PS Advisor 10/15/98
Cleaning Turnbuckle Threads
When I was getting our new/old Cal 29 ready to launch last spring I noticed that the threads on the turnbuckles on the shrouds and stays were very dirty—sort of caked with oil and dirt. Previous owners must have oiled the threads. I disassembled each turnbuckle and cleaned the threads with a metal wire brush and kerosene.
They looked great, went together beautifully and adjust easily.
Since then, I’ve been told that using the brush was not a good idea. Several so-called experts have said I could have embedded bits of metal in the stainless or left tiny pieces caught here and there. One man said kerosene could attack the stainless.
Did I do a bad thing?
San Francisco, California
While it seems unlikely that the metal brush could have hurt your turnbuckles, it’s generally best to avoid cleaning turnbuckle threads with metals of any kind. For example, a mild steel screwdriver on a stainless fastener can leave invisible bits of iron that will rust. A stainless steel brush runs the risk of scratching the threads.
We’ve never heard or read of kerosene (or diesel oil) attacking stainless steel or any other metal.
It’s a good idea to lubricate turnbuckles, but petroleum-based products tend to pick up dirt, especially if your boatyard lays everything on the ground. If they acquire a bit of sand, adjustments can become difficult and some wear must result. Use a dry lubricant, such as a Teflon spray (such as Dry Teflon or Sailkote, sold by West Marine—800/262-8464), or graphite in a tube. Perhaps the best known for sailboat rigging is Navtec Rig Lube, which sells for $9.95 for a 6-ounce tube (from Defender Industries—800/628-8225).
Eventually you must, as you did, clean them up. Stainless likes very much to be clean because its anti-corrosion properties depend on a layer of passive oxide.
For cleaning turnbuckles, we’ve had good luck using a toothbrush and detergent, which are easier to work with than a wire brush and kerosene.
How About a Website?
We are eight years into our 10-year plan to retire and go cruising, perhaps to circumnavigate. We just bought a Cabo Rico 38 and have 22 months to get her in shape. Guys like me need Practical Sailor.
But when we cast off, how do we bring along our PS back issues? I don’t think there’ll be space. Next, when cruising, how do I receive my subscription? Are you folks considering a “pay to view” website? I could get my issues wherever and whenever I log onto the site.
Everything known to man is under consideration here, Jim, whenever we get the time to think beyond all the work that goes into loading up the very next issue or two with good quality reading.
It may well come to a website.
However, for the nonce, those who go cruising sometimes have a good friend or relative who acts as a home base address, record keeper, mail forwarder, etc.
There also are commercial services who handle mail, banking, message handling, etc. Some feature SSB radio/satellite communications, which probably is a coming thing.
Our former editor, Nick Nicholson, a discriminating sailor known to readers as the author of the “Offshore Log”, uses one called the “Cruiser’s Home Port,” 60 Canterbury Ct., Orange Park, FL 32065, 800/544-2132.
There are others listed under “Services” in various sailing magazines.
When the time gets closer, you might shop around for one that fits your needs and capabilities.