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How to Rebuild a Spinlock XTS Clutch | Expert Advice

I’m sure that you look around this blog and figure that there’s a lot of planning that goes into our choices for reviews, videos, etc. For the most part, that’s true — we do plan a couple of weeks out and are constantly building a list of ideas. But if you picked up on the foreshadowing I laid down, you’ll know that this post isn’t one of those times. I went down and asked Ian if he wanted to do […]

I’m sure that you look around this blog and figure that there’s a lot of planning that goes into our choices for reviews, videos, etc. For the most part, that’s true — we do plan a couple of weeks out and are constantly building a list of ideas.

But if you picked up on the foreshadowing I laid down, you’ll know that this post isn’t one of those times. I went down and asked Ian if he wanted to do another video about taking something apart…
“Sure.”
“What do you want to do it on?”
Ian looks around, sees clutches – “How about I take apart a Spinlock clutch.”
And thus, an idea was born…

In this Stern Scoop Video Blog, Ian takes apart a XTS Spinlock Clutch. You’ll see how easily these come apart and how it’s not any harder to rebuild them. If your rope clutch stops working properly, it’s relatively easy to get in there and figure out what’s on the fritz. You can find any replacement part that you might need for a Spinlock clutch here.

It’s also useful to know how to take one of these Spinlock clutches apart if you’re thinking about reducing the size of your halyard, to save some weight aloft. As cordage continues to get stronger and more advanced, diameters can be reduced while still handling the same load. If you do reduce the size of your halyard, you may need to work on your clutch to ensure that it continues to properly hold your line.

Spinlock makes it easy to accomplish this, as you simply need to replace the cam — you’ll see how easy that is in Ian’s video. Remember, for max performance from your clutch, always try and be at the top end of its max line diameter.Spinlock Clutch Diagram

For instance, the XTS clutch handles two line sizes: 1/4″ – 5/16″ and 5/16″ – 9/16″. If you had a 5/16″ halyard that you were buying a clutch for, you’d want to use the 1/4″ – 5/16″ clutch. The image to the left illustrates this for you — each color represents a different model of Spinlock clutch… as the diameter of the line goes up, so does the holding power of the clutch. Simple concept, but important when spec’ing things out.

Other than that, the video pretty much speaks for itself. Of course, if you have any questions about what Ian does, feel free to drop them in the comment below and we’ll get back to you with an answer.

And yes, the two mannequins over Ian’s right shoulder are suggestively posed (unintentionally, we promise — we’re not that bored around here); as such, this video is rated PG.

[switches to Ed McMahon voice]
So, heeeeeeeeeeeerrrrreeee’ssss Ian:

How To Rebuild a Harken 150 Cam Cleat | Expert Advice

A common project, especially at the beginning of a sailing season, is servicing cam cleats that might be flapping around due to a broken spring or grinding/catching due to a bad ball bearing. Today we turn our Bob Villa of the Storefront, Ian Coleman, loose to tear down and re-build a Harken Cam Cleat (Harken Part #: 150). The information in this video and post applies only to the Harken 150 Cam Cleat — luckily, the 150 is the most […]

A common project, especially at the beginning of a sailing season, is servicing cam cleats that might be flapping around due to a broken spring or grinding/catching due to a bad ball bearing. Today we turn our Bob Villa of the Storefront, Ian Coleman, loose to tear down and re-build a Harken Cam Cleat (Harken Part #: 150).

The information in this video and post applies only to the Harken 150 Cam Cleat — luckily, the 150 is the most popular and widely used cam cleats known to mankind, so most of you will find this useful. Other Harken Cam Cleats and cleats from other manufacturers are manufactured differently and trying to use the techniques that Ian does will only result in you breaking your cam cleat more.

Off the showroom floor, a new Harken 150 costs about $30.00; replacing all of the plastic bits, the springs and the ball bearings costs about half of that. It takes about 15 minutes to pull off this surgery (not including the time it takes to remove the cam from your deck), so you’ll have to do the higher math to figure out what your time is worth.

A couple of things to keep in mind before tearing down a cam cleat:
1) Remember to use a bowl, bucket, pan, 3rd place bowl/trophy that you don’t really like anyways to catch all of the ball bearings as they come out when you take the cleat apart. Conversely, when you’re doing the rebuild, putting the bearings back into the cleat over something will catch the ones you invariably drop will make you life easier and free of curse words you don’t want the kids to hear.

