New mainsheet blocks?

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by SFBayLaser, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    As some of you know, the builders have been working with Harken on a proposal to replace the current boom and traveler blocks. The new blocks would have ball bearing sheaves and have the same look as Harken's carbo air blocks. These would not be off the shelf blocks, they would be custom for the Laser: the block at the end of the boom will have the ability to rotate slightly so as to not have the bail cut into it like with the current block, the traveller blocks would be one unit with a universal that would not require taping, etc. Finally, they would be "builder supplied" and have the Laser logo engraved on them.

    Prototypes of these blocks have made their way around the world. I've resisted posting pictures because these are working prototypes and don't have the final look that the production blocks will have, so don't want people to get the wrong impression of what they will look like in the end. But I can post pictures if people think seeing working prototypes will help them form an opinion, though you can check out your favorite online marine supplier to get a feeling for the basic concept. I can say that they will really look cool on the boat...

    These blocks run much more freely than the current blocks and any sailor using them will notice the difference (I can certainly vouch for this too!). Other than that, they have been designed to match the dimensions of the current block so should behave the same in all other ways.

    Applying the general sorts of guidelines to proposals like this (Does it change the sailing characterisitcs of the boat? Does is solve a problem that needs fixing? Do the sailors want it? Will it be generally available worldwide at reasonable cost? etc.) results in the following basic pro/con type of arguments...

    Some arguments for include:
    1) Modern carbo airblocks to replace blocks which were outdated when Lasers went into production,
    2) Doesn't change the characteristics of the boat (or does it? see below),
    3) Harken products readily available worldwide at reasonable prices,
    4) Sailors want better blocks,
    5) etc.

    Some arguments against:
    1) Main sheet can run much more freely, perhaps is an advantage in light air, and may change the game?
    2) Current blocks are readily available worldwide at reasonable prices, probably more so than Harken blocks?
    3) Sailors don't really want to change the blocks?

    This will be discussed at the upcoming World Council meeting next month in Terrigal. It would be really interesting to get some feedback from The Laser Forum to see if sailors, in general, feel strongly one way or the other.

    Tracy
     
  2. Scott B

    Scott B Member

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    I am very much in favor of the upgrade/change. I haven't liked these blocks since I first them in the '70s.

    I would also guess the majority on this forum are in favor of new blocks.
     
  3. Laser of the Corn

    Laser of the Corn Member

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    I think it would be a vast improvement and would be totally in favor of it.

    The concern will be this: Harken has done a fantastic job of delivering high quality products for reasonable prices, do those prices triple when the Laser logo is put on them? Probably. Only time will tell.
     
  4. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    The following would be good standard for any proposal involving new blocks...

    The blocks MUST cost THE SAILORS less money and MUST BE more readily available than the current blocks.

    The concept of a new block set which might have a competitive advantage for those who purchase them is unacceptable unless the above criteria are met.

    Note:
    The advantage obtained with new blocks would not come from ball bearings or even from whether the blocks wear.

    The advantage would come if the blocks would allow a sailor to pull the boom closer to the deck.

    Summary:
    A new special unique to Lasers Harken Brand fitting might help the nice people at Harken to employ more people and send dividends to their investors but, I do not see any advantage to those of us who race Lasers which comes from moving our entire business from Holt ( who has supplied us for for over 30 years with high durability cheap fittings) to Harken who has more recently supplied us with very nice fittings as well.


    How do the proposed new blocks allow prospective Laser sailors to spend more time sailing and less time earning money to sail?
     
  5. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    I'd be in favour. Last year I managed to break the traveller blocks in a F3. It was one of the hooks that keep the two together that broke. Not major damage but a real pain as I did not then have a spare. I am thus very keen on something better and would almost certainly buy a set.

    Ideally a system that did not require the eyes on the boom to be removed and re-riveted and of course one that does not hang further from the boom nor making the traveller pair longer (i.e. the "block to block is the same as the present blocks).

    Ian
     
  6. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    I'm with Gouvernail on this one.

    Must cost less, or certainly no more then the current blocks..

    As Tracy already mentioned and I agree with, any ball bearing block is going to give an advantage over the current blocks in very light air. The sail/boom will certainly go out easier, and with less friction, more input ("feel") from wind velocity changes will be translated thru the mainsheet to the skipper, which means he/she will be able to react sooner and take advantage of them compared to the current blocks.. This translates into multiple boat length gains downwind, and a much smaller gain upwind

    I'd also ask if there is any consideration given to the wear that a block made from a harder material is going to do to the deck out by the trav eyes. Right now, the relatively soft plastic blocks will grind out the gelcoat with the trav tight. A harder block is going to do that in less time and possibly cause more damage. Do we have to accept that, or will that in turn cause a change allowing us to put some sort of sacrificial piece (tape, plastic, metal) on the deck, similar to the same problem we have now with the front edge of the daggerboard and the front edge of the trunk.
     
