DIY: Replacing a Mainsheet Traveler

I love the fact that an old boat can give you as much sailing pleasure as an expensive new one. The only proviso for me is that the sail handling systems be absolutely top-notch. Replacing hardware like mainsheet travelers, genoa lead cars, boom vangs and lead blocks with new, low-friction gear will repay you many times over in ease of handling and improved efficiency.A case in point was a
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

I love the fact that an old boat can give you as much sailing pleasure as an expensive new one. The only proviso for me is that the sail handling systems be absolutely top-notch. Replacing hardware like mainsheet travelers, genoa lead cars, boom vangs and lead blocks with new, low-friction gear will repay you many times over in ease of handling and improved efficiency.

A case in point was a friend’s elderly but sweet-sailing Lady Helmsman 39. With its narrow beam and tall fractional rig, this Swedish design sails like a witch and just loves going to windward. The corollary to the big rig is the fact that the mainsail needs frequent tending to get the old girl performing to her potential. The original traveler was, to put it kindly, past its best, and the owner just left it locked on the centerline. A new one would be the sort of upgrade that showed immediate results.

We decided to install a new Harken windward sheeting traveler, which has a mechanism that automatically opens and closes the leeward cleat during a tack. As you’re sailing upwind the leeward cleat stays open so you can pull the car up to or above the centerline, and when you tack the leeward cleat closes, the car stays put, and the new leeward cleat opens so you can pull the car above centerline.

We ordered a kit that came with a length of high-beam track with variable hole spacing, which promised to make installation a breeze. Here’s how it worked in practice.

travint1f

The original traveler is obviously due for replacement. For starters, there is only a 2:1 purchase on the traveler tackle, which is hardly adequate for the loads imposed by the big mainsail.

trav2intf

The plain-bearing blocks were worn and friction was an issue.

travint4

Tufnol blocks give away the age of the traveler system – late 1970s.

travint5

As always, getting the old fixtures off is the worst part of any deck gear upgrade.

travint6

The components of the Harken windward sheeting traveler: high beam track, a ball-bearing car, low-friction blocks and end stops.

travint7

We had to drill holes so we could bolt on the end stops, but apart from that, installation is about as easy as it gets.

travint8

The new bolts were larger than the old ones, so we had to slightly enlarge the holes from the old traveler.

travint9

This is what makes the high-beam track so easy to install—the bolts slide in from the end, and can be positioned over the existing holes.

travint10

We slide on the new car, and then position the track over the holes.

travint11

A thorough application of sealant around the holes and along the length of the track should stop water from getting in.

travint12

Now we just have to wiggle the fasteners around a little so they pop into their holes, and then the track will be in place. All we have to do is tighten up the nuts under the bridgedeck.

Related

NightWatch-01

Night Watch

Robert Reeder is a seamanship instructor for a series of online courses through Boaters University. His course, Fundamentals of Seamanship: Rules of the Road, is a great way to get a full understanding of how to interpret the USCG rules of the road and how to apply the rules in ...read more

BinosOnDeck-02

Binoculars for Lookouts

Robert Reeder is a seamanship instructor for a series of online courses through Boaters University. His course, Fundamentals of Seamanship: Rules of the Road, is a great way to get a full understanding of how to interpret the USCG rules of the road and how to apply the rules in ...read more

01 Landing Page

Volvo Race: Bound for Newport

It’s a very different kind of sailing from what the fleet experienced in the course of a windy Leg 7, as the Volvo Ocean Race wends its way north from Brazil to Newport, Rhode Island.As expected, the St. Helena High, which dominates the weather in the South Atlantic, has made for ...read more

North Sails 3Di - What you need to know

North Sails 3Di - What you need to know

3Di Outlasts The AdventureFrancois Gabart and his 30-meter trimaran Macif broke the solo around-the-world speed record in December 2017 with a 3Di mainsail that had 45,000 miles BEFORE the start of his record run. 3Di powered all three around-the-world speeds records currently ...read more

01-Hanse_Emotion_6

Hanse’s E-Motion Electric Rudder Drive

When news that Hanse Yachts had launched a new form of electric-powered yacht first broke in the winter of 2016, it was widely reported. After all, Hanse is one of the world’s biggest builders of sailing boats, so this had the feeling of a breakthrough to it.After nearly a year, ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comDefusing the Run It’s been said with justification that gentlemen don’t boast about how windy it was, but the shape of my ensign in the photo will give well-informed readers a fair idea. They will also ...read more