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New sail track


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It has been a long time coming. I have never been happy with the stainless steel external track. Until now it was the only track available.

 

Many years ago, I used to be able to get 5/8 and 7/8 internal track. I have searched long and hard over the years and finally got back to the company that had the original die, but I could not justify the huge cost to do a run. I do not even think it exists anymore.

 

I even modified some cutters and machined some track out of Starboard. It worked very well but was labor intensive and it was a bit bulky.

 

Alan contacted about 10 aluminum extruders and so the work began. We decided that over the years we have used enough track to make the big investment.

 

We began to list all of the properties we wanted and probably drew hundreds of versions before we committed. We wanted it to be strong enough for a 30' boat, but light enough for a Core Sound. The last weekend that I worked on it I was able to save a few more hundreds of an ounce per foot. We realized that we had better get it right or we would have the worlds most expensive recycling.

 

We took a deep breath and invested in having the die made.  The company just sent us a 3 foot trial sample, to evaluate before we make the big run.  We are really happy with it; it is everything we wanted and hoped for.

 

It is made of 6061 T-6 aluminum which is the same as the spars, so there is no galvanic interaction. It weighs 2.7 oz per foot. The track is clear anodized and pre-drilled for 5/32" countersunk rivets, or #8 flat head machine screws. It also has a V-groove down the center, so if you want/need to add and in-between fastener; or an end of section faster, because your cut length is not at the end of a standard length.  It is has a radius on the back side to fit from 6" down to 1 1/2" round spar tubes. It has flat on each side of the edge on the back, so it will also fit flat on a wooden mast, with round or flat sections (box sections).  It is much stiffer and straighter than the SS external track and it fits true to the surface (doesn't tilt off), which makes it easier to install.  The corners are well radiused to prevent chafe on the sprit.  

 

It takes standard 5/8" internal nylon sail slides.  The slides slide more easily than on the external track.  

 

The best thing of all is that with all these features and advantages it will cost less to our builders (or others) than the ss track.  We expect to be able to sell it for about $35.00 per 8' length; vs.  $39.00 for a slightly under 6' section of ss 5/8" track.  After a lot of soul searching, we decided on 8' lengths so we can ship FedEx.

 

The picture shows the track on a 1 1/2" tube with a nylon slide.post-127-0-83025900-1434215625_thumb.jpg 

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Travis,

 

It is not hard to drill out the rivets to remove the old track and it is fairly easy to remove the old slides and sew on the new ones but it is tedious. The expedient way would be to just shackle the slides to the sails, I prefer the webbing method.

 

That being said, I do not expect everyone to rush out change their tracks because it does work, just not as smooth.

 

I am going to change out Southern Skimmer's track, I am using the excuse that it is R&D.

 

David,

 

I think that it is a good idea to supply the rivets with the track. We are sending one of our rivets to the machine shop to make sure that it is a match.

 

Howard, I do not think that aluminum rivets are strong enough. I know that you are thinking about corrosion. If you put some goop on each rivet it helps. SS and aluminum are not far apart on the galvanic scale. You always want the fastener to be slightly more noble than the mass so that it will be protected. Aluminum on aluminum will corrode if it stays wet.

 

I will be caulking the track to the mast as well just to keep moisture from corroding under the track.

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All the exstruded aluminum mast manufactures, use SS rivets and fasteners to hold hardware and external tracks, so don't be so worried about the corrosion issues. I've repaired 30 and 40 year old mast, booms, etc., with the original SS fasteners still in place, most having few issues. Water traps in a salt enviroment can be problematic, such as mast step fasteners, but you'd have to exspect and inspect these arrangements anyway.

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I have a CS 20 (Katchup) and the previous owner, not the builder, somehow  destroyed  the original masts. He had new ones made and they have a sail track very similiar to the one that Graham has introduced The sail slides are stainless steel and they look like the one plastic ones that Graham is using.The track it self is held to the mast by sliding on short pieces of the old style stainless steel sail track, placed aprox 2" apart. I have not tried to take this apart, but it appears that new sail track would just slide off the short pieces of stainless steel track. It looks a bit overkill. I have not had a chance to try it out as the weather here Buffalo, NY area) has been really bad.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hoe wide are the slides. In other words, I need to know if I ordered new sails, would the slides work on my sail track.Also, in my last post, I mentioned that my slides were Stainlees Steel. Wrong, they are polished aluminum.

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We are all glad that Graham bit the bullet and had an extrusion die made as these things are not cheap nor is it feasible to do that for a one off.  If you have the old stainless track and slides that jam on you, all is not lost.  The slides n Lapwing run up and down with ease.  The trick is to remove all the raw stamping edges left from the manufacturing process.  This is mainly on the track but some work on the slides is good also.  You must first file the under edge on each side of the track smooth.  Protect the mast while you are doing that.  Luckily, I did that before installing the track but have done it on Southern Skimmer although that was a hurry up job as we were late getting off for the EC.  If the slides have any edges that can catch, do them too. 

 

Finally the track need lubrication.  Oils and such are useless for exterior exposure and beeswax is the real deal for lubricating stuff like this as well as stay turnbuckles.  Auto stores sell a door lach lube that is made with  beeswax or a reasonable substitute.  Toilet bowl sealing rings are similar too.  Heat the track a bit and rub the wax on.  Doesn't take much heat and just a swipe with a torch or heat gun will cause the wax to run.  May need to relube every five to ten years.

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