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Roller furler inspection and maintenance

A forum for discussing topics relating to MacGregor Powersailor Sailboats

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Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Alexis » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:43 am

The winter is definitely back in Saskatchewan, the boat is stored and is waiting for the spring. The time for inspecting and fixing things has come, yay! Would you detect my ironical tone? As much as I like working on my boat while dreaming of sailing, I prefer one thousand times better sailing with her...

I recently heard a story from a friend about a forestay failure inside a roller furler (I precise that the sailboat wasn't a Macgregor and that the roller may have been incorrectly assembled). The failure was caused by a progressive wear on the forestay cable because of excessive lateral tension when unrolling the jib. The cable was slowly worn and snapped in a gust of wind at the worst moment. I have been told that the sailboat was regularly inspected and well maintained.

Now, I purchased my X a bit more than two years ago. The roller and forestay seems to be the original part (20 years old), it looks good for its age but I am wondering if I should put everything into pieces and perform a detailed inspection.
Sailors say:
"When you think it's about time to reef, then it is time to reef".

Would
"When you think it's about time to inspect, then it's time to inspect."

...be true as well? I think so.

What is your experience about inspecting / maintaining the roller furler? (again, I think it is the stock one)
- How difficult is it to put in pieces? ...and to put back together?
- What are the most important pieces to inspect?
- Should I replace the forestay anyway, just to be on the safe side?
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby kurz » Mon Nov 26, 2018 11:22 am

take the roll apart. Watch the manual that shows how to with photos.
A reason is to check if there are the cotters applied that won't let the turnbuckle to losse.
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Alexis » Mon Nov 26, 2018 11:52 am

kurz wrote:A reason is to check if there are the cotters applied that won't let the turnbuckle to losse.


Thanks Kurz, that's a good one to check! Good reason for an inspection!

I am also thinking about the roller operation and I remember that the furling line touches the side of the cup opening when the line is almost completely rolled. Would this indicate that there is too much tension on the line when operating? I am pretty sure that the whole roller rotates substantially when I pull the furling line.
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Tomfoolery » Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:19 pm

Unless I’m mistaken, the most common failure point on the FF2 roller system is the top of the forestay. In part because of the abuse the forestay gets when prepping for travel and again when reassembling, but also because most don’t use a toggle up there. The OEM forestay is 1/8”, and BWY sells an upgrade stay at 5/32” dia., as well as the standard forestay. Both have a roller swaged stud at the bottom to interface the turnbuckle.
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Alexis » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:01 pm

Tomfoolery wrote:Unless I’m mistaken, the most common failure point on the FF2 roller system is the top of the forestay. In part because of the abuse the forestay gets when prepping for travel and again when reassembling, but also because most don’t use a toggle up there. The OEM forestay is 1/8”, and BWY sells an upgrade stay at 5/32” dia., as well as the standard forestay. Both have a roller swaged stud at the bottom to interface the turnbuckle.


I can relate, I don't have a toggle at the forestay head but the eye on the forestay is in good condition. Though, are you talking about the roller mechanism (so the top fitting) or about the forestay itself?

I am wondering if the forestay could be worn under the roller furler top fitting, or under the roller drum assembly. Both location could receive strong lateral forces and be hidden to sight unless you put them apart.
Last edited by Alexis on Tue Nov 27, 2018 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Tomfoolery » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:09 pm

The turnbuckle itself shouldn't touch the furler drum or the extended horn above the drum, though the top fitting as well as the entire foil does contact the forestay. I've never noticed any wear on the forestay, though. The only wear I've seen is at the Nicopress crimped oval sleeve - the wire rope gets bent badly when I'm messing about with the furler when prepping for travel, and was pretty frayed when I first got the boat in fact. Probably the first bit of parts replacement I did was replacing the forestay.

If you're concerned, definitely remove and inspect the forestay. It's actually easy to do, and you'll learn something about the furler if you've never opened it before. A forestay failure is potentially catastrophic, so it would be prudent to have a look at least.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... manual.pdf
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby kurz » Tue Nov 27, 2018 3:28 pm

Alexis wrote:I can relate, I don't have a turnbuckle at the forestay head

You don't see the turnbuckle from the forestay as the turnbuckle is inside the furling drum.
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Alexis » Tue Nov 27, 2018 3:57 pm

kurz wrote:
Alexis wrote:I can relate, I don't have a turnbuckle at the forestay head

You don't see the turnbuckle from the forestay as the turnbuckle is inside the furling drum.