  7. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    99.9% sure the proposed blocks will be more expensive. Therefore, I (and Gouvernail and 49208, I think) will vote against the change, if it ever gets that far.

    I wish 'the powers that be' would consider something important, and about which so many have complained: the SAIL!!!
     
  8. vtgent49

    vtgent49 Member

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    I think the main reason main sheets wear out is because the boom blocks don't dangle to the correct angle, so it wears on the cheeks.

    I also don't think many people check their boom and traveler blocks for wear. Hold the cheeks and try to slide the sheave in and out. Any play there and it's time for new ones.

    So, that's two ways decent blocks could save money in the long run. Sort of like the expensive aluminum traveler eyes.

    Al
     
  9. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Save Money?
    I am certain I have sailed more than 2000 Laser races and I ahve gone joyriding and "practiced" on numerous other occasions.

    I have broken ONE traveler block. Part of the cheek fell off one side of that block and it still worked. I did replace it anyway.
    ( Note. I believe the failure was impact related and had nothing to do with sailing. I think it was fractured while trailering and broke later.)

    Assuming I sail Lasers until I am a hundred years old, I don't see how it could possibly save money during the rest of my life to replace the blocks on any of my three (currently maintained for racing) Lasers.

    Fancy new blocks will have the same "problems" as the current very good blocks.
    New blocks will chafe. New blocks will be "borrowed." For the most part, new blocks will only be available from Laser dealers. If you leave the new blocks in the driveway and roll over them with cars, they will not survive.

    Wavedancer brings up a great point. We could save thousands of dollars if the sails were built to last a reasonable length of time. Why are we being distracted with the non sense about bloocks when the blocks work just fine and the sails are failing to serve us?


    Will the promoters of the new blocks make more money selling new blocks?

    If so we are just their golden goose.
     
  10. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    just do it already, this change is long past due
     
  11. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    One surprising aspect to this thread is that people disagree. I'm not trying to put my preference again but even if the blocks are a bit more expensive, small difference in the scale of running a Laser. And as for the performance issue, again, compare the performance impact to the "improved sail" everybody is calling for. A few slightly better boom blocks might give somebody a slight advantage under some conditions (how significant might be open to debate), but compare that advantage to a new hi-tech sail !!!

    Ian
     
  12. Laser of the Corn

    Laser of the Corn Member

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    about the only time the blocks would be of any competitive advantage would be in the lightest of light winds. the only real advantage to them is that i'm sure they would be a great deal more durable. an interesting thought was mentioned above about the wear on the deck due to harder more durable block...

    first and foremost i think all would agree that the sail issue is one that needs to be fixed well before we start considering some change to a set of blocks.
     
  13. Laser of the Corn

    Laser of the Corn Member

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    again though, i would be in favor of the block change if it were presented to the class for vote. i'm sure that's a ways off though.
     
  14. suthera

    suthera Member

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    I disagree entirely that the new blocks must be cheaper. The increase in cost will be negligible when compared to the cost of the boat as a whole. It is a very small price to pay to keep the boat up to date, and any performance increase will be marginal. These blocks could be described as a “nice to have” not a “must have”. Make the change – it’s 30 years over due.
     
  15. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    how are they attached, tie on, shackle, or similar to what we have? does it have a metal strop, or plastic?

    can we see the pics tracy?
    ?
     
  16. Laser of the Corn

    Laser of the Corn Member

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    i would be willing to bet it would be a version of the 29mm Harken Carbos. check out the traveler block and the singles. please note prices also. i'm if approved the final price would be marked up an additional 30% of what is shown.

    http://www.apsltd.com/Tree/d261000/e260617.asp
     
  17. Laser of the Corn

    Laser of the Corn Member

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    currently the blocks are as follows: single- $18.00 single w/becket - $19.85 traveler - upper $19.85, lower $13.15
     
  18. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    The system is capable of multi-tasking so I don't see particular advantage to serializing things that might improve the boat or Laser sailing in general. Besides, last time I checked, Harken doesn't make sails... ;) And, in any case, the blocks have been in the development stage for some time.
     
  19. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    And I'm probably at the other end of the spectrum... I regularly replace the traveler blocks (indeed, I'm looking at a set now with a broken sheave which ocurred during the first day of racing at last Summer's PCC's). On a slightly less frequent basis I also have to replace the becket block at the end of the boom.

    For what it is worth, I also replace the traveler on a regular basis (and think spectra works best) and get really annoyed at how often the traveler eyes break (and get really steamed at how much damage they do when they do break).
     
  20. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Yes, this is an important point. What I meant by
    Other than that, they have been designed to match the dimensions of the current block so should behave the same in all other ways
    was that the Harken people have taken this (and other issues) into account in their design. They have a nice powerpoint presentation (which I don't have) which shows how they insured no difference for this specific item.

    But, of course, you more or less take it for granted that the Harken engineers figure all of these things out...
     

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