Forestay Built From Scratch

Well, not from scratch exactly.  I purchased the end terminals and wire and assembled the stay, which is definitely more expensive than having a stay made up by a rigger with swaged terminals.  However, as I gradually replace rigging wire, I want to replace each piece with shrouds and stays that I built with Sta-Lok fittings.  I want the knowledge and skill required to re-rig without having to hire out work to a rigging shop, and the expensive terminal fittings are reusable.

I learned some interesting things during a phone call to riggingonly.com.  Tom was very helpful and knew all the products, sizes, and orthodoxy like the back of his hand.  I had questions for him regarding sizing of eyes and pins, because what I found on my rig didn’t make sense:

  • 1/2″ eye at the masthead
  • 7/16″ stemhead pin hole on bow chainplate with 1/2″ toggle on the old Harken furler (which I did not reinstall)

Why were they different?  Tom suspects that when the boat was built, the rigging contractor didn’t talk to the builder or designer, so there were some missed cues and make-dos.  Tom feels like the rig should have been designed with 3/16″ wire – and most of it was – except for the forestay and backstay: these are 1/4″.  Apparently 1/4″ wire typically called for larger 7/16″ eyes, but the boat was already built with 3/8″ chainplates. . .  so there was a make-do fashioned, and it turned out okay – after all, the rig has stood without mishap for 34 years as designed.  Best rigging design, however, matches pinhole with pin size exactly.  Why 1/2″ eye at the masthead?  Not sure.  It didn’t match anything up there (7/16″ toggle and pin). And it turns out that simply using a different toggle to up-size the was the wrong approach too.  Not knowing that, I asked about reusing the toggle, but Tom said different wire size required a larger turnbuckle, and a different sized toggle.  Not only do the pinholes and pins have to match exactly, so do the toggles for the same reason: point loading or stress risers where the size is mismatched will weaken the ultimate strength of the stay or shroud at the terminal fitting. Instead of the mismatched pins and eyes, I will now have 7/16″ pins and eyes at the mast and stem on new 1/4″ wire.

Assembling the stay was fairly straightforward.  I installed the eye fitting on one end of the wire after reading the instructions several times, plus consulting other on-line resources.

Tools and materials needed for installing Sta-Lock eye. Pretty simple stuff.

Tools and materials needed for installing Sta-Lock eye. Pretty simple stuff.

Push male threaded body onto wire, then unlay the outer strands of the wire.

Push male threaded body onto wire, then unlay the outer strands of the wire.

I’m realizing now that I didn’t take enough photos. . .  that’s the danger of being a reporter/blogger and project doer at the same time – I get too involved in the project to take the correct kind of photos to complete the sequence.  The next photo should have been of the wire loosely unlayed around the cone.  Unlaying the wire isn’t easy.  It’s stiff and stubborn, and you don’t want to completely bend it all out of whack – you will have to relay the wire around a small conical fitting that slides over the core of the wire, so it’s best to keeps the general direction of the lay of the outer layer.

Here you can see the re-layed wire around the cone and the fitting slide up towards the end of the wire.

Here you can see the re-layed wire around the cone and the fitting slide up towards the end of the wire.

There is a slot in the cone that allows it to compress as the body of the fitting is screwed on.  It must remain clear of the outer strands – that is, a strand shouldn’t lay right into the slot, because that will keep the slot from compressing closed.

The body has been filled with sealant (Boatlife polysulfide caulk), and the threads of the body are treated with Lock-tight to prevent galling and secure the fitting against working loose.

The body has been filled with sealant (Boatlife polysulfide caulk), and the threads of the body are treated with Lock-tight to prevent galling and secure the fitting against working loose.

After I had the eye installed, I could measure against the two old forestays I had, so as to cut to proper length.

All three nailed to the covering board on the bulkhead.

All three nailed to the covering board on the seawall bulkhead. The wires are then straightened and stretched to length, and I marked the new wire.

There was an inch discrepancy between the two old forestays.  I split the difference with the new one.

There was an inch discrepancy between the two old forestays. I split the difference with the new one.

Carefully comparing lengths and judging how much wire will be inside the body of the fitting.

Carefully comparing lengths and judging how much wire will be inside the body of the fitting.

Assembly of the turnbuckle stud-end of the wire.

Assembly of the turnbuckle stud-end of the wire.

Finished wire, ready to install on rig.

Finished wire, ready to install on rig.

