Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Answer

The Neuse River
34 57.80 N 076 43.77 W

Well well well.  As I predicted, a number of you correctly said that the mystery object is a serving mallet.  What I didn't expect were the number of clever but smart-alecy additional answers.

The picture below shows diagrams for serving and seizing of wire rope, and also how the serving mallet is used. On Tarwathie, I used siezed connections for  our lifeline gates, and for the running backstays.  For the main stays and shrouds, we have Norseman connectors, but no swaged fittings.

The served and seized fittings are said to be 85% as strong as the Norseman fitting.  However, on lifelines and stuff we have swaged fittings.  They have started to slip indicating that they are not properly holding.

Actually, I'm disenchanted with stainless steel standing rigging of all kinds.  Having learned more now about how it can fail catastrophically and disastrously, and how difficult it is to spot incipient failure, and how hard it is to properly maintain SS, I think it sucks.  Someone on another blog pointed out that stainless steel rigging was invented for racing boats, and that it is not really optimal for cruising boats.   I'm going to gradually replace my stainless rigging with ropes.  Of course I'll use the modern miracle fiber ropes that are stronger, and lighter than steel, and which resist abrasion and chafing.  I think one fo the brands is Amsteel.

I think that the proper criteria for a cruising boat are that all equipment should be able to be adequately inspected on board, and also repaired or replaced when under way.  Stainless steel standing rigging, especially swaged fittings, do not meet those criteria.

Swaged lifeline fitting that is failing.

By the way, I follow Westsail news via the owners association (westsail.org). I think that it is noteworthy that in recent years, 100% of the cases of major structural failures and abandonment of Westsails have been because of stainless steel rigging failures.  Some critical parts, like tangs and chain plates offer no alternative.   I've never heard of bronze chain plates.  But other critical parts do have alternatives.

So, how well did my home made serving mallet work?  It failed.  It was doing a great job, laying down a very tight, very uniform layer of serving, when the tension on the string became so strong that it crushed the mallet body.  See the picture.  I finished the job, but the mallet is ruined.   The hardware store dowel I used was too soft.  A serving mallet must be made of much harder, must stronger wood.  Oh well, I'll throw in the towel and buy a commercial serving mallet, complete with spool, on the Internet.

By the way,David drove down to go sailing with us Monday and Tuesday. The weather forecasts have been dismal, but 100%^ wrong. Yesterday morning it was supposed to blow 10-15, it blew 15-25 instead. It was supposed to rain all day yestrday, last night and this morning. We only saw a few sprikles. It was suppoesed to blow 25 last night, it blew zero. It was supposed to below 25 this morning, it is blowing 8. However, we've had good luck with wind direction so we're having a great time sailing. We are acclimating Dave to Tarwathie with the thought that some day he'll be her owner.

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