Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

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Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby tomodda » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:46 pm

Help Please!

My journey with DS #37 continues, lots of tweaking, sailing on weekends or after work and doing rigging changes/improvements during the week. Time to tackle my biggest rigging issue - and I'll admit it's a "first world problem" - I can't hoist my mainsail all the way to top of mast! It gets stuck aprox 6 inches from the top. Since I'm not racing, I just downhaul the boom and don't sweat it, but 1) it annoys me and 2) limits the space for my boom vang, cunningham line, etc. Besides, it's not class-legal, I have the gooseneck about 6-7 inches below Band #2 - OK, so I'm sweating it a LITTLE! I'd like to fix it, preferably without major surgery or expense.

I know why it gets stuck - simple, the halyard gets jammed into the top of the mast track. I have a single-sheave masthead, rather than the usual two-sheave masthead, so the loaded side (aft, tied to the sail) of the halyard doesn't clear the back of the mast enough and when the sail is near the top... jams. Here's the masthead, laid down sideways for trailering, with my "Road Safety Bandanna" to safeguard against automotive impalement, and yes, I've since replaced my raggedy-old halyard with Sta-Set:

IMG_20181110_153031.jpg
Masthead
IMG_20181110_153031.jpg (58.89 KiB) Viewed 845 times


See that "shelf" at the top of the mainsail track? That's where is jams. Last year it even jammed while I was sailing, I had to take the mast down with the main still on it! Simple fellow that I am, I took a champagne cork, cut it in half and shoved it into the top of the track:

IMG_20181110_153036.jpg
Cork
IMG_20181110_153036.jpg (50.24 KiB) Viewed 845 times


Which works fine to keep it from jamming while I'm sailing, but not enough to raise the sail those final 6 inches. What should I do? I'm thinking aloud here, I see several alternatives:

1) Obvious one is put a double-sheave head on the mast, I even have one! But, my mast section is non-standard, this is boat #37 and it has an original Zephyr spar...skinnier and deeper than what Rudy sells or the old Proctor masts. So, major mods to go this route.

2) Put a really large sheave on the masthead? It has a 2 inch diameter sheave now, there is plenty of space for a 4" diameter sheave, this may get the top of the halyard far enough away from the track to let me lift the main.

3) Put a better "slug" at the top of the mast. Metal, not cork, have it protrude a bit above the top of the track and bench-grind the edges of it down a bit to avoid catching.

4) Put a "gate" around top of mast, some sort of of aluminum band at the very top, closing off top of track. But I'm afraid of chafing the halyard if I do that.

5) Skinnier rope - use 1/8 inch dyneema/amsteel and splice it to my Sta-Set. Not too expensive, but it's a tough splice! Double bury, amsteel into the core, cover into the amsteel. But something to do while waiting for September winds.....

6) Grind out the top 3 inches or so of the track, make it wider so rope doesn't bind. By 3" I mean about 1/2 the length of the headboard of my mainsail. Seems that it should work, but.. but... but... grinding is forever, I cant undo this if I'm wrong and grinding creates heat, which is bad for anodized aluminum. Still, I DO love my angle grinder, simple fix for simple problem.

7) Better technique - I've got two mainsails (luck me!), one is newer and has a rope luff, the older one has slugs. Both are going to be replaced "eventually" but in the meantime, use the one with slugs and be careful to not overtension the halyard as I raise the main. Feed, pull, feed, pull, etc. But that doesn't help me for the last 6 inches, does it? I have to yank hard there and it jams.

So, what do you think? Opinions on my crazy ideas? Any better ideas? Right now, I'm partial to option #3, I just have to source a bit of aluminum rod.

Thank you for reading,

Tom
tomodda
 
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby GreenLake » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:17 pm

Instead of a champagne cork, use some of the 2-component plumbers putty in stick form (the one you break off a piece and knead it for a while and afterwards it gets rock hard). Can't think of the name of it right now. If worried about chafe, get a short strip of stainless steel sheet metal (most h/w stores sell these in their misc. metals section). Use that to provide the surface the halyard travels on. It's low friction and if the halyard rubs along it mostly parallel w/o corners or sharp angles, I suspect it'll be fine.

Advantage: if it doesn't work right away, it's easy to do over.

You can do a larger sheave as well.

Those are my immediate thoughts, although for the life of me I can't picture why this problems should happen at the end of the hoist when whatever angle the halyard has to the mast should be the widest . . .
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby tomodda » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:59 pm

GL"

Great idea, and I have a tube of plumber's putty in my toolbox (somewhere!), I'll go with that. I have enough odd bits of stainless floating around, I'll cut a little strip and put it over the putty. Thank you!

I also could not imagine why the halyard only binds when I'm almost at the top (narrower angle). I think it's cuz I'm 100% pulling up the sail with the halyard at that point, not feeding it in from bottom at all. Too much force. I know for sure that it's jammed at the top because I did a test hoist in my driveway, by a second-floor window so I could see what's going on relatively up close. Go figure. As I always say, sailing is a "Game of Inches."

