I finally had time and inclination to address my furler and headstay. Good news: I was able to disassemble the entire mechanism. I was also finally able to expose the entire lower headstay fitting. My method was a bit unconventional, but much more effective than trying to disassemble the last piece of headstay foil – a task I’ve found completely impossible in the past. The problem with the foil is that it’s at least 20 years old, fastened together with SS screws into the aluminum extrusion, and regularly bathed in saltwater. The SS and aluminum have become “uni-metal” – so corroded and frozen together the only possible remedy would be to drill out the screws. This is a perilous procedure with the thin aluminum extrusion. So having a good 18 inches of room to slide the stay and fitting up the extrusion before being stopped by the extrusion linking piece, I simply cut off 3 inches of extrusion. This exposed the entire fitting and 2 inches of wire.
As you can see in the photos, I can now cut off the eye fitting at the top of the stay and use the wire as a messenger for the new rigging wire. I now have room below the extrusion to install a Sta Lock fitting. Once the wire is led through the extrusion and fittings installed, I’ll be able to reassemble the furler, and it will be ready to reattach to the mast and stem. I’ll build the stay, reassemble the furler, and stow the assembly on deck for transport across the creek when I haul out in December, then reattach when the rig is down for other work and inspection. The upshot is, I’ll be able to retain the furler without converting back to hanked on sails, though having sails that hank on is still attractive to me. . .
For anyone’s curiosity, and my own documentation of the furler assembly, here are photos of it in various states of being taken apart.
An interesting discovery regarding clevis pin sizes and eye-fitting dimension: pin size at the stem is 5/8″ for the furler, but the old original stay was 1/2″. And of course, the stem fitting accepted 5/8″ too – that’s a heavy cast aluminum part. Why the change? More curiously, the masthead pin was 1/2″ for the furler, but 5/8″ on the old stay. . . Huh? Did someone in the rigging shop get confused?
Here’s a bit more serious question: Should both fitting eyes be 5/8″ since both masthead and stem are sized for that? I’ve read that pin and hole diameter should match. I’ll have to do some more research before I order and size replacement parts. I do know this: the furler as installed lasted 20-plus years with the pins sized as noted.
And finally, as far as I can see, the current headstay and fittings are in perfect shape. It’s the stuff you can’t see that’s the most worrisome: work-hardening, internal corrosion, broken filaments inside the extrusion.