Wykeham Martin Roller Furling Gear

Fellow Forumers: likely there are opinions in abundance re: the Wykeham Martin Roller Furling Gear. As a greying sailor I am considering this option since I find that the older I get the less likely I am to set my jib when the weather is going to turn. Look forward to hearing the collective wisdom on this subject.

Sentient/R Smith

The Wykeham Martin Roller Furling Gear has been in continuous production at Davey & Company Ltd for 100 years and is available from www.rwrope.com as well as www.classicmarine.co.uk . It was designed for gaff rigged English workboats. Compared to today’s Bermuda rigged sloops and double headed sloops (now referred to as cutters), the working gaffer has loose stays. These gaffers bent on a very large working staysail and jib. The jib was attached to a ring which was pulled out to the end of the boom, The halyard was then tightened, usually a double purchase arrangement without a winch, and the jib set. At some point in the process, the bobstay and whisker stays were tightened. These stays were four-part tackles and tensioned as needed. Because the luff sagged to leeward, the sailmaker cut the jib to compensate for the large sag in the luff. In the winter, the English workboat unshipped the topmast, pulled the bowsprit inboard and sailed under main and staysail.

With the Wykeham Martine (W-M) roller furling gear, the tack and head swivels are attached to a wire rope sewn in the luff of the jib. Today, I suspect one could used Stay-set X or another low stretch rope. The W-M gear looks very salty but was never designed for a tensioned modern rig. I believe you would be better served purchasing a modern furling gear system.

From http://www.classicmarine.co.uk/Articles/WMgear.htm

" Furling gears, on the other hand, adopt a different approach. They work on the basis of a top and bottom swivel attached directly to the head and tack (respectively) of the sail. Transmission of the torque from the lower swivel to the upper is done by means of the luff wire in the headsail. You cannot - unless the luff wire is unmanageably stiff - obtain a consistent sail shape in a part-furled condition. So with furling gears, you get all the sail or none at all. Occasionally you will hear of a cunning scheme to allow furling gears to act as reefing gears by using a double luff wire or an extrusion or some such device. Don?t bother. Why not? Because with furling gears you don?t have a continuous stay supporting the mast as part of the gear itself. Instead you rely of the strength in tension of two bearings. Other than a simple snarl up of the furling line, the most common failure is in these bearings. If you use a furling gear you must have an independent stay to support the mast.

Finally, please remember that you are unlikely to be able to obtain huge rig tensions through W-M gears. If that is what you want, then use more highly engineered - and expensive! - gear from another manufacturer."

If you prefer a hanked jib but do not want to venture out on the widowmaker, the Pardey’s modified the sliding boom ring arrangement found on English gaffers by installing a heavy duty sail track (boom track) on the boom with a slide that can be pulled out or in with a control line. They still kept the tensioned jibstay. The jib is hanked to a second jibstay which is fastened to the slide on the boom track. The boom slide is pulled to the end of the boom and the second jibstay tensioned with a highfield lever. This arrangment is just a “high tech” sliding boom ring as found on an old English gaffer. There are other approaches to tensioning the second jibstay but I will leave that subject for another discussion.


Cold in Baltimore