‘T’ Terminals, ‘T’ Balls, Gibb Hooks, Shroud Terminals, and Lollipop Fittings are just some of the nicknames for these special fittings. I would just like to take a minute to address the different terms associated with these fittings; their uses and misuses.
It appears that many boats in today’s sailboat market use these types of fittings. Although there are few instances of where there is a problem, I believe many of these “T” type fittings aren’t being used in their appropriate application. I like to use the ‘T’ Terminal or Gibb Hook (no longer in production) specifically for articulating stays, like running back-stays or removable stay-sail stays. These are always to be rigged in conjunction with special rubber plugs (pictured left) which ensure that the stay won’t become dislodged aloft. For side shrouds it is recommended to use the preferred Shroud or Lollipop Terminal (pictured below left) instead of the ‘T’ Ball or Gibb Hook. Even though some boats do, never should any of these stays be used for a head-stay or forestay of any sort (at least not in my opinion). Additionally, it is really hard to hang/ rig any furler that uses this type of fitting.
With all off that in mind, there are few different manufacturers worth discussing. Hayn, BSI and Alexander Roberts Co., all make their version (s) of the ‘T’ terminal.
~Now, it is almost possible to fit any ‘T’ terminal into any tang/ backing plate, but buyers beware! Not all ‘T’ terminals are created equally.
As a general rule, we think you should always use the backing plate made specifically for the terminal that you have chosen to use. Having said that, the use of some common sense goes a long way here; test fit the ‘T’ terminal into the tang and make sure you are comfortable with the fit and the seat of the fitting. So, although the Alexander Roberts ‘T’ Terminals look a lot like the Gibb ‘T’ terminals, some will vary slightly in throat/shank diameter, shank angle, head width, and even the height of the head. I recommend fitting each terminal in the corresponding backing plate/tang before swaging or making the mechanical portion. Sometimes a little grinding and polishing of the ‘T’ head is necessary to make them fit. Sometimes an entirely different manufacturer will need to be used. Just be sure to figure this out before you begin to make the stay, it will make your life a lot easier.
To inspect ‘T’ terminals or Lollipop Fittings you need to look at the two natural weak points; at the bend or the ‘arm-pit’ of the fitting (pictured right), and also where the wire exits the swage.
“Where the wire exits the swage is a typical weak point for all swages.”
Especially with ‘T’ Terminals this can be an issue as the shank has a specific angle to which it is bent, this angle may vary based on manufacturer. The fitting will not allow for much (or any) deviation from this pre-setangle. Sometimes it may be necessary to go aloft and bend the terminal down to the appropriate angle once the mast has been stepped. This practice is okay as long as you only do it once and don’t bend it back and forth too often. Leaving it at an unfair angle will surely result in shroud damage or failure.
Lastly, as always, see your local rigger for more tips and tricks before making any decisions you are unsure of before hand. At The Rigging Company, questions are always free of charge.
Thanks for the read, talk to you again soon!