The DIY Track Cleaner Digs Deep into Groove


The simplest cleaning tool is a two-foot section of luff tape or prefabricated bolt rope. Place a grommet in each end, close to the tape but not so close that it can bind in the groove (3/16-inch clearance).

The diameter can be increased for more effective scrubbing by gluing fabric to the outside of the bolt rope (photo 3). We liked terry cloth for this, but Sunbrella slides better. Adhere with polyurethane caulk. Alternatively, the cloth can also be sewn in place.

Our DIY direct insertion cleaner (photos 1 and 2) is a bit fiddly to build and use, but it avoids having to remove sail slugs and open the mast gate.

do-it-yourself cleaner

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Cut a piece of Sunbrella (old and floppy is best) 10 by 8 inches. Fold this along the 10-inch length and use polyurethane caulk to glue the edges together with a 1.25-inch overlap. The finished dimension is 10 by 4 inches.

2. Make two carriers from 1/8-inch thick aluminum or plastic 12 inches long. Drill holes in the ends for shackles and five more -inch holes for clamping with 3/16 x -inch pan head screws.

3. Clamp the Sunbrella strip between the carrier strips using the three center holes

4. Cut 2 strips of polyester sail cloth 1.5-inch x 8-inch. Punch two -inch holes on the center line, near the center, 1.25 inches apart.

5. Clamp the sailcloth strips in the carrier using the end clamping holes (not the shackle holes). Do not double the cloth, use only one hole at this time, and leave the nuts loose.

In Use

To use, remove the clamping bolts on the sailcloth strips, but do not remove them from the carriers. Double the strips and insert them into the groove as far as they will go. Continue by inserting all of the Sunbrella into the groove, doubling it like and accordion into the groove, prodding it with a kitchen fork (see photo page 16).

Once all of the Sunbrella is in the groove, pull the sailcloth strips tight with the carrier strips held tight against the mast. This will form a knot of cloth that cannot pull out of the groove. Realign the punched holes in the sail cloth with the carrier strip holes and insert clamping bolts. It is now ready to be hauled up and down the mast.


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