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Thread: converting from wire-rope halyard to all-rope

  1. #1
    Principal Partner davisr's Avatar
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    converting from wire-rope halyard to all-rope

    It's time to replace my wire-rope halyards. I've read various books and postings on the benefits of converting from wire-rope halyards to all-rope. My question, therefore, is not whether or not I should make the conversion, but how best to make it.

    My existing wire is 7 x 19, 5/32 inch. The specs from various manufacturers indicate that the breaking strength of this wire is 2,400 lbs. The rope portion of my halyards consist of 3/8 inch braid. I don't know what type of braid it is, but low-end versions of 3/8 inch braid are rated at 3,000 to 3,700 lbs. Upper end versions (common to halyards) are rated at 5,000 or more pounds. Since the rope portion of the halyard is rated so much higher than the wire portion, it seems that the choice of 3/8 inch rope for 5/32 inch wire (which is common on readymade wire-rope halyard packages from places like West Marine), is based more on the ease that rope this thickness (as opposed to a more narrow rope) gives to the line-handler. Maybe I'm wrong though.

    At any rate, based on the numbers I've provided above, it seems that in converting my halyards from wire-rope to all-rope, I could step down a size or two. Sta-Set X, the brand of double braid that I plan to use, rates 1/4 inch rope at 2,700 lbs, and 5/16 inch rope at 4,400. The existing masthead sheaves will handle a 5/16 rope halyard. I've tested them. The only problem, of course, is that the sheaves are V-grooved, made to accommodate the wire portion of the halyard. V-grooved sheaves will create more abrasion and shorten the life of the halyards. Therefore, the most prudent course of action would seem to lead to a replacement of the masthead sheaves - from the V-grooved type to the U-shaped type that are more friendly to all-rope halyards.

    Garhauer makes a masthead sheave that is similar in size to the existing sheaves in the E25 masthead. I've order Garhauer hardware before, and I have been impressed with the quality. The MH27 sheave, like all their masthead sheaves, appears to be made of aluminum, and it is reasonably priced (relatively speaking) at $38.40. This is the smallest masthead sheave they make. The specs indicate that it is 3/8 inch wide.

    At last my question: Would it be smart, for the sake of line-handling, to make my new halyards 3/8 inch (even though 3/8 inch seems to be overkill from a load-bearing standpoint), or would 5/16 inch be sufficient? It just seems so puny.

    Thanks for the help,
    Roscoe

    E25, cb, #226
    Charleston, SC
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  2. #2
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    Choosing the proper line diameter.

    Roscoe, The factory sheaves in my mast are are V-shaped and never saw wire. Nor for that matter, were any E31's that I know of so configured, at least from my observations and I've been on a lot of them, 45 E31's to be exact. That said, they all have 3/8" line that I assume is more for handling comfort than it is strength, something that your research has shown you. For these two reasons, I'd be tempted to suggest that you simply replace what you have with the 3/8" line of your choosing and leave the sheaves as they are. I might add that I changed the main halyard sheave on our boat (I'm holding the old one right now in my hand) to a Harken #754 in order to reduce the friction of the load for my wife, given that all our lines are led aft and she needed all the help she could get. The old sheave is aluminum with an oil-filled bronze bushing. Just changing that one sheave made a world of difference for anyone raising the main. I'll paraphrase Loren here and offer you my advise valued at about equal to what change is currently in my right front pocket other than to say that all I've written here is based on personal experience and observation. Best of luck, Glyn Judson, E31 hull #55, Marina del Rey, CA

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    I would also suggest going with 3/8 line mainly for ease of handling. I have found when using 5/16 or smaller wearing gloves of some sort becomes more of a necessity. And yes you can use rope in a "V" shaped sheave but the "U" shape is better (less wear on the lines).

