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Thread: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

  1. #1
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    Default bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Hello everyone,

    I have a 33 foot boat that I'm adding a bowsprit to. I'm not asking whether or not I should add one. I've made up my mind and it's mostly completed already. My question is more about securing the shrouds, particularly the whisker stays. I searched locally for a while and couldn't find a reasonably priced bronze cranse iron, gammon iron... whatever term you want to use. Port Townsend wants $550 for one. So I'm making chainplates of 1/4"x1 1/2" bronze flat stock, which I have plenty of for various projects. It's actually bronze sail track from a large wooden mast. I've mostly made the chainplate for the forestay and bobstay. I just have to bend it to the proper angle. The chainplate I would need to make for the whisker stays is a bit more complex and heavy. My sprit design includes a platform, which the single chainplate for the whisker stay would have to wrap around, so it ends up being rather long with lots of angles. Instead, I'm wondering whether or not it would be strong enough to use two large diamond pad eyes, possibly with backing plates. The pad eyes take (4) quarter inch bolts. With bolts going through two pad eyes, a backing plate on each side, and through my 3 1/2" wide douglas fir bowsprit, I'm curious if that would hold if I were hard on the wind. The jib I'm using is 11'4"x30'6", with a moderately high cut. The math makes it 167 sq ft, but that doesn't account for the foot not being perpendicular to the luff, which seems is the standard for measuring sail area.

    So I'm just looking for a general consensus from those of you who have cruised with a bowsprit... is a large backed pad eye with four quarter inch bolts through 3 1/2" of douglas fir strong enough? Will the holes I drill in the fir create a weak point to worry about, even with equal tension on the whisker stays?

    Thanks all.
    Last edited by Train; 03-12-2017 at 08:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    You will be using a pattern poured from one of my own patterns, if you are using the PT Foundry. You are paying for labor, knowledge and material. Check out some of the prices you pay for a plumbing instalation in a house nowadays. Maybe that will remove some of the sting from the cost. Remember that these fittings keep the mast where it belongs! Bronze strap components can be made up with silver brazing if you want to make your own.
    Jay

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Given the "whatever" for cranse and gammon and thinking that whisker stays are some sort of shroud, I am not at all sure I can communicate with clarity if I use terms in their correct sense. But I'll try to address only the whisker stays.

    I hope by whisker stays you mean the stays that go from abaft the bow and just below the gunnel out on each side to the end of the bowsprit. These resist the lateral force vectors at the end of the bow sprit and those are the lightest forces out there. If you have actually looked to Skene's or indulged in any engineering at all, these are the lightest stays.

    No one knows what "a large backed pad eye" is but if designed for 1/4" bolts, it's not very large. If the loop on the eye is sized for the cable size it will be pretty hefty and might be a bit large for a fork to fit over.

    I think you'd be better served to make a flat bronze tang anchored by appropriate diameter backed bolts. You'll need to do your own engineering because you've not provided the information to even guess at the loading. Even if you start providing info, I'd be loathe to trust it enough to make the appropriate calculations. Bone up yourself with numbers, not feelings, or hire a competent NA to look the job over.

    G'luck

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    You might consider using synthetic line for the stays. Dyneema is very strong. Then you could splice it around the sprit, using thumb cleats to keep it from slipping. Many traditional boats used splices around the mast for shrouds. Mast tangs can attach it to the hull, or even the sprit if you use wire or chain. If you want an iron on the end of the sprit, consider having it welded up of steel and galvanized.
    There is always a way.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Back in the day it was not uncommon, particularly but not exclusively on workboats for many fittings to be made of steel and heavily galvanised. My boat built in 1974 has many such in her rigging and things like winch bases. Maybe have a look in that direction, but you may find the bronze thingy is not such bad value after all. Particularly if Jay made the pattern.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    I had the impression that you guys had some pretty decent second hand/ salvage boat parts stores over there? Shirley a cranse iron could be found.
    I don't like the pad eye idea one bit for the reasons you state yourself, but we don't know what the bowsprit is for or if you're removing the existing stemhead( I presume) forestay. I hope not, or if you are then the engineering needs to go up a level as all rig integrity becomes dependent on that. If the forestay is staying and you are putting the bowsprit on for a reacher/ code zero then at least you have redundancy in case of failure at bobstay/ shrouds .

