Emergency Replacement Wire Stays
Yacht rigs rely on all components working in unison to maintain performance and structural integrity. All parts from spreader tips to swage terminals, toggles to masthead boxes are all exposed to the cyclic loading that will eventually lead to problems. While it's not practical to keep a full inventory of spare rig parts on board, some parts such as wire and terminals are considered more essential than others.
Why should I carry a replacement wire?
Prevention is always better than cure. Always maintain a regular schedule of checks on your rig for wear, corrosion and cracks. This is essential for mitigating against rig failure. However, increased rig loads whilst underway will always promote the chance of component failure. With more sailors travelling further than ever before and making passage through more remote areas, repairs are often required on the go.
Not everything can be repaired easily on the go, especially if you're sailing shorthanded, the damage is aloft or involves a large piece of hardware. A common problem that can be repaired relates to the partial or complete parting of a wire at the swage.
If you notice a crack or rogue strand on a wire, the canvas can usually be reduced and sailed on the opposite tack to the damage while a repair is attempted.
What tools do I need?
Typically you will need to carry a spare wire that is at least as long as the longest stay onboard. Plus at least 1 of each terminal associated with that particular wire diameter and your rig. If you have a mixture of wire diameters on the rig then you will need to extend this principle to each of your wire diameters.
For example, if your rig has a 12m x 6mm backstay, 10m x 5mm cap shrouds and 5m x 6mm lowers, you will need.
- 12m x 6mm 1x19 wire
- 10m x 5mm 1x19 wire
- Upper and Lower 6mm Long Mechanical/swageless fittings
- Upper and Lower 5mm Long Mechanical fittings
- Tools listed in the mechanical fitting instructions
- Wire cutters/hacksaw
- Clamps/jig for holding the wire
The fittings you require need to match your bottle screw threads and pin sizes so that the replacement fittings work with what you already have.
Do I always need to replace a whole stay?
If only the lower end of the stay is damaged then it may be possible to replace the terminal with a new mechanical fitting without using the spare wire. The resultant loss of length means that the mechanical fittings will need to bridge the gap. Stalok produces extra long terminals to solve this problem, while Petersen Stainless opted for an insert which lives in the middle of their standard fittings to extend them.
The wire will need to be completely cut free from the terminal right at the join to the swage. A hacksaw will produce a tidier cut for use with a mechanical fitting, but 1x19 wire is notoriously difficult to cut without clamps or a jig. Wire croppers are the alternative but they may leave you with awkward strands to tidy up. Either way, it is important to wrap plenty of tape around the area. Not only does this give you something to mark when offering up the new fitting, but it will help keep the strands together during the cut.
If you need to replace a whole stay, it is helpful to have prepared at least one end of the wire, prior to storage so that you know one end is ready to go. Finally, always practice fitting mechanical fittings in advance.
Petersen Stainless Swageless Terminal Information
Being familiar with the process will be very helpful when attempting the repair for real. Stalok fittings can be re-used if you have spare cones or don't fully tighten the fitting during practice. Hi-Mod Terminals can be re-used without spares. The inner components of all mechanical fittings are small and easy to drop so it may be worth having a couple of additional spares of these too.