Author Topic: Rigging Tension, and the Tension Gauge  (Read 1583 times)

Offline MacGyver

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Rigging Tension, and the Tension Gauge
« on: June 22, 2014, 01:26:23 PM »
Kickinbug had a Loos gauge for rigging tension. He allowed me to borrow it, which is great because I have never had one of these nor used one.

I tried it on the 19, to see if I had it tensioned correctly, and of course, according to the gauge, it is not....... I left it how I had it wondering if maybe one could tension it too tightly using that gauge.....

So what would be right? what should one go by when you tension the rigs, the gauge, or the persons own feeling?

I look forward to everyone's responses, please be informative on your opinions, like why you do it that way and such, I am really looking for a comparison here, and something to base my new thought process off of.

Former Harbor Master/Boat Tech, Certified in West System, Interlux, and Harken products.
Works on ALL aspects of the sailboat, 14 years experience.
"I wanted freedom, open air and adventure. I found it on the sea."
-Alaine Gerbault.

Offline capt_nemo

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Re: Rigging Tension, and the Tension Gauge
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2014, 06:08:21 PM »

Use the gauge and accompanying instructions as a guide only. With rig properly tensioned and hard on the wind the leeward shrouds should NOT be so loose that they flap around.

When I used a Loos Gauge on my larger sailboats (32' & 35') to tension the rig I did not try to achieve some specified result. Instead, I tensioned the standing rigging to what I believed it should be with the mast in column and desired rake, if any, USING THE GAUGE TO ENSURE THAT I ACHIEVED THE SAME READING ON OPPOSING SHROUDS (upper and lower) to make sure that my rig was balanced.

Hope this helps.


Offline marc

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Re: Rigging Tension, and the Tension Gauge
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 08:03:55 AM »
I was using my tension gauge this spring and lost it in the drink! Just before it fell in the water, I had ascertained that my wires were way under tensioned. That was after I thought I may have had them approaching the right tension values. The rule of thumb is to tighten to 10% of the wire breaking strength on the lowers and 12 to 15% on the uppers. Long ago I had purchased a video from Brion Toss Rigging in Port Townsend WA named Tuning your Rig. I watched that again (after I remembered that I still owned it). He demonstrates how to use the Loos gauge, a tension stick (another measuring devise that directly measures wire stretch) as well as how to tighten by ear. Basically when you tap the wires with your palm or rubber coated tool, you will not hear a musical note (a tone that is due to wire vibration) until you are approaching 10% of breaking strength. For the uppers, you tighten slightly more until the tone is just a bit higher. I too was afraid of making things too tight but the video discussed that having the wires too loose can also be detrimental to the boat causing excessive wear on wires and chainplates from shock loads as you tack or gybe. During his video, which is 90 minutes long, he uses the gauge and a measuring stick only to demonstrate how they work but he tunes the half dozen or so boats in the video by ear. After watching I figured what the heck and did the same. I'd bet I'm still way under tensioned, but my wires are certainly tighter than where I had them originally. I also think I'm pointing higher.

Offline kickingbug1

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Re: Rigging Tension, and the Tension Gauge
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2014, 09:43:23 PM »
mac, a guy on the catalina owners site told me to start at 20 on the gauge and work from there to get the mast in column. he said its a sailboat not a violin. lowers not as tight as the uppers. im sure matt will have an opinion on this (at least i hope he does)
oday 14 daysailor, chrysler musketeer cat, chrysler mutineer, com-pac 16-1 "kicknbug" renamed "audrey j", catalina capri 18 "audrey j"

Offline CaptRon28

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Re: Rigging Tension, and the Tension Gauge
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2014, 04:40:00 AM »
10 to 15 percent of wire breaking strength is not a bad place to be on most sailboats with a fixed mast. I've done it occasionally - up to around 18 percent on some boats, and I normally wouldn't want to go much over 15. But numbers like these could also make it more difficult to raise the mast on any trailer-able boat with swept back spreaders. You'll be fighting the shroud and back stay tension every time you raise the stick.

As stated above, this is only a starting point. Final turning should be done in 10 to 15 knots of wind on both sides. And the mast has to be in column.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2014, 04:43:28 AM by CaptRon28 »
Ron Marcuse
2007 Horizon Cat (no name yet)
2008 Telstar 28 "Tri-Power"