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Roller Furling Systems

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Roller Furlers & Roller Furling systems


Above Image Caliber 40 "Windom",

There are many reasons to put roller furling systems for jibs, Genoas, or headsails on your boat. Sometimes referred to as a jib reefing system. Convenience is the big one. To be able to set the sail and loose it quickly and without having to leave the cockpit is huge. Storage is another, you do not have to put the sail in a locker, saving space.

Whatever your reason for wanting a roller furler this article attempts to help your decision, by presenting each furler and their features.
We take a look at some of the most popular manufacturers of reefing systems and roller furling equipment, such as Harken, ProFurl, Schaefer, Reckmann etc.

We looked around and there is not much in the way of Roller Furler reviews, so we have attempt to give you an idea of how each one is different, what you should look for when choosing a furler and a price comparison.

Apart from issues in deciding which furler unit you need, we also discuss other aspects. Roller furlers are like any piece of mechanical equipment, they do come with issues that should be addressed. Then you know that its going to work, and not jam up when you least need it to. Also when using roller furling there are some considerations for your sail to get the best shape and life out of it.

Foil Furlers or Rope Luff Furlers

Karver Code Zero Furler

Karver Code Zero Furler

Most traditional furlers use solid extrusions for the luff of the sail. The Foil sections can be aluminum, carbon or plastic. Simply pull the line on the furling drum and the foil turns. The sail attached to the foil is wrapped around the foil as it turns and is wrapped evenly from top to bottom.

Other versions of the furler are the Code Zero furler or Soft Luff Furler and the Top down furler. The advantage of the these rop luff systems is that they do not need Rigid Foils but a Anti-torsion rope so the whole furler can be lowered down to the deck while under way. Soft Luff furlers have two distinct types;

The Code Zero Furler is for a Code Zero or Gennaker, (cross between a Genoa and asymmetrical spinnaker). The Code Zero has a rope luff built into the sail, which is a torsion rope. This torsion (anti twist) rope transmits the furling of the lower drum to the top swivel. As the furling drum turns the top swivel turns almost at the same time. The Code Zero requires very high luff tension. You need to work with the sailmaker to get the torsion rope built into the luff. Link to Karver Code Zero Furler.

The Top Down furler is intended for Asymmetrical spinnakers. The reason for the name is the furling process. Because the sail is only attached to the top furler, (floats loosely on the bottom drum) it is only this part which gets wrapped when the furler line is pulled. As the furler turns, more and more of the sail gets wrapped around the rope luff and does so from the top down, hence the term, "Top Down furler". This furler works well for spinnakers and sails that are set with a loose luff. The top down furler is an alternative to the Snuffer. No modification to the spinnaker is needed.

Link to Karver Top Down furler.

Furling Drums

Facnor

Facnor

Another difference comparing a continuous line furler to a conventional drum; is a bigger luff available.

Because the drum only needs one wrap of line the drum can be lower to the deck.

Facnor help us understand this with this diagram

Solid Foil Furlers

For cruisers a Jib or Genoa works best with the solid luff extrusion furler, which we are discussing below.

Things to look for when choosing a Solid Foil Furler system

Bearings

Find out what type what arrangement and how many bearings there are with a system. Torlon is preferred Schaefer, Hood, and Harken use Torlon bearings.
Furlex Rondal and Reckmann use stainless steel bearings. Profurl uses carbon steel bearings which are housed in a lip seal. The issue here is if the seal gets worn through or damaged corrosion will occur.

Extrusions shape

There are various shapes of extrusion round or airfoil. Round is better for furling as it rolls the sail evenly. Airfoil or oval shapes are best for racing.

Extrusions weight

Airfoils sections are usually lighter with thin wall. Round sections like Schaefer are very thick walled and heavy. You also have twin groove for racing.

Extrusions connections

Some are plastic lined, others use screws or rivets. Its important that the extrusions do not come apart, as furlers are subjected to years of rattling which can undo even well seated screws. Screwed systems need to use Locktite to stop them coming out.