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Ian, yes, by whisker stays, I mean the shroud both port and starboard of the sprit that take the lateral loads of the end of the sprit. I didn't know what those were called, and there was another post on here about bowsprits and people seemed to call them whisker stays, so that's what I called them. Yes, I know they take the lateral load, and I know that load is lighter than other shrouds. Which is why I'm asking if pad eyes are a viable option. By a "large backed pad eye", I mean a pad eye of reasonable size, with a backing plate. So you think 4 quarter inch bolts is too small then I guess.

    Your mention of not enough info makes me think to add this: The boat is fiberglass, 32.5 ft LOA, 22.5ft LWL, 12,600 pounds. The bowsprit will extend three feet forward of the stem and is made of 3.5"x3.5" douglass fir. The stem fitting is 5/16" stainless, but is meant to handle loads from large genoas, etc, and I won't be putting a 150 genoa on the sprit. The chainplates, or tangs (not sure which it's supposed to be in this case), bolted to the hull just below the gunwale for the "whisker stays" can come back as far as five feet while keeping the backside of them in the chain locker, which is what I'd like preferably, but if it provides lateral support I need to move them back further, they can come behind the chain locker bulkhead, into the V berth. The beam just forward of the chain locker bulkhead is 57". I've likely left out some other factors. I'm not a rigger.

    Jay, I know I'm paying for labor, education, and other things when I buy an item like that. I don't mean it's not worth it, but I can't afford it. I need a new engine and several other things.

    Yeah Phil, I looked into the galvanized option. A guy at the local machine shop said he could weld tangs to a piece of schedule 80 iron pipe (1/4") for $100, then I could get it galvanized. I thought about it, but if possible, I'd really like something in bronze, since the rest of my hardware is bronze. If it just won't workout with what I have, I'll probably go to the galvanized option.

    Oh, and Ian, yeah, my first idea what the bronze strap, but it would be long, so kinda heavy, but to make one strap for both stays and to work around my bow platform, I would need to bend six angles in the thing. Today I cut a piece of the flatstock about 9" inches long, as a test to see how I could bend it with the little bit of tools I had. I put the piece in a vise, heated it with a torch until it just started to turn color (don't want to heat too much), and hit it with a heavy rubber mallet. I suppose it did what I thought it would, but I'd like less of a radius. But I can always chisel a little wood away. The radius isn't terribly big. But making six angles happen would be kind of a pain. But still a possibility.

    Right now I'm just exploring options.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    John, I am keeping my stemhead fitting in place so that I can always go back to it if I want/need, and the bowsprit is notched to allow me to put the forestay back in it's original position without removing the sprit. I'm adding an inner forestay as well, so it will have a little more support, but the plan is to move the forestay out to the end of the sprit.

    I've looked at all the local marine consignment shops, looked online, made calls, and I couldn't turn up anything. I should note though that that was a couple months ago, and since I didn't find anything, I went with the bronze strap idea. I've cut the end of my bowsprit for the straps. But it's not too late to change it. I can lop off a little and start over if I come across a cranse iron or decide to buy a new one.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    I did not mean for some bit of strap to replace the cranes iron. I meant use some of your strapping as the chain plates for the whiskers instead of using a pad eye. Structurally sounder and makes for a cleaner line.

    But there are ways - my old schooner Granuaile had this, where some strapping could take the place of the cranse. Actually two straps crossed, one oriented vertically for the bob stay and jib stay and the other horizontal for the whiskers.

    G'luck

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Shrouds go on the mast. The bow sprit has whisker stays on the sides and a bobstay below.

