Harken equipment is designed for minimal maintenance, but some upkeep is required to give the best service. In general, the most important aspect of maintenance is to keep your equipment clean by frequently flushing with fresh water.
Small Boat/Midrange Blocks
The plastic sideplates and sheaves of Small Boat/Midrange blocks are UV stabilized, but may turn gray after exposure to the sun. This discoloration may be removed with a fine abrasive, but will not reduce the strength of the blocks. Flush Small Boat/Midrange blocks frequently with fresh water. Periodically clean blocks with detergent and water to remove salt and dirt. Dry lubricants such as McLube, which will not attract dirt, may be used. Inspect blocks periodically for damage. In particular, inspect shackles and swivel posts for cracks, corrosion, or elongation. When replacing shackles, be sure to use Harken parts to maintain the proper strength. Use Loctite when refastening nuts or screws. Tape cotter rings to prevent snagging. Do not leave heavy loads on Small Boat/ Midrange blocks when not in use as it may slightly deform the bearings. Normally they will return to their proper shape after being rotated, but an initial resistance to rolling may be felt.
Big Boat Blocks
Flush blocks thoroughly with fresh water. Periodically, disassemble the blocks and clean with detergent and fresh water. Lubricants which will not attract dirt may be used. Examples are McLube, dry Teflon or dry silicone sprays. Inspect shackles and shackle posts for signs of corrosion or deformation. Plastic isolators should always be used between stainless fasteners and aluminum sideplates. Stainless fasteners which pass through aluminum blocks should be coated with an antiseize compound. Nylock nuts should not be used after being removed three times. When replacing shackles and fasteners, use Harken parts to maintain the proper strength. Big Boat Bearings are resistant to deformation, but it is not advisable to leave heavy loads on any hardware when the boat is not sailing.
Traveler Cars and Battcars
Keep cars clean by frequently flushing with fresh water. Periodically clean cars by squirting a detergent/water solution into the car’s ball races via the shackle slots. For Battcars, squirt underneath the car. Roll the car back and forth to distribute evenly, and then flush the bearings with fresh water. This maintenance is very important, particularly when the cars haven’t been in use. Clean the track with detergent and water. Use only a single drop of a light machine oil such as 3-in-1 in each ball race. Too much attracts dirt. Frequently inspect shackles and control block fittings for signs of fatigue. Make sure every installation includes Harken track end stops. Arrange control tackles so cars do not hit the end stop under load. Jib Reefing and Furling Systems – Keep furling units clean by flushing frequently with fresh water. Periodically clean the lower unit and the halyard swivel with detergent and fresh water to remove deposits of salt and dirt. Lubricants such as McLube , dry Teflon and dry silicone sprays which will not attract dirt may be used. Wash foils with soap and water. Foils may be lubricated with dry sprays to ease the raising and lowering of sails. Inspect swage fittings, shackles and the lower turnbuckle assembly for signs of corrosion or fatigue. Refer to the owner’s manual for detailed maintenance instructions. Periodically clean cars by squirting a detergent/water solution into the car’s ball races via the shackle slots. For Battcars, squirt underneath the car. Periodically clean the lower unit and the halyard swivel with detergent and fresh water to remove deposits
Mike Lee is the technical expert at Harken’s Newport Rhode Island office. Read his no-nonsense guide to winch maintenance.
Top Winter Boat Checks
Dinghy sailor Pippa Wilson gives her top winter boat checks.