The roller furler

My next project was a roller furler. A friend of mine needed one for his kayak – a Wayland folding kayak that uses Klepper S4 sails. A roller furler is used to furl (roll up) the jib sail (the sail placed ahead of the mast). Even though it may seem rather unimportant, this is an essential piece of equipment. Precisely because of that, it tends to be rather expensive if bought ready-made.

I used this site as my starting point. However, the furler I made consisted of a one-piece wooden spool (instead of three pieces glued together) fitted inside a plastic cover. Also, the furler was much smaller in size, perhaps two times smaller, than the one I used as inspiration.

1. Making the spool

Shaping the wood 

The spool (around which is wound the line that furls the jib) was made of beech wood. I used the lathe and various chisels to remove the bark from the log and then to shape it.

Beech wood logIMG_20151010_173846IMG_20151010_175421

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The finished spool


The finished spool had a height of 4 cm and a 7 cm diameter, a 0.5 cm margin and a 2 cm inset to allow approximately 20 spins of the line.

Drilling the holes

On the lathe I drilled a 4 mm hole in the middle of the spool, then I turned to the vertical drill to drill additional holes on either side of the central one, and another smaller hole for the stop knot of the furling line.

The finished spoolIMG_20151010_183558

Wood treatment

I applied a coating of regular oil and, on top of that, a waterproof coating.

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Fitting metal parts:

I fitted a U-bolt through the holes on either side of the spool’s central hole. Since the original U-bolt was too wide, I first narrowed it down on a vise so that it would fit inside the holes.

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2. Making the plastic cover (drum)

I made the drum from a plastic cap with a diameter of 7.5 cm.

I drilled several 1.5 cm holes on the side of the drum using a hammer drill (not as easy as expected – it was a pretty tough PVC; maybe the fact that I used a wood hammer drill had also something to do with it). Another hole was drilled in the centre of the drum.

To make the drain holes in the bottom of the drum I used the vertical drill.

Next, I fitted an eye-bolt through the hole in the centre of the drum.

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3. Putting it all together

Now I needed to fit the spool inside the drum. First, I made a small hole (around the central hole of the spool) inside which I placed a cotter pin. On top of this I added a ball bearing. Afterwards, I placed the spool on the drum’s eye-bolt and secured the two nuts. 

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Drum with fitted U-bolt and cotter pin

Because at first I couldn’t fit the ball bearing between the eye-bolt’s nuts (it turned out the space inside the U-bolt was too narrow), I had to cut away some of the width of the nuts. The disc grinder saved the day! Fortunately it worked, though more planning won’t harm anyone next time around.    

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This is the assembled roller furler:

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Note:  I bought the plastic cover (drum) from Dedeman as well as the eye-bolt, nuts, and the rope. The U-bolt was from amazon.uk and the ball bearing from the ‘Rulmenti’ store opposite Kaufland Marasti.

I will update this post with more photos once the furler is put to actual use!

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