    Id certainly go with the fabricated steel option rather than a strap bolted through the bowsprit.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    I've been reading Brian Toss's The Rigger's Apprentice. It is amazing and will give you detailed instructions on all this and more. I would recommend buying a copy, it will be the best 20 bucks you spend on the rig.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Madison View Post
    I've been reading Brian Toss's The Rigger's Apprentice. It is amazing and will give you detailed instructions on all this and more. I would recommend buying a copy, it will be the best 20 bucks you spend on the rig.
    Shoot, I have that on my book shelf behind me!

    Yeah Ian, I was meaning for the pad eyes to be at the end of the bowsprit, not attached to the boat. The straps would replace a cranse iron since I couldn't find/afford one. My original plan was using the strapping on the end of the bowsprit, and just like your old schooner, one strap for the headstay and bobstay fits under the lateral strap for the whisker stays. I'll have to take a photo to upload tomorrow so everyone sees a little better what I mean, because it's hard to fully understand unless you're looking at it. The strap that runs to the whisker stays would end up being 25" long, with six bends in it, and wraps around the bowsprit and platform. It's strength doesn't come from being bolted through the bowsprit. I thought that was a little much. Does that sound like your schooner though?

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    Very relevant. Thank you. And it's good to hear proper terminology from a highly decorated rigger.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    I would urge you to make the bowsprit heavier( the dimension of your mast at the partner) , omit the whiskers ,put a 7x7 x whateveryourshroudsare bobstay with a soft eye around the sprit and omit the cranse.
    A 7 ton 30'er with a 3 foot long bowsprit...c'mon. I have 2 spares in my bilge of that fitting , about twenty bux each at swap meets.
    Whisker stays are for holding people, not "lateral forces " of the jib. A bowsprit pulls UP , not sideways.
    Having carried a100sq ft flying jib on the end of an unstayed 7' nose pole on my 12 tonner for 40,000 miles....I am at least suggesting my experience may trump some stuff in a book.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Bowsprit shrouds (apparently the proper term according to Brion Toss... whisker stays include a spreader) do take lateral forces, though minor, which is why they exist. When hard on the wind, the force of the sail at the tack pushes the end of the bowsprit to the leeward side, which is why you have shrouds to keep it from moving. Even though the force isn't much compared to the force exerted on the forestay, or on a bobstay, which looks like three times the force on the forestay for a sprit like mine (again, after reading The Rigger's Apprentice last night), it is still a force that shouldn't be shrugged off.

    It's nice that you have those spares. I don't, and I've looked all over here. I was also looking last summer while at the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic, and one appropriately sized for my project didn't present itself. I did buy a bronze cranse iron there (used) that is 2" inside diameter, of quarter inch with quarter inch tangs, but it's too small. When I called Port Townsend Foundry, the guy was very helpful. He said the cranse irons they make for Channel Cutters, Tayana 37s, etc are 3" inside diameter, with half inch tangs for the shrouds and forestay, and 5/8" for the bobstay. The Tayana is a much heavier boat than mine, with a longer bowsprit, but the Channel Cutter, though has a longer bowsprit, is not too much heavier than my boat.

    Your experience with that flying jib is reassuring to me though. Maybe I'm overthinking this. But I'd rather overbuild than worry. I like the motto "Nothing too strong every broke." With that in mind, I'll consider a beefier bowsprit. One thing that does worry about its strength is that I made a cutout in the middle where it fits over my existing stemhead fitting, so that I can put the forestay back to it's original position without removing the bowsprit. I know this weakens it, and right now I haven't reinforced that area yet. I have some spruce that I was thinking of laminating up to it to thicken that area, but I could also use some 2"x2" bronze angle stock. Spruce would be lighter. I think the bronze would be stronger. Thoughts?

    Back to my original question, I guess I'll scrap the pad eye idea. I wasn't terribly keen on it anyway, it was just a thought. Thanks to everyone for their input so far.

