After several years, I decided to check the condition of my spreader tips. For the past few seasons, I've had them wrapped in rigging tape to assist against UV attact. After cutting away the tape, I removed the one screw that holds the black plastic tip in the spreader. To my amazement nothing inside both sides of the tube was one piece any more! The plastic had cracked and wasn't very pretty so I decided to replace them.
My simple task turned out to be a pain! no boating store carried anything I could use. Now I started to look for optional things that would work in place of the original set. This lead me to a hardware store to get some ideas. Looking around I came across some PVC fittings. They could work but I know they're not UV protected. Finding UV stuff lead me to the "above/under ground" plastic pipe section.
My stock spreaders are made from one inch aluminum tube. The tube has a 1/16th inch wall and that means I needed a plug that would fit a 7/8th inch hole. Turns out the 1/2" electrical plastic pipe fit just right. Now all I had to do was to find "things" that could hold the upper shroud as it traveled up the mast. All I could find was a straight piece and a cap. Now I had some parts to work with.
The original tips were about $15.00 from the factory, plus shipping. After adding up the plastic parts, my bill was just under $4.00. Not bad so far but I still didn't have everything needed. Then I looked at the original end and decided to mount it on the newer cap. (Confused yet?)
After all that planning, I thought, "If I'm going to use the original end cap and screws, why do I need to complicate things. So I grabbed a broom with a one inch wooden handle, cut of a couple inches, got my belt sander and removed a 1/16th ", and shoved it it the shroud end. Everything worked fine. Drilling out the screw hole I put the screw in to hold it from falling in or out, drilled two more holes, got a couple stainless steel wood screws, and proceeded to mount the original black plastic end. Doing that for the other side, everything worked fine. Total cost was about 40 cents for the screws.
The wood will slowly rot away but that shouldn't happen for several years. Then I'll just cut off a bit more broom stick handle and make another couple!
The spreader are made from aluminum and have a one inch max outside diameter. The outer ends have a nylon plug pushed in. Mine came from the factory colored black but over time that will naturally fade and the nylon will weaken or crack needing replacement.
On the ends of each plug there is a shallow vertical slot or groove and a hole on each side of the groove that a stainless screw, (two total), goes into.
Another piece of nylon is screwed over the plug, lets call it a cap. It also has a matching shallow groove. The flat cap acts as a "pinch" device for the upper cables, (shroud), which fit through the groove.
I hope the descriptions above don't make the spreader tip area confusing or sound complicated, it's not! Just about anything can be used to hold the shrouds, the factory used nylon. Over the years that seemed to work very well and the price is pretty low also.
Apply rigging tape on the outer portion of the spreader. That will help stop the UV attack on the plastic spreader tips.
After the first winter layup I inspected everything the following spring, that included the spreader bars and shrouds. As I looked at the lower shroud's ball ends, I noticed that both had tiny raised line-like marks on them. My previous knowledge of mechanical things told me the lines were created by the tool that squeezed the ball ends on the cable end. The lines being steel would dig into the softer aluminum spreader bar every time the mast was raised. Being loose while trailering, the ball ends would "snag" in a cocked position. As the mast was raised the shrouds would bend the cable at a variety of directions. The bending back and forth could possible cause failure as well as being pulled out
Common sense told me to file the "lines" off. Having cleaned them off, it would give the balls more of a chance to pivot in the bar's socket. The cable now has less chance to bend and fatigue.
I consider the small bit of filing to be what prevented any problems on my boat. Now that I think about it, a shot or two of lube might help more. Every 2023 owner should look to see if the crimp-lines are causing problems for them! The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced the "line" is the problem and the filing is the fix.
Santana 2023A - Tall Mast (30') Shroud & Forstay Data
Lowers(inside, from deck to spreader bar)
Uppers(outside, from deck to mast around spreaders)
Forestay(mounted between Harkens furler units)
26' 11" long
The stock jib sheet clamps were difficult to operate from the opposite side so I replaced them with ones that allow proper operation from the sides. (I considered them Christmas gifts to myself!)