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    Principal Partner Keith Parcells's Avatar
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    Roscoe,

    To be the devil's advocate to Glynn, the 5/16" line is certainly adequate. It won't feel as good to your hand, perhaps. If it will fit in your self-tailers and any line clutches you have, you can go with the 5/16". I like the Samson XLS extra T for halyards. It's a bit less stiff than the Sta-Set X and has even less stretch.
    Keith Parcells
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    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Parcells View Post
    Roscoe,

    To be the devil's advocate to Glynn, the 5/16" line is certainly adequate. It won't feel as good to your hand, perhaps. If it will fit in your self-tailers and any line clutches you have, you can go with the 5/16". I like the Samson XLS extra T for halyards. It's a bit less stiff than the Sta-Set X and has even less stretch.
    When I changed over, I went to 5/16 T-900 hi tech braid. I might have gone with the 3/8, but that was just a tad too fat for the sheaves at the masthead.
    I have no problem with the smaller line, but on windy days always wear gloves anyway.

    Another case of "more than one right answer"....


    Loren
    1988 Olson 34 #8
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    Principal Partner davisr's Avatar
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    Thanks fellas for all of your great advice (which is worth far more to me than pocket change),

    As much as I would like to use 3/8, I think that I have no choice but to go with 5/16 and make sure I always have my gloves nearby. I'm seeing the same thing that Loren saw: the existing sheaves are more welcoming to 5/16 than they are to the more meaty 3/8. I'm stoked that the V-shaped sheaves will be sufficient for the all-rope halyard. There are other things I need to spend my money on in this project than new masthead sheaves (is that not surprising?). At any rate, thanks Keith for the nod towards Samson XLS Extra T. I've actually been wondering about Samson as compared to New England Ropes.

    Regards,
    Roscoe

  7. #7
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    Halyard size

    Those of us with bigger boats are envious of your ease of raising the main on a 25 footer, even with the old sheave.

    It's acceptable to go with smaller halyards/furling lines as you aren't using them constantly. Unlike jib/main sheets, which you are.

    As Keith mentioned, clutch size/self tailing may be an issue if you downsize. If the E25 has a winch/cleat on the mast it's a non-issue. (Or is it cabin-top) ?

    Rob

    E34, Vancouver
    Last edited by lindaloo; 08-30-2011 at 01:46 AM.

  8. #8
    Principal Partner davisr's Avatar
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    All E25s that I have seen have halyard winches on the mast itself. Here's a picture of mine just one day after purchase during a passage along the Pamlico Sound. You can see that the wire portion of the PO's wire-rope jib halyard is too long. The thimble is wrapped around the winch. There is some modest scoring on drum of the winch because of this.

    So you think 5/16 will work with this set-up?


    Thanks for your advice,
    Roscoe
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    trim

    Don't see why not. Three or four wraps around the winch drum then cleat 'er off.
    First thing I noticed on the photo was the luff tension, or lack of it.
    Also the fore-stay seems WAY too loose, unless the view is misleading. Or it's an asymetric.
    Seth may want to weigh in here ........

    Rob
    Last edited by lindaloo; 08-30-2011 at 06:22 PM.

  10. #10
    Principal Partner davisr's Avatar
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    Hey Rob,

    Actually the forestay is not visible in that picture, as the mast is obstructing the view. What you're seeing is the gigantic wire in the luff of the jib. It's part of an ancient Schaefer roller furler set-up. There was a discussion of this on another thread about a week ago. I've measured the wire to be 7/16 inch (although it might turn out to be a little smaller when removed from the jib, but I'm not so sure). It's heavy and unwieldy, a real pain to deal with. Had the sail inspected last week. Needless to say, I'm now in the market for a new one.

    In the picture below I should have placed an ink pen or something of this nature so that everyone could get a sense of the wire's size.

    Roscoe
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    Principal Partner mherrcat's Avatar
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    You can see that the wire portion of the PO's wire-rope jib halyard is too long. The thimble is wrapped around the winch.
    On a true "wire-to-rope" halyard the connection between the wire and the rope is a splice, not a thimble. That makes the transition from rope to wire on the winch drum smooth. I think your previous owner just didn't want to have a true wire-to-rope splice made when he replaced the halyard. I don't know how much tension is put on that thimble connection, but the fact that it wraps up onto the drum doesn't look that safe to me; not to mention the wear it causes on the drum.