  17. #17

    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Quote Originally Posted by Train View Post
    Bowsprit shrouds ... do take lateral forces, though minor, which is why they exist. When hard on the wind, the force of the sail at the tack pushes the end of the bowsprit to the leeward side, .
    might I hazard a guess that the force would be about that on the Jib Sheet and acting at an angle about that of the luff of the sail ?

    frank

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Oh gosh you already cut out the hole for the main stay!
    I would have either set it to the side or save the fancy fitting for the bowsprit to run through.
    Is the bowsprit cantelevered? That is important for redundant strength.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Calling them stays has snuck into colloquial usage over the years.But the old rule is that wire that stops a spar falling over fore and aft is a stay ,and one that supports it sideways is a shroud. personally , I wouldn't even normally call them whiskers unless they had spreaders like they often do. They're just bowsprit shouds, but again... colloquial usage, language evolves.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Oh gosh you already cut out the hole for the main stay!
    I would have either set it to the side or save the fancy fitting for the bowsprit to run through.
    Is the bowsprit cantelevered? That is important for redundant strength.
    Yes, thats a worry isn't it.
    Also, when you observe that the sampson post is trying to elongate its deck piercing you realise just how much compression is on them. Robin Hood has his arrow drawn , and wants to shoot it at the cockpit.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Well I learned something new today. Bowsprit shrouds it is then.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Wizbang, yes, I've already cut the hole. The bowsprit extends three feet from the stem, but the entire sprit is eight feet long, leaving five feet on deck, so yeah, it has some cantilever action. I did this because I wanted to add a sampson post that bolts to the top and bottom of my chain locker bulkhead for extra support, and my chain locker bulkhead is five feet from the stem. The bowsprit sits on top of the toe rail at the stem and I cut a slot for stemhead fitting to slide into. The aft portion of the sprit has mahogany spacers to keep it off the deck, so air and water may circulate. The sprit will be bolted through the deck at these spacers, the forward one of which will secure the inner forestay for the staysail. And I'm thinking I want the backside of the the bolt(s) that hold my inner forestay to run to a cable or chain that is connected to the backside of the bobstay to keep it from wanting to pull my foredeck apart. If I don't do that, there will be some other structure to keep that from happening. Maybe a hefty deck beam. But the less weight up there, and the lower the weight, the better.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    I'd always called them whisker stays even if not spread by actual whiskers but according to this JohnB is right.


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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Ok, hopefully posting these pictures works and you all can see what I'm doing.

    The end of the bowsprit has a channel cut out for the chainplate for the jibstay/bobstay, making the chainplate flush with the outside of the sprit. The chainplate hasn't been bent to it's final shape yet. Yesterday, I tested my ability to bend a practice piece using the little bit of tools I had. It came out decent I guess. Not a terribly big radius since I heated it with a torch slightly. Just gives me a small amount more chiseling to do.



    Here, one long chainplate (in my hand) would wrap around the end of the sprit, over top of the chainplate for the jibstay/bobstay. This was my first idea after not finding a cranse iron. The platform is not in place in this picture, but will sit on top of the outer pieces of teak, which get support from the supports/knees (not sure what to call them), and the ends will sit on the toe rail.



    This is the cutout I made for the existing stemhead fitting. I messed up in cutting the slot because I had the sprit upside down. D'oh! So I had to fill in that ugly area. I'll probably end up painting a one foot or so section of the sprit in that area to hide my mistake, and leave the rest finished bright. So far it has epoxy and a couple coats of varnish to keep moisture out. It will all be finished once my hardware is sorted out.

    So this area in the picture above is a little worrisome for me, and Wizbang, this is what you were getting at. That's a weak point, of course, which I need to address. Again, I could laminate some spruce up to it to give it some bulk, or I could use 2"x2" bronze angle on either side, using that to also bolt the platform to. I'm open to suggestions here. I was originally going to use my bronze angle here, and the outside supports for the platform were designed so I could set a piece of 1"x3.25" teak into the rabbet in there, with the other side bolting to the bronze angle and being flush with the top of the bowsprit, but I didn't like how it all fit together. I thought by doing that, the top of the bowsprit would become part of the platform, and I would save a little weight there. I may revisit that idea, but since it didn't go together like I had hoped, I have some teak that could be a two piece platform, and would fasten to the top of the outer supports and sit on top of the bowsprit.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    I'd always called them whisker stays even if not spread by actual whiskers but according to this JohnB is right.

