Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Line Materials: What is Nylon?

Nylon is a commonly used thermoplastic  found in many everyday items, and has long been used in the modern marine industry for dock lines and anchor rodes (fancy anchoring term for ‘line’).  When used alone (not blended with another material), it serves as a very function dock line material. Nylon is naturally semi-elastic, abrasion resistant, and fairly flexible. These characteristics make it easy to hold onto, tie off your boat, and will provide you peace-of-mind that the boat movement caused by waves and winds will be absorbed by the nylon’s elasticity (and not pull the cleats off your boat’s deck). 

More recently, Nylon is sometimes blended with a stronger material, such as dyneema, to make a mainsheet that’s low-stretch (dyneema) but that is easy to grip (nylon).

Characteristics of Nylon:

  • Very elastic/stretchy
    • Helps cushion the boat to docks/moorings/anchors
    • Reduces strain on cleats and deck hardware
  • Incredibly strong
  • Has great UV resistance
    • Only slightly less UV resistant than Polyester
  • Less expensive than most comparable materials
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Flexible and easy to handle

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Line Materials: What is Polypropylene?

Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including textiles.  Commonly found in many household and industrial applications this tough, flexible line is strong yet light enough to float which makes this ideal for marine applications.

Rope Characteristics:
  • Light weight: when compared to similarly-sized diameter lines.
  • Does not absorb water
  • Floats
  • Excellent shock absorption
  • Easy to splice
  • Economical
  • Low tolerance to UV
  • Low Melting Point
  • Low Abrasion Resistant
Some common applications of a 100% polypropylene line include dinghy tow rope, an economy dinghy mainsheet and you may even find it as a spinnaker takedown line on larger keel boats. 

Other options are a polypropylene blended line.   What do we mean when we say blend?   This typically means that the polypropylene COVER or CORE is woven with either polyester, Dyneema, or Vectran to provide greater strength, durability and stability.
Common applications for the polypropylene blends include small diameter control lines, as well as spinnaker sheets and mainsheets for smaller keelboats where you are not using a winch.  Due to the low melting point of polypropylene, abrasion and friction will melt this cover so using a winch is not recommended.
Since polypropylene has a low tolerance to UV light, when exposure is prolonged, oxidation occurs and polypropylene becomes chalky and splintery with a prickly feel.  So try and keep it out of the sun when not in use to extend its life.  This will be a good indicator that it is time to replace your polypropylene.

Now, lets take a look:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Line Materials: What is Vectran?

V-100 - New EnglandVectran is a high tech fiber that has made its way into sailing due to its very desirable properties of exceptional strength, very low stretch and creep, and its high heat resistance.  Now while your boat may not be nearly as high tech as the Mars rover or NASA’s extravehicular mobility unit (space suit), you will be happy to know that the very same material that they utilize can be put to use on your boat.

Some of the best uses are in its uncovered state; as a wire replacement, cascade or purchase especially below deck where you can minimize its UV exposure. 

In its covered form it is perfect as a main or jib halyards on keelboats and dinghies and is also commonly used as sail ties on small dinghies like the Optimist and Sunfish.

Lets take a closer look:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Line Construction: Single Braid vs Double Braid

There are several factors that affects a line’s performance. The main two are the construction and the second is material. Today we’re going to talk about construction differences although it is hard to just talk about construction without discussing material differences as well. The major construction difference is between a double braid and a single braid line.

A single braid, at its most basic, is a braided line that has no cover and no core. Because of that single braid lines are sometimes referred to as a ‘hollow braid.’ Generally in sailing single braid lines have 12 independent strands that are braided together. You can almost accordion the braid open and closed by pinching it between your fingers and pushing it open and closed. Single braids tend to be soft and malleable.
AmSteel Blue - Samson
One downside of single braids is that because of the lack of core, it doesn't hold its shape especially well if cleated in a cam cleat in the same spot over time. Another similar behavior is that single braids can have a tendency to “shrink” a small amount when the line is highly loaded.

A double braid, on the other hand, can most simply be described as a single braid with an independent cover on top of it. The most common cover material is polyester because of its high abrasion resistance, UV stability, and relatively low stretch characteristics. Double braid is what most people think of when they think of traditional sailing rope.

