Furler Bearings……!!

It’s funny how things come along in twos and threes.  Nobody has mentioned furler bearings to me in years, then two teams ask in two weeks.

Basically, an FF generates higher rig loadings than a dinghy and the furler bearings need to be high grade or high tensile or one of those expressions. If you have a bit of a rumbling in your bearings you should change them top and bottom. This is the critical thing – you need to get the high tensile bearing set. I’m pretty sure that these will be hard to find at Chandlers that don’t have a Flying Fifteen speciality and you’ll get fobbed off with the wrong thing. They’ll melt in the sun (if we had any, says John Hassen !!), … or worse.

So what you do is call P&B to talk it through – they (i) understand the issue (ii) stock the right parts to get you furling again.  How do you get in there??  Well, do you know I’ve never had to do it in 20 years so I can’t say from personal experience.  I think there is a circlip that you lever off and that’s how you get “in there”…..

1 thought on “Furler Bearings……!!

  1. I had to change the bearings on my furler last year. I had noticed that it was getting harder to furl the sail and there was a definite rumbling in the unit. The test was to spin the unit by hand. It stopped within a few turns.

    Bearing replacement proved to be quite straightforward. P&B do the high load bearings and they are not expensive. Do state that the bearings are for a Flying Fifteen when you order them.

    To get into the unit you remove the bottom circlip. To dismantle it I found it easiest to invert the furler in a vice, not clamped, but just so that it is supported. You then strike the bottom mounting smartly to start the shaft moving inside. A word of caution here. My unit is quite old and over time a small amount of corrosion meant that it was hard to see the join around the shaft, but it is there! Secondly I protected the fitting from damage by using a soft piece of wood on top and hitting that, not the fitting directly. I also used a rubber mallet not a hammer. After three or four sharp blows the unit split quite easily. I completed the final dismantling and reassembly inside a large plastic box so that the bearings didn’t get lost if I dropped them. I gave the shaft a very light clean with emery cloth to remove surface corrosion and reassembly was then very easy and straightforward, inserting the bottom ball set before pushing the top and bottom parts a bit closer and then feeding the top set in. Finally close the two halves – I just rested the unit the right way up in the vice and gave gentle tap with the rubber mallet until the groove for the circlip appeared. I did take the precaution of getting some circlip pliers beforehand, which made the job dead easy.

    The refurbished unit is now as good as new and I was amazed how long it ran when I did the spin test.

    The Harken furler is an excellent but expensive piece of kit, so the ability to service it yourself for very little money is a good feature and should form part of the routine service items on the boat. Just do the spin test from time to time to see if the bearings need changing.

    Hope this helps

    Graham Lamond
    FF 617

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