Thursday, February 12, 2009

How To: Rebuild a Harken Cam Cleat

A common project, especially at the beginning of a sailing season, is servicing cam cleats that might be flapping around due to a broken spring or grinding/catching due to a bad ball bearing. Today we turn our Bob Villa of the Storefront, Ian Coleman, loose to tear down and re-build a Harken Cam Cleat (Harken Part #: 150).

The information in this video and post applies only to the Harken 150 Cam Cleat -- luckily, the 150 is the most popular and widely used cam cleats known to mankind, so most of you will find this useful. Other Harken Cam Cleats and cleats from other manufacturers are manufactured differently and trying to use the techniques that Ian does will only result in you breaking your cam cleat more.

Off the showroom floor, a new Harken 150 costs about $30.00; replacing all of the plastic bits, the springs and the ball bearings costs about half of that. It takes about 15 minutes to pull off this surgery (not including the time it takes to remove the cam from your deck), so you'll have to do the higher math to figure out what your time is worth.

A couple of things to keep in mind before tearing down a cam cleat:
1) Remember to use a bowl, bucket, pan, 3rd place bowl/trophy that you don't really like anyways to catch all of the ball bearings as they come out when you take the cleat apart. Conversely, when you're doing the rebuild, putting the bearings back into the cleat over something will catch the ones you invariably drop will make you life easier and free of curse words you don't want the kids to hear.

2) Ian's hands really don't move that fast when the Benny Hill soundtrack kicks in. That's him at 400% speed, so that you don't have to sit through the one by one installation.

3) Be careful when pulling the bottom red baseplate off, as the springs may just drop right out or go flying... in fact, both of those things happened at one point. A big shoutout to folks at Sony and their fine video editing software!

So, without further pontification, here's Ian and his rebuild:



If you want to rebuild some of your cam cleats check out the H150 spare parts. To rebuild a whole cleat you'll need two springs, one package of ball bearings and one base/cap set. The gronical is only needed for mounting an eyestrap to the top as a fairlead.

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