Endura Braid - New England
Again, specific performance can vary based on the material, but a double braid line can essentially be used for any application on a sailboat, hence why it’s so popular. Double braids have a firmer hand than single braids and hold their shape better in halyard clutches or cam cleats. Additionally because of the abrasion resistant cover, most people will use a double braid in applications where the line will be on a winch for an extended period of time.

Check out the video:

What to Learn More about the different types?

Within single braids you have two major types. The first type I would describe as standard single braids. These can be made out of polyester, polypropylene, but also could be a blended material single braid such as Dyneema blended single braid or polyester/polypropylene blended line. They tend to be made out of material that is fuzzy which further lends itself to being easy to handle and as such they make great sheets on dinghies.

The other type of single braids are high-tech single braids. They are made out of materials such as dyneema or vectran, which are high strength and low stretch line. Because of the material, high-tech single braids tend to be too slick to handle on a regular basis so they tend to be used most often on things such as standing backstays, shrouds or trapeze wires where strength is important but easy handling is not.

Within double braids you have two major types. The first is standard double braid which is a double braid polyester line. These have a polyester cover and polyester core line. In this instance the strength of the rope is shared between cover and core.

The other type of double braid is a high-tech double braid. This is sometimes referred to as a core-dependent double braid. The reason for that name is because the strength of the line is dependent on the core of the line. These lines have a high-tech core made out of Dyneema or Vectran. Because of this fact, it is common for people to strip the cover off of a core-dependent line. People do this to reduce the weight of the line and/or to allow the line to run better through a block and tackle system for example by reducing the friction. Alternatively to create a double braid you can you can also install a cover on top of a high-tech single braid.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Line Materials: What is Dyneema?

AmSteel Blue - SamsonLine is made with a wide variety of materials, each have unique characteristics that allow them to excel in different applications. 

We're going to take you through each, and describe what makes it unique and how you can use it. Next up is Dyneema.

Dyneema is a popular and versatile “high tech” material used in line applications today.  It is used in single braid and double braid applications.

Check out the video below for an overview of what Dyneema is used for.

Here’s a summary on the various forms of Dyneema used today:

Single Braid Dyneema:  Used as primary control lines, vang cascades, wire replacements.

Dyneema Blended Single Braid : Mainsheets on keelboats and any control line on dinghies, sport boats, and keelboats.

Double Braid Dyneema:  The small diameter double braids can be used as any type of control line on small boats, sport boats, or keelboats.  The larger diameter is great for premium sheets, control lines, spin halyards on sport boats and keelboats.

Heat Set:  Great for high load applications such as steering cables, backstays, and main and jib halyards on big boats.

Dyneema Cover:  This is a thin Dyneema cover only used for chafe protection where halyards exit masts up top.

So you can see that Dyneema comes in many forms offering a premium option for just about any application.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Line Materials: What is Polyester?

Line is made with a wide variety of materials, each have unique characteristics that allow them to excel in different applications.  We're going to take you through each, and describe what makes it unique and how you can use it.  First up is Polyester, the MacGyver of line materials. 

Sta-Set - New EnglandPolyester is the most ubiquitous line material found on sailboats from dinghies to large keel boats and beyond.  It’s uses range from halyards to sheets to control lines to covers for polyester cores or other high tech materials.  If polyester was a superhero, its name would be captain chameleon. 

Check out the video below for an introduction to polyester’s many forms and uses on a boat.

Want to check out the lines we covered in the video? Here they are (in order). 
1. Single Braid - Yale Ph.D Cruiser
2. Double Braid - Marlow Excel Racing
3. Double Braid - New England Sta Set
4. High Tech Double Braid - New England Endura Braid
5. Heat Set Double Braid - Marlow Super Pre Stretch
6. Blended Single Braids - New England Buzz Line
7.  Blended Single Braids - Samson DPX
8. Cover - Yale Cover Only

Visit our website for all of your polyester line needs, and remember at APS, “We have more polyester than a 70’s Disco!”