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Can I repair my furler?

2010 March 2
Dear Boat Doctor,
I have a 4-year-old Harken furler on my Ericson 35 and I damaged it when pulling my mast last fall. The foils look OK, but I think I bent one of the connector pieces. Is this difficult to repair and can you give me guidance on how to do it?
Jim Strauss
Annapolis, Maryland

Dear Jim,
Furlers are very durable when in use but can be a little delicate when stepping and unstepping the mast. It is unlikely that only the connector is damaged-they are hard aluminum and the pieces they connect are softer aluminum extrusions.

The first step is to remove the drum and swivel from the bottom of the furler, this will leave you with the stay and surrounding foils and connector pieces. This task is well detailed in the Harken manual that came with your unit or you can download a copy from the Harken Web site (www.harken.com, 262-691-3320). Before adjusting or disassembling anything, measure and write down the pin-to-pin dimension of the furler so you can make sure the furler is the same length when you put it back together.

Next you'll need to cut the bottom terminal off the headstay and remove the stay-you'll need a new headstay. From here you can pull apart the damaged joint. You'll need to remove the small screws and thoroughly heat the joint to remove the red loctite used to secure it. With everything opened up you can assess what parts need to be replaced and contact Harken for parts. After getting new parts you can put the joint back together.

The final job is to snake a new headstay through the foils, put on a bottom mechanical terminal and reinstall the drum. Getting the stay through can be a little tricky but it really just takes patience and some helpers to shake the foils while you push the new stay through. You'll need to use a mechanical terminal on the bottom like a STA-LOK, unless you have access to a portable swager.

This job is possible to do yourself but challenging, I'd suggest that you contact Harken Tech Support beforehand and hire a rigger if you have any doubts.