Turnbuckles

Harken MkIV, Schaefer and Profurl use your existing headstay so you can use them with a turnbuckle or not. Harken MKIII uses a turnbuckle body built into the furler drum and so some modification is necessary. With Furlex you get a new headstay w choice of (turnbuckle) rigging screw or not.

Independent tack swivel

A fully rotating tack swivel allows the sail to Furl from the middle first, which results in taking shape out of the sail. Furled sails tend to be quite baggy and so flattening helps. See also the section on sail shapes below.

Furlex has what they call turn free. This means the tack swivel turns almost 1 turn and then stops. The reason for this is the Hood Patent on the fully swiveling tack.

Drum diameter

larger drum diameters mean more leverage which reduces the load on the furling line. Harken MKIV has a better drum diameter to foil size than the MKIII which is one of its improvements.

Materials

Materials used include, injection molded plastic, cast aluminum, machined aluminum, investment cast Stainless Steel. Machined aluminum is best say for the halyard swivel.

Toggles

Its very important to have toggles at top and bottom end of extrusion to allow for the sag of the headstay.

Things to look for when installing a Solid foil Furler system

Halyard wrap

Halyard wrap

Halyard wrap


For a jib furling system to work properly you, need the top swivel to turn with the foils when you pull on the furling line. If the swivel does not turn then the foils pull the halyard around with them. This is common problem which is called halyard wrap.

To prevent this you should have a 7-10 degree angle between the jib halyard and the headstay. You can see in the bottom picture this angle due to a halyard restrainer installed between the top swivel and the jib halyard sheaves.

Jib Halyard Restrainers are designed to be attached to the Mast under the Jib (or Staysail) Halyard exit to increase Halyard Pullback Angle, and stop the Halyard from wrapping around the Furling System when furling. In this case we are looking at Harkens restrainer. There are also models available from Schaefer.

Furler Cost Comparison

Quality/cost

Comparing all furlers and cost is difficult if not impossible because there are so many contributing factors. We decided to pick a size of boat, headstay size and pin diameter for our comparison. This way we compare apples to apples, however even with this approach we get into size overlaps. For example we could have chosen the Schaefer 3100 or the 2100, for the 40 ft yacht size we picked. We chose the 2100 but this means we need an extension kit to get the 55ft headstay length we need for our imaginary 40 footer.

For this Quality/Cost comparison we chose a typical 40 ft modern cruising sailboat with 55 ft (17m) by 3/8 inch wire head stay and 5/8inch pin. This way we can compare apples to apples. Pick another size of boat you will get a different result as each has its own market.

Prices shown are retail for comparison only and you can get substantial discounts on these figures.

Check to see in each package what comes with the furler as you may have to get toggles or extrusion extension kits if the standard length is not long enough, for your headstay.

There are many more furler types that we have not covered here however we included the most popular brands.

 

Manufacturer

 

Retail

High end

Rondal

not applicable for 40ft

n/a

 

Reckmann

 

$8,225

Mid to high

Harken MKIV furler

 

$3,600

 

Schaefer 2100

 

$4,151

 

Furlex 300S-10

 

$4,648

 

ProFurl NCI-42

 

$4,425

 

Facnor LX-200

 

$3,431

 

Hood

   
 

Spin-Tec

 

$2,395

Roller Furler Manufacturers

Harken

Harken

Harken

Harken roller furler systems include;
MKIII
Cruising Jib
MKIV
Hydraulic
Carbo racing foil
Small Boat Furler
Description
MkIV Harken roller furler The new comes in two separate systems one for cruising and one for racing.

The MKIV furler is available in four sizes: Unit 0 (for boats 22-30 ft, 6.5-9.1m), Unit 1 (28-36 ft, 8.3-11m), Unit 2 (35-46 ft, 10.6-14.2m) and Unit 3 (45-60 ft, 13.7-18.3m). The aerodynamic foil’s double grooves and stainless steel feeder allow fast hoists, douses, and sail changes. A split drum and line guard comes off easily for use with full-hoist sails, making it ideal for club racing.

The image left shows the toggle at the bottom of the Harken MK IV furler. The pin holding the drum in place goes through the toggle. The pin has two options to allow for fore and aft and athwart ships chain plates.

