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Need suggestion on furler issue

Nov 30, 2009
Oday 28 Lake Michigan
Need suggestions for things to "look at" on my furler. It is a Furlex unit and believe it to be original to the boat. The sail is difficult to furl and unfurl. The top swivel car and bottom swivel cars both rotate freely, yet it takes major effort to unfurl. One characteristic that might help explain what I'm experiencing......if I go forward and physically grab and rotate the furler drum to deploy the sail, the first 90 degrees of rotation is difficult, a lot of resistance. The last 270 degrees spin pretty easy. Almost feels like there is a "hump" I'm trying to get over. Any suggestions of what to look at?
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Any suggestions of what to look at?
Well there are the "Usual Suspects".
  1. Uneven line wrap inside the drum.
  2. a bad bearing in the base.
  3. dirt in the bearings
I am going to suggest you examine #1. You said it is ok after you get past the first 90 degrees. Assuming it continues to be easy then it is most likely #1.

If on the other hand it repeats at 90 degrees as you continue to wrap or unwrap the sail then, #'s 2 & 3 may be at play. This is a cleaning and servicing of the drum bearings and maybe the bearings at the top of your furler.

Try flushing the furler with a hose. Even ad a bit of dawn soap to wash out any salt or dirt buildup. This is something I do several times a year. IT helps to have an open system like the Harken furler with Torlon bearings.

Harken ideas: Sail will not furl or unfurl
Probable cause
  • Jib halyard is wrapping around the headstay because halyard swivel is too low. A wire pendant may be needed at head of sail to raise halyard swivel to proper height. Use a halyard deflector.
  • Jib halyard is too tight. Ease jib halyard.
  • Spare halyard is wrapping in sail as it furls. Secure spare halyards away from furling headstay by flipping them behind spreaders. Use a halyard deflector.
  • Salt or dirt in bearings. Flush bearings with fresh water.
  • Furling line tangled in drum. Overrides are best prevented by using a 7402 ratchet block as the last furling line lead to maintain proper drag on line while unfurling.
  • Stop knot catching. Make sure knot is a single overhand and is pushed up inside spool.
  • Sail full of wind. Luff completely before furling or reefing.
  • Sail flogging too much. Release a short length of sheet, pull some furling line and repeat.
  • Foil out of drum assembly. Reinstall foil in drum assembly and tighten adjuster clamp screws into holes.
  • No wraps of furling line on spool. Remove sheets from furled sail. Rotate spool to wrap correct amount of line.
  • Line led through ratchet block backwards. Rerun the line.
  • Halyard swivel installed upside down. Remount swivel correctly.
Brian Toss's view...
  • Furlex takes a different approach, using deformation-resistant stainless steel ball bearings in a semi-open race. Unlike Torlon, stainless bearings need to be lubricated, or they'll chew each other to pieces. So Furlex bearing maintenance is a matter of a fresh water rinse, and an occasional "hard maintenance": spray with WD40 or the like to dissolve the old lubricant; soap and a hose to remove grit; and finally some fresh Furlex bearing grease.
  • Like
Likes: Dave Groshong
Aug 28, 2015
Oday 28 St Joseph, MI
DENNISV, I have the same boat on the same lake in St Joseph. I have experienced the same problem as you, usually in the beginning of the season. I have also asked questions on this and other sites concerning this problem. I cant find any markings on the drum as to brand but am posting two photos in case it’s the same as yours. I’ve found that halyard tension plays a role. Too tight and it’s hard to furl/unfurl. Too loose can yield the same results so for the first couple of sails I have to play around with it. The furling line needs a small amount of tension when unfurling the sail so it winds onto the drum so that subsequent turns can’t be jammed under one of the previous ones. The furling line has to enter the drum at 90 degrees to the spool axis. Last, when unfurling the sail don’t let any kinks or twists in the line stop its movement causing the line in the drum to pull tight and bind. All in all, though, your problem sounds to me like a halyard tension issue.


Jan 27, 2008
ODay 35 Beaufort, NC
That is a harken roller furler. I have the same unit on my 35. The line you are using looks large compared to what I’m using. Smaller line allows more extra wraps when furled so in strong winds you don’t end up without enough turns to wrap the sheets a few turns.
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Here you go guys. A video link to the 1980’s Harken furler and how to deal with issues.
Nov 30, 2009
Oday 28 Lake Michigan
Thanks for all the suggestions. Wing15601 you got it right (and the fastest and easiest adjustment to be made). When putting up the genoa I did two 90 degree turns on the winch with the winch handle. Went to the boat, backed off two 90 degree turns (1-3 inches), problem gone. Furler rotates without any issues. Amazing.