we will reply.


P.S. –  If you have these tangs aloft ( old model C&C owners), you should have them checked by your local rigger. Certain older models have been deemed unsafe! – Ask us for details.

Posted in Annapolis Sailing, Baltimore Sailing, Cruisers, Modern Yachts, Product Review, Racers, Rigging, Tech Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dongfeng Troubles

Team Brunel BLASt into the lead!

With the usual suspects, Team Brunel, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Donfeng Racing, atop the leader board; the Chinese team lost a halyard. This snag led to a night time trip aloft (eeeek!) and a position loss. 3rd place is currently being held by Mapfre, but with only 7NM as a buffer, the Turkish entry will need to work hard to stay in front.

Translation Tip: I am fairly certain that when the Chinese Team’s French teammates say “G”1, they mean “J”1….it’s a French thing. ;-0)

As far as the leader board is concerned, going north proved beneficial for one of the two boats and disastrous for the other. Team Brunel is currently putting on a clinic and enjoying their monstrous 55NM lead. Team SCA, the other team that went north, really needs to figure out something. The all girl team is trailing behind the entire fleet in typical fashion and making losses instead of gains. I would really like to see the girls do better on one of these legs. Come on Team SCA, step it up!

Posted in Around the World, Incredible ocean, Maritime News, Modern Yachts, Racers, Sailing, Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clear to Tack?

What are the options when considering a boat that tacks its own sails from one point-of-sail to another. Newer boats are being designed a bit more mast forward, with taller masts and bigger mainsails. These newer designs are predominately main driven and implement a smaller self-tending jib (shown below), which helps with pointing when going upwind. If you can swing it financially, this is a great option for ease of use in single handed sailing.

New Sailboat with self tending jibHowever, for the rest of us folks who have slightly older boats; we may have or can have, what some like to call a cutter style sloop, or simply a mast with more than one forestay. This style of boat will utilize a smaller a non-overlapping headsail, flown from the Stay-sail stay or the Solent stay. The problem is, unless it is really blowing the boat is mostly under-powered if using this small jib.

Cutter rigged sailboatLastly there are the old cat boats which have been around since the 1840’s. This style of boat skips the foresail all together and makes single handing a manageable experience. These boats however lack upwind performance as-well-as sail options for downwind sailing.

Cat rigged boat

Presenting a solution for ALL Marconi (Bermudian) rigged boats with overlapping foresails. Watch this!!!

Although new winch technology offers winches that spin both ways from other manufacturers like Harken and Selden, only Lewmar has designed a switch system that will allow one winch to ease while the other trims… sync, all via a single button. Hence self tacking is no longer for boats with small foresails. Yes, this is new technology but I can’t wait to try one of these myself. The future of sailing is about to take the next step.

Want to know more? Give us a call and read more here. Thanks for the read and bye for now…


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