Stem fitting issue


Good morning Amelians. This could be encountered by early 54 owners. My vessel is #14

Before I made a return trip home from a stay aboard Spirit, I needed some close up photos of the connection of my headsail furler to the stem fitting. Paul from Bamar USA had requested them to determine the existing connection, so the necessary connections could be obtained for the upgrade to the new EJF I was planning to have installed.

In taking the pictures, I noticed a significant bend in the stem fitting. (see photo). I emailed the photo to Paul at Bamar usa  the rigger who was going to do the furler upgrade, and Bill Rouse, and all agreed that the fitting needed replacement.

I had taken the photo right before leaving, and didn't really have an idea what it would entail to do the replacement. That said, the rigger wouldn't get involved with the issue, so I needed to resolve it on my own.

I would have to remove the furler mechanization first, then I could get at the stem fitting to remove it.

My initial concern was to determine how the stem fitting is secured. I emailed Thierry at Amel. In a brief exchange, he sent me a photo of the bow plate of a 54, and the spec sheet for the stem fitting. (see photos). His implication was that it's removal was simply to disconnect the stem fitting from the furler mechanism (bolted thru) and then disconnect from the bow plate (bolted thru). I thought, great, simple enough, 

This is where the fun begins.

First off, as I suspected, the existing bent stem fitting was significantly thinner then the specs on the new one sent by Thierry. (see phots of spec sheet and comparison photos of existing and replacement). I was in NY, and the boat was in Puerto Rico, so I had a measurement take and sent. Existing fitting was 6.5mm thick. If you note on the spec sheet sent by Thierry it calls for a thickness of approx. 20mm. Yikes! no wonder the thing bent. Also, note on the spec sheet that it clearly says "MODIFICATION."

So I had my buddy at Liberty Iron and Steel make me up a replacement. Seeing as he had some 18mm stock on hand, I gave the OK to use that material. I figured it's 3 times thicker, what the hell. It was a good call.

Now look at the side by side photos (see photos). Yikes! 

So I return to Puerto Rico to get it done.

Paul from Bamar USA was great in helping guide me in the removal of the furling mechanism. Having various strength twines to secure loops on the foils and fittings to secure them was very helpful (fisherman/sailors Necessary items).

Now the stem fitting.

Unfortunately, I could see 2 major problems. When the boat was manufactured, the thru deck hole for the fitting was obviously created. It was approx. 12.5mm.(see photo). I emailed Thierry. No response. Seeing as my new fitting was 18mm, it obviously wouldn't fit. The thought of trying to expand the opening with a sawz all, expanding the opening to accommodate the 18mm with a clean and straight hole was not, I felt, a good option.

So I found (with a little help from my friends) a machine shop in Mayaguez, where Jose machined down 2 sides wi8th a 45 degree angle from the 18mm to the 11.25mm section to seat the fitting thru the existing hole (see photos).

The bow plate opening also needed to accommodate the fitting. I needed to use a cutting wheel to trim the bow plate which extended PAST the connection flanges about 1mm., and a sawz all to trim the hole slightly. 

I tapped the fitting in with a rubber mallet, and marinetexed the gaps and edges. (see photo of finished job)

I emailed Thierry explaining my observations and procedures to resolve the issue. No response.

1. The new fitting is 50mm closer to the deck (as per specs) therefore the moment force exerted on the fitting to cause torque bending, is about 1/2 of what it was on the original.

2. Between the increase of 4.75mm in thickness, and the bevel edge spreading the load from the thinner to the 18mm up[per length, I have to say the new fitting is probably at leat 75% stronger.

3. There was a gap on each side of the original fitting (approx. 2.5mm) as it passed thru the opening to be secured to the bow plate. This allowed slight movement, which increases the force on the fitting (F=ma). The snug fit eliminates this, further decreasing the force.

4.This was a bad design and installation from day one. The follow up by Thierry was not good, to be generous. 

The auto industry would expect a recall (LOL!!!!)

5. Note on the spec sheet that the Modification date is 2005. When they changed the production line to create a 20mm opening to accommodate the 20mm stem fitting is anyone's guess. Obviously Thierry wasn't aware of it, or he didn't want to address it.

6. I will include the other photos in follow up photos as I can't seem to download them all here.

Best to all Amelians!

Sail on!

Jeff s/v Spirit Amel 54 #14 Puerto Real, PR

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