MKIV furlers feature multiple rows of free-rolling Torlon® ball bearings in high-load areas, computer-designed stacked bearing races and large-diameter drums for smooth reefing and furling. A free-spinning, high-strength halyard swivel reduces weight aloft to minimize pitching and heeling. Independent head and tack swivels shape the sail when partially furled. The aluminum line guard, torque tube and swivels are deep-saturation Hardkote-anodized for strength and durability, with a black additive for no-fade UV-stabilization and corrosion protection

The Cruising furler has a single-groove, rounded foil, with an integral headsail feeder. The furler is available in two sizes: Unit 1 for boats 28-36ft (8.3-1m) and Unit 2 for boats 35-46ft (10.6-14.2m).
The MKIV furler s ideal for the DIY boat Owner

The new MKIV furler system allows the furler to utilize the existing head stay. The turnbuckle is independent of the furler unlike the previous model, which makes adjustment easier.

The new furler has 3 rows of bearings an increase of 1 row on the previous model. This makes for the less friction for furling and with the slightly larger cage diameter you have a bit more purchase.

Harkem MKIV

 

Foils

Aluminum round and airfoil shapes

Pros

100% tack swivel, which allows sail to furl in the middle first taking shape out of the sail

Cons

The new MKIV is a good furler cleverly designed, however it uses less material that the previous Harken furlers. This does make it lighter, but longevity may be an issue.

Warranty

Seven (7) years from date of purchase. This warranty covers defects in materials or workmanship.

Roller Furler Manufacturers

Schaefer Roller Furler systems;

Description Schaefer 2100 Roller Furler

Schaefer

Schaefer

Schaefer systems

  • System SnapFurl for Boats 16' to 24' (4.9 - 8.5m)
  • System SnapFurl CF-700 for Boats 24' to 28' (7.3-8.5m)
  • System 750 for Boats 20' to 28' (6.1 - 8.5m)
  • System 1100 for Boats 27' to 31' (8.2 - 9.5m)
  • System 2100 for Boats 30' to 42' (9.1 - 12.8m)
  • System 3100 for Boats 41' to 55' (12.5 - 16.8m)
  • System 4100

Bearing Design: Open For Life
Schaefer's Torlon bearings cannot corrode and ride in open, easily accessible races that don't require lubrication. These proven, high compression strength bearings provide low friction, and need only periodic flushing with water.

Headstay Adjustment: No Compromises
Schaefer Systems utilize your existing headstay and turnbuckle for reduced cost, full turnbuckle adjustability, and optimum performance.

Heavy-duty base toggle/link articulates to absorb side loads that might otherwise cause turnbuckle fatigue. Turnbuckle is attached to the base toggle/link and is housed by the system, easily accessible.

Drum Design: Powerful, Open, Metal
Our powerful, large diameter drum provides you with the mechanical advantage you need for high sailing loads. Standard split drum plates allow for easy conversion to a full length headsail.*

Attractive, stainless cage is open to give easy access to the furling line.

Schaefer's CNC machined metal construction resists ultraviolet rays and abuse from anchor chains and poles mounted near the stem head fitting.

Comments

Schaefer has many bearing races, this and the round foil makes it easier to start furling. The foils are connected via rivets which cannot back out, and Schaefer invites you to put the furler line on a winch if needed.

Schaefer Roller Furler Features

 

Foils

Aluminum round

Pros

Heavy Beefy sections, bullet proof robust construction

Cons

No tack swivel

Warranty

Schaefer Marine, Inc. warrants its standard catalog products to be free from factory defects in material and workmanship for a period of five (5) years

Roller Furler Manufacturers

Furlex roller furling systems

Furlex

Furlex

Furlex systems include;
Furlex 100s up to 30ft
Furlex 200S-500S For boats 30ft - 70 ft
Furlex 20S Free flying jibs on dinghies
Furlex 200TD-400TD Thru deck furlers
Electric conversions

Description Furlex roller furler Genoa systems ;

200S Highest grade marine stainless steel feeder for improved durability and service life.

Tack swivel with "free turn" combined with the uniform profile of the forestay extrusion gives a perfectly furled sail and effective performance when reefed.