Several other owners mentioned changing them to the kind that pivot. All though the end result is the same I have a problem with the cost. It's nearly three times the cost than the ones I obtained and the pivot type look like they might get hung-up on the leeward line. Well... maybe not but why bother thinking about it anyway.
Take care of your line. Don't let things like dirt, build up on it. Gather it, put it in a mesh bag, then wash it on the gentle cycle, (you can even use fabric softener). If not that way, soak it in fresh water and mild soap. After it's clean, hang it up to dry.
Concerns about road grim and sun UV made me look for ways to remove the entire foresail while land bound. If I could only find a good way to detach both upper and lower sections all would be set, so I kept looking and found a way!
A standard pin using a cotter key was used to attach the upper furler to the mast. That was way to bothersome. Having to undo and replace the cotter key just to remove the holding pin! With all the hardware supplies on the market I figured something would do, I just had to find it. After hunting around, I found a wide-clevis that would fit the bill. Either 1/4" or 5/16" size will work just fine. Now I can quickly remove the upper section by unscrewing the pin.
The only modifications I did to the wide-clevis was to weld a small stainless steel tab on the pin so my fingers could unscrew the pin without needing a set of pliers. (Look carefully at picture on right.) The placement and removal will always be on land so I doubt if I'll ever loose my custom pin, but I do wish someone could make a captive wide-clevis.
All I have to remember now is to attach the upper furling unit before I start stepping the mast. But I would never do something that dumb! (Blush!)
The left picture shows the lower furler mount. For lack of a better name I call it a knife-switch. *(It reminds me of those big electrical knife-switches used in the old Frankenstein movie.)
On the knife-switch I attached two stainless brackets and a 2,000 pound working load chain link. (See left picture.) Please note that you should get the forestay tension set where you want it before fully crimping the chain link permanently on to the aluminum bar. It's not expensive to replace but if you do crimp it tight on the bar then want to replace or move it you've just added 15+ minutes to the project.
On the bottom of the Harkens furler is where I attached a Wichard clevis. It allows for a quick disconnect.
If your wondering, it's a 1/4" Wichard #1433 captive pin clevis (seen on the right). It's listed with a 1430 pound safe working load but I've found that the forestay never goes that high even in a 30 knot blow!
A couple owners experienced a broken mast. Not a good thing! It seems that the upper end of the lower shrouds has a "ball" end, (looks like the end of a motorcycle cable). This is secured directly into the spreader bar a couple inches out from the mast.
According to the factory, the problem arises when aftermarket shrouds are used. Owner, Steve M. says the ball ends are, "an accident waiting to happen" no matter who makes them, so why not change them now.
Several owners have gone to a much stronger through-bolt setup. (I was told the factory switched on later models). If you choose this method you'll notice that it is attached just like the upper shroud's are to the mast. The new mounting position is located just below the spreaders.
The factory claims that the older models used non-hardening spreader bars. Although they have replaced most in question with the hardened type, not all have been exchanged.
Steve M. had a stainless steel bar made to replace the aluminum one. (I believe he has more if you wish to acquire one from him.) Something to think about.
Although not recommended by the factory, should you decide to use vinyl coated shrouds, the factory suggests changing them more often than standard shrouds. If the section near the turnbuckle starts to looks bad, a rule-of-thumb is to replace them each four years if you sail in salt water, and every ten years if in fresh water.
During the first year, I replaced the Harkens furling unit's line using smaller 3/16" line. This was done so I could use neat colors to distinguish lines and for a larger capacity for my "future" genoa, (in my dreams!). The only problem was that the smaller diameter line kept wrapping below the spool and getting caught.
Trying several things to fix this, nothing seemed to work, I was about to switch back to the original 1/4" line until I came up with using little nylon tie-wraps. Placing them on the unit, they hold the line up so it wouldn't get caught underneath. The tie-wraps acted sort-of-like a fishing reel by holding the line up. No problems since!
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