kp44.org — The official website of the Peterson Cutter Owner's Group
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. Jeff asked him to stop by Beatrix after the mast was put back in to 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 15-20%.
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 STA-LOK.
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 sale.
Standing Rigging Comments
Use SparTite to replace mast wedges. (Note: I don't think this is necessary on the Petersons. I think proper teak wedges are just as good. -JS )
The inner foresail can be used to stop mast pumping
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.
Dynamic tuning – the rig should not “flop” on different tacks. To adjust the stays on the downwind side mark the turnbuckle and back off. 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 mainsheet
Replace old fiddle blocks with roller bearing blocks
Use a ratchet block and/or a stopper (line clutch)
Our 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 necessary)
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.
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
Brion 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 all-important.
It is very hard to have a compression failure in a keel-stepped mast unless you bend it. Deck-stepped masts can have compressive failures.
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.