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Replacing your Standing Rigging

| Sail & Rigging | February 12, 2015

Rigging Inspection

cracked swage

There are no hard and fast times to replace your boats standing rigging, so regular inspection will help you know when to replace any stays. At the end of the season a thorough check leaves you time to make changes, while a quick check at the beginning of the season for clevis pins cotter pins etc. makes sure your rig is secure.

When inspecting your boats rigging check for;

    • Clevis & cotter pins
    • Cracks in swages and studs (see image)
    • Damage to wires (see image)
    • Damaged to turnbuckles

T Tterminal wire damage

During an inspection you find a shroud which has some issues. This observation becomes a concern and you inspect other parts of the rig and you see a couple of problems.

How do we go about fixing any problems.

    • Replace the wire part A
    • Replace the whole shroud B
    • Or Replace fittings



mearuring length

The answer is it depends on the damage. If the swage is cracked or the wire frayed, and the turnbuckle is OK, then you could just replace the wire. If the damage is local to the swage fitting or its cracked you could cut it off and replace with a swageless fitting with a extra long stud. For the DIY enthusiast this is a simple operation.

If just the turnbuckle is damaged this may be all that needs replacing. If the wire and the fitting is damaged the whole shroud should be replaced. This may be one shroud or the whole set of stays.

Whichever it is well look at how to do this.


Shroud Replacement (what you need to know)


Once you have figured out what you are replacing, the next step is how.

1;            Remove shrouds and give to Rigger

To do this it’s best to have the mast pulled during the winter or any downtime. If you remove the shrouds and send them to a rigger it’s almost unnecessary to do much more, as the rigger will be able to reproduce. If they have any questions they can ask for additional details.

2;            Measure rigging and order to swap out later

Measure rigging and order replacement for swapping out old for new at a later time. If you measure the rigging and send dimensions to a rigger for them to build replacements, this involves a lot more knowledge plus measuring in situ can be problematic.

3;            Replace yourself

Swageless fittings allows a boat owner to replace stays himself. You can replace one shroud at a time or if the mast is removed you can pull all the shrouds at one time.


Shroud details you need to know

    • Wire diameter
    • Clevis Pin diameter; these are sized to wire diameter.
    • Length of shroud (see measuring)
    • Terminal types; marine eye, fork, t terminal
    • Mast Tangs and backing plates
    • Turnbuckle stud thread diameter and hand right or left



Identify your Fittings

Main types of Sailboat Rigging Terminals

    1. Marine eye  / Marine jaw
    2. Stemball terminal
    3. T Ball Terminal
    4. Turnbuckles and studs

Top end

Marine eye, jaw, stemball and T Ball terminal

For these fittings you’ll need the tang type wire diameter plus the pin size

Tangs and backing plates; if you replacing shrouds make sure you have information on the existing mast tangs and plates so you can match to new fittings. Some T-Terminals are no longer made and new ones may have a different shape and the Gibb style T-ball may not fit into those backing plates.


Bottom end

marine eye, double jaw closed body turnbuckle, swaged stud, swaged open body turnbuckle

For these fittings you need wire diameter, clevis pin diameter, turnbuckle Stud diameter, and thread direction.

Note for a given wire size the thread could have 3 diameters. For example ¼ wire fittings can have a 3/8, 7/16 or ½ inch diameter.

If you have a turnbuckle stud at the bottom end you will need to know the wire diameter and the hand of the thread,

StaLok  Guide to Identify left or right hand threads



What sizes do you need; pin to pin dimensions, the wire size, terminal identification and terminal pin size are important. Some riggers use the pin centre as the definition of one end, other use the bearing point.

bearing points

bottom end bearing point


To measure a shroud, bang a nail into a suitable surface. Hang the shroud terminal on the nail and then hook the measuring tape on the same nail. Stretch out the shroud and tape, puling tight.


mearuring length

If you are making a whole new shroud you should measure the old stay and then when making the new one set the turnbuckle 2/3 open.

Turnbuckle 23 open

With the  turnbuckle 2/3 open, you have enough room to tighten the stay once the mast is stepped. Rigging stretches so the extra length to tighten the stay will be very beneficial. This 2/3 open is an Industry standard although some may set them at 1/2 open.


Replacing a terminal without replacing whole shroud


T Tterminal wire damage

One advantage of swageless terminals is they can be made by the DIY boater.

Advantages of swageless fittings

    • No need for specialized tools
    • Replace a shroud in the middle of an Ocean
    • You do not have access to a rigger
    • Replacing yourself DIY saves money

See this link for a full explanation of swageless fittings


In the example shown in the image (wire damage close to T Terminal), well show you how to fix this problem with swageless extra-long studs. Diagram A shows a normal swage above a extra long swageless fitting. The two lines show

Difference between normal swage and extra long swageless

where the wire ends inside the fittings. The distance between the two lines is how much can be gained by using a long swageless fitting. If you have the damage to wire and the damage is limited to 2 inches or less from the swage fitting then it’s possible to cut off the swage fitting and replace with a swageless fitting with a long stud.


Lets see how this works in practice with 1/4 inch wire. For this we need to look at the specs for normal and long fittings.

Navtec Norseman

The difference between c and b is what can be gained in length (diag B).

Specification Norseman fittings for ¼ inch wire; For 1/4 diameter wire with 1/2 inch thread; C = 5.71 inches, B = 3.27 inches

C-B = 2.44  inches which is the distance gained by using an extra long fitting.

Link to Noresman specs gives us the dimensions of B and C in the diagram B.




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