PRE-’92 FORCE 5 MECHANICAL UPGRADES
These suggestions are based on 30+ years experience with the Force 5. At one time or another I’ve broken most everything that can break and either pirated a fix from others (oftentimes Bob Cullen) or worked out my own. Working from bow towards the rear,
To reduce mast and mast step wear, install Teflon wear strips (APS392) on lower mast section and a stainless steel wear plate (APSLP91003) at the bottom of the step. Make sure the bottom if the step is clean and dry. Apply some 3M 5200 Fast Cure to the underside of the plate and use a vacuum cleaner hose on the other side to hold it while you lower the plate into the step. Turn off the vacuum, remove the hose from the vacuum to be sure the vacuum is relieved and remove the hose from the step. Weight the plate down until the adhesive is cured. Part numbers are from Annapolis Performance Sailing and are parts sold for the Laser.
To reduce corrosion, I’d replace the SS rivets on the gooseneck fitting with aluminum if you use the boat in salt water. Aluminum’s not as strong and you may have to replace these rivets fairly often as they loosen, but it’s MUCH better than having your lower section break b/c of corrosion around the rivet holes.
For better cleating, replace the plastic clam cleats with their aluminum twins or, better yet, with small cam cleats. If you go the cam cleat route, make sure to plug the old holes in both the FG and the wood coaming.
Upgrade the vang if you have a pre-’78 boat. The original 4:1 system was very tough to adjust under load. However, this is a pretty expensive change which you probably can’t justify unless you intend to race the boat.
On the boom, when the outhaul cable breaks or begins to fray, replace it with 1/8” Ultrex 12 (P/N YCUTX 18 from apsltd). To prevent track failure, install all-stainless (including the screws) hose clamps around the outhaul rod and boom (one at each end) so the rod is “captured” to the boom. If your outhaul has a shackle which slides along the rod, get a short piece of Teflon or PE tubing and force it over the shackle to reduce friction.
To reduce daggerboard slop & damage, prevent leaks, and essentially eliminate water splashing through the trunk, fill and reinforce the top and bottom of the trunk as follows. First, make sure your daggerboard is free from warps and twists. If it isn’t, DO NOT do this upgrade. Remove and toss the metal springs that are inside the trunk. Sand off the varnish from the thwart at the top opening and roughen about a 1” wide strip on the inside of the trunk where it meets the hull. With the boat upside down, use a string stretched from the bow to the gudgeon to mark the daggerboard opening where the centerline of the board should be. It will probably not be centered in the opening but it will be centered in the hull which is the objective. Holding the boat on edge, insert the daggerboard completely and mark it where it just exits the trunk from the hull. Remove the board and set the boat back down. Using the mark you made, put three layers of duct tape all around the board so that when board is reinserted the tape is flush with the opening at the hull. Wrap the board with waxed paper extending a couple of inches above and below the duct tape. With boat on edge reinstall the board fully and secure it so it can’t slide out when the boat is inverted. With the boat upside down and the board sticking into the air, use two shims on each side to locate the board on the previously marked centerline. At this point you also want to eyeball the board to make sure it is as vertical as possible, not tilted to one side or the other. Mix some BONDO-GLASS with hardener and force the mixture into the gap between the board and the trunk. You only want to put enough in to produce about a ¾” wide surface all around the inside of the trunk. When the material has cured to the “hard-rubbery” stage, remove the board and the shims. Mix a bit more BONDO-GLASS and fill in the areas where the shims were. Repeat this entire process to reduce the gap at the thwart opening. Sand off high spots and check the fit. Sand or file as necessary. I then used Shoe Goo to glue felt strips to the BONDO-GLASS to give a softer sliding surface. This process may sound involved, but it can be completed start-to-finish in a morning’s work. You’ll have a much drier cockpit and also prevent leaks at the hull/trunk joint. When sailing, run a shockcord from the front of the trunk over the thwart, behind the board, and back down to the front of the trunk. The forward pressure on the board will keep it in place as you move it up for offwind sailing. Be sure to use a retention line on the board so that it cannot slide out if you capsize and the boat turns turtle since you need something sticking out to grab onto.
To prevent traveler car failure if you have a fiddle block with integrated cam cleat shackled to the car, remove the block and shackle from the car and get a grommeting tool to install a metal grommet in the center opening of the car. Even if you only have a single block shackled to the car, this is still good insurance as the original car is basically a POS.
Consider upgrading the mainsheet system to include a swivel base like the Harken 403 or the Ronstan RF7 (I prefer the RF7). This is expensive but it makes for a much more user-friendly mainsheet system. It may be necessary to make an extended mounting pad for the base. Cut a U-shaped piece of ¼” aluminum (overall roughly 4” x 6”) and attach to the underside of the thwart so that you have an “extension” of about 2” x 4”. You want to avoid having screws stick out below the aluminum or you’ll wind up bleeding for sure. But check first to make sure there will be enough clearance between the base and the traveler frame. You’ll also have to have a set of holes in the aluminum for the forward hiking strap attachment. Make a piece of wood to attach to the aluminum so that you have enough width to mount the swivel base. Even if you theoretically have enough room without the extension, the above setup is much stronger than simply attaching the base to the thwart. And if you’re gonna sail upwind when it’s windy, there will be a LOT of load on the mainsheet system!
Reinforce the tiller where the extension attaches. The original screwed attachment is VERY weak. Use glass cloth & resin to reinforce the tiller end and/or the attachment. It may not be pretty (at least mine isn’t), but I know I won’t pull the extension out of the tiller as I’m desperately hanging on in the middle of a death roll. BTW, a graphite golf shaft makes a great tiller extension (although you’ll have to be creative in working out an attachment to the universal for the extension).
Improve the rudder and gudgeon. First step is to install a 5” inspection port in the rear deck. It should be positioned so that the back of the flange is about 1” forward of the inside surface of the transom (the transom is about ¾” thick). Since the deck is curved, make sure not to tighten the port flange down much that it contacts the deck all the way around . This would distort the flange and probably screw up the sealing capability of the removable part of the port. Rely on liberally-applied silicone sealant to fill the gaps. With the hole in the deck, you can see the ends of the 10-24 SS screws used to attach the gudgeon. These have got to be removed as they WILL break. You’ll probably need to use penetrating oil to get them out. Once you do, replace them with ¼-20 SS bolts with fender washers and nylock nuts. (This requires drilling out the holes in the gudgeon and the transom. Do not remove the glassed-in aluminum plate from the inside of the transom). Make sure to apply silicone sealant to seal the gudgeon/transom joint. BUT before you do the final installation of the gudgeon, if you have the original rudder design with the 3/8” pin, remove all of that hardware from the rudder casting and use a 3/8” SS bolt (5” long) to attach the rudder to the gudgeon. You may have to use a jigsaw to cut a bigger opening in the deck overhang to allow the bolt to be inserted. Do this BEFORE re-attaching the gudgeon, being VERY careful not to cut too far forward! Some people put the bolt in from the top without any nut, some from the top with a nut, and others (like me) put the bolt in from the bottom. I have a small hole drilled through the end of the bolt. So after I slide the bolt up and in, I put on a washer, insert a ring-dingy, and then finger tighten a nylock nut. Now you have a rudder system that will not break.
One final very important “on-the-water” note. If you have a pre-’92 boat with the 3/8” gooseneck pin AND you use vang tension upwind when it’s windy, you MUST be sure to ease the vang BEFORE you bear off onto a reach. If you don’t , at the very least you will be constantly dunking the end of the boom into the water which can lead to a capsize. Far worse, you’ll run the very significant risk of breaking the gooseneck pin. And that is NOT a pretty picture when it happens.