Murphness

PTFE Rod instead of Torlon Balls?

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I've rebuilt my main trav (T-Bird for reference) just about every year because the balls bind up and blast through the end plates. Harken doesn't seem to make metal end plates anymore for the medium sized car.

In an effort to never have to do this again, I just purchased a couple feet of 5/16th PTFE rod. Anyone have an opinion on whether this will work? I'm assuming I'll need regular McLube-ing, but there's a lot of purchase on the windward sheeting car, so I'm hoping this will do the trick.

Cheers!

Murphness

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Rod was used for high load cars (think #3 cars) for quite a while. IIRC it was still torlon.

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I'm surprised this has been an issue. You sure you don't have the wrong number of balls in the car? They need space to roll and it is possible to fit an extra ball over spec in some of those cars.

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2 hours ago, longy said:

Rod was used for high load cars (think #3 cars) for quite a while. IIRC it was still torlon.

I couldn't get 5/16" torlon overnighted. If this PTFE isn't slick enough I'll order up some torlon on Thursday. Thanks!

2 hours ago, IStream said:

I'm surprised this has been an issue. You sure you don't have the wrong number of balls in the car? They need space to roll and it is possible to fit an extra ball over spec in some of those cars.

It's possible, but i generally don't count the balls as they go in, and maybe I've never read the instructions very carefully, but I don't remembering them giving you a number. I just fill the tracks until they're full without forcing the last one in. Low maintenance likely played a role this time around. Forgot to McLube it before heading out in 20 knots. First race of the season too, so it was likely still crusty from sitting under the cover all winter.

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  Ball count is usually max full minus one.

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2 hours ago, longy said:

  Ball count is usually max full minus one.

Is this the case with most ball bearing systems?  We've got a Facnor Facslide mainsail luff track system that we just replaced the balls on, but there's no mention in the manual of how many balls per car.  The previous owners had already changed balls so we just replicated what they'd done, but it was the maximum number of balls that fitted into the car.

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  Don't remember where I learned this factoid, but it works for me when I replace balls. If you think of two adjacent balls rolling, the contact point between the two have opposing rotations.

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+1 max balls less one.

 

I would advise against rods. Every boat I've tried them on has ditched them. Well maintained balls should be fine, although Torlon does degrade in UV.

 

Cars still sold with rod sliders are all Torlon so far as I've seen.

 

HW

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FWIW, I replaced the Torlon balls in a rudder bearing last year.  31 year old, 37' boat.  I thought it was prudent maintenance given the age and wear.  Before I installed the new balls, I measured some of the old balls and some of the new with a micrometer.  There was no discernible difference.  Not the result I expected.

Obviously, if your application is spitting out ball chunks you need to do something, but I was stunned by the lack of wear in the Torlon.  I got rid of a lot of crunchiness in tracks by cleaning when I thought only replacing balls would work.

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14 hours ago, Murphness said:

I've rebuilt my main trav (T-Bird for reference) just about every year because the balls bind up and blast through the end plates. Harken doesn't seem to make metal end plates anymore for the medium sized car.

In an effort to never have to do this again, I just purchased a couple feet of 5/16th PTFE rod. Anyone have an opinion on whether this will work? I'm assuming I'll need regular McLube-ing, but there's a lot of purchase on the windward sheeting car, so I'm hoping this will do the trick.

Cheers!

Murphness

Just clean the cars, put the right number of new balls in (full-1),  couple drops of One Drop and keep the traveler clean with a good rinse off after every sailing trip and they do work for  a good long time

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Fresh water wash down is the key with these things. Rutgerson do a nice one with little caterpillar tracks. 

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I think your problem may be the lube that you are spraying in there. A torlon ball race will operate pretty freely if it is clean. The quickest way to dirty it is to put some spray lube on. Yeah I know McLube is supposed to be dry. I've tried McLube and found that a tiny bit of diluted dish soap works a lot better. You need to do it frequently - like every time you sail. Just the salt crystals get in the track and on the balls and it can tighten up like it's locked. With rods it won't slide nearly as freely, but then it'll never lock up either. 

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Yea, put them in last night and they fit surprisingly well. I was only able to load up the main sheet with the halyard cause I was too lazy to put a sail up, but it seemed surprisingly smooth.

We have a race tonight so I'll be able to test it out. Only concern at this point is whether it'll ease to leeward in lighter air if I need it to. The material is pretty soft, too, so I'm sure it'll end up grooved somehow, but it was the only thing I could get overnighted. I'll buy some 5/16s Torlon today and test it out next week.

So far I'm impressed. Especially if it allows me to continue my new dad/homeowner boat maintenance program!

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What diameter are the balls?  Mcmaster is usually next day.  Might be cheaper too because it isn't "marine", but I'm not certain on that.

https://www.mcmaster.com/#torlon-balls/=1ddq9wl

 

(This post orginally started with "What diameter are your balls?" but I'm not sure I want to replace the well known "show us your wife's tits" with that just yet.....)

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Haha. Never enough rod/balls jokes in life. They're 5/16" for the medium track. I went to McMaster first and they didn't have that size in Torlon rod. I found it somewhere else though and forgot to bookmark it. I'll post it here after I dig it back up and order it.

 

 

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Please don't use the McLube Sailkote on anything with ball bearings.  The balls need a bit of friction to spin and recirculate in their races.  Liquid soap and water followed by McLube 1 Drop should be all you'll need.  See the link for: Midrange Non-captive Bearing Car Rebuild Kit http://www.harken.com/productdetail.aspx?id=19071&taxid=1611 contains balls, a loader, plastic end caps with fasteners, locktite and a loader. It even has instructions.  Not that anyone reads them. B)

SYF

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On 26 June 2018 at 8:21 AM, Steal Your Face said:

Please don't use the McLube Sailkote on anything with ball bearings.  The balls need a bit of friction to spin and recirculate in their races.  Liquid soap and water followed by McLube 1 Drop should be all you'll need.  See the link for: Midrange Non-captive Bearing Car Rebuild Kit http://www.harken.com/productdetail.aspx?id=19071&taxid=1611 contains balls, a loader, plastic end caps with fasteners, locktite and a loader. It even has instructions.  Not that anyone reads them. B)

SYF

As above ! Don't use dry lube  . I've wrecked a set of Torlon balls using Mclube dry lube . Harken manual states that balls will skid instead of roll causing flat spots . Mine went "crunchy " about a month after using Mclube dry . Use Mclube "one drop" or sewing machine oil and hose out the car and track regularly 

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