Tech Wiki

Lifeline Replacement

By Capt. Al Watson, Kindred Spirit #55

Total cost of project was $368.59 with tools (~1999)

What better thing to do on a cold, rainy April Sunday afternoon than sit in your living room and give new life to those old lifelines? The project needs a little advance notice as you need to order the materials and bring your old lifelines home from the boat. You could take all the measurements and send them to a local rigging shop but what fun would that be?

For the experienced do-it yourselfer, hand crimp lifeline fittings allow you to bring safety and satisfaction to your boat and you.

I look at it from another point of view...shouldn't we all have these tools? You should sail with a hand crimping tool, large bolt (wire) cutters for those times when the worst happens. How would you cut and splice / reattach a broken stay wire? I am trying to justify in my mind the cost of my newly acquired tools!

Tools Required: $56.98

Note: All ref #'s are from "C. Sherman Johnson Co., Inc" Catalog

  • Hand Swage Tool 1/8 & 3/16 inch West Marine #113771 $31.99 Johns #53-210
  • Bolt Cutters 24 inch, Lowes...Task Force #76790 $24.99
  • Sharp Knife, Marking pen, Ruler, Socket and ratchet handle to fit Hand Swage Tool.

Parts Required: (all hand crimp type) $311.61

Note: To save money I re-used the perfectly good Pelican Hooks and the Turn Buckles. Unscrew the old lifelines from these parts and carefully determine the thread size and direction (LH or RH) before ordering the parts below.

  • Lifeline Stud - 5/16-24 LH x 2", Johns # 31-606, $11.35 each (qty 4)(fits existing pelican hook).
  • Lifeline Stud - 1/4-28 RH x 3 1/4", Johns # 31-609 $12.25 each (qty 4)(fits existing turn buckles).
  • Double Swivel Gate Eyes, Johns # 27-410 (qty 4) $26.99 each
  • White Plastic covered Lifeline Wire, 3/16 x 7x7 wire x 5/16 OD, 115 feet for Catalina 34. Defenders $.95/ft or West Marine $1.29/ft for the same wire as far as I can determine. Shop around for this item.

Procedure:

Note: Hand crimp terminals when properly applied will withstand pullout strains 65 to 70 % of the 7x7 cable strength.

  1. Adjust all turn buckles and fittings, remove from boat and all measurements will come from these.
  2. Strip back coated cable 1 3/4 inches to except terminal.
  3. Insert cable into terminal and position approximately 1/8 inch from end of die in Hand Crimp tool. Make sure that the vinyl cover is tightly against the terminal before crimping. I found that stripping the cable 1/16 inch short of the 1 3/4 mark called for above, will always make it fit snugly.
  4. Crimp the terminal by tightening the two bolts on the Hand Crimp tool using a socket wrench of the proper size. Tighten till the die (Hand Crimp tool) is completely closed. Loosen the die, move over 1/8 inch and tighten again. Do this three times on each terminal fitting. For those counting that is 16 fittings times three per or 64 cranks down on that die. Better get comfortable. Your hands will be a little sore but think of the money you are saving.
  5. If you have matched the existing lifelines you are ready to install on the boat. You will feel safer and the boat will look better.


Safe & Happy Sailing!