    As far as the length, my main halyard, which has a wire-to-rope splice (and needs to be replaced, by the way) is led back to the cockpit. When the main is fully raised the splice will make it as far back as the deck organizer sheave, which is the only metal sheave in the organizer; so if I had the halyard winch attached to the mast, the wire would easily make two or three turns around the drum. So I guess what I'm saying is, if you actually had a wire-to-rope splice, the wire making a couple of turns around the winch drum would probably not be unusual.
    Last edited by mherrcat; 08-30-2011 at 10:24 PM.
    Mark H.
    1985 Ericson 30+

  12. #12
    Principal Partner davisr's Avatar
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    Mark,

    I hear you. That thimble was unkind to the drum of the winch (and to the rope portion of the halyard for that matter). This is just one of many problems that I inherited at the time of purchase, but I guess almost all of us could say that about our good ole' boats. Ah, the labors of love.

    Regards,
    Roscoe
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    mainsail luff tension

    Actually Roscoe, my comment about luff tension was directed at both sails .........
    I read that thread about your jib. Whether it's forestay or luff wire, it's still way too loose to my eye. Can you tension it and still have it furl ?
    Bowed out as it is, looks to be 18" midlength, it would kill you for pointing close hauled, I would think. There has to be a reason they've gone the way of the dodo.
    I have a Harken furler now but have a warm glow of nostalgia for hank-on jibs. So simple. They point so high. Ah well .......

    Rob

  14. #14
    C34IA Secretary Stu Jackson's Avatar
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    In all the discussions over the years about this subject, one thing keeps coming to the forefront: Stay Set X is not the way to go. Too many folks have been very, very unhappy with the "hand" of the line for a halyard, and almost all suggest going to a softer and just as strong Sampson line. This is on many other forums, too.

    I used 3/8" on our C25 when I did the conversion and never replaced the sheaves. I used plain Stay Set on our C25 and it worked OK, I needed a cunningham to get rid of luff sag, but it wasn't bad for a 25 footer. I made the mistake of using Stay Set (NOT X) on our c34 and it was a BIG mistake, I should have used the Sampson.

    If it was my boat, I'd go Sampson, 3/8" and replace the sheaves only if you feel the need to do so, but not a bad idea. I know, spending your $$ is easy for me!

    Your boat, your choice.

    Good luck, Stu
    Last edited by Stu Jackson; 09-01-2011 at 12:54 PM.
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  15. #15
    Principal Partner davisr's Avatar
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    Rob, there were many things that were . . . how shall I put it . . well-aged on this boat at the time of purchase. When I finally got her home to Charleston, I put the mast on sawhorses. Ever since that time I've worked on her as much as possible, when not distracted by the necessities of home ownership and family life. During that transit two years ago, I recall that is was difficult to fully tension the main on account of a couple of faulty sail slugs. I also recall that is was not easy at all to achieve good tension in that wire luff of the headsail. Your speculations about the limited pointing ability are right on the mark. When it got to the point where pointing was necessary (as my buddy and I neared Oriental), she simply refused to point. This was aggravated in large part, no doubt, by the fact that the centerboard was stuck in its trunk. I knew this in advance, but I had no choice but to sail the boat to the haulout spot in Oriental, since the PO's personal dock was in a remote location. Realizing that pointing was out of the picture, my buddy and I struck the sails and motored the rest of the way in.

    In reponse to the suggestions by Glyn and Stu, I decided to give 3/8 a try, just so everyone could take a look at the difference between the way that 3/8 fits and the way that 5/16 fits in the masthead sheaves. From the way it looks to me, 5/16 definitely fits well. I'd say that 3/8 is a little iffy, but I wouldn't mind hearing what others have to say.

    Thanks,
    Roscoe
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