Unique line guide system controls and centers furling line and arranges it on the drum.

Furlex 200S - 500S (6 - 16 mm forestay) are available with an optional internal turnbuckle. The turnbuckle is completely built into the drum, to ensure that it does not affect either the dimensions of the forestay extrusion or the height of the drum above deck.

Furlex roller furler features

 

Foils

Aluminium Oval

Pros

Has free turn tack swivel but it is not 360 degrees

Cons

grease bearings

Warranty

5 years covers defect in design flaws or workmanship

Other Furlex Products

Furlex

Furlex


Furlex has thru deck furlers which provide very clean layouts especially if you have an anchor and need to work around the furling unit. The J/122 uses this thru deck unit.
On the right you can see the Furlex electric unit

Roller Furler Manufacturers

Profurl Furlers

Profurl

Profurl

Profurl Furlers systems include;
basic system For boats 15-44 ft for coastal or mid range cruising
Classic For boats 23-98 ft
Elite system For boats 23-89 ft best of Profurl technology
EC For boats 21-130 ft Ocean racing
T26 For boats 16-23 ft
Also motorized roller furling available;

Description; Profurl Classic cruising roller furlers

The solid one-piece connectors are designed and machined to lock in place and transmit all torque loads equally throughout the foil column. No torque loads are transmitted to the set screws. Small tolerances assure the alignment of the sail luff grooves.

The halyard swivel is permanently sealed and lubricated. This Profurl exclusive design feature ensures a life time of maintenance free and smooth furling even under severe loads in extreme conditions.

The Profurl Furlers drum is manufactured from unbreakable, unscratchable, UV resistant high impact plastic. It is open for easy furling line inspection. Its slippery surface and conical flanges also minimizes any jamming. The strong stainless steel guard arms keep the furling line in the drum, should the line become slack during sail reefing.

Hardened carbon steel bearings (100C6) are non-corrodable because they are permanently housed in a grease protected by special double lip seals which ensure water tightness to a depth of more than 5 meters. This technology guarantees maintenance-free operation under extreme loads. The drum mechanism is designed in a shape which will not chafe dock lines, mooring or anchor lines or running rigging.

Profurl features

 

Foils

Round and oval

Pros

large well constructed drum & cage

Cons

No tack swivel, carbon steel bearings which can rust when the bearing seal is broken, locktite screws past with kit is not enough.

Warranty

Covered by a 5 year worldwide warranty.

Roller Furler Manufacturers

Facnor Furlers

Facnor

Facnor

Facnor models include;
Facnor Furlers LS,
LX
RX headsail furling systems

Facnor Roller Furlers are well known for their reliability and their simplicity of installation by the well known boat builders (BENETEAU, DEL PARDO, DUFOUR, JEANNEAU ...) as well as by charters company. Each furler is composed of a drum, a series of sections which come around the forestay and a hoisting system : halyard swivel or sheave box. The jib furler is designed to be installed without unstepping the mast nor cutting the wire.
Race Developed Technology

The LS/LX/RX Range has been developed according to a definite technological concept to establish the west-about solo non-stop record. Now the same technology from offshore racing is available for every boat thanks to Facnor’s continuous development.

Bearing box : Strength - Performance - Innovation.

The Ls/Lx/Rx drum and swivel are fitted with a “bearing box” (a stainless steel thrust bearing between 2 large self-lubrificating polymer fibre bearings). This was tested over ocean races under loads up to 20 to 30 times higher than a 30ft cruising boat. Even under high halyard tension furling remains easy. Is available for every boat.

facnor features

 

Foils

Round and elliptical sections

Pros

Code 0 systems one of the best

Cons

plastic top swivel, bearings & grease bearings

Warranty

international 2-year warranty

Roller Furler Manufacturers

Hood Seafurl

Hood

Hood

Hood Roller furler H325 Seafurl 5
Max system length: 67' - boats from 34' to 53' (10-16.1m)

One-of-a-kind design meets state-of-the-art construction in this performance-oriented furling and reefing system. Designed to make an effortless transition between cruising and racing, the hybrid stainless steel and Torlon bearing system is built to last a lifetime.