Altogether, this took about two hours, because I didn’t know what I was doing.  Had I to do many more, I would have gotten a lot quicker.  I am also confident in the strength of the fitting.  The design is such that is impossible to pull the wire out of the fitting.  It just can’t happen.  I think the most difficult part is unlaying, and re-laying the wire to properly form around the cone.  But it’s not hard, just a bit fiddly.

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19 comments
  1. I like your reasoning for using the Sta-Lock fittings. When the time comes for me to replace my standing rigging I would probably go the same route based on what youre doing here. Nice write-up. Thanks for sharing the info.

    • Nice to hear from you! I see you are in Mobjack for now – hope you’re having a great time on the water.
      For some reason, this project involved more fear than I normally experience when starting something I don’t know how to do. That, and the crumby spring weather this year, made me procrastinate a long time before starting it.

  2. Thanks for taking such great care of our boat, Honey!

    • The pay-off is when we cast off together. I love cruising with you!

  3. Good show, Rick. Fun stuff to learn. Greg W.

    • Though I didn’t credit you in the article, Greg, I did look at your photos and description of the assembly process on google-plus. Thanks for your very clear and insightful instructions!

  4. As usual, Rick, Well Done!

    bob
    s/v Eolian
    Anacortes

  5. Looks great, I have the same issue with taking pics, I get too involved with the project and I miss an important bit.

    • Yeah, I don’t realize it until I go to write the post, and find that the next logical, clarifying photo. . . doesn’t exist.

  6. Jimmy said:

    Rick I’m doing the exact same stay replacement with the same fittings. I wish I would have read this a few days ago. I bought the right fittings for the wire size and new turnbuckles but neglected to measure the pin holes and pin size of my chainplates. I believe I ordered the largest sizes for the wire. (1/4″ wire to 1/2″ stud 1/2″ turnbuckle, and 1/4″ x 1/2″ eye terminal) I assumed I could simply use a smaller pin with a larger head if plates needed. Lazy on my part and it may cost me $$. I’ll let you know if I lucked out or have to scrap the eyes already fitted to the cable. Any suggestions?? Any way around if Im off pin/hole sizes? Thanks. Purchase from Riggingonly as well but didnt ask the right questions.

    Jimmy

    • Jimmy said:

      …did the same thing for the backstay. 3/16 wire x 3/8 eye, 3/8 stud terminal, and 3/8 turnbuckle. Only bother confirming the wire was 3/16.

      • Jimmy said:

        I have Dufour Arpege 30. 3/16 backstays (two), 1/4 Fore, 7/32 shrouds (six). It was re rigged it may not be original spec. I am doing the back and fore first and have only fitted the top ends so far. I’m out 100.00 if I have to scrap the three fittings. I have extra wire so can stand to lose the inches if needed.

      • Well, if the fittings are undamaged, you might be able to exchange them. The only part you can’t reuse (I mean restock as well) would be the cones and former on the inside. If the eye and stud terminals are scratched or look used, you may be out of luck. I would call Rigging Only and ask them. You may be pleasantly surprised – they are a very service-oriented business.

      • Jimmy said:

        Thanks. Nice blog and nice work. I found this by searching “sta-lok threads showing” :-). I have 2-3 threads showing on the 1/4″ but only 1 thread on the 3/16 fittings. I feel better about it all now.

      • Jimmy, it took me a night of sleep to figure out I wasn’t happy with the assembly of the terminal showing 5 threads. I just knew there was something wrong. Finally had a look down inside the fitting and saw the problem. Helped me understand how the fitting worked too. Now it makes much better sense, and the byproduct of that is that my trust in the strength of the fitting is very high.

    • I would not mis-match the eye and pin sizes. That seems to be a critical element of strength for the rig, from what the pros tell me, and what I have read about it.

      • Jimmy said:

        Update: I made it out to my Dufour today and I am in luck. Out of the 3 pin sizes of studs/eyes/turnbuckles sold on riggingonly for my wire size, I happened to choose the correct size. It was a great lesson learned for free. After more research, sailing magazine says the first step to replacing your own rigging is to determine the pin size and match it perfectly :-) . Glad I found your page before I ordered the remaining shrouds. I would have gotten that wrong. The shroud chainplates are 1/2 inch and i was going to order 7/16 arbitrarily. I also learned about point loading and why thats bad :-) thanks again.

      • Sounds like you were on the right track anyway, Jimmy. You would have gotten it sorted with very little backtracking, but I’m glad this helped you confirm your suspicions. I’m similarly glad that I never had a rig failure with my mismatched pin sizes at the masthead. Whoever set up the roller furler several decades back made that pin/hole error and I didn’t catch it until this time around.

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