Head Stay Replacment

Baslin

Member III
Within the next month or so, we are going to be replacing our existing headstay and so I thought I would take a trip to the top of the mast today to get a look at how the headstay connects to the masthead. In the picture, you can see the headstay pin that connects to a toggle, but the toggle pin is covered by the stainless steel plate (see red arrow)....Along with a new headstay, I also will be replacing the toggle as well...has anyone taken this plate off in order to gain access to the toggle pin?.....It appears as though the stainless steel plate wraps around the backside of the two masthead sheaves. So if I’m correct, the two sheaves have to be removed before the plate can be removed in order to get the headstay toggle off. There goes my safety plan of going up the mast with two halyards. If anyone has any pictures of this plate removed or any information on replacing the headstay without pulling the mast, I would appreciate the feedback.

thanks,

Blake B1059E30-0F13-48A8-9353-A8368760058F.jpeg
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Bruce gives a good look at this project in a three-part blog entry:


The photos aren't integrated yet but you can see them at the bottom.
 

gabriel

Member III
I don’t.....but being that it’s 37 years old, I thought I would go ahead and replace.


Personally I would just inspect for corrosion with a flashlight and if it looks good, leave it, but that’s just my opinion.

I looked at my own 45 Y/O toggles and they’re in perfect condition, way overbuilt for the load they will see and being exposed to air, zero corrosion.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Just for the record, 20 years is considered pushing it for standing rigging. Conservative recommendations suggest 10 years.

Anyhow, the forestay is hidden under the furler extrusions and not that expensive to change while we're at it. Old turnbuckles and toggles are not be reused, in the conventional wisdom, because why leave a weak link.

Information only. We all make our own decisions based on use and all the other factors.
 

gabriel

Member III
Just for the record, 20 years is considered pushing it for standing rigging. Conservative recommendations suggest 10 years.

Anyhow, the forestay is hidden under the furler extrusions and not that expensive to change while we're at it. Old turnbuckles and toggles are not be reused, in the conventional wisdom, because why leave a weak link.

Information only. We all make our own decisions based on use and all the other factors.

I think you misunderstood my comment. The forestay should definitely be replaced at the recommended interval because of the swage connection which can’t be inspected. no argument there.

Toggles? By that logic you should probably replace the chain plate and all the bolts every ten years as well. Not wrong but over engineering the problem IMO.
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
I have a similar configuration and have pictures under the steel cover on a Kenyon mast in my E38. There might even be a thread from 2014 or 2015 where I discussed the damage found and the repair. You should inspect under there if it has been many years, even if there is no apparent damage. Aluminum and steel, movement, shock loading, age, etc.

I can't tell from your picture what configuration you have or if there is any problem under that steel cover. On my masthead, the 5/8" steel pin (for the toggle to mast connection) between the sides of that steel cover, had slipped out of one of the holes in the aluminum plates. The pin and toggle were no longer square with the two aluminum plates that transfer the forestay loads to the mast. The result was wear on the inside of both aluminum plates, enlargement of one hole (egging) and a crack in a weld on the most heavily loaded aluminum plate. The stainless steel cover had largely hidden that condition from at least one and likely two riggers who had climbed the mast during inspections. It was fairly easy to repair after I found a welder who could weld aluminum. The two damaged holes were enlarged and steel bushings inserted. I ended up with a longer toggle pin that carries through the steel cover and is secured with a split (cotter) pin. I replaced the toggle too.

I recommend you take that cover off to confirm that all is well.
 

garryh

Member III
"By that logic you should probably replace the chain plate and all the bolts every ten years as well "
yes, chainplates should be replaced as a matter of course and preventative maintenance. Not every ten years, but every 20... and certainly 30. Or 40, as mine and most are. They as well as swage fittings suffer from fatigue and work hardening, and also invisible crevice corrosion where the chainplate passes through the deck.
I am doing bulkheads this Spring, I have been told the chainplates 'look fine' by two machine shops.... but it is only a cpl hundred dollars for piece of mind. When they go, there is no warning and they go catastrophically.
 

Attachments

Baslin

Member III
Well after going up the mast this morning and removing the diamond shaped cover for the sheaves pin, I see now that I am going to have to pull the mast and do some repairs. The sheaves pin appears to be bent and is frozen in the bushings. I couldn’t get it to budge. The two Outer sheaves spin freely but the center sheaves is frozen up as well. Work at the top of the mast is fairly uncomfortable. Mentally and physically. A couple of forgotten or dropped tools is also no fun. I don’t think I’ll be able to do what needs to be done with the stick up so I’ll be planning to pull it in the next couple of weeks so I can do the job right. C6448BE4-ED52-4695-94C6-4DCCD3C3CC7C.jpeg
 

gabriel

Member III
im sorry you have to drop the mast, was hoping the everything would be easy but we’re talking sailboats here! Looking forward to seeing updates on this.
 

