We never planned to install new jib tracks, but as often happens on a sailboat, this became one of several unintended projects. For those who don’t know, jib tracks are metal bars typically mounted on the outside edge of a boat. The jib sheets (the lines that control the jib when sailing) run through blocks on the jib track. The blocks attach to moveable track cars. The purpose of the whole system is to adjust the sheeting angle of the jib so that the sail has a more efficient shape and hopefully moves the boat faster through the water.
The old tracks were in okay condition, but the jib cars were crap and covered in Cetol. Even after cleaning them and scraping the Cetol off the jib track, they would not slide smoothly. Plus, many of the screws and through-bolts holding down the tracks were cock-eyed causing the jib cars to snag on the heads of the screws.
I think at one time we briefly considered changing the jib track. When Rich tested removing a couple of the screws and through-bolts we quickly changed our minds. Instead we bought new Garhauer jib cars with spring-loaded blocks so they stand up. We bought them over a year ago and attempted to install them a week or so ago only to find that they don’t fit. Well actually, they fit, but they are a little loose. It appeared that if there were too much force in the upward direction there was a potential for the car to pop off the track. I’m not saying that’s what would happen, but the fit just wasn’t right.
We bought two new jib tracks a couple of weeks ago. Rich has been working on the overhead hatches and getting the cabin top ready to paint. In the mean time, removing the old tracks was tasked to me.
About 418 screws and 287 through-bolts secure the tracks to the cap rail. Truthfully there were probably 30 screws and 15 bolts for each track, but I probably could have removed 418 screws in less time than it took me to remove the 30 or so that were actually there. Most things on this boat are about 39 years old. Things that are outside for 39 years usually don’t fare too well. Evidently no one has tried to remove the jib tracks before because most of the flat-head screws were in good condition and none were stripped out. Some of the bolts were stripped, but once the nut was removed they were easy enough to pull out. The real trick was preventing me from stripping them out.
Even though the screws were in good condition, getting them out was nearly impossible for me to do without completely annihilating the screw head. Rich had to stop what he was working on to help me by getting all the screws at least partly loose. The crooked ones were especially tough to remove. Once loose, it was easy enough to use the drill to get them out, but we had to cut three of them off and pull them out after the track was removed. I did have to use the pry bar on some of the stripped bolts though.
Once the metal track was off, the teak base came off pretty easily. After years of sanding, the ridge left on the cap rail was much higher than the surrounding wood. I used the belt sander (which Rich has never let me use) to knock down the teak ridge. Then I used the palm sander to make it all smooth. Five hours later and the cap rails are ready for Rich to fill in the old holes (48 of them per side!) I will apply some teak oil and sealer after the holes are filled. Once we get that done we can finally install the new jib tracks.