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Replacement Bushings / Grommets for Stanchions

posted May 19, 2011, 8:54 AM by Christopher Hubbell
Just about any 30 year old boat will probably be reaching the end of life for the plastic bushings which protect lifelines as they pass through the stanchions.  The CS27 stanchions used a sleeve bearing with a modified shoulder that contours the cyllinder and has friction locking tabs.  ome of mine were missing, and the others were a highly oxidized and cracked gray which looked awful.

While it's not hard to find sleeve bearings, I thought a grommet might be the easier path.  After a conversation with one of the riggers at Rigging Only I was told that they don't last very long due to UV exposure; Perhaps a year.  While that didn't sound good at first, I gave it a little more thought and decided to go forward with an experiment.

After a search at my favorite hardware supplier, McMaster-Carr, I found two grommets which would work and bought a bag of each to see what would work.
  • 9307K21:  3/8" Inside Diameter, 11/16" Outside Diameter  ($4.38 / 50)
  • 9600K31:  5/16" Inside Diameter, 5/8" Outside Diameter, for 1/6" thickness. ($6.25 / 100)

As you can see, the costs for a long-term supply are cheap in both cases.  So, I can take 15 minutes at the start of each season to replace them if they need it.  After testing the fit, I decided to go with the 9307K21 grommets.  You'll also note they are more expensive.  This is because they are mil-spec.  I'm guessing that's more about temperature and chemical resistance, but perhaps their make up also yields improved resistance to UV rays.  Time will tell.

Installation was pretty simple.  I used a screwdriver shaft to "massage" the grommet's shoulders into place.  It took a little messing to get it right, but no particular skill involved.  Feeding the swaged post through the grommet was also something that needs to be done gently as it's larger than the wire.  If you just muscle it through the grommet will be ripped out.  Once it's through the wire passes through without any resistance.

This was a relatively cheap restoration item which actually yields a pretty substantial aesthetic improvement.  It also (more importantly) protects those shiny new lifelines from what could be significant chafing.