Projects: Addition of Spartan rollers and storm damage repair

Ariel spent her first two seasons berthed at a lousy marina located on a narrow channel with rickety docks and a strong current. During a fall storm, Ariel's lines stretched enough to allow one of her anchors to get caught under the dock, ripping apart the factory bow roller assembly and cracking part of the bowsprit. It was at that point that we decided to suck it up and buy Spartan's pricey bronze bow rollers.

Sadly, this is what I found when I checked on Ariel. I didn't realize that things had gotten so nasty at our marina, but apparently Ariel had been surging about quite a bit during a period of high winds out of the west. Given the marina's location, prolonged winds out of the west send rolling waves up the St. Joseph River channel and up to our marina, creating a fair amount of surge. Combine this with rain, and I guess the lines stretched enough to allow Ariel to poke her CQR under the I-beam that supports the dock. Sad. And now...the repair process. We'd been talking about those fancy Spartan rollers for awhile....

This picture reveals the worst part of the damage: the pressure on the roller eventually bent the threaded bolt that runs through the bowsprit and draws the laminated strips together. You can see that there is separation from the forward end of the bowsprit all the way past the stem fitting.

Though difficult to see in the picture above, the laminated strips that retain the roller split down the middle, and the center "prong" lost its bottom half all the way back to the stem fitting. This picture shows the extent of the split wood much better. Right after taking these pictures, I removed the CQR and the bow roller to relieve the pressure on the split. Too bad.

I tried to leave as much of the original wood intact as I chiseled the splintered bottom side of the center prong level. I then cut a new piece of teak roughly to size, coated it liberally with thickened epoxy, and clamped it in place to cure. Prior to installing the new piece, I had to cut a rabbet in the aft end so that the threaded bolt that runs through the bowsprit would have a clear path.

The underside of the epoxied piece. I left the new piece large deliberately - although perhaps too large - so I can sand it to shape. Once the new Spartan bow rollers are in place, all of this will be covered anyway by the roller's flange and backing plate. What matters most is that there's a good strong bond between the two pieces.

We've been threatening to buy these rollers for awhile now, but could never work up the courage to lay down 270 bucks per roller. Now, with the original system completely out of commission, we have no choice. They are definitely a superior system and a nice piece of craftsmanship. I did a test fit the other day when the rollers arrived and discovered that the opening in the bowsprit will have to be widened slightly, and the forward end of the bowsprit will need to be extended about a half inch to prevent the aft end of the roller flange from contacting the stem fitting. This means epoxying a couple small blocks on the end of the bowsprit prongs.

6.10.05 - It's about time some progress was made! I spent much of yesterday putting Ariel's bowsprit back together and installing the rollers. The repair required modifying the 'sprit with three teak blocks epoxied to the end of the three prongs that support the rollers. I had to do this to locate the rollers far enough forward to prevent the aft end of the flange from contacting the stem fitting. Once the blocks were in place I sanded and shaped them to accomodate the rollers. In addition to widening the openings in the 'sprit, I had to carve grooves for the roller pins to slide into. Sorry I don't have pictures of the process, but I haven't been able to find my digital camera charger and I'm not planning on taking the rollers off just to snap a few pictures.

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