Sailboat with C.S. Johnson hardware
Deck with C.S. Johnson Hardware
Small sailboats with C.S. Johnson Hardware
House with C.S. Johnson Cable Rails
Closeup of sailboat with C.S. Johnson Hardware
House using C.S. Johnson Hardware
Rear view of sailboat with C.S. Johnson Hardware
Country house using C.S. Johnson cable rails
Marine Q&A  
Q: What is a Turnbuckle?
A: A Turnbuckle is a metal coupling device consisting of right and left threaded members screwed into an internally threaded body which when rotated expands or contracts.

Q: What is a Machine Swage Fitting?
A: A Machine Swage Fitting is attached to the cable by a swage machine which cold forms the fitting directly to the cable. A swage fitting should not be confused with Hand Crimp fittings or other hand tool applied fittings. A specialized swaging machine is the only way to attach swage fittings to cable. Swage fittings cannot be Hand Crimped, welded, glued, hammered, or attached to a cable by any means other than a swage machine.
machine swage

Q: What is a Hand Crimp Fitting?
A: Hand Crimp fittings were first designed and manufactured by C. Sherman Johnson Co., Inc. in 1969. Hand Crimp fittings are attached to the cable with a Johnson-made Hand Crimp Tool model #53-210 or #53-215. Hand Crimp fittings should not be confused with Nicopress fittings. Nicopress fittings have sleeves that are made from soft copper alloy and compress very easily. All Johnson Hand Crimp fittings are made from stainless steel and cannot be swaged, welded, glued, pressed in a vise or with vise grips, or attached to the cable by any means other than the Johnson tool #53-210, #53-215.
hand crimp

Q: What is a Mechanical Fitting?
A: A mechanical fitting is attached to the cable by the fitting compressing the cable with a cone inside the fitting or the cable. Mechanical fittings are assembled to the cable with simple hand tools. Mechanical fittings are larger in diameter than Swage and Hand Crimp fittings and can be reused with a new cone, but carry a hefty price tag.
mechanical fitting

Q: What type of cable do I use?
A: Traditionally lifelines have been made of 7X7 white vinyl coated cable.  This smooth cable is easy to grab onto and gives a traditional look.  Boats racing under ISAF or ORC regulations must use uncoated stainless steel cable. 12 Strand Spectra or Dyneema line is becoming more popular for cruising boats and boats not racing under offshore regulations as it is very strong, UV resistant, easily installed (no tools required) and does not rust.
wire rope section

Q: Do I need a turnbuckle in my cable assembly?
A: Yes.  In order to achieve proper tension in the lifeline and to remove any stretch in the cable, a turnbuckle is required.

Q: Does Johnson make cable assemblies?
A: No. Johnson manufactures the fittings but does not make complete cable assemblies. Our 45+ year history enables Johnson to provide you with a rigger near you. Please call us for the information you need.

Q: How much tension do I need?
A: Offshore regulations require that lifelines deflect no more than 50mm (2”) when a force of 11.2lbf is applied midway between stanchions.  This is a good guideline for the cruising sailor as well.

Q: What end attachments do I use?
A: Normally a turnbuckle on one end and a toggle jaw on the other.  If you are terminating the lifeline on the deck, use a deck toggle.  If a gate is involved - see below.
end fittings

Q: What are the After Swage dimensions?
A: The table below shows the After Swage dimensions for machine swage fittings:
after swage dims

Q: When do I know when it is time to replace my lifelines?
A: Lifelines should be inspected yearly.  Vinyl coated lifelines are particularly prone to corrosion where the wire meets the swage fitting.  If the vinyl turns rusty in this area, it may be time to replace the lifelines.

Q: What is the best way to duplicate my present lifelines?
A: If your present lifelines fit correctly, the easiest and best way to replace the lifelines is to mark the position of the turnbuckles, remove the lifelines from the boat and bring them to a qualified rigger who can make up a new set.  Existing turnbuckles and pelican hooks should be able to be reused.  If this is not possible or if you are putting new lifelines on a boat, down load our lifeline measurement form.

Q: If I want to do it myself, what tools are required?
A:As swaging machines are very expensive, most do-it-yourselfers use our Hand Crimp fittings.  When using these fittings YOU MUST USE our tool 53-215 or 53-210.  The only other acceptable tool is the National Telephone Supply Company “Nicro Press” tool 64CGMP.  Is you use this tool, use the “C” die for 1/8” cable and the “G” die for 3/16” cable.  All other tools are designed to crimp copper fittings - not Stainless Steel.

Q: What is the easiest way to add a second lifeline?
A: If your stanchions are not drilled for a lower lifeline, the easiest solution is to use our pulpit anchor (part #29-501) and stanchion eye (part #29-502).

Q: What parts do I need if I want to add a gate?
Along with an additional stanchion you will need a couple of stanchion braces (our part # 40-200).  In addition you will need one swivel single gate eye, one swivel interlocking gate eye and a pelican hook.  To tension the short span of wire between the gate and the stern rail, a short adjuster is used.

Q: What grade of stainless steel does Johnson Use?
A: For all major components, Johnson uses Type 316 stainless steel. Type 316 is low-carbon "18-* chromium-nickel stainless steel modified by the addition of molybdeenum, which greatly increases its corrosion resistance.

Q: Does Johnson offer fittings in steel or galvanized?
A: No.

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