One more item off the to-do list!
I have known that I was going to have to replace the lifelines on Piko since I bought the boat. My guess is that they are original, but either way, they were the old vinyl covered 7×7 wires and there were several areas where you could see rust at the end of the covers and where the covers had cracked due to age and UV. As part of this project, I also wanted to extend the pushpit or stern pulpit so that I could hang some solar panels on them for cruising. I also wanted to add gates to the lifelines as well. We replaced the propane oven on the boat earlier this year to one of the newer force 10 models that has a thermostatically controlled oven, and lugging the oven in its box from the dock onto the boat by myself without gates was an interesting proposition! 🙂 This is what the back end of the system looked like before I started:
My thoughts were to get a rail maker to extend the pushpit to the first stanchion base and basically make the lifelines solid so I could mount a panel and then redo the lifelines on the forward part of the boat.
I contacted two difference people that do this type of work and like usual when you get a quote, was pretty shocked at how much they were bidding for what I was considering a few minutes measuring, bending one piece of stainless and a few welds per side.
I then started to look at materials to price out how much the DIY version would cost. Fisheries Supply here in seattle had all the parts I needed to build these myself, though I would be using fittings rather than welding to put it all together. And the best part is that my cost in materials was about 1/5 of quote.
so 5 6′ tubes of 1″ polished stainless and a bag of SS rail fittings later I was ready to get started.
The first joy of this project was getting the two aft-most stanchions out. Wauquiez uses a Goiot aluminum toerail and then custom cast aluminum stanchion bases that bold onto the rails. The boats originally had 8 of these, 4 on each side. Like all boat projects, I only needed to remove two of those, and those were the two that were completely non-removable from their base. The other six, outside of a little corrosion since they use a stainless screw to attach a stainless stanchion in an aluminum base, came out relatively easy. I ended up getting out some de-salt solution, liquid wrench, the MAP gas torch and a really big wrench. Each one took about an hour to works it’s way free from the base, but they did come out. Here is what one of them looked like after the fight…
I used my dremel and a handful of cutoff wheels to actually cut the tubing to size. I am amazed at how versatile a tool this is, and is great because it stows in a lot less space that all the things it replaces. I did use the fiberglass reinforced cutting wheels though as 302 stainless is pretty tough stuff and you really go through the cheaper brown discs.
Here you can see what the railing looks like after the fittings have been installed. Sadly, I could not find a 1″ T fitting that also had a loop on it for attached the life lines, so I will lash the lifelines to the T fitting itself with Spectra line.
So at this point, it is time to start the installation of the life lines. I did a lot of thinking and ended up deciding that I was going to go with synthetic life lines rather than stainless rope. One primary reason to go this route is it is strong, simple and I can build and fix them myself on the boat with tools I carry. Stainless, which more chafe resistant, required special equipment to properly swage the ends on, and I have seen with the inside of one of the hand crimp swages look like and I would not trust them on my boat. That means if you want to go with wire, you need to get them professional swaged, or use swageless fittings, but those are quite costly.
I chose 3/16″ AS-78 line. It is very strong, much stronger that steel for it’s same diameter, has good chafe and UV resistance, and is white, so it looks much more typical when glancing at the boat. I ended up going with 3/16″ since any smaller and it would not be as comfortable, even though it has a working load of 5400 lbs. The AS-78 also is very low in both creep and stretch, so it is perfect for this static application. Open 60’s have been doing this for years in condition much harsher than I ever want to see without issues.
I ended up doing what is called a mobius or locking Brummel splice around a stainless steel thimble on each end. I am not going to go into how to do the splice, look online at the rope manufactures page, or pick up the Brion Toss book if you are not familiar. Here you can see the finished project at the stanchion where everything meets. Notice I installed a stanchion brace here to support the forward lifelines when the gate is open.
To attach the other end of the line to either the bob pulpit or the pushpit, I just a simple lashing.
Well, that is it! I know have new lifelines that I trust and have a spot to mount the 2 new Kyocera KD135 solar panels I just ordered, which I will probably write another post about once they arrive and I bolt them into place.