Mainsail slugs jamming on hoist and drop

Merrimist

Hammy, 'Merrimist' E38 in sunny Bda
G'day All,

with regards to the title, when out solo on Merrimist, my 38-200, hoisting and dropping the main would be a whole lot easier if the slugs would slide up and down the mast track.
I am asking advice for anyone here who has experienced this problem of having the slugs getting jammed in the track, on both hoist and drop.

I do not want to apply any product or soap that will collect dirt/dust/salt and exacerbate the problem, currently the mainsail slugs and mast track are clean and dry - and the slugs tend to slide and then jam, hence this post.

Are there particular products or slippery something that I can apply to have the slugs slide easily up and down the mast track, your own experience and or recommendations of what to use and just as important, what NOT to use is requested, thank you in advance.

And for those that are interested, the slugs seem to have been getting jammed more frequently of late for no apparent reason that I can easily see.
On this Wed evening past whilst singlehanded, I only managed to get the mainsail up to the first reef at first attempt when the slugs jammed, before the start of around the cans Wed night summer series here on the Great Sound in Bermuda, when finally, on the third attempt half way through the race I struggled further and managed to get the main to full hoist, which was great. At the end of the race whilst packing up, on releasing the main halyard, the slugs then again jammed whilst the sail was only half way down. I handed over to George, George is the name of my Auto-pilot, a throwback to my Oberon submarine days in another life, but I digress, after setting George up and engaging him (the Autopilot) I had to make my way to the mast to pull the sail down by hand, whilst being careful not to get off balance in the wake of passing fast ferries.....

Hammy in sunny Bermuda.
Merrimist, 38-200
 

Glyn Judson

Moderator
Moderator
Jammy slugs, been there , done that.

Hammy,

My experience extends to only a handful of boats with that annoying problem and more recently I solved that on a friends boat by helping her replace the warn, white Nylon, Delrin(?) slugs with new ones but prior to that having had great success i prior years using dry silicon spray of which there are many brands to choose from, on the slugs prior to and as the sail is being hoisted. This is not something necessary each time, as the effect seems to last a surprising length of time. No dirt is attracted to this spray by the way. Best of luck, Glyn Judson, E31 hull #55, Marina del Rey CA
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
A Tides sail track is the best answer and relatively inexpensive as a major safety and convenience solution. E38 mainsail is big, needs to come down reliably or can cause big trouble . You can install yourself or a rigger takes only an hour to do it.
 

Joliba

Contributing Member
I second Christian's reply. On previous boats I have used dry silicone and other marine lubricants with only moderate, temporary improvement. The Tides marine track in my E38-200 is nearly miraculous. Our full battened mainsail with metal slugs completely drops instantly in all conditions the moment the halyard is released.
Mike Jacker
 

e38 owner

Member III
I think different years have different masts. Ours is an 81.
A couple little things can make a difference
1. Make sure boat is into the wind
2. Make sure backstay is not really tight (curve in mast)
 
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ddoles

Member II
I had a similar problem on my boat last year. I never had a problem, then suddenly the slugs were getting stuck on the way up or down. Over a period of a couples weeks it got steadily worse. I went aloft about 1/3 up the mast and found one of the screws securing the sail track to the mast had come loose and was protruding just a bit. It was not really noticeable from the deck, but was protruding enough to snag the occasional slug. I simply screwed it back in nice and tight and the problem was completely solved. A rare simple solution.
 

Glyn Judson

Moderator
Moderator
Sail track solution.

All, As with Christian, I too added a similar system made by Harken. There are dedicated cars between larger ones attached to three full battens. Shortly after installing it all, I gave Marilyn the halyard and asked her to try it out. She gave it one big tug as she was used to doing and ended up falling onto her butt on the port locker lid. Glyn
 

Navman

Member III
Jammed slugs

On our E38 the head board for the main has two holes for the halyard to connect to. I have found that if I use the aft hole it will always jam up. If I use the hole closest to the mast it slides up easily. I guess because it is a more vertical alignment with the direction of pull. Otherwise our main has no problem while hoisting or lowering. I usually only clean the track once in the spring during commissioning and that is done with a slightly damp rag from the top down while in a bosens chair.

Good Luck!!
 

bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
I usually only clean the track once in the spring during commissioning and that is done with a slightly damp rag from the top down while in a bosens chair.
this can be done from deck, too.

Ask your sailmaker to make you a 2' section of luff-tape with a bolt-rope sized to fit the sail track, and a grommet at top and bottom. Coat it with your lube of choice (we used to use wax, a modern dry lube is probably better) connect halyard to the top, a downhaul line to the bottom, and haul it up and down a few times.

It'll clean and lube the track. And if it gets hard to pull up and down, you'll know exactly where there's a section that needs attention.