2) Ian’s hands really don’t move that fast when the Benny Hill soundtrack kicks in. That’s him at 400% speed, so that you don’t have to sit through the one by one installation.

3) Be careful when pulling the bottom red baseplate off, as the springs may just drop right out or go flying… in fact, both of those things happened at one point. A big shoutout to folks at Sony and their fine video editing software!

So, without further pontification, here’s Ian and his rebuild:

If you want to rebuild some of your cam cleats check out the H150 spare parts. To rebuild a whole cleat you’ll need two springs, one package of ball bearings and one base/cap set. The gronical is only needed for mounting an eyestrap to the top as a fairlead.

Laser Sailboat Line Updrade Options | Expert Advice

Its no wonder the Laser is one of the largest adult one design classes in the world (Optis are actually the largest. I swear, those things multiply like bunnies). They’re lightweight, easy to handle and can be a great fit for every sailor ranging from a “which side is the bow” kinda novice to a “I only speak the language of sailing-pro bro” kinda expert. One of the main reasons this dinghy has become so popular is its straightforward set up […]

Its no wonder the Laser is one of the largest adult one design classes in the world (Optis are actually the largest. I swear, those things multiply like bunnies). They’re lightweight, easy to handle and can be a great fit for every sailor ranging from a “which side is the bow” kinda novice to a “I only speak the language of sailing-pro bro” kinda expert.Laser Regatta

One of the main reasons this dinghy has become so popular is its straightforward set up which keeps maintenance and cost to a minimum. To be able to update every last line on a laser can be far more affordable than replacing one halyard on most big boats. Since the Laser is so straight forward it’s worth the small investment to make your lines easier to handle and longer lasting so you can focus on hiking harder and sailing smarter.

So with easy and affordable Laser part upgrades in mind, we have put together a list of your top options for Laser Control Lines.

Mainsheet:
Rooster (Polilite) – 7mm, Polyester Cover with a Polypropylene Core
New England Buzz Line – 7mm, Polyester & Polypropylene Blend
Paraloc Marlin – 8mm, Polyester Cover with Dyneema Core – very kink resistant

Traveler:
Yale Crystaline – 3/16″, Polyester Cover with Vectran Core
Paraloc Shark – 5/32″, Technora Cover with Vectran Core – super durable

Control Lines:
Maffioli Swiftcord – 5/32″ or 3/16″, Cordura Dyneema Blend

For more help on choosing which of these lines is right for you, check out the video below for a more in depth look!

 

Harness vs. Bosun’s Chair

Harness vs. Bosun’s Chair | Expert Advice

In honor of today’s Hot New Item, the Harken Bosun’s Chair, we’re going to be delving into the advantages of a harness vs. a bosun’s chair. For some, this may seem elementary — but the best way to get up a rig is a popular question for the guys in Customer Service, so we put our heads together and made up a quick list for each. Bosun’s Chairs tend to get a bad rap; modern versions are incredibly safe now, […]

In honor of today’s Hot New Item, the Harken Bosun’s Chair, we’re going to be delving into the advantages of a harness vs. a bosun’s chair. For some, this may seem elementary — but the best way to get up a rig is a popular question for the guys in Customer Service, so we put our heads together and made up a quick list for each.

Bosun’s Chairs tend to get a bad rap; modern versions are incredibly safe now, whereas older versions (such as the one pictured to the right) were utter deathtraps. Anyone who goes up a rig on something like that should be arrested on attempted suicide charges, committed and banned from procreating.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh… but with the safer options that are available in bosun’s chairs, there’s no reason to be using the ol’ plank and webbing. Modern chairs such as the Harken Bosun’s Chair incorporate a number of safety features such as dual attachment points for increased stability, an adjustable safety belt with a leg strap and a downhaul attachment to provide further stability. Unlike a harness, a properly used bosun’s chair is almost impossible to flip upside down when you’re aloft.

That being said, the bosun’s chair is great for calmer conditions where you’ll be spending an extended period of time aloft — it’s much more comfortable. We wouldn’t recommend going up in one when there are rough seas; the ascent/decent could be very “bumpy”. Also, they normally provide a great deal of storage for tools and gear, making it easier to perform some tasks.

One point that we kind of went back and forth on was whether or not the bosun’s chair was easier for a beginner to use — we settled on yes, but just barely. Basically, if you have a crew of novices and may need to send someone up the rig, they may find it easier and less intimidating to use a chair.

