Which Mainsheet Block?? Orbit? Carbo?

Thread starter #1
I'm willing to hear anyone's input on which mainsheet block is the best. I'm thinking about getting a new one and I'm impressed with the 55mm Ronstan Orbit Ratchet block. Any ideas??

Ross B

I've thought about the Orbit, but the lack of a proper swivel concerns me, I don't think the Spectra strop will easily rotate 180 degree's, and be happy about about it.

The Ronstan/Freddie with a holding power of 15:1, is more than enough, compared to the crap Harken's. While the Orbit has a 20:1, I'll have to wait till I see it in person

Ross B

cant argue that

have you used the gold standard Freddie/Ronstan, its a great block, and more than enough. I'm itching to try the Orbit, but worry it might be too much holding power.

If 15;1 is not enough for you, you might just want to try lifting a bit of weight
Thread starter #5
Haha it really isnt too much to for me to hold on to, I'm just a little greedy, haha. By the way, I visited your Campaign Blog and I'm trying to figure out your inhaul rigging from April 11... I dont understand what the Tri-Lie blocks are for.


The Orbit 55mm lists the holding as 15-1 on the packaging for the block itself (I know their web site lists it at 20-1) Either they haven't updating the packaging or the 20-1 is a bit overstated or with the line wrapped completely around the sheave.

I had been sailing with the original Harken Hexaratchet, which is also 15-1 holding and it seems to have about the same holding power.
I've been trying the 55 Orbit and I'm very impressed so far. I use it, and the harken, in Ratchamatic only. Plus I have both a Harken 55mm and the 72mm.

The Ronstan swivels fine thru the whole range needed, and their rubber stand up boot is great, easy to mount, and keeps lines from snagging. I'd use their rubber boot on a Harken, now that I've tried it.

I set up some weights and pulleys to test the "true" holding power of all 3 blocks. Their rating is for a 180 degree wrap. The Harken 72 definately holds the best at 180 degrees, but they all are close.

At 90 degree wrap, the Orbit holds a little bit better than either Harken. Interestingly, at a 75-80 degree wrap, more like what a Laser has, the Harkens start to really lose grip. I suppose because only one, maybe two, of the wedge grippers is in play. The Orbit measures almost the same at 75-80 degrees as it does at 90 degrees, primarily due to having many wedge grippers in play, possibly as many as 20. About 8 lbs. hand tension will hold a 50 lb load.

The Orbit has softer edges on it's grippers than the Freddie, so sheet wear should be lessened. But I'd assume the Orbits better grip at 80 degrees will cause some more sheet wear than the Harkens. Friction is friction, so wear has the be the trade off.

Some people (like APS) think the Freddie has too much grip for lighter days. The ratchamatic function takes care of that completely. Switching the Orbit from auto to regular ratchet is easy, but not something you'd do underway.

I've had no trouble with Harkens carbo ratchamatic mechanism, and only have a week on the Orbit's, so that remains to be seen.

One note, the stock eyestrap on a Laser has rather sharp edges, too sharp to help the Orbits strop to last. The Orbit stand up boot comes with a very nice eyestrap, with forged rounded edges. But it's a bit wide for the laser. I'll be bending it, or looking for another smaller one with round edges. However, changing the eyestrap may be illegal.

Al Russell
Thread starter #11
Wow thanks for the help, and yes I've seen it... isn't it sexy? Hmm well when you talked about the sharp eyestrap it seems that the easy solution would be to file down the edges a little bit... or bend 'em like you said. You've been using the Orbit yourself... do YOU see any substantial wear?
I won't be using a very soft sheet, like the maffioli lines, it is the new black rooster sheet.
The block hasn't been out long enough in the US for any meaningful reports on line wear - but since Ronstan used the Freddie block as a basis for comparing line wear, if they say they have decreased line wear, that's good enough for me.

I agree with the rubber boot, it's worth the price

I took the dremel to my existing eyestrap and cleaned up the edges, and put a couple wraps of electrical tape around it. Again, not a lot of hours on it, but no signs of wear on the strop
Thread starter #13
Great! thanks for the tips! I'm liking this baby more and more with every post! I agree, it was a dumb question, how long has it been out? Wasn't it released in April... doesnt matter. Yes, the boot sounds great for the $6.00 tag. How about the switch for the auto/manual on/off? Is it operational in action?
Switching the full auto on/off requires sliding two independent sliders (one on each side of the block) and turning the ratchet on/off switch. With a little practice it can be done in a second or two. Not sure it's nec though, IMHO you'll either like the auto ratchet and use it all the the time, or use it in manual mode all the time.
Thread starter #15
What do you use, and what are the regular conditions where you live? I'm used to doing the manual deal, never tried an autoratchet.
Anyone tried the Ronstan 42100 40mm smart ratchet block? The thing with the 55mm blocks is they're sized for 3/8" (10mm) line so they don't grip as well on the 9/32" (7mm) or 5/16" (8mm) line we use for laser mainsheets.

Ross B

the Ronstan/Freddie 60 Series Part # RF62100 is for 3/8

but everyone uses 5.5 and 7 mm Rooster line

trust me, its fine
I set up some weights and pulleys to test the "true" holding power of all 3 blocks...

Al Russell
Al, what diameter line did you use for your testing?

I've got an old Harken ratchamatic but it hardly seems to grip at all on the slick 7mm rooster mainsheet I've got.
49208, I'll leave my stock eyestrap as is. Let's compare strop wear mid-summer on yours and mine, to see if your mods are helping, or if it's a non-worry.

Sheets - I tried a 1/4" plain polyester line, and a 8 mm Bzzz. It didn't seem to make a difference, even on the hugh 72 mm block. I don't have a rooster anymore to try. A new rooster needs to be washed however to get the lubes out.

BTW- APS lists these for about 44. US, but doesn't have any yet. West lists them for 55. and has plenty.