Features

Twin aft facing groove round extrusions.

Cast 356 aluminum drive unit and upper swivel.

Hood's hybrid 1/4" stainless steel ball and 3/16" Torlon ball bearings.

One piece stainless steel tapered sail feeder.

Integral universal mounting toggle. Eliminates the need for headstay modifications.

"C" style open splice pieces with molded bearing liners.

Aluminum top cap with upper bearing splice

Tack socket pin Titanium coated.

P.T.F.E. Coatings applied over anodized drive unit and upper swivel.

All extrusion fasteners black oxide coated

Hood Seafurl features

 

Foils

 

Pros

Tack Swivel, cheaper but still good quality

Cons

Harder to find Hood products

Warranty

 

Roller Furler Manufacturers

Reckmann Roller furler systems

Reckmann

Reckmann

Models include
RC30/40 All carbon lightweight system with spilt drum for removal
RS2000 Reckmann standard system
RS3000 Lightweight version of the standard system with carbon foils
Custom MaxJ Below deck version
Custom RS2000 cz Code Zero
Also they have Electric and Hydraulic versions
Description

RS2000 Renowned and proven world-wide the Reckmann Furler reefing system has evolved to set a new benchmark in quality design along with first class workmanship using the very best materials available. Hence all axle elements as well as the drum guard and toggle are made with precisely specified stainless steel alloys. These combined with the high-strength bronze length adjuster mechanism and the light rigid plastic drum result in a highly functional and durable system, which is distinguished by good handling and top efficiency.

The Reckmann Series RS 2000, available in five system sizes, represents the third generation development of manual reefing systems for yachts of 30 to 90 foot in length. The one-piece aluminum extruded profiles feature higher torsion resistance combined with a weight saving of up to 25%. In designing this non-corrosive and virtually maintenance-free system particular emphasis was placed on simple assembly.

Drum Axle
The drum has an additional two sets of cylindrical roller bearings fitted to absorb radial loads and significantly reduce the reefing force required. This guarantees that the drum runs very smoothly, offering a maximum
of safety when handling even under extreme loads.

Integrated Length Adjustment
For the first time, a manual roller reefing system has been equipped with an internal adjusting mechanism, completely protecting the threads, which can be operated externally. The forestay length can be adjusted precisely and the mast and sails optimally trimmed. With the adjuster set to its maximum length, the RS2000 can be easily fitted on ships of every size without any disassembly required. Adjustments are possible with the sail furled or unfurled.

Halyard Swivel
The stainless steel halyard swivel is equipped with three-part bearings and a free-moving device effective on two levels.

Section joints
The development of optimal section joints has been achieved by means of stainless steel threaded plates. These are firmly secured using Tuff-Lock fittings without the need for any special preparation and regardless of climatic conditions. The split connectors are fitted one after the other onto the precision-manufactured rod and wire forestays during assembly of the profile. These connectors allow the stays to be pre-assembled, ready for fast and easy fitting of the system.

Tapered Spectra-Reef Lines
Manufactured according to Reckmanns precise specifications, the Spectra tapered reef lines are very secure and stretch very little. Whilst the thin section forward allows for small drum diameters and therefore requires less force in the case of larger roll radiuses, the thicker end section distinguishes itself by offering outstanding grip.

Sail Feeder and Profile
The stainless steel feeder can be easily and securely mounted onto the profile, over which the sail is uniformly furled. The slim stainless steel profile cup guarantees an exceptional shape to the reefed sail. The extremely torque-resistant single-piece profiles are simple and easy to mount. Their aerodynamic shape reduces wind resistance and allows the yacht to sail faster and point higher. Fitting the profile on plastic bearings protects the
forestay and profile from mechanical damage and permits the system to turn freely under load.

Reckman features

 

Foils

Anodized aluminum oval section

Pros

quality bearings materials, virtually maintenance free

Cons

cost,

Warranty

 

Roller Furler Manufacturers

Spin-Tec Roller furler

Spin-Tec

Spin-Tec

The Spin-Tec Roller furler for headsails takes a different approach than many of the other roller furlers on the market.

