I have been unable to find something that will keep my traveller moving smoothly.
pull it apart and relube it with some silicon grease or spray. or if you have done that and it didn't work something is probably bent or worn. check the straitness of the track and the car. take note of the traveler model number and measure the size of the balls, then try a sailing shop to find out correct size and number of balls. harken sell a range of different sized and material, delryn?, balls for their travelers
I am looking at rebuilding my H18 traveler car and making new bearings from delrin / celcon (Acetal Copolymer). A few posts that I have read recommend using two ball type of bearings, to make the traveler move easier, rather than the original(?) slider and ball configuration. Is the traveler supposed to have some friction so that it does not move too fast? I think that there may be a presumption that the ball will roll in the groove when this is not possible due to the pin going thru the bearing being oriented the wrong way, making it impossible to roll. It would seem to me that if one were to use two ball type bearings that there would be a greater chance of damaging / bending the groove due to the load being centered at the diameters of the bearing at only one point (tangency). My rear cross beam traveler groove / channel is approximately 3/4 (.750) inch inside diameter. I measured this with a spring caliper and a vernier caliper. With the slider type of bearing, the load is distributed across the full length of the slider (31/32 inch)and it would seem that the ball bearing's purpose is to keep the slider aligned straight in the groove so that it does not bind / stick. My point being, I believe that the original bearing / slider design is good and only requires some clearancing in the form of a radius along the length of the slider. Anyhow, I am going to make mine like that and I will let you know.
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If you enjoy "reinventing the wheel" (and many of us do) then go for it, you might even come up with something that works better.
But the Hobie 18 traveler works very well if it's smooth and clean. Clean the inside of the track with WD40 to be sure all built up road grime is removed, then wash, dry, and spray with Magic Lube.
Then rebuild your traveler with two balls, don't worry about the theory, two balls works better than a ball and slider. I'm not sure what you were saying about the balls not turning, they do.
A top H18 sailor, Steve Cooley, makes a delrin ball rebuild kit available for minimal cost.
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1992 Hobie 18
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Fraser, what do you sail? what kind of system does it have?
the H18 is (nearly) impossible to adjust the traveler (in or out) when the main is sheeted tight.
Most other travelers have trouble traveling out when sheeted, and often travel in accidentally when sheeting in the main... A-cats have a curved traveler track to help avoid this (and avoids miss-shaping the sail when traveling out a straight rail that pulls the leach down).
i have heard you DON'T want to lubricate delron ball bearings as this will cause them to stick (not roll around) and cause flat spots) and also collect dirt/sand.
On my Mystere, i have old style metal balls.. and i clear my track with acetone and spray mclube on it almost every weekend before i sail..