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High Load Thimbles – Why, When, Where?


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Also known as low friction rings these handy bits of hardware are used across many different areas of a sailboat. But they’re nothing new. In fact the high load thimble has been around for some time, just in slightly different forms. Originally made from wood and used on old style tall ships for adjusting running rigging and then more recently moulded in plastic to create light-weight, cheap alternatives. And now, CNC machined from high grade aluminium. But why, when and where should you use a high load thimble?

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What is a high load thimble?

If you haven’t come across a high load thimble (low friction ring) it is essentially a doughnut shaped piece of aluminium with a concaved shape around the outside, like that of a traditional pulley sheave. However, unlike a traditional pulley sheave, the rope usually runs through the hole of the thimble and the outside concave is used to tie the thimble onto the end of a control line or deck eye. The middle hole is rounded and smooth to allow the rope to run as freely as possible without snagging. High load thimbles are available in many sizes to suit a wide variety of rope and applications.

CONTINUE READING.

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Ok, you’re not really asking, but I’ll tell you.  You use them for moderate redirection of lines or in light load situations.  You do NOT use them as replacements for blocks where the line is heavily loaded or is taking more than a 45% turn, because they generate much, much more friction than even a cheap block.  Jib barber-hauler, yes.  Lazy jacks, sure.  As part of your main sheet cascade, or as a turning block for a spinnaker sheet on any boat over 20’, never.

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12 hours ago, The great unwashed said:

Ok, you’re not really asking, but I’ll tell you.  You use them for moderate redirection of lines or in light load situations.  You do NOT use them as replacements for blocks where the line is heavily loaded or is taking more than a 45% turn, because they generate much, much more friction than even a cheap block.  Jib barber-hauler, yes.  Lazy jacks, sure.  As part of your main sheet cascade, or as a turning block for a spinnaker sheet on any boat over 20’, never.

We agree with most of your information, however, High Load Thimbles do make a good replacement to a block when it is for a very highly loaded static line - something like the top turning point of a Vang, for example. 

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what I cannot comprehend: who needed these "(low?)friction rings" when we had perfectly allright stainless steel thimbles? Less friction & a shallow throat angle...(but not nearly as snazzy & expensive...)

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I’m using them as turning ‘blocks’ for my V mainsheets, same to lead halyards and reef lines from mast to pit, and as lashing terminators for textile running backstays.

Ive also rigged one as a fairlead for my spinnaker halyard, similar to what a spectacle would do. See pic. The halyard restrainer that I’ve rigged it to was not fit for purpose, and so I had to engineer. That said, it works. ( I really need to climb the stick and install that spectacle fitting, ha ha.)

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16 hours ago, tane said:

what I cannot comprehend: who needed these "(low?)friction rings" when we had perfectly allright stainless steel thimbles? Less friction & a shallow throat angle...(but not nearly as snazzy & expensive...)

High Load Thimbles can be used in a much wider range of applications. They can withstand higher loads and are much easier to tie or splice around, as the knot/ splice will not interfere with the line running through the middle. Plus, as you mention, they are way snazzier ;)

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1 hour ago, Allen_Sailing said:

High Load Thimbles can be used in a much wider range of applications. They can withstand higher loads and are much easier to tie or splice around, as the knot/ splice will not interfere with the line running through the middle. Plus, as you mention, they are way snazzier ;)

I like them because they are cheap , lightweight and compact 

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