First is the absence of a halyard to hold the Genoa or jib up instead a novel halyard lock is used.

Second is the use of stainless and lack of ball bearings.

The system is comprised aluminum foils, with delrin bearings spaced on the forestay. The foils slide together without the need for screws. Dissimilar metals are isolated and the all stainless drum is long so the furling line does not wrap too much onto itself unlike lower profile designs. This should ease the load on the furler line. The drum is easily detached from the furler extrusions.

The furling drum sits on delrin bearings which sit on the forestay turnbuckle assembly.

To hoist the headsail the plastic Halyard Accessory Clip, is used to hoist the sail with the halyard. A trip mechanism attached to sail to the top, and the halyard and clip are lowered back down. The image showing the top of the mast shows how the sail is attached.

A very simple effective design that should last for years for boats 27 to 60 ft

Spin Tec features

 

Foils

Anodized aluminum oval section

Pros

No halyard wrap, Virtually maintenance free, cost,

Cons

No tack swivel, roller bearings

Warranty

lifetime warranty

Roller Furler Manufacturers

Rondal Roller Furlers

Rondal

Rondal

Rondal has been manufacturing hydraulically driven headsail furling units for over two decades. Over this period, designs have been changed, upgraded and improved as a result of client demands and experience. This is especially true for the larger sailing yachts, where increasing loads demand larger and more powerful furling units.

All Hydrofurls are built from marine grade stainless steel, the outside of which is polished to a high gloss. For mounting on deck, a custom toggle is supplied to fit the chainplate.
In the unlikely event of hydraulic failure, manual backup is available in the form of the supplied ratchet winch handle.
When unfurling the sail, the luff section turns clockwise (viewed from above); furling the sail, the luff section turns anti clockwise.

Features

- Direct hydraulic drive
- Stainless steel custom toggle to fit chainplate
- Manual back-up for emergencies
- Easy maintenance through grease nipples
- Ultra-reliable
- Powerful

Rondal features

 

Foils

 

Pros

engineering

Cons

cost and you need a big boat

Warranty

 

Resources tips & roller furling maintenance

Sail Jazz has a good article on the maintenance of roller furlers and set up issues with jib Roller Furling systems. If you set it up right in the beginning it will provide years of uninterrupted use.

Subjects in the SailJazz article cover; halyard wrap, maintaining bearings, tack swivel, check furling line, tighten and locktite screws.

Factors to consider in roller furler setup.

Make sure furler line has as little friction and is in a straight a line as possible. Any friction will make it harder to start the furling process. If line is deflected make sure those deflector blocks are roller bearing or offer as little resistance as possible. Its still best to have a straight line, more than convenience of position.

Headstay tension is important, if you have a floppy headstay its not conducive to furling. The headstay needs to be fairly tight, not slopping around.

If you are leaving your boat and a gale/storm is forecast while you boat is at its mooring, its best to drop the sail or tie a line around the furled sail. This is a precaution incase the furler line comes uncleated, it happens, you probably have seen shredded jibs unfurled on a boat that has not been maintained in a while.

Sail Considerations

If you have a sail furled on the headstay for a long time, even years its important to have some sort of UV protection. Sail material degrades like anything else and since its your engine you need to make sure its structurally OK. One common way to protect the sail is with a UV cover that is added onto the exposed leech part of the sail when furled. This cover runs the whole length of the leech normally on one side and is about 2-3ft wide. Make sure that when the sail is furled there is no exposed sail cloth. Another is to get a jib sock which can be hoisted over the sail with a zipper closure. These can be gotten through your sailmaker canvas maker or here

The other thing to consider is a foam or rope luff. I do not like these due to the esthetics. However they do help flatten the sail which allows you to partially furl the sail and still have a sail that works.

Conclusion

Installing a roller furler is often best handled by working with your local rigger, as they'll get the measurements right, inspect the old system for improvements and can handle the whole installation.

However installing a roller furler can be done by any that possess some mechanical know how. Each Roller Furler comes with good instructions and if you take your time a proper installation can be achieved.

It is worth inspecting the headstay as this is the time to replace it if it needs to be.

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