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Standing Rigging Life Expectancy – Part 2

In the March issue of the Torresen Marine e-newsletter we discussed factors associated with the life expectancy of 1×19 stainless steel standing rigging. The idea is to explain the variables so that you can better understand the life span of rigging. The main variables are; sailing conditions, loads, cycling, marine environment, and care/maintenance. It’s safe to say that having your rigging inspected seasonally is a good start to understanding the effects of these factors on your standing rigging. By applying a numeric value to each of these variables, relative to your boat, can give you an end result to compare to the “base” life expectancy of rigging.

In this discussion we look at rod rigging and it’s life expectancy. To get to a base life expectancy we have to assume that each variable is in average condition rather than some extreme. This “base” life span is 10 years of 40,000 sailing miles (Navtec Rigging Matters).


Sailing conditions refer to the type of sailing to which your boat is exposed. Light day-sailing, coastal cruising, offshore cruising, passage making, club racing, and aggressive offshore racing define some basic sailing conditions.

Load refers to the pressures that are applied to your rigging for tuning purposes. Standard sizing of rod rigging usually has a load of 15-25% of the breaking strength of the rod size. If rod is specified “undersized” due to weight, windage, or cost constraints this load can exceed 50% thus reducing the life expectancy of the rigging.

Cycling: This refers to the loads that are imposed on rigging from light harmonic vibrations while the boat is at dock or stored mast up outside, to heavy pumping while on a mooring in various wave conditions. If a boat is moored, the life expectancy of any rigging is greatly reduced.

Environment: Marine environments include fresh water/moderate humidity, moderate salinity/moderate humidity, and heavy salinity/heavy humidity. These variables mostly effect corrosion factors associated with rigging materials.

Care and maintenance: Obviously a rig that has seasonal inspections, care, and repairs will tend to last longer than rigs that haven’t had inspections or maintenance at all.

A boat that is going from a less severe factor to a more severe factor such as environment or sailing condition should have its rigging thoroughly checked or replaced as a safety factor.

The parts that make up rod rigging are the rod itself, the heads that are machined onto the rods, the mast socket connections, the spreader connections (tip cups), and the turnbuckle systems.

The rod itself should be free from bends, dings, or dents. Rods can be straightened if the bend is light. Dings or dents cannot be repaired and the rod section may need to be replaced. The rod heads are a vital part to be inspected. Polishing the rod heads can reveal cracks. If a rod head shows damage it may be re-headed as long as the rigging screw has enough throw to accommodate the shortening of the rod length. Rod heads should be cleaned and lubricated seasonably if possible. The hardware that terminates the rod at the mast should be inspected for proper mounting, possible cracks, or misalignment. The terminations at the spreaders are either a rod that bends over the spreader end or terminates in a tip cup. Bends need to be inspected for cracks. Tip cups should be disassembled, cleaned and lubricated from time-to-time. The stainless on stainless treads of a tip cup are prone to galling and need to be carefully disassembled, cleaned, inspected, lubricated, and reassembled. Tip cups also need their rod heads inspected for cracks. The turnbuckle, it’s rigging screw and the toggle jaw should all be checked for damage. It is recommended that the turnbuckle screws be replaced every ten years as the threads can loose their integrity sooner than the rest of the rod system.

Torresen Marine recommends a seasonal rig inspection. This service provides a customer with a documented report of the integrity of their rigging. Furthermore, the riggers at Torresen Marine can help you determine to what extent the above variables effect your rig’s life expectancy. Contact Torresen Marine Service Department by phone 231-759-8596 or e-mail to discuss your rigging needs.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2008 at 8:57 am and is filed under News From Torresen Marine. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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