It was said that after having rerigged my boat I was not sure it had been cost-effective to do it myself. I reasoned that, between the cost of the tools I bought and the cost of the swageless fitting I ruined (by getting a wire pinched between the upper and lower terminal and stripping the threads), I was close to the cost of having the job done by a professional rigger.
That opinion was based, to a large extent, on how time-consuming and difficult it was to assemble the swageless fittings I used.
Recently, I was asked to evaluate another fitting manufactured by a Danish company called Blue Wave. I wasn’t aware of this fitting when I rerigged my boat. The new fitting promised to be much easier to use. So easy, in fact, that I had reservations about its ability to match the full strength of the wire.
Suncor Stainless is the sole importer of this part and collaborated on its engineering and development. They supplied a sample fitting and a length of 3/16-inch stainless-steel wire. The fitting looked first class. In fact, it appeared to be the most robust casting of all the swageless fittings on the market. It was easy to install because the wire does not have to be unlaid. There is no cone to be inserted, and there is no bending of the wire over the cone. Total assembly time was under one minute. Very impressive. But was it strong enough?
Quality Testing Inc., has all the required equipment, fully certified, to pull a load of up to 120,000 pounds of force on a sample. A little overkill for my needs, perhaps, but they agreed to do the tests.
Held the Load
The new Suncor fitting was next in line. The graph (Test 4) for fitting number four shows that the Suncor fitting held the load all the way to 4,278 pounds, 166 pounds higher than the swage fitting. This assembly also successfully passed the test. Not only that, but the outer strands of the wire actually broke, leaving the inner core of the wire attached to the fitting. I do not think the inner core would support too much load, but it did stay together. This was true of one other type of swageless fitting we tested as part of establishing the baseline.
What does all this mean? -by Jerry Powlas
When asked to evaluate the Suncor terminal we half expected him to say, "It’s too easy to be true." He could simply have presumed that these things worked as claimed, but he’s a cynic. He has had his share of surprises with rigging terminals. So he ran tests.
To provide a proper baseline for the test, he tested the two other swageless terminals he knew of, Norseman and Sta-Lok, as well as a C. Sherman Johnson Co. swaged terminal, with the swaged wire assembly professionally made.
The swaged terminal, as well as the Sta-Lok and the Suncor swageless terminals, passed the initial round of tests by breaking at a load slightly in excess of the wire’s rated ultimate breaking strength.. The Norseman terminal failed at 69 percent of the wire’s rated ultimate breaking strength. When the supplier was contacted concerning this, they offered to supply another terminal and wire assembly made up by their own staff. This terminal and wire assembly also failed the test, breaking at 80 percent of the rated breaking strength of the wire.
There are very narrow limits to what can be inferred from testing only one sample assembly of each terminal (or in the one case, two samples). Many samples of each terminal would need to be tested to make definitive statements about the performance of these parts. At nearly $100 a test sample, we were not inclined to do that, although we hope the manufacturers of these critical parts are no inclined.
Respecting these narrow limits, it should be said that the differences in the ultimate breaking strength of these assemblies (the highest load before failure) are not significant in the case of the three assemblies that had ultimate strengths higher than the wire rating. If the terminal functions properly, the test becomes a test of the breaking strength of the wire, not the terminal. This is true even in cases where the wire deforms and pulls out of the terminal without breaking.
In the cases of the two Norseman terminal-and-wire assemblies that failed to reach the breaking strength of the wire, many explanations are possible. Without more evidence (more testing to achieve statistical significance and professional engineering evaluation of the failures), it is not fair to speculate.
One of the appeals of swageless terminals is that they do not require a (very expensive) swaging machine, so they allow the boatowner the opportunity to do this job personally. If spare wire and terminals are carried, it’s even possible for the owner to make repairs in remote ports, or in a worst case, at sea.
There are many critical attributes to a swageless rigging terminal. It must be consistently strong, corrosion-resistant, and affordable. If it’s to be offered for use by amateurs, it must also be easy to use, so that the liklihood of proper and satisfactory assembly is extremely high. We tested only a few samples, so our opinion must be tentative, but this evaluation certainly suggests that the Suncor terminal is extremely easy to use. Bill considered the Sta-Lok terminal easier to use than the Norseman terminal. In at least some instances, the Norseman terminals may not be able to allow the full strength of the wire to be utilized.