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AE 28 Problems and Solutions

June 5, 2012

From the log of Harry Allen, San Francisco Bay Alerion Express 28 Fleet:


Stuffing box. Stuffing box on some non-saildrive boats incorrectly installed, scored the shaft, leaks too much. Shaft replaced and stuffing box replaced with dripless shaft seal.

Prop size, design. One boat with saildrive recently learned that the factory installed prop was smaller than the size recommended by manufacturers so it was replaced with the larger recommended prop and performance reported to be substantially improved.

Several boats with shaft drives have replaced the feathering Martec prop with a folding Max prop which gives much better performance, especially backing. (Editor’s note: slightly increased drag under sail)

Mast and Jib Boom

Mast step not on centerline. Mast had to be removed and step reset on centerline.

Main sail cars. Some boats with fully battened mains have had problems with Fredrickson or Ronstan cars on the mainsail. The cars consist of the car frame, some balls, probably Delrin, some small plastic spacers and some stainless screws. Sometimes the plastic spacers get worn out which may increase friction getting the sail up. On a couple of occasions the screws have come out at inopportune times, once falling into the sail track and jamming the main in a half-hoisted condition ultimately resulting in moderate grief and expense. Solution is to check the cars occasionally, replace worn parts, put thread lock on the screws. Spacers come in several very slightly different sizes and shapes and have to be very carefully checked to make sure the right replacements are used for the particular groove in the mast.

Jib outhaul issues. On the foredeck just aft of where the jib boom goes through the deck there is a pad eye to which a block for the jib outhaul is attached. The size and quality of this factory installed item has varied over the years, but on many boats it is a small Schaeffer stamped pad eye. The jib outhaul is the most heavily loaded line on the boat and the pad eyes on a few boats have failed under load at inopportune times, usually in breezy conditions and bumpy seas. The remedy to prevent failure is to replace the pad eye with a Harken swivel block with a stainless steel backing plate under the deck or use a larger Schaeffer cast pad eye with reinforcing plate with a high load block by Ronstan or others.

The factory installed cam cleat for the jib outhaul is inadequate and impossible to deal with under load if the wind is blowing at all. Most local boats have replaced it with a rope clutch which leads to the winch.

(Editor’s note: The jib outhaul was designed to be doubled — led from the double block assembly on the boom end through the clew cringle and back to the d-ring on the block assembly. Many owners tie the outhaul directly to the clew cringle. Doubling the line reduces the load on the turning block and at the cam cleat by one half. See photo.)

AE 28 Problems and Solutions: News

 Doubling the line reduces the load on the turning block and at the cam cleat by one hal

AE 28 Problems and Solutions: Image

Jib boom lifting. The forward end of the jib boom is held in place under the foredeck with a threaded bolt going through a triangular piece of plywood or composite material about ½” thick which is glassed into the forepeak. The bolt goes vertically through a big composite plug inside the end of the boom, down through the triangular piece where there is a flat washer and nut on the underside of the triangular piece. There is no bushing around the bolt between the bolt and the triangular piece. The bolt does not have a smooth shaft with threads only at the end where the nut is, it is threaded along its entire length. Over time the threads cut into the unprotected triangular piece, wearing the originally round hole into an oblong hole. The result is that the forward end of the boom is no longer fixed in place. This can be detected by putting the boom on the centerline, going on the foredeck to the mast and lifting up on the aft end of the boom. If the hole is not worn the boom will not lift up. If the hole is worn the boom will lift up, on some boats as much as two inches or even more, and you can feel that the boom is rising at the aft end and the forward end is wobbling around and moving about instead of being fixed in place. The effect of the oblong hole is that when the boat is sailed off the wind and the jib boom is out, the aft end of the boom rises up, adversely affecting sail shape and there is no way to correct it since the sheet will only pull the boom in, not down. An even more compelling benefit of fixing the wobble is actually upwind, since the back of the boom lifts less enabling more options/control of the jib leech. The remedy is to remove the boom and the ball, which can be tricky (and expensive if the $500 ball gets damaged in the process), ream out the oblong hole, insert a hat bushing, metal or composite, replace the bolt through the bushing with a bolt with a smooth shaft and reassemble.

Jib boom extender. Several boats have installed a local version of the light air jib boom extender which is far superior to the factory version, weighs less, is less complicated and costs less. A G-10 plate (a high strength composite) is attached to the underside of the foredeck on the center line, just forward of the bulkhead using Plexus high strength adhesive. A stainless post with a ball end is attached to the plate.

