Chrysler 26
Last updated: January 7, 2018
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A 1979 Chrysler 26 Sailboat
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The Chrysler 26 is configured with the common eight-wire masthead rig that is rugged and relatively easy to tune. The following is presented as notes of what we do with Avocet's mast tuning, so apply the following information with a great deal of common sense.

To erect the mast loosen off all the turnbuckles to 3/4 open position and attach the main shrouds to the center chainplates and the rear lowers (thinner wire) to the rear chainplates. Ensure that the heel (bottom) of the mast is securely hooked to the deck. Raise the mast, which can be done by two or three people just pushing it up or by one or two people using a gin pole. Attach the forestay to the bow fitting foremost hole. Fit the forward lower shrouds to the forward chainplates. Tension up the turnbuckles. To lower the mast, reverse the procedure, loosening and detaching only the forestay and forward lower shrouds. When storing the boat with the mast down, it is practical to leave all of the rigging attached. The exceptions to this are the forestay, which must be removed for raising or lowering the mast, and the forward lower shrouds, which must be disconnected.

The rigging fixes the mast in position, keeps it there, and ensures that the mast remains straight and in column while under sail. When heeled to about 20 degrees there should be some looseness in the lee shrouds, but you shouldn't be able to see the looseness. Look for hand tight - not guitar string tight. If the wires are drum tight over the entire rig on either point of sail, then the rigging is set up with too much tension. Most of the mast load is transmitted to the hull by the shrouds because they are attached closer to the base of the mast than the jib and backstay. The jib stay transmits much less downward load since it is attached about three times farther from the base of the mast than the shrouds. The backstay transfers the least amount of downward force since it is attached even farther away from the base of the mast. Insufficient shroud tension is hard on the mast and rigging allowing excessive movement, chafe and shock loading. Stainless steel rigging does not like to be constantly changing tensile loads so the objective is to maintain a degree of tightness that doesn't allow this to happen. Too tight a rig will transmit all the tensional loads downward towards the base of the mast as compression loads. These compression loads try to push the mast down toward the keel which can result in:

  • the top of the bulkheads pulling inward near the mast resulting in the delamination of the bulkhead/deck joint
  • the deck depressing in the area of the mast base cracking the gelcoat and possibly creating a wet core
  • the chainplate attachment points suffer causing leaks to develop
  • breaking of the support beam under the mast base
  • binding of the head door

Mast set-up at the dock

Before final tuning, let the boat acclimatize to the water for a week. The boat spends a lot of time on the trailer and needs to relax. The boat will assume an in-the-water shape that may be somewhat different than its on-the-hard shape. The Chrysler 26 likes a plumb mast with a very slight amount of forward bow at the spreaders. The standing rigging should be set so that the mast is angled plumb, that is, slightly aft from a vertical position from the level waterline. To check whether or not the mast is plumb tie a wrench to the main halyard and use this as a plumb line. When the wrench is laying just slightly aft from a vertical setting the mast is near plumb.

Measure the distance between the top of the mast and each toe rail using the topping lift as a measurement tape. If the distances are not equal, adjust the upper shroud turnbuckles until the distances are equal. Then tighten the upper shrouds a few turns at a time alternating from side to side - firm - but not too tight. At this time the lowers should be fairly slack, or just tight enough to keep the mast straight. The top of the mast should now be centered over the boat. Tighten the lower shrouds using the same method. Tighten both sets of lower shrouds so that there is equal tension on all four lower shrouds to spread the load evenly between the chainplates - but keep slightly more tension on the forward shrouds. The forward shrouds will normally be tighter than the aft as the forward lowers provide most of the lateral support, and are used to induce a small amount of static mast bend. The aft lowers will limit any excessive bend, and will prevent fore and aft movement in the middle section of the mast.

Sight up the sail track (kerf). If the mast is bent sideways, adjust the tension on the lower shrouds until the mast is straight. Don't touch the uppers. Slacken both lowers on the same side equally before tightening the pair on the other side. The symmetry of the boat is such that you should be able to count an equal number of exposed turnbuckle threads on the equivalent two sides of the shrouds. Opposing shrouds must have the same tension. Next, alternatively tighten the jib stay and the backstay. It the mast is bending towards the back of the boat, loosen the backstay and tighten the jib stay. The jib stay and backstay tension should be greater than the shroud tension. This higher tension will not cause as much compression load on the mast as shroud tension, because the angle of the jib and backstay to the mast is much greater than the shroud angle with the mast.

Set-up while sailing

When the boat is headed into light to medium winds observe the mast. The mast should appear in a straight line from the stern through a centerline toward the bow. The mast should be perfectly straight sideways on each tack. If not, adjust each lower while sailing.

Does the top of your genoa flap in the breeze? To make your genoa pull better and last longer the position the genoa lead block must be set properly. Many sailors sail the with the lead block too far aft, and as a result, the top of their genoa flaps in the breeze. The fore and aft position of the lead block affects the tension on the leech and foot, which in turn trims the top and the bottom of the genoa. When the lead is moved aft, more tension is put on the foot and the lower part of the sail, which means you are trimming the bottom of the sail and not the top. When the lead is moved forward, more tension is put on the leech of the sail, which trims the top of the sail, not the bottom.

Shroud Tension

Here is the shroud tension we use on Avocet.


forestay (3/16")
breaking pounds: 4700
Proper forestay tension is a bit of guesswork with roller furling.
backstay (5/32")
breaking pounds: 3300
greatest tension
31 - 32
11% - 12%
upper shrouds (3/16")
breaking pounds: 4700
almost as much tension
39 (PT-1)
18 (PT-2)
forward lower shrouds (3/16")
breaking pounds: 4700
less tension than uppers
35 (PT-1)
15 (PT-2)
aft lower shrouds (5/32)
breaking pounds: 3300
less tension than forward lower shroud


1. The values in the above chart represent the Loos gauge setting and the % of breaking strength.
2. Loos gauges can vary by at least 3 or 4 units or several hundred pounds tension. Use the number above as a guide and not as absolute values. The Loos gauge provides a guide to relative tension numbers.

NOTE: The values in this chart are based on the PT-1 Loos Gauge unless otherwise noted.

The reference scale (PT-1) for the 5/32" cable is: 24 = 200lb (6%); 28 = 300lb (9%); 32 = 390lb (12%); 38 = 610lb (18%); 40 = 800lb (24%)
The reference scale (PT-2) for the 3/16" cable is: 13 = 300lb (6%); 18 = 500lb (11%); 21 = 640lb (14%); 24 = 840lb (18%); 28 = 1240lb (26%)

PT-1 for cable sizes 3/32", 1/8", and 5/32"
PT-2 for cable sizes 3/16", 7/32" and 1/4"

The May/June 1999 issue of Good Old Boat, pages 6-12, featured the articles "Standing Rigging: Keeping the sparfly pointed up", by Bill Sandifer; and "Variations on the theme", by Jerry Powlas.

The September/October 1999 issue of Good Old Boat, pages 15-21, featured an excellent article "Do-it-yourself rigging", by Bill Sandifer which also featured instructions for Norseman and Sta-Lok fittings.

The January/February 2007 issue of Good Old Boat, pages 42-43, featured an article called "Standing Rigging 101 - What it's made of and how to check it", by Don Launer.