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billygoat

Halyard pulleys and sail track lubrication

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I'm having a terrible time raising and lowering my mainsail. It's just getting stuck.

This afternoon I almost couldn't pull the halyard out of the cleat at the mast head to lower the main - I ended up trucker-hitching it off the bow stay saddle for mechanical advantage, pulling all my weight on it, flexing the mast, completely unloading the forestay before it finally moved enough to uncleat.

I'm not sure whether the sail is just not sliding in the track, or whether the pulleys at the mast head are stuffed.

Well, I know the pulleys are stuffed. They're very old and worn. How big are they supposed to be, to source replacements? Mine look to be 28mm diameter, 9mm thick, with a hole to bear on a 6mm pin.

So, with them soon to be replaced - is my sail sticking in the track? I've only sailed in freshwater lakes, so corrosion and salt isn't a consideration, but it's definitely getting harder to hoist. What do I lube the track or sail luff bolt rope with?

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Halyard pulleys sorted. As a stop gap at least.

I was in Geelong this afternoon where my "local" chandlery is. Turns out they go sailing Sunday afternoon and shut the shop. Good for them, but I have no plans to get anywhere near a chandlery again, any time soon 😕

Bunnings to the rescue. Sliding door wheels are a lot like mast head sheaves. They all have ball bearings rather than being plain nylon, but there's a heavy duty option that's all stainless in the guts (unknown "heavy duty" polymer in the wheel). 32mm diameter, about the right thickness, fits on the bearing pin. That will do for about $8 a pop. If it seizes, we find plan B.

I've read varying opinions about lubricating sail tracks, but universal suggestion is to clean it, which I haven't done. Yet. Ever. Truth be told, there's probably a bit of lake mud in there, especially near the head 🤭.  I'll give the bolt rope / luff of the sail a good scrub too. Then I might spray a bit of silicon lube into the mast track, or I might not.

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Bolt rope shrinkage causes the sail to jam in the track, if your sail has a lot of wrinkles around the bolt rope, you need to ease the luff. There is about 60/80mm of stitches through to bolt rope at the bottom, unpick this and starting from the head, pull the sail down the bolt rope. Most older sails will end up with the bolt rope 80cm up the luff.

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I did this with quite a recent sail. I put a short length of bolt rope (the white stuff, Bunnings will probably be ok) into the bottom just to make sure the sail isn't pulled out by the outhaul.

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On 3/5/2019 at 4:15 PM, knobblyoldjimbo said:

I did this with quite a recent sail. I put a short length of bolt rope (the white stuff, Bunnings will probably be ok) into the bottom just to make sure the sail isn't pulled out by the outhaul.

Took a look at my sail today and found that this has already been done. The bolt rope is hand-stitched about a foot up the luff, and there's a corresponding extra length of generic rope in the bolt rope sleeve.

I've unpicked the hand stitching - will see how things move next time I hoist the sail.

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I'm interested to know if releasing the bolt rope made it easier the pull the sail down again. I have released the bolt rope of my mainsail near the tack. Much easier to raise the sail but it seemed to get stuck in the cleat at the top.  I ended up having to drop the mast with the mainsail attached to unclear it. Lucky for me there was no wind but it still fell the last bit to the sand. Any tips on making it easier to drop the sail would be great. 

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Clean the track and check it for any dings which may have closed up the gap if it has been dropped.

Check that the halyard is staying on the roller. If it comes off and gets jammed down beside the roller it won’t go up or down.

When raising check that all the battens are popped one way and the boat is pointing into the wind. (not that critical on an older sail).

Your mast head should look a bit like this ....

 

7BD8E524-694A-400A-8065-57EBC680A7B7.jpeg

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Thanks for the suggestions. I'll try them.  When I'd dropped the mast,  it seemed the crimp on the halyard was stuck in the cleat & once I released it I was able to pull the sail down fine. 

received_218588486259167.jpeg

received_233590954625850.jpeg

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And ....

Most now use 3mm halyard wire and not 2mm.

It is stronger and fatter and less prone to get stuck and the swage is bigger/fatter, to sit in the v notch better.

And ...

 The swage needs to be about 270mm from the outside of the eyelet to the bottom of the swage to give enough length to un jam the swage.

Your roller look ok ...

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Quite a while ago...

Re-releasing the bolt rope ended up being a bad move. Didn't move at all (ie it was as shrunk as it was going to get and not causing any problems) but I had difficulty sewing the extension piece back in position such that it wasn't prone to jumping out of the track when hoisting.

At the same time, I scrubbed the track with dish detergent and replaced the mast top halyard sheaves with sliding door rollers.

Now the sail is much easier to hoist and drop.

Not sure what caused the improvement. I suspect the sheaves were binding on their axles under load.

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Thanks for the update billy goat. I made a new halyard with 3.2mm 1x19 wire (closest to 3mm bunnings had).  I've added the swage but can't remember which side of the mast the swage lives.  If on the sail track side it seems the swage would have to run through the pulleys to be cleated on the side opposite the sail track where the cleat is. Problem is the bigger swage on the 3.2mm wire is too fat the fit past my new 32mm bearing pulleys & seems to only just fit with the original smaller 28mm pulleys.

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