Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Backstay

The Backstay

Our backstay is the 3/8" wire rope that runs from the stern to the masthead. It can be tensioned or loosened with a hydraulic ram mounted an the stern. Since Barbados it has needed a major repair, namely, the attachment point at the mast head. It uses a swage fitting, and what Dad realized was that the wire took a ten degree bend where it exited the swage fitting. This could lead to a backstay failure, which in turn could lead to dismasting. This is definitely bad, so we needed to replace the masthead fitting. We are not capable of attaching a swage terminal, we would need to take the whole backstay to a machine shop, so Dad decided to use a Sta-lok terminal as a replacement. We can attach a Sta-lok, the, just not at the masthead. So we had to lower the backstay. This is not as easy as it sounds, first we needed to set up a jury backstay to take the load of the mast. We already had a running backstay on either side of the boat, and we added two more replacement backstays along the path of the real one. Once this was done we used a spinnaker halyard to lower it to the deck, where we could easily work on it. We then tried to cut the wire at the swage fitting with our emergency pair of bolt cutters. The bolt cutters were there just in case we needed to cut the rigging for some reason, and we needed to try them out. Guess what? They don't work! The emergency wire cutters that we may need don't work. I don't know what we are going to do about it, but I really hope we never need to use those cutters. Then we discovered something else. When we tried to cut it with the bolt cutters, we severed a strand, and we didn't have enough wire left to attach the Sta-lok terminal. Luckily we had a enough extra length in the turnbuckle at the stern to make up the difference, but we didn't even follow the basic rule: measure twice, cut once. Attaching the Sta-lok was difficult, but since describing it requires lots and lots of technical details, I will leave it out for those who do not like technical details. When the terminal was attached, we hoisted the backstay up to the masthead, Dad climbed the mast again, and he reattached the stay up there. After he came back down and we fought with the wire that kept sagging under its own weight, we managed to get it reattached at the stern. After that it was a simple matter of putting everything away and pumping up the hydraulic ram to tension the stay again. Once we had stowed the replacement backstays, everything was finally back to normal.
--Orion Date
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1 comment:

  1. I'm impressed by you guys' resourcefulness! And we've never tested our emergency bolt cutters either.