gabriel

Member III
"By that logic you should probably replace the chain plate and all the bolts every ten years as well "
yes, chainplates should be replaced as a matter of course and preventative maintenance. Not every ten years, but every 20... and certainly 30. Or 40, as mine and most are. They as well as swage fittings suffer from fatigue and work hardening, and also invisible crevice corrosion where the chainplate passes through the deck.
I am doing bulkheads this Spring, I have been told the chainplates 'look fine' by two machine shops.... but it is only a cpl hundred dollars for piece of mind. When they go, there is no warning and they go catastrophically.
Yet not one of the pics shows 100% catastrophic and sudden failure.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Many years ago when our mast was down for a re-rig, that Kenyon SS halyard-guide cage was removed and mirror polished. The original screws were well-attached by corrosion. They were difficult to remove.
OTOH, the work paid off in much-reduced potential wear on our then-new rope halyards that replaced the original wire halyards (some of which developed meat hooks). The old wire had chewed up the aluminum sheaves, too, resulting in having them removed and trued up on a lathe.
 

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
Gabriel refers to sudden, catastrophic failure of chainplates/shrouds in a post above, and it got me to thinking about this. In my almost 30 years of sailing and being around marinas, I've only once heard of a mast falling backwards due to a broken forestay. That was a scary, dangerous situation, but especially with so many headstays covered by roller furlers, so not open to easy inspection, why doesn't this happen more often?

With our Harken roller furler, I can inspect where the foil turns on the top swage, and at the bottom, I can inspect the lowest section, but there are several foil connections that could potentially be rubbing on the headstay to cause gradual fraying, no? To dismantle the entire roller furling, using a spare halyard as a replacement headstay, and trying very hard not to drop any parts of the furler into the ocean, sounds like a really hard job. Does anyone do this with any regularity? Replacing the headstay every 15 or 20 years seems to be highly recommended, but again, many owners don't do this either. So what's the answer?

We know that if a shroud breaks under sail, immediately tack to remove the load from that shroud, and rig a spare halyard or line to support the mast from the broken side. But is there any similar step one could reasonably take if the headstay breaks? It seems to me the mast would immediately fall back into the cockpit, causing injury and damage. Is there any way to avoid or minimize that, short of replacing the headstay preventatively?

I don't want to cause sleepless nights, but I would sleep a bit better if I had answers to these questions. :)

Frank
 

gabriel

Member III
Gabriel refers to sudden, catastrophic failure of chainplates/shrouds in a post above, and it got me to thinking about this. In my almost 30 years of sailing and being around marinas, I've only once heard of a mast falling backwards due to a broken forestay. That was a scary, dangerous situation, but especially with so many headstays covered by roller furlers, so not open to easy inspection, why doesn't this happen more often?

With our Harken roller furler, I can inspect where the foil turns on the top swage, and at the bottom, I can inspect the lowest section, but there are several foil connections that could potentially be rubbing on the headstay to cause gradual fraying, no? To dismantle the entire roller furling, using a spare halyard as a replacement headstay, and trying very hard not to drop any parts of the furler into the ocean, sounds like a really hard job. Does anyone do this with any regularity? Replacing the headstay every 15 or 20 years seems to be highly recommended, but again, many owners don't do this either. So what's the answer?

We know that if a shroud breaks under sail, immediately tack to remove the load from that shroud, and rig a spare halyard or line to support the mast from the broken side. But is there any similar step one could reasonably take if the headstay breaks? It seems to me the mast would immediately fall back into the cockpit, causing injury and damage. Is there any way to avoid or minimize that, short of replacing the headstay preventatively?

I don't want to cause sleepless nights, but I would sleep a bit better if I had answers to these questions. :)

Frank

for lack of being able to inspect regularly, then preventative/scheduled replacement is definitely a smart idea, I would do it myself in that situation.

anything can fail though, just look at keel bolts, those probably fail more frequently than chain plates but how often often are they replaced? Better a known than unknown, though an inspection creates a known.

In aviation a pilot does his airframe preflight inspection/walk around before getting into the cockpit and it’s probably good practice to do this on a sailboat at least every few passages.

you guys have yourselves a good week!
 
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Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Ahem.... when I was on a 29 footer sailing up the WA coast many decades ago, we lost the rig. Cause was stress corrosion, INSIDE one of the lowers, about an eighth inch down from the lip of the ss swage. Invisible. From talking to riggers over the years this is common.
So it's good to note the meathooks from broken strands or presence of rust, or a little crack in a fitting.... better to just check the calendar against the environment that the boat has lived in.
While we would LOVE to be sailing down in SoCal in those warm and salty breezes, there is more maintenance required of the whole standing rig (than here in our colder fresh water environment).
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Baslin,
I hope you don't find anything serious under there. I tend to replace old stainless fittings especially. I'm not sure about bronze parts, which is what that toggle appears to be made of. I think that suspect parts, especially old stainless steel, should be replaced while you're all disassembled and have gone to the trouble to take the mast down. One reason many of us don't take the mast down very often is that it is a time consuming and expensive task. And therefore it's a good thing these boats and rigs are generally way over-built. That probably saved my rig when that pin slipped so many years ago. It's way better to discover problems in a boatyard or slip than after breaking something when you're just out trying to enjoy a sail.
 
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