Sorry, my bad, I meant a "toggle" at the top of the forestay. I correct my initial post.

I understand that some have a toggle between the forestay top eye and the tangs which are bolted to the mast, which reduces fatigue on the forestay.
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby kurz » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:14 am

I don't have I toggle either up at the forestay from the CDI Furler at my :macm:
So I think it is not so important as I got the :macm: directely from family Sharp.

And if you change the setting with a toggle a standard forestay from BWY will not fit anymore?!

What appears to be important is that the crimps protect from phisical damage of the forestay cable. When it flipps around the metal plates from the shrouds can touch the forestay cable and will cut. The crimps protect from this problem. At least in the the setting of my :macm:
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Alexis » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:22 pm

Follow-up: I just finished tuning-up the furler. The existing forestay looked ok but I decided to upgrade it with the thicker one from Blue Water Yacht anyway ; I also changed the halyard and the furler control line.

The CDI furler was way more simple that I thought it was, there isn't really anything that can go bad in it. (I discovered that the CDI company is based in Winnipeg. Way to go Canada ! :D)

I also checked the genoa. The biggest surprise was about the black canvas sewed around the sail which was falling apart. The original thread was so decomposed that it was almost disappearing at places (I am not talking about the thread on the white sail fabric which seems durable) I had to glue it at some places, and to replace the thread where it had completely disappeared. I had a lot of fun spreading the genoa in my living room to sew it, but I hope I won't need to do that each year!

To conclude I really encourage Macgregor owners to check the forestay once in a while.
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Tomfoolery » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:43 pm

Alexis wrote:I also checked the genoa. The biggest surprise was about the black canvas sewed around the sail which was falling apart. The original thread was so decomposed that it was almost disappearing at places (I am not talking about the thread on the white sail fabric which seems durable) I had to glue it at some places, and to replace the thread where it had completely disappeared. I had a lot of fun spreading the genoa in my living room to sew it, but I hope I won't need to do that each year!

Hopefully you used heavy gauge polyester with UV inhibitors. There's also Tenara (Bore-Tex) that will last just about forever, but that stuff is real expensive. The sun cover takes the beating, as the sail spends most of its life hiding behind it, but the sun cover has nowhere to hide, so the threads take a beating. :|
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Baha » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:52 am

If you get a headsail cover, it will add years to the sacrificial strip on your headsail.
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Alexis » Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:56 pm

Baha wrote:If you get a headsail cover, it will add years to the sacrificial strip on your headsail.


This may sound dumb but I didn't think about this sacrificial aspect of things. Hey, it is the first time I own a sailboat with a furler after all! So it is actually ok for this strip to have some wear from the sun. Just feeling better about it... Thanks Baha! :)
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Tomfoolery » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:01 pm

Alexis wrote:
Baha wrote:If you get a headsail cover, it will add years to the sacrificial strip on your headsail.


This may sound dumb but I didn't think about this sacrificial aspect of things. Hey, it is the first time I own a sailboat with a furler after all! So it is actually ok for this strip to have some wear from the sun. Just feeling better about it... Thanks Baha! :)

I'm not sure I'd use the word "sacrificial"; more like the UV strip is made of a material that can tolerate UV exposure, because the sail cloth can't withstand it as well. So it's just a strip to protect the sail material underneath it.

My bimini and dodger, which live in the sun during the summer, are 20 years old. I replaced the flexible windows last winter, and restitched the seams, and they're good for another 5 or 10 years. The thread deteriorates faster than the Sunbrella cloth, so a bit of restitching every so many years makes it all good again. 8)
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Re: Roller furler inspection and maintenance

Postby Alexis » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:35 pm

Agreed! The fabric is still in a good shape and looks durable, but the thread is disappearing by the cumulative action of the sun and friction. I know the precedent owner used to keep the genoa rolled when stepping the mast up and down.

When I thought about the "sacrificial" aspect it was in the sense that if the strip shape goes beyond repair, an alternative to sewing a new one (on an old sail) could be to remove it completely and to replace it by a sleeve...
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