However, the disadvantages of a bosun’s chair tend to be the advantages of a harness. Because of your upright body positioning in a harness, affording you greater use of your arms and legs, you gain the ability to use it in rougher conditions. This also allows you to assist the guys on deck who are busting a gut to get you up the rig, as you can actually climb and pull/push yourself up.

Also, due to the attachment point being at your waist instead of above your head, you can complete tasks above the sheave your being hoisted on with a harness. A harness is less cumbersome, as you don’t have to worry about the arms of the bosun’s chair being in your way or eyeline (see photo, right – Jon Downey, bow guy for the Donovan 27 Remedy, is able to get above the top of the mast to look down on the aerials).

Finally, for racing purposes, the harness is a faster method of getting up the rig if it’s already being worn — just grab a halyard, tie it on (never just rely on the shackle) and up you go. If you don’t have someone on the boat that is wearing it during the race, it takes up less space on-board and is lighter than a bosun’s chair.

Each product has a wheelhouse — for versatility, quick trips up and down the mast ( especially on the course) and overall range of motion, we’d overwhelmingly choose a harness. For extended periods of time aloft, beginners and dockside work, we’d recommend a bosun’s chair.

Tomorrow, we hope to complete a review of the Harken Bosun’s Chair. We’ll also take a look at the Crewsaver version as well, if we can. On Monday, we’ll take a look at the only harness designed specifically for sailors, the Spinlock Mast Pro Harness.

Either way you go, try out both and make your decision based on what makes you feel safest. Walk around the docks and ask neighbors what they use, the pros and cons, whether you can see it, try it, etc. Every time I go up a mast, my first thought is that this would be a really stupid way to die — but knowing that I have tried all sorts of options and settled on the harness that I have tends to quiet the fear. A little…

Hands On: Gill Compressor Vest

Gill Compressor Buoyancy Aid | Expert Review

NOTE: This product is no longer available.  Check out all of our other PFD choices here. The Gill Compressor Vest is a new buoyancy aid geared towards the high performance dinghy and sport boat market. The vest has minimal padding and is very thin throughout to maximize mobility in the boat. Unlike most life jackets the Compressor Vest is made primarily of neoprene and cut for a tight fit around the torso. The neoprene stretches to compress (hence the name) […]

NOTE: This product is no longer available.  Check out all of our other PFD choices here.

The Gill Compressor Vest is a new buoyancy aid geared towards the high performance dinghy and sport boat market. The vest has minimal padding and is very thin throughout to maximize mobility in the boat.

Unlike most life jackets the Compressor Vest is made primarily of neoprene and cut for a tight fit around the torso. The neoprene stretches to compress (hence the name) the gear worn beneath and provides a fit similar to a rash guard. This is excellent for preventing lose gear from snagging on hardware as you move about the boat.

The Compressor is a pull over style vest with a partial zipper on the left side and a buckled waist belt. Since it’s a pull over it takes a little doing to get into if you have a lot of gear on but I didn’t have too much trouble.

The shoulders are smooth neoprene with no extra bulk – ensuring that what is often a troublesome area on life jackets won’t catch on the boom as you are crossing the boat. Some of the reduced bulk in the Compressor Vest comes from the fact that it is a buoyancy aid and is not a US Coast Guard approved life jacket. The vest is CE (European) approved.

The Compressor Vest also makes you look a bit like a superhero. Individual results may vary – damsels in distress have told me I have a natural hero-like physique to begin with. So the vest is a little unusual looking – the separate panels do make it look a little bit like something Batman or a swat team member would wear. Friends might be inclined to punch you to see if it hurts or not (generally it doesn’t – it’s pretty solid foam).

I think some people would not find the fit of the Compressor Vest to their liking – it really does compress like the name suggests and if you don’t often wear rash guards or wet suits in your sailing this probably isn’t the vest for you. If you do this is a great compliment to your gear. I think it’s perfect for boats like the 49er or 5O5 and it could be good for some Melges or other sport boat sailors too.

If you’re in the market for a new life jacket and you want low bulk and don’t need it to be US Coast Guard approved the Compressor Vest should certainly be one for you to consider.

