Ranger 26: Breaking down the problems and needful things 2…

One of the reasons I like the Ranger 26 is that it’s a very sensible design and not a whole lot needs to be fixed or improved. The open transom outboard motor arrangement is simple and works, the layout in the cockpit is comfortable, and the rig is non-problematic.

That said, it could use a couple of tweaks.

The open transom outboard arrangement makes all kinds of sense but, like any open transom arrangement, it does increase the possibility of getting pooped. On the other hand, the open transom also works like like a great big cockpit drain so as long as getting pooped in confined to the cockpit we’re more or less OK. So, take a look at the companionway on a Ranger 26…

With the hatch boards out you have a really big frelling hole in the boat. My general rule-of-thumb for companionways is that the bottom of the opening should be at least six-inches above the level of the cockpit seats. The best way to do this is to fiberglass the offending void but you could get by with just gluing or bolting the lower hatch board in place. My vote would be to just fiberglass the section.

Since we’re now talking fiberglass we might also consider getting rid of a section of the foot well and raising it to three or four inched below the seat tops. This would cut down on the potential flooded volume of the cockpit while giving us more stowage space in the process which, to me at least, this is a win/win situation.

Before we leave the cockpit subject I’ll point out that while most boats of this size may have a 9.9 or 15 HP motor a 5 or 6 HP is more than sufficient and the weight savings makes it something of a no-brainer.

Earlier I mentioned that a hard dodger would make a lot of sense and would go a long way to improve the cockpits comfort level while adding a good place to have headroom in the galley area.

Now we should wend our way forward to the bow and you’ll quickly notice that the Ranger 26 lacks anything approaching a bow roller, proper fairleads, and the sort of cleats needed to handle real ground tackle. Need I say more?

Which leaves us with the rig and that includes the mast, stays, chain plates, associated hardware, and sails. This is an area where a lot of people wind up spending a lot more than the boat is worth (Especially if you don’t do all of your own work). So it’s an area of the project where you have to get serious. Given the Ranger 26’s age and the likely chance that the standing rigging is just as old I’d go into this process that at the bare minimum you’ll need to replace the stays, chainplates and associated hardware. Masts, in general, are non-problematic and last forever. You will need to look seriously at the sail inventory and while it is still pretty easy to buy good condition used sails for this size of boat so you’ll have to factor all of the costs. Oh yeah, there’s running rigging as well…

So, here’s my take on the rig issues. If the mast is OK and your sails are good you’ll only need to replace the chainplates and stays which does not have to be expensive (more on that in a future post) but if the boat does not have any sails or needs a lot of sail work it starts getting iffy. If the boat you’re looking at had its rig replaced in the last ten years, has good sails, and all you need to replace is a bit of running rigging, you’re home free.

Another option you might want to consider is to change rigs. I’ve long thought that, for cruising on a budget, that a Junk or Lug rig makes all kinds of sense. Even better would be a junk or lug that included a small jib and minimal textile rigging. The cost of building and rigging a junk or lug mast and sail is considerably cheaper than replacing the Ranger rig. There are quite a few other advantages as well but we’ll get into that later.

Which now leaves us with the project list so far as:

  1. A new galley
  2. A composting head
  3. Adding more stowage
  4. Companion way reduction
  5. Footwell reduction
  6. Hard dodger
  7. Bow roller/cleats/fairleads
  8. Sorting out the rig

Next up we’ll be looking at a specific project and costs in detail.

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7 thoughts on “Ranger 26: Breaking down the problems and needful things 2…”

  1. I still think a sloop rig will be cheaper regardless of its condition. Mainly because you will need to get the junk/lug sail custom made and the same with the mast. There should be plenty of old masts and sails available for a 26 footer. Not sure about a composting head either? I thought they were bulkier than a standard marine toilet? Bulky is not something you want in a small yacht. Cheers

  2. No e-mail link so wondering if you might possibly do a post sometime regarding the blue water possibilities of Dave Zeigers triloboats? You did a post once mentioning how you might be OK with using one inter-island in the caribbean. I've often wondered if you rockered a trilo and made it long lean if it might be self righting. Sorta like taking a Bolger AS39 and squaring it up, wringing out a bit of rocker. Or the same L/B ratio but smaller (like 32/6.5). Daves trilos are about as volkscruiserish new builds get and one has junk rig and shoal draft built in from the git-go. Both your sites weekly go-tos for me and thanks a lot.

  3. We put a 430 Square foot polytarp chinese lugsail on a Pearson Vanguard 32. Did that one Reddish style out of a single 20X40 polytarp. Bought the boat for a steal with no mast but full suite of sails. Sold off the sails online. Ferreted out Tom Colvins steel pipe mast scantlings online and welded up a thru the deck partners tube. Stepped the pipe on the keel top. Incredibly cheap and worked well. Later (per Colvins suggestion for materials and using his awesome chinese sailmaking book)) sewed up a 330 square footer out of Top Gun cover material and installed a sprit mizzen yawl sail. Worked even better. Before the days of sewing belly into the panels and it did not go to windward very well. But the Vanguard did not have the deep forefoot and long straight keel Colvin says is optimal for (standard, flat) junk rig. Great sail to use and, most of all, no more slippery deck sail changes or reefing. After that bought a easy to use junk rig on a sharpie hull. Junk rig truly rocks.

  4. If you are capable of doing the rest of the work that Bob suggests, you would be more than capable of building your own junk rig and it would be A LOT cheaper than most other choices. A friend of mine who has just done this has almost paid for the new rig from the sale of winches, old sails, etc, etc. You can use a lightpole for a mast. Look on the JRA website for more information. If you make a cambered sail you will probably neither need nor want a jib. You can have a sail that fits the boat instead of making do with second hand. The only drawback is its possible intrusion into the forecabin. Depends on whether you choose to sleep there and/or want a double. The vee berth looks very pinched at the feet. My Raven 26 was a very similar boat to this: I kept my double bunk – also a pinched-in V berth – by raking the mast well forward.

    I also put a small composting head in the boat and never regretted it. No smell, no dribbles, long-lasting – what's not to like? I've made one for the boat I'm building at present.

    Good to hear your views on the o/b motor, Bob. I think the 6 hp will be ample for the 26 footer I'm building, but am constantly being told I will need bigger!

  5. We use a 6hp outboard on our much bigger CAL 34 and it works just fine. Colvin's formula of 1 hp per ton has always worked for me.

    On the junk/lug rig or without a jib front I prefer a small jib and minimal rigging ( three stays) which allows the mast to be further aft as well as allowing for a smaller diameter mast which is easier/cheaper to build or source.

  6. I've long been a friend and fan of Dave Z and the Trilo designs. I'm sure when we get into the building a VolksCruiser discussion the Trilo will be a part of it as well as Sharpies and other designs.

    That said, right at the moment building a boat from scratch is going to be more expensive than adapting an already existing inexpensive boat to your purposes.Possibly more important is the fact that recycling an older boat has a much smaller carbon footprint.

    By the way, your "Sorta like taking a Bolger AS39 and squaring it up." line made me spew coffee all over my computer screen.

  7. Yes, poorly described: squaring up the side curves into a purely square form when viewed from above. Yes, less carbon footprint recycling a old boat but then ultra shoal draft, junk rigged boats are extremely rare used. It's all a toss-up.

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