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How to Measure Sailboat Wire Rigging | Expert Advice

Watch our video and read these instructions to learn how to measure sailboat wire rigging properly from bearing surface to bearing surface.

how to measure wire rigging

 What you will need:

  • Two people.
  • A no-stretch measuring tape (we prefer steel or fiberglass) at least as long as the rigging you will be measuring.
  • A small diameter, fixed anchor point and a flat surface to work on (eg. A nail or screw in a dock or on a long tool bench)or a small screwdriver. Do not try to measure on your boat.
  • Our Wire Rigging Measurement Worksheet  or our Lifeline Measurement Worksheet to record your information on.

For Standing Rigging:

  1. If you have a turnbuckle or other threaded adjuster, it is important you set the tension to the medium-air (normal sailing) setting prior to dropping the mast and/or removing the rigging from the boat.
  2. Mark your turnbuckles with tape or a Sharpie marker, or measure the exposed thread length with calipers (preferred).  This will allow you to reset them to their original adjusted length once they are off the boat.
  3. Tag every piece of rigging (duct tape is best) befor you remove it.  Include Port or Starboard, Function (Upper shroud, forestry, back stay, etc), and if you measured tread length write it down
  4. Once your rigging is off the boat reassemble your turnbuckles and adjust them back to their original setting referencing your mark (tape or Sharpie) or by using your thread measurement.
  5. Repin your threaded turnbuckles/adjusters (if any) to prevent movement while measuring.
  6. Remove any clevis pin(s)  for the ends of your rigging(see photo above).  If the end fitting is a shackle then leave it in.
  7. Attach your measuring tape and rigging to the fixed anchor point (see photo above).
  8. Pull the other end of your rigging taut. To insure an accurate measurement, you will need to apply enough pressure to eliminate any kinks or memory the wire may have. If the wire is severely bent at any point(s), you will need to first bend it back so that it is straight.
  9. Tension your tape measure below your rigging. With both the wire and tape taut, take the measurement at the bearing surface of the opposite end fitting. Measure twice for accuracy.

If you are measuring a threaded stud, don’t forget to determine the thread type, diameter and length of the existing stud. Visit How To Determine Thread Length and Type for more information.

For Running Rigging:

  1. Make sure your halyard shackle is closed.
  2. Put the pin of the shackle on your anchor point (see photo above)
  3. Follow from Step 6 above.

If you are measuring a threaded stud, don’t forget to determine the thread type, diameter and length of the existing stud. Visit How To Determine Thread Length and Type for more information.

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