svbeatrix.com — The website of the Sailing Vessel Beatrix, Kelly-Peterson 44 #276 (1980).
8 July 1998
Brion Toss is the most well-known rigger in the USA. His home
port is in Port Townsend, Washington State. His web site is: www.briontoss.com. After the mast was put back in Brion give us a rigging tune-up and some
advice. Here are my notes:
Standing Rigging Tensioning
Use a tension meter. The LOOS Tension Meter is Brion’s favorite
Backstay (3/8”) tensioned to 15% of
breaking load for local (Puget Sound) sailing. Offshore cruising requires 10 – 20%.
Aft and forward lowers should be
tensioned to 10 – 12 %.
Intermediates should be tensioned
A very slight hook to port or
starboard on the mast in gusts is OK.
Brion’s “patented” turnbuckle
tightening method: bottom – top – bottom – top. Don’t attempt to turn both top and bottom at the same time.
Use more tension in the forward lowers
to pull the mast forward
Tighten the backstay in heavy weather
or choppy seas to flatten the sail. He
recommends a backstay adjuster – the mechanical kind that works with a winch
handle (Harken B500 for 3/8” wire). Great idea, but list price is $1007. Can be installed in place by cutting wire and using a Haynes Hi-Mod or STA-LOK terminal.
Allow no more than an 8” sag to leeward
on the headset while reaching. Allow no
less than 6”. It is possible to
estimate this by laying out a line on the dock about the length of the
forestay. Pull it straight then move
the two ends about 8” over while not moving the middle (weight it down or
something). Sight along the curve,
memorise it, and there’s your curve. (Sounds doubtful to me but I guess experience will tell)
Brion has a tuning video for
Standing Rigging Comments
Use SparTite to replace mast wedges.
The inner foresail can be used to stop
Adjust the backstay (and therefore
forestay) tension going to weather.
Install a push-button on the clevis
pin on the inner forestay (we have a pelican hook on the inner forestay so it can
be moved out of the way when not in use.
Upper inner stay – add double-jaw
toggle or eye-jaw toggle with ½” pin to upper inner stay.
Our turning block for the inner
staysail halyard is too close to the mast. Brion suggested using a grommet for the block. A grommet is a loop of line spliced to itself. I ended up using another toggle.
Bump up the upper spreaders so the
angles on either side are equal (I estimated badly). The spreaders should bisect the angle of the outermost stays so
the vector of the compression force is exactly down the axis of the spreader.
Lubricate turnbuckles with LanoCote or TefGel
Dynamic tuning – the rig should not “flop” on different tacks. To a
Dynamic tuning – the rig should not“flop” on different tacks. To adjust
Then tighten it up until it “bumps” and that
is a good spot
Use stainless steel TIG rod in place
of cotter pins on the turnbuckles. A
single piece suffices for both threaded rods. Bend into a “U” shape, insert through the pin holes, bend a right angle
in the end, and then bend over again so the sharp end tucks into the barrel.
I told Brion that I had chosen
discontinuous intermediates because I felt (based on some Australian research
on high-performance multi-spreader rigs) that a discontinuous rig formed rigid
triangles instead of the non-rigid parallelogram when the intermediate is run
to the deck. He hadn’t thought of that
angle and said he would ponder it. The
discontinuous rig is of course harder to adjust since you have to go up the
mast to reach the turnbuckles. However,
the intermediates take the least load of all the standing rigging stays.
Running Rigging Comments
Suggested using Regatta Braid for
Replace old fiddle blocks with roller
Use a ratchet block and/or a stopper
Our running backstays are 10mm Spectra. Brion suggests checking the strength of the
Spectra and checking the rated load on our deck padeye (which may or may not
have a backing plate – this needs to be checked).
Roller furling (Schaeffer 3100) needs
a 5/8” bar toggle on the bottom of the long link plate. We also need to fix the lead of the furling
line into the drum. He suggested the
addition of a ratchet block (Harken 187 including cam cleat) one stanchion back
from it’s present location.
Sta-Set-X is a good line for halyards
Use an H-shackle for the sail cringle – add a short piece of sail track down to the gooseneck (not sure this is
Brion on Cotter Pins
Use the appropriate size – it should
not be hard to push in.
Length should be about 1 ½ times the
clevis pin diameter.
He suggests using bronze cotter pins
instead of stainless. Bronze is easier
to bend and straighten, and resists corrosion. (Avoid brass at all costs). Use
stainless only at waterline.
Use a “Y” not an “M”. Open the pins about 10° each
Rotate the clevis pin until the legs
of the cotter pin are over a flat surface and coat with a blob of silicon
rubber. The legs stay put and there is
no need to tape over.
Notes from Brion Toss Seminar on Jury Rigging
gave a seminar at West Marine on Jury Rigging.
Normally on a sailboat we have slow
failure and slow maintenance. Jury
rigging is necessary when we have fast failure and may be considered as fast
maintenance. The idea is not to replace
the rig, but to get it working again. Rigging is not a well-identified system even by boat designers. Some boats are designed for looks rather
than strength or utility (“The two-spreader rig looks more salty”).
The tang and through-bolt arrangement
(like on KP44) is the best method for fastening stays to the mast. Note that fair leads and a fair radius are
It is very hard to have a compression
failure in a keel-stepped mast unless you bend it. Deck-stepped masts can have compressive
A rule-of-thumb for determining the
strength of chainplates or tangs made of 316 stainless:
total width x
thickness x 80,000.
Note that total
width excludes the hole diameter, i.e. the total width of metal. A chainplate needs to be 30-50% stronger
than the wire.
As materials get stronger and more
corrosion resistant it is harder to see failures. Brion uses a 50-power hand scope to look for cracks. He noted that the discoloured look on most
US wire is from the mfg. process and can be cleaned up easily. Avoid foreign wire.
Going up the mast is easier with a 3:1 pulley arrangement using a ratchet
block. He recommends ½” regatta
braid. He uses a fishing vest to hold
all his parts and pins when going aloft. He has a specialised harness (expensive) and uses a “taco”, or rope
ascender, for safety. The “Jumar” is a
brand-name for the ascender. I bought
one and it is a very nice piece of safetry gear for going aloft.
He demonstrated an “icicle hitch”
which works terrifically well with modern braid. It wraps 3-5 turns around a wire and can be used to jury-rig a
broken stay. Many of the old knots
(e.g. the bowline) are not as strong or hold as well with the modern synthetic
lines. Guess I need to look into learning
some new knots.