Works great. If a boat already has a factory system this is probably not worth the time and expense, but if a boat has none, this setup is definitely better than the factory version.

AE 28 Problems and Solutions: Text
AE 28 Problems and Solutions: Pro Gallery

Jib traveler. Some boats with jib booms have added a traveler track like the one used on boats without jib booms. The jib boom is sheeted through a block on the traveler car. This comes in handy when you are trying to move the jib boom to the upwind side for wing and wing. Just pull the car to upwind side. It’s easier to get the boom across without sailing by the lee. Upwind, the traveler allows for a better jib sheet arrangement where the jib sheet actually pulls the end of the boom down instead of towards the centerline. This allows for two basic modes going upwind, without closing off the slot. Light air mode is jib sheet tight which pulls the end of the boom down and jib outhaul eased which makes for a fuller rounder jib while still allowing for leech twist. Heavy air mode is jib sheet eased slightly, allowing the jib boom to flex up with the jib outhaul tight. This flattens the jib while still allow leech twist and control. Obviously, you have lots of trim options in between. At no point does the end of the jib boom ever want to be more than an inch or so inside the edge of the cabin top. The one thing we never do is to use the jib traveler to pull the car inboard going upwind! All this refinement does add extra lines into the cockpit and requires remembering to release and trim it, so it makes this simple boat somewhat less simple. 

Sheets and Control Lines

Mainsheet cleat. The mainsheet cleat can be difficult to release under load. On one occasion this resulted in a serious T bone collision during a race. Some boats have replaced it with a Harken trigger cleat. Others use an Oxam cleat as used on catamarans. They like it but it is expensive and has tight tolerances if something goes wrong.

Jib Sheet. Some boats have replaced the cam cleat for the jib sheet with trigger cleats. Others use the Spinlocks. Some boats have double-ended the jib sheet to Ronstan swivel mounts on each side of the cabin top so it is easier to adjust the sheet from either side of the boat.

Traveler and Backstay. Some boats have re-rigged the traveler and backstay controls, leading them forward. On one version, they are brought forward under the side deck alongside the cockpit where they exit through cam cleats behind the teak splashboard or under it so they can be controlled by helmsman or crew. In another version they are led under the cockpit floor and up through the barney post. On some boats which have done it this way, the two traveler controls and one backstay are on separate swivel mounts with cam cleats on the barney post and can be controlled by helmsman or crew. On other boats, the traveler controls are on the post, but the backstay control is on a small cam cleat on the arm below the mainsheet cleat using a special Harken apparatus designed to have these two controls together at the helmsman. These are good for racing, probably not much use otherwise, although removing the traveler apparatus from the aft of the cockpit eliminates the problem of a slack mainsheet catching on the traveler cam cleats during a gybe.

Fit and Finish

Port lights leaking. Some were fixed under warranty by local yards, using sealant, etc., with mixed results. On some boats the screws were in the wrong place and didn't really hold anything together.

Forward hatch leaking. No successful fixes known yet.

Chain plates leaking. Some owners re caulk on deck every once in a while. Others let it go. Any effective repair is likely to be labor intensive and cost prohibitive. The best product we have found is called Flexbond 5000. If the area around the chainplates is cleaned out well this stuff seems to grab a hold and not move. (Editor’s note: Should be addressed or water intrusion in the deck layup could lead to delamination — a big problem)

Corrosion. Running lights get corroded, maybe due to dissimilar metal between bulb and fixture. Result is no running lights. Some have tried to seal the lights better. Others switched to small LED lights. The stainless steel LED running lights made by Atwood which were used to replace the Perkos seem to be working well so far. Another sure fix seems to be to confine sailing to daylight hours, as is appropriate for a daysailer.

A lot of corrosion on mast, main boom and jib boom where stainless fasteners are used. Remedy is to remove, cleanup, apply Tef Gel (or Forespar Marlube TEF 45, a less sticky but less expensive alternative) to all fasteners and replace. Tef Gel or Forespar available at some marine suppliers or on internet. It's messy to deal with but really works.

Clogged deck drains. Deck drain hoses under cockpit side deck become clogged with algae, bird droppings, etc. and were replaced with sanitary hoses of the type used for heads. May have worked, jury still out on this one. Newer boats seem to come from the factory with white sanitary hose. Older ones had clear plastic hose.

AE 28 Problems and Solutions: Text
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