The Loos economy tension gauge takes the guesswork out of cable tension adjustment. It's especially designed for accurate, repeatable tuning of a sailboat's standing rigging.
|Model Number 91||Cable Diam. 3/32", 1/8", 5/32"|
|Model Number 90||Cable Diam. 3/16", 7/32", 1/4", 9/32"|
To measure tension, simply hook the gauge on the cable as illustrated (see picture above). Pull the lanyard (Blue arrow) until the pointer is positioned at the black calibration mark (red arrow), read the scale at the exact point where the middle of the cable touches the scale (white arrow). For best accuracy, the gauge should be held so that the scale barely touches the cable, thus eliminating friction. A word of caution, however: excessive pull on the lanyard, which pulls the pointer beyond the calibration mark, may permanently bend the spring and damage the gauge.
To convert the scale reading to actual tension in pounds for each wire diameter, see the conversion table on the gauge. Metric tension gauge available on request.
Table 1 recommends an initial tension setting, but there is no simple solution since the optimum rigging tension will be a function of the boat design, the rig (masthead or fractional, one or more spreaders, etc.), and even the cut of the sails. Many skippers use insufficient tension because of a fear of "breaking something." It should be noted that on America's Cup contenders, where electronic state of the art tension instrumentation is available, the standing rigging is set as tight as is structurally feasible.
|302 / 304 1 X 19 Stainless Steel Rigging Cable|
|Diam,. In.||Breaking Strength Pounds||Forestay* Pounds||Shrouds* Pounds|
|*Suggested initial settings.|
When no specific requirements are provided by the sail maker, the following general comments will provide a basis for a rational procedure for tuning the rig.
Masthead Rig: On the masthead rig it's almost always advantageous to set the forestay tension as high as possible within the limits of structural strength. Generally, it's possible to use 15% of the breaking strength of the cable. Thus, a forestay tension of 1,000 lbs. is a reasonable place to start with a 7/32"diam., 302/304 1x19 stainless steel cable. To check the cable diameter use the milled end to determine the proper cable size.
Backstay tension would, of course, have to be adjusted to maintain a straight mast with the desired forestay tension. Since the backstay makes a greater angle to the mast, the backstay tension will be lower than the forestay tension.
Fractional Rig: In a fractional rig the forestay does not go all the way to the masthead and forestay tension cannot be directly balanced by tension in the backstay. Therefore, some mast bend is generally accepted and the mainsail is cut to fit the bend. A forestay tension of at least 15% of the cable strength is desirable. However, if this results in excessive mast bend it will be necessary to back off a bit. On some fractional rigs, diamond shrouds are used to reduce mast bend.
Masthead Rig: There is a simple criterion for shroud tension. The initial rigging tension should be high enough that the leeward shrouds do not go slack when sailing close-hauled in a reasonably brisk breeze. The proper value for your boat can be found by a few trial runs under sail. Once the correct tension is known, the gauge can be used to maintain the value. For many boat designs a shroud tension of 10% to 12% of the breaking strength of the cable is adequate. Thus, for 7/32", 302/304 1x19 stainless steel cable , the upper and lower shrouds would be set to 600 to 700 lbs. tension. On some rigs it may be desirable to carry more tension in the uppers than in the lowers.
Fractional Rig: For most fractional rigs the correct shroud tension is the same as that for a masthead rig, i.e., a tension setting that will keep the leeward shrouds from going slack. However there is one exception. On certain fractional rigs , the upper and lower shrouds lead to chainplates that are aft of the mast. The spreader is swept back. For such a rig most of the forestay tension is balanced by the upper shrouds. A shroud tension of approximately 20% of the cable strength may be required to achieve the desired forestay tension. Never exceed 25% of the cable breaking strength. (Refer to the breaking strength chart Table 1.)