Bamboo and Aluminium Battens

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  • 10 Dec 2018 10:28
    Reply # 6953113 on 912308

    Worth a try, would be to saw split a well dried culm in two,then paint the insides with epoxy, put glue mix on mating edges and stick the halves back together ( while inside coating is  still green).

    Sand prep the outsides, and cover the join lines with glass tape( allowing overlap of edges), then epoxy coat.

    Varnish for UV protection will be needed as well.

    Last modified: 10 Dec 2018 10:37 | Anonymous member
  • 28 Nov 2018 13:34
    Reply # 6936266 on 912308

    Fair warning about the bamboo- if you have aluminum masts they will squeak enough to be annoying on a very quiet day. However the bamboo and aluminum coexist happily, neither one wearing the other. The aluminum yards are a different story. Contrary to Colvin's claim that they don't wear, the yards and masts were wearing serious grooves in each other. Corrected with strips of a plastic cutting board found on a beach screwed to the yards.

  • 26 Nov 2018 06:53
    Reply # 6932361 on 912308

    Thank you for all this wonderful information.  It would appear that I can take several approaches to treating bamboo battens.  This information, together with the knowledge that two ocean sailors have had such success with bamboo battens (as well, of course, as the Chidells),  has convinced me to go this route.  Moreover, it is a much more pleasant alternative to the alloy option.

    Last modified: 26 Nov 2018 07:19 | Anonymous member
  • 25 Nov 2018 22:37
    Reply # 6931873 on 912308

    The battens on Nomad have always been bamboo since that was what Tom  Colvin had recommended as being the best material after testing a variety of others. Bamboo has other redeeming qualities from a cruisers standpoint. It can be had free or very cheaply for the effort of going into a stand of bamboo and cutting some appropriate sized pieces and dragging them back to the boat. The spares that you should carry do double duty holding up sunshades, poling out the jib and even outriggers for towing more than one fishing line. 

    Bamboo battens are cut at a joint at the forward end and the aft end is cut flush with the leach. There are no batten pockets. There are grommets at every seam and a cable tie is threaded through sandwiching the sail between the bamboo and backing batten. This adds a little strength and prevents the sail from wearing at the battens when it's up against the rigging. My backing battens were ripped out of a pressure treated 2x6 and scarfed together for the longest pieces. Like the bamboo, no maintenance required.

    As they age sometimes they split. This is not usually a problem unless it extends through several joints. When this happens, the bamboo can be held together with wire seizing or cable ties without being removed from the sail. If reinforcement is needed, pieces of split bamboo can be added easily. Or just cut a short length of bamboo reaching several grommets past the damaged area and cable tie it in place . I have a few like that now, it's working well enough that I don't see any need to change it until it gets replaced. 

    The bamboo battens have never broken in normal sailing even in some quite stormy weather. All the battens I have broken including three last month ( first time in a couple of years) have been from unplanned gybes. Sometimes the bamboo splits where the padeyes for the lazy jacks are screwed in or where the bamboo and backing batten is through bolted at the aft end of the sail. All bamboo is not created equal. Some has much thicker walls and it holds up  better and is less prone to splitting. I don't know how to find this out without cutting down a.piece to examine it. Of course if you need some, whatever is available will work. I have bamboo from three continents in the sails at this time, not all of it the thick walled variety and it all works well although the thinner ones split easily.

    No special preparation is needed before use. Take a chisel and smooth the knobs where the branches were, the sails and your skin will appreciate it. Green bamboo will make the sail quite heavy to hoist but they will dry out and become much lighter within a month or so. Towing them back to the boat behind the dinghy gets rid of most of the bugs. If you get a local boat to deliver them to you, beware of rats hiding inside the bamboo, much better to bring them home yourself!