In the meantime, I'm finally biting the bullet - in the middle of low-wind summer season! - and rigging a jib halyard tensioner. Sick of scallops. I'll post a photo once done.

Tom
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby GreenLake » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:08 pm

Re: jib halyard tensioner. Mine is working well - just need to add a better cleat (hardware purchased, waiting for a rainy spell to end). I opted for a Prusik loop to connect; that does work, but only if the loop is holding against the splice where the Dyneema goes to the double braid tail. This limits how far I can lower the jib by a foot or so, but I can live with that. The "hook" as a quick disconnect works well. Has shown no signs of coming off when not intended and is so much easier than a shackle. Looking forward to seeing your solution.
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby GreenLake » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:09 pm

Also, waiting to hear how your main halyard works out. And, lucky man you, with a handy second story window :)
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby tomodda » Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:53 am

Just finishing out this conversation, main halyard is MUCH better now. I didn't use plumber's putty, instead I put a appropriately-sized aluminum rod in the slot at the very top, with two screw holes tapped through it crosswise to hold it in place - the screws jam against the inside of the track. Once again, I probably overcomplicated it, but I already had the aluminum rod in my junk drawer. It's easy enough to cut and tap and I wanted something that I can adjust. In my limited testing, I can get the mains'l all the way to the top of the track. A bit of outhaul, a tug on my boom downhaul and wow! my old blown-out sail doesn't look so bad anymore - smooth curves, no wrinkles.

Now all I need is for the air temps to get back to reasonable so I can sail without boiling. Storm front coming in tonight, 20+ knot winds after 5PM (and 95 degree temps). Do I dare? We shall see :wink:
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby GreenLake » Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:03 pm

Good to know. My way of adjusting these things is by sanding :)

25+ - do you have reef points?
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby tomodda » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:29 pm

No reef points, it's on my list somewhere. In the meantime, strong winds are dealt with via Cunningham (actually jib downhaul), Outhaul, and Vang. And/or dropping the jib and "enjoying" the lousy tacking abilities on mains'l only.

I didn't go out tonight - in the end it was as I feared, fitful gusts all day followed by a ton of rain. Still learning the finer points of our Central North Carolina weather patterns. I've seen it rain in the back yard while sun beats down on the front yard, it's crazy around here. What I do know is that we usually have a good steady breeze on the day after a big front goes thru, so I'm already planning to take Thursday afternoon off and my crew is getting herself some time off too. Looking forward to it!
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby GreenLake » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:54 pm

There you go!
(Our weather patterns are off normal this year - not seen the "typical" summer pattern much and sometimes that means more wind, but sometimes less)
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby tomodda » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:16 pm

I can't believe it! First, dead calm no wind day, despite the forecast and the front that blew thru. Second, I was doing some new rigging and found that my mainsail was jamming AGAIN, can't get the sail up the last 4 inches (was 6 before). You can queue the "That's what she said" jokes here!

Anyway, even staring thru the handy second-floor window, looking with binoculars, still couldn't figure it out. Thoroughly frustrated and taking advantage of the fact that there is NO wind today, I lowered the mast with the mainsail still on it. OK, I slid the foot off the boom first - actually slide the boom off the foot, same thing but had to unrig a lot of lines. Carefully lowered the mast and went to see what's jamming. It was the bowline knot! Tugged all the way to the top of the track, about an inch of halyard shackle, another inch to the thick part of the knot, and the knot was jamming sideways against my aluminum rod "Stopper" at the top of the sail track. At the very acute angle when everything was raised, there just wasn't enough room for the knot to pass the top of the sail track, stopper rod or no.

Solution? I got rid of the stopper rod and found that the halyard itself was not jamming at the top of the track, it was also the knot - I don't need to modify the top of the track. I got rid of the halyard shackle, put the end of the halyard thru the very small hole at the head of the sail, tied a Figure-8 stopper knot and voila! Pulled the sail all the way to the mast sheave! Too tired out to raise the mast again and try it fully rigged, but this looks like the way. Note that the hole in the sail head is too small to pass a bight (doubled halyard) to make a luggage hitch. So, stopper knot it is, I can see where it may be impossible to untie in the future, but I'll worry about it then. Anyway, tolerances are VERY tight at the top of the mast, at least with my single-sheaved halyard pulley. Must be why O'Day soon went to a double-sheaved masthead :)

Tom
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby GreenLake » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:23 pm

You might try a "halyard hitch" or a "buntline hitch". These are very compact knots, unlike a bowline.
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby tomodda » Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:38 am

Thank you, I'll expirement tomorrow. I knew the buntline hitch, but the halyard hitch is new to me. Both are slipknot, neither opens easily. But that's what the shackle is for. With the sail bent onto the mast, very easy to try different halyard methods. I may post photos for the heck of it.
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Re: Main Halyard Binding in Mast Track

Postby GreenLake » Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:55 am

I use the buntline hitch for my spinnaker and do not find it hard to open. If you bend it a bit, being a slipknot, it gives a bit and then you can untie it. That propbably works better in some moderately slippery line. Not sure how it would do in plain amsteel, although the way it tightens itself would be an asset. The halyard hitch should be very secure.
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