Worn Bearings and Car Track on Catamaran Mainsail

Hello Dan, great service and answers, thanks.

We have a FP Belize 43 catamaran, and the fully battened main is attached to a track that is fitted into a track on the mast. We have recently been transatlantic and on arrival in the Caribbean found the cars badly worn, two of the end caps the battens fit into (mast end) broken in half, and the bearings of the cars mostly missing. On inspection the track running up the mast was worn heavily where the cars park when the main is fully raised.

We have had new cars sent out but do not want this to happen again. Does the track need replacement? How is this done (excuse our ignorance)? How do we prevent this problem? The boat is 3 years old. Best regards, John Jones

Hi John, The sequence of events that caused your worn track and sliders probably went like this:

1) End caps on the slider cars cracked.
2) Balls escaped from the slider car bearings through the cracked end caps.
3) Cars that are missing balls chewed up the track.

Most luff car systems are now available with either standard cars or high-load cars. Your cars are probably standard cars with plastic end caps. The high-load cars, if available for your system, will likely have aluminum end caps that will not crack. Catamaran mainsails need more robust parts than conventional monohull mainsails of the same sail area because there is typically more roach (more compression on the batten system) and more righting moment.

If your luff track is fastened to a groove in the mast extrusion, it is attached in one of two methods: The mast is drilled and tapped and the mast attached with machine screws directly into the extrusion, or the rigger used slugs that fit into the extrusions groove and short machine screws are threaded into the slugs. In either case, the machine screws are stainless and they are threaded into aluminum. You may have some trouble freeing up the fasteners after three years of ocean sailing.
The track is made up of several short sections. You may find that it is only damaged in a few places where the damaged cars sit while the sail is hoisted. If the damage is not significant, you might be able to clean up the track with a file and sand paper and consider moving the bad sections to different locations on the mast so that the cars do not sit right on the damaged spots on the track while sailing. Regards, Dan Neri

Posted by admin  (November 30, 1999)

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