  • 25 Nov 2018 06:39
    Reply # 6931292 on 912308


    About the lamination of bamboo battens
    I must say that stratifying bamboos is no small task!
    First of all it was necessary to sand the entire surface to remove the glazed film in order to allow the epoxy resin to penetrate the bamboo.
    It was also necessary to sand all the rings and round off each knot so that the fabric adhered well, just as it was necessary to fill the small flats that are found at each knot with epoxy mastic.
    It is not possible to put on the fabric sheath (60mm Dia) on the already resinized bamboo, it is necessary to do it on dry, tighten the fabric well and then impregnate it with epoxy resin, which is long enough (the fabric is 300g/m²) to have a good result.
    We had put long screws in each end of the bamboo to be able to hold them between two trestles and rotate them and one more trestle during the cure in the middle to avoid  bend .
    Then we painted with a classic enamel to make a UV protection.
    The ends must be well impregnated with resin, or sometimes sealed with mastic, because this is where any rot will occur (that's hapened ). Similarly, it is important to avoid drilling or putting screws in the bamboo as this makes it possible to get in contact with moisture, prefer gluing and ligating to attach something to bamboos.

  • 25 Nov 2018 02:10
    Reply # 6931111 on 912308

    On Lakatao, we have always used bamboos.
    The first ones came from Brittany and dried in the shade of a shed stored horizontally, suspended in the air and in bundles so that they remained as straight as possible.

    We left them natural, with leather as protection in contact with the masts. The yard and the boom were also made of bamboo.
    During our first two-year trip to the Atlantic, we kept breaking battens and cutting bamboo in almost every country we visited.
    For the second set of sails we used bamboos that were growing in our garden (still in Brittany!) but we chose them a little smaller in diameter and covered with a sock in glass fabric and epoxy resin.

    We have had them for eight years now. We had to break two or three of them, but we repaired them with an inner sleeve and the same epoxy glass cloth process. The protection is provided by pieces of yellow 32 mm diameter garden hose open and held in place with  lacing and   plastic collars. There is a little pocket on the leech side only, battens are lashed on the sails trough eyelets.

    We had some tears aroud these eyelets and now we want to use webbing loops for the lashing.

    The yards and booms are now made of wood according to the specifications of Pratical Junk Rig.


  • 24 Nov 2018 23:26
    Reply # 6930966 on 6930922
    Annie Hill wrote:

    I am planning to use bamboo for the battens on SibLim.  There are many reason for this, including cost, the use of even more of the earth's resources, having managed to  bend T6 alloy battens and the fact that bamboos grow (literally) like weeds in New Zealand.  David and Lynda's article about preparing their bamboos for Tin Hau has given me one route to follow, but I would be interested in hearing of other people's experiences, preparation, choice of bamboo, etc.  And how long they last!


    I don't have any direct experience with bamboo, but was given some interesting advice once.  I had commented that the quality of bamboo seems to vary a great deal (All the bamboo battens on David Lewis's junk schooner, Taniwha, failed).  The advice was that you should cut bamboo from the shady side of a hill, as it grows too fast in direct sunlight.  But this could be baloney for all I know. 
  • 24 Nov 2018 21:54
    Reply # 6930922 on 912308

    I am planning to use bamboo for the battens on SibLim.  There are many reason for this, including cost, the use of even more of the earth's resources, having managed to  bend T6 alloy battens and the fact that bamboos grow (literally) like weeds in New Zealand.  David and Lynda's article about preparing their bamboos for Tin Hau has given me one route to follow, but I would be interested in hearing of other people's experiences, preparation, choice of bamboo, etc.  And how long they last!

    Last modified: 24 Nov 2018 21:58 | Anonymous member
  • 07 Feb 2013 00:53
    Reply # 1201111 on 912308
    Deleted user
    Batten fendering was a ongoing research for us. We started out with only batten pockets and they wore through in no time. Our first modification was to put on some high pressure rubber water pipe with the same ID as the OD of the alloy battens. They fit so tight that we had to lubricate them to get them on and they have not budged since. We still have the batten pockets but they were protected with a strip of seat belt webbing.They never wore again and provided an extra layer of padding. The battens are silent. The alloy yards are wrapped with some really cheap rope that gives a nautical look and provides the fendering we needed.
  • 06 Feb 2013 16:34
    Reply # 1200628 on 912308
    For those who are following the bamboo part of this topic, there's more here.
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