(But, as Christian says, a Tides sail track is a downright magical long-term solution)

Edited to add: one of the most common causes of sail-slugs jamming is when the slugs themselves get worn. If they get out of shape they can "tilt" in the track and become very hard to move. Especially true of delrin or nylon slugs - the fix is to replace them.
 
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u079721

Contributing Partner
When we got our E38 back in 1994 we had a lot of difficulty getting the main down. At that time the only reliable solution I could find was to spend about $2000 to install the Harken Battcar system. Many might consider it overkill, but the result was spectacular. I could single hand and easily get the main up to within a foot of full hoist by hand, and the main would drop all the way to the lazy jacks just by releasing the halyard. Not familiar with the Tides sail track system (or its cost), but I can highly recommend the Harken.
 

vanilladuck

E32-3 / San Francisco
I had a similar problem on my boat last year. I never had a problem, then suddenly the slugs were getting stuck on the way up or down. Over a period of a couples weeks it got steadily worse. I went aloft about 1/3 up the mast and found one of the screws securing the sail track to the mast had come loose and was protruding just a bit. It was not really noticeable from the deck, but was protruding enough to snag the occasional slug. I simply screwed it back in nice and tight and the problem was completely solved. A rare simple solution.
Reviving this thread as I noticed the same problem with the sectioned main track on the mast of my 1985 E32-3. However, when I went up and turned the loose screw, it had no purchase of threads so it spun freely. This results in the section of track jutting out slightly and preventing the main sail from dropping. I'd like to add a Tides Marine track, but this little issue has me concerned since the Tides track will slot into the existing mast track, which is now loose. I suppose the answer is to take the section of track off and look behind it to examine whatever is back there.

Does anyone know how the original main track is installed on these boats? Should the track be screwed into the mast itself or is there a backing plate holding it in place?
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I am curious about this, also. My Kenyon spar has an internal 'track' as part of the extrusion. No external anything fastened to it. There is a 32-3 fairly close to me in the moorage and I believe that his spar is very similar. Guess I shall have a look next time out there.
Is your spar smooth around the back, and that would be why there was an external track attached?
 

vanilladuck

E32-3 / San Francisco
Loren, I'm wondering if I have a different mast than other 32-3's now. The aft side of the mast has a recessed portion that the sections of mast track fit into with the screws. You can kind of see in this photo:

IMG_20200823_160400.jpg

I'll get a better photo this weekend.

On E32-3 near you the mast track is just a slot in the mast itself with no other parts? Could you sneak a photo? ;)
 

Guy Stevens

Moderator
Moderator
We put Tides Marine Strong Track on almost all of the clients whos boats we consult on. Much cheaper and less invasive than installing Harken track in sections all the way up the mast.
Guy
:)
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Reviving this thread as I noticed the same problem with the sectioned main track on the mast of my 1985 E32-3. However, when I went up and turned the loose screw, it had no purchase of threads so it spun freely. This results in the section of track jutting out slightly and preventing the main sail from dropping. I'd like to add a Tides Marine track, but this little issue has me concerned since the Tides track will slot into the existing mast track, which is now loose. I suppose the answer is to take the section of track off and look behind it to examine whatever is back there.

Does anyone know how the original main track is installed on these boats? Should the track be screwed into the mast itself or is there a backing plate holding it in place?
I have a Kenyon with the round track (bolt rope style?) retainer shape in the extrusion. See the picture. I used to have a rectangular slotted aluminum track inserted there, all above the gooseneck of course. I don't have any pictures or scraps, but that old track used screws through the fat part of the track extrusion and into the mast as I recall. No backing plates or nuts. You could drill and tap above or below the stripped screw to re-secure the loose track end. Maybe a 3/4" #6 machine is all you really need. Maybe shorter, but see if the stripped one will come out and that will be the right diameter and length. Otherwise maybe go up a size on the stripped hole.

While I don't know if it was necessary, I removed the old aluminum track segments prior to installing a Tides track. I recall there were three sections and because these sections were put in place before the gooseneck attachments were welded to the mast, we had quite a time removing it. To start, I had to grind a slot about 6 inches long above the gooseneck. Then we removed the screws and bent that track every foot or so until it was out. The mast was down for refurbishment at the time, so it was "easy."

Mast_extrusion_shape02.jpg
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I will try to get a photo. Also some seasoning and a side dish in case I have to eat crow.....
I did have a look at the E-32-3 at our YC, this evening. Not like our spar section, but rather it has a rectangular track screwed into an insert in the extrusion. Like the description in reply 14.
My guess was wrong -- perhaps some ketchup will make the crow taste better... I already put it on most everything else. :)
 
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Guy Stevens

Moderator
Moderator
We put Tides Marine Strong Track tracks on almost all of the clients whos boats we consult on. Much cheaper and less invasive than installing Harken track in sections all the way up the mast.
Guy
:)
 

mjsouleman

Member III
Moderator
Question - not mentioned in this thread yet - when making the decision to install a Tides or Harken system what changes to the sail are required?

Mark
 
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