Monday 16 January 2023

Making & Replacing Spreader Boots


Its was not as hard as we thought it was going to be. We were able to replace all our spreader boots easily and  necessity really is the mother of invention. While we didn't reinvent the wheel we made the boots from what we had on board. We had to when we were having troubles getting a new set of boots locally.  

The first day of a long passage while adjusting the head sail we noticed a white patch of sail showing through the UV protection strip of the head sail. After our days run, we were tucked up in a safe anchorage we dropped the head sail to see the UV strip had been badly chafed. After a little investigation we found the culprit, the boot on the upper spreader was worn out and the tie wire was what was doing the damage. A temporary patch was put on the head sail to minimise the damage on the next leg of our journey.

Being in an area that didn’t have any chandleries to speak of, we contacted the local sail loft as we needed boots for our spreaders.

“Do you have any?”
“Yes I can help you” was the answer to our question.
“Ok I will need the make and model of your mast”
“Well our mast is a custom made unit but I can give you the dimensions and photographs of the spreader tips”

Unfortunately after several emails and phone calls we abandoned all hope of getting spreader boots from the local sail loft in the time frame we had. It was just getting too hard and the season was changing. We really didn’t want to be tied up to a marina berth or at anchor while he had spreader boots shipped in.

Our spreader boot pattern metric sizes 

It was time to design and manufacture our own boots. We had some leather on board, which had been purchased some time ago to make some knife pouches. That project was on the backburner so we had the material, all we needed was a pattern. Bruce searched in our timber off cuts for pieces of timber around about the same size as our spreader tips and a mock up tip for both tips (large and small) was made. We knew the wire size of the rigging so off we went making a pattern

The well worn old spreader boot

How they looked when I got up the mast and brought the old ones down

After making the pattern out of cardboard I simply traced around the edge with a 2B soft pencil.

We like to keep some card board (old corn flake boxes) for use as work space protection or even to make patterns, or emergency gaskets. While a lot of cruisers cringe and talk about cardboard and the possibility of being a breeding ground for cockroaches we treat the cardboard with surface spray first before storage.

Experimenting with the pattern not easy to see but i have fold lines in the cardboard where I wrapped it on a piece of timber I cut to the size of the spreader end. 

After some consideration, trial and error a pattern for the new spreader boots emerged. Bruce could wrap the cardboard pattern around the mock up spreader tip and worked through the process of attaching the boots.

Spreader boot once it was cut out with a sharp snap blade knife. 1' or 300mm Ruler is used for a size reference 

Punching the holes for lacing on the boot, in this case it turned out less holes made it way easier to sew on into place.
Double the material over to half the time required to punch the holes 

Up the mast the first boot being sewn in place

A boot was made for the smaller spreader tip. Using a snap blade knife he was able to cut through the thick leather cleanly, he then used a hand hole punch tool to cut the holes. We also keep a hole punch set on board for making gaskets or cutting clean holes doing canvas work. We could have used these hole punches, just that it would have taken slightly longer. The threading hole spacing for the first boot was 5 mm apart but this proved to be over kill so on the next sets Bruce increased the spacing to 10mm (1cm), and this proved efficient.

Working on the new boot, a bit tricky to stay in place from time to time

Sewing under way, nice and calm marina made it easier.

After he was happy, the boots could be sewn on easily. Bruce then went up the mast with the new boots in hand and after removing the remains of the old boot, stitched the new boot in place with UV protected waxed cord using a large sail needle.

Boot in place, about to start heading down

The finished product turned out better than we had thought they would have been, they were deliberately made a little over size to allow for the leather shrinkage. Since putting the boots on we have covered over fifteen hundred miles and they are still looking good.

The new spreader boot from the distance. They have now shrunk a little and is a really nice fit

Beer in hand enjoying the view. 

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