    This nomenclature is for a schooner. What is called a forestay is a MAINSTAY for a sloop, cutter or yawl.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Would you bolt the mast in place?
    Then why would you bolt the bowsprit?

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    All that notching in the bowsprit... same rhetorical question... would you make notches in the mast?

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    It might work, but I seriously don't like it. There's a heck of a lot of force on a forestay, and not a lot of strength in that plank. I can't actually see why your bent straps wouldn't do the job, but I've never seen it done like that before, so not too thrilled with that either. It's a thing that's probably quite important to get right and have full confidence in.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    If it's properly designed a bowsprit should be in compression, no bending strain.
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    A friend lost his main mast, after his jib buried in a wave, no whisker stays.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Quote Originally Posted by lupussonic View Post
    A friend lost his main mast, after his jib buried in a wave, no whisker stays.
    Now there was an unexpected bending load !
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Again, I notched the bowsprit for the stem fitting so: 1. I could put the jibstay back on the stemhead fitting without removing the bowsprit, and 2. I didn't want to remove the stemhead fitting. I want to keep that an option. And if the bowsprit isn't bolted to the deck, the only thing keeping it from being pushed aft by the loads of the bobstay and jibstay are it's pin or tenon, depending on your sampson post setup. But then, how would it not be pushed aft if I didn't have a sampson post, and just used large cleats? It would have to be bolted, right? Like Peter said, it seems a properly designed rig should not be taking too much force other than compression. If my bobstay and jibstay tension are correct, the end of the sprit shouldn't be forced upwards or downwards. Likewise windward or leeward from the bowsprit shrouds. I still want to beef up that area around the cutout for the stemhead fitting, just haven't landed on the method yet.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    If you think of the parallelogram of force for more than a minute, you will note that the bobstay is under considerably more strain than the jib stay. If you don't have a cranse you will need some thoughtful engineering.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    Yeah, I think for the length and angle, the bobstay might be under 3 or so times the strain of the jib stay. That's based off a diagram from "The Rigger's Apprentice." I thought the other night that to bulk up my chainplate for the bobstay and forestay, I could run another chainplate over top of the strap (chainplate) at the end of the sprit that supports the bowsprit shrouds, giving me two quarter inch straps for the jib stay and bobstay, with a space in between. Use a longer clevis pin with a beefy toggle between the chainplates top and bottom, then attach the turnbuckles from there. So the shrouds would have 1/4" chainplates, but the jib stay and bobstay would have 1/2". In a way. All the chainplates would bolted through each other going into the end of the bowsprit.

    BUT, that's a lot of weight, when a cranse iron would probably weigh maybe six or eight times less. Damn I want a cranse iron! I'll keep looking for one before moving on.

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    Default Re: bowsprit project: securing the shrouds

    I posted this in another thread so I appologise for being redundant. On "Red Witch" I wanted a greater spread in order for the martingale net to have enough room to stuff a doused jib into in a hurry. If you look close you will see that the life line stanchions spread wide at the last station forward and allow the upper lifeline to lead fair to the pulpit that is at the end of the nose pole. The whisker stay spreaders are made from a pair of old bronze stanchions and are hinged at their heels to allow movement when stepped on. The chain plates are made of plate bronze and are held with bolts into the sheer clamp. An elongated right triangle is silver brazed to the plate for the turnbuckle to attach to. The life lines have a knotted net in the bow area. This strains sails and crew equally well! The whole set up serves as a very comfortable hammock to lounge, sleep or read a book in. Since the head stay is rigged with a foil, the sails drop free and nest into the set up very well. We have never lost a jib or crew member into the drink when making a headsail change as yet.
    Jay

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