Maffioli NewSwift Line | Expert Review

NOTE:  This line is no longer available.  Check out these new similar lines Continuing our features about some of the lines we carry here at APS today we’re going to discuss Maffioli’s line NewSwift. Now NewSwift isn’t so new anymore – it’s been around for a little while. We’re doing some new things with it here at the shop that are pretty cool and I think it’s a line worth turning the spotlight on. NewSwift is available in four sizes […]

NOTE:  This line is no longer available.  Check out these new similar lines

Continuing our features about some of the lines we carry here at APS today we’re going to discuss Maffioli’s line NewSwift. Now NewSwift isn’t so new anymore – it’s been around for a little while. We’re doing some new things with it here at the shop that are pretty cool and I think it’s a line worth turning the spotlight on.

NewSwift is available in four sizes and three colors. It has a great hand feel similar to the Swiftcord and doesn’t flatten out under load. The downside is that NewSwift is stiffer, but it does become a bit more flexible with use.

And so without further gilding the lily and no more ado; here’s today’s video.

First Look: Ronstan Series 30 Orbit Blocks

Ronstan Series 30 Orbit Blocks | Expert Review

Update: The Series 30 Ronstan Orbit Blocks are now available on our website. Ronstan has “officially” released the Series 30 Orbit Blocks today; they’ve been advertised a little already and they were on the Ronstan website last week (maybe longer). Anyway, we’re working on getting them up on the site. Just like a Wendy’s menu, you have the traditional singles, doubles and triples in the Series 30 line. Incidentally, how does someone order a biggie-sized triple hamburger meal and have […]

Update: The Series 30 Ronstan Orbit Blocks are now available on our website.

Ronstan has “officially” released the Series 30 Orbit Blocks today; they’ve been advertised a little already and they were on the Ronstan website last week (maybe longer). Anyway, we’re working on getting them up on the site.

Just like a Wendy’s menu, you have the traditional singles, doubles and triples in the Series 30 line. Incidentally, how does someone order a biggie-sized triple hamburger meal and have the audacity to ask for a Diet Coke? Really? I digress…

There are a couple of unique blocks in the Series 30 line. They have a Dyneema linked pair of single 30mm blocks, which is a slick, lightweight alternative to linking together to blocks with clunky, metal shackles. The clew ring is also a nice piece, with a high strength stainless steel ring that is going to work on a number of smaller boats.

Ronstan also released a Series 20 block with the Series 30 line. Yes, it’s technically its own series, but since there’s only one, it gets the middle child treatment. It’s a cool little block, capable of loads up to 250kg (550lb) while weighing a just 9 grams. It has an integrated stainless grommet/hub to accept a lashing attachment, or it can be used as a through-sheave becket — it suits up to 4mm (5/32”) lashing.

One note is that these blocks were engineered for easy fitting of a stainless shackle; it’s an advertising point for Ronstan. I’m still working to figure out if they actually include the shackle with the block; I don’t think so, but I’ll work on that.

The Series 30 blocks are a solid options for most dinghies and small keelboats, and we expect that they’ll start making their way onto Lasers, 505’s, etc. in the near future. Ronstan looks to be targeting them at the sub-16′ boat market, but there are obviously going to be applications on boats in the small keelboat (Melges 20/24, J/22, J/24, etc.) range.

Orbits are still being touted as the blocks with the highest strength to weight ratio, that are more compact than the competition — by the numbers, they’re right. The final test will come when they get into widespread use, but if they’re anything like the Series 70, Series 55 and Series 40 blocks, they should perform well and experience solid popularity.

A Look at the APS Rigging Department | APS Advisor

I thought this would be a great time to show everyone a little behind the scenes look at our rigging department here at APS. All the custom rigging we produce from the split-bridle mainsheets to stripped halyards to life lines is made right in our shop. Our two dedicated riggers – John Lund our rigging manager and his team – make everything we send out. Our rigging shop has measuring tapes laid out on the work benches so the riggers […]

I thought this would be a great time to show everyone a little behind the scenes look at our rigging department here at APS. All the custom rigging we produce from the split-bridle mainsheets to stripped halyards to life lines is made right in our shop. Our two dedicated riggers – John Lund our rigging manager and his team – make everything we send out.

Our rigging shop has measuring tapes laid out on the work benches so the riggers can custom build jobs accurately every time (more on the importance of proper measuring next week). They take pride in their work and in producing some of the best custom rigging out there. John is always developing new and innovative solutions for customers whether it be an extreme taper to 1/16″ Spectra for a 2.4mR or a M24 lifeline package ready to attach to your boat with no splicing required.