The Spirit of Excellence for Nearly 50 Years.

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Note: this section is has been expanded in September 2014, but there is still more to come.

 

 

Maintenance and Boat Care

Let me tell you folks something the people selling new boats don't like to have espoused too loudly or clearly. The guts of modern composite hulls are very durable and will hold up for years and years of appropriate regular use. Your Sykes is going to have more than a decade of at least club-level racing life in it, and longer if well maintained. What's even better is that most maintenance is actually quite easy.

 

In this section, I go over the main aspects of boat maintenance and go into some helpful hints on what tools to have as well as tips on transportation.

 

The lion's share of this is a rather detailed look at the fittings, so you know what to replace and order when something goes missing or is worn out.

 

 

To get started, though, here's a highlight list of DOs and DON'Ts, and stuff to have.

 

DOs in maintenance and care

 

Rinse off the boat after rows and wash effectively with soap and water every half-dozen or so rows. If you don't have access to water or soap, get evaporative cleaners.

 

Polish your boat every season -- two or three times a year -- with a proper polishing machine and a machine glaze polish (light cut).

 

Keep your slides and wheels in good shape by replacing the slides when they get pitted and the wheels when they start to grind a bit or get a lot of wobble in them.

 

Have the proper spares on hand. Quick fixes with something that works at the time can be practical, but don't leave it that way for more than a week. Suggested spares:

     Fin (and rudder if your boat has one)

     One of two bearing wheels

     1/6th the number of stretcher bolts in the boat

     1/3rd the number of stretcher nuts in the boat

     Half the number of bolts for your riggers

     Duplicate nuts for your riggers

     Twice as many washer as are on the riggers

     Two QR cams per rigger (for QR riggers)

     Two M8 washers and nuts per rigger

     A full-length back stay tube

     One port and one starboard back stay head

 

DON'Ts in maintenance and care

 

Spray your sealed bearing seat wheels with a penetrating solvent like BoShield or WD40. This is bad for the grease-packed bearings.

 

Use a mishmash of parts, such as different kinds of heel-ties or footstretcher hardware on the same boat. It sets a pattern that makes the boat look more tired than it is and people don't take as good of care of tired-looking boats

 

Let unfinished repair patches accumulate on club or team boats, as people take better care of a boat that looks good

 

Pull a boat out of shape with straps to transport it or store it.

 

Worry about apparent vibration in the bow and stern of a boat as you travel over rough road. Spinning the boat in place on the water with you in it is a lot more force.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abridged List of Tools for Your Box

  10mm open/closed wrench

  13mm open/closed wrench

  Adjustable wrench to 20mm

  10mm deep shaft nut driver

  Phillips head screw driver

  Scissors

  Wire snips

  Utility knife (and replacement blades)

  Vice grips

  Digital Pitch Metre

 

 

 

Repair and Maintenance Materials

  Electrical Tape

  Packing Tape

  A rag of good size and thickness

  A 2x4 block (no longer than 20cm is necessary)

  Loctite or another fast-drying adhesive

  Bathroom/Kitchen-grade Silicone Adhesive

 

For Clubs (also recommended)

  West Marine epoxy and fast hardener (small)

  407 filler powder

  .5 sq metre of 5oz fibre glass

   A dozen syringes with veterinary gage needles

 

Maintenance of Parts and Fittings

Most of what people feel in the age of a boat is actually in the fittings and hardware. Keeping those in good shape will get you more years out of your boat(s) and better performance over those years. If there's anything more to get out of this section than the specifics, it's that maintenance and care make a big difference in performance and resale value. A Sykes isn't the cheapest boat on the market, but when taken care of, it can have among the lowest depreciation expenses of any make of boat.

 

I have the care of boats broken out by types of fittings -- foostretcher, seat and slides, etc. Each of those sections is broken into two parts:

   1. a checklist of what's supposed to be where in current-model boats

   2. DOs and DON'Ts of maintenance and care

 

 

NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, all hardware is A2 or A4 stainless steel.

Footstretchers

Checklist of Hardware and Fittings (divided into boat class/moulds). Many items come with a link to the photo of the part in the on-line store. More will be provided in time.

Single Sculls & M29 2x

- Durham 2009-model carbon footstretchter board

- Durham 2009-model carbon cross bar, with nylon tube ends.

     - secured to the stretcher board with one M6x50mm carriage bolt, M6 washer, & M6 lock nut.

- Durham carbon keel bracket

     - secured with one carriage-bolt plate, two M6x40mm carriage bolts, M6 fender washers, &

       M6 lock nuts.

- Shoe assembly attached to the stretcher board with two single-scull-shoe-plate bolts, two M6

  fender washers, two M6 split washers, two M6 wing nuts, which allow you to adjust the depth of

  the heels by placing the bolts through any one of numerous holes.

     - Shoe assembly made up of Nike Omada shoes (or New Wave when ordered), attached to the

       Bakelite shoe plate with M5x12mm shoe screws. Three shoe plate options

            a) ">9" engraved plate for shoe sizes US 10 and larger

            b) "<9" engraved plate for shoe sizes US 9 and smaller

            c) full-length shoe plates for M29 doubles, all shoe sizes.

     - Shoe assembly heels clipped on with two heel-restraint clips and shoe strings tied off in a half

        slip knot behind the stretcher board (or full-length shoe plate), with M6 washers to keep the

        knots from slipping.

- Footstretcher assembly attached to the three nylon stretcher tracks by three short M6 foot-

  stretcher bolts, an M6 washer on each, and M6 short tube nuts on each of the top two bolts, and

  an M6 wingnut on the bottom bolt.

Pairs & Doubles (except M29)

- Durham 2007-model carbon footstretchter board

- Durham 2007-model carbon three-hole cross bar, with nylon tube ends.

     - secured to the stretcher board with three M6x50mm carriage bolts and M6 jam nuts.

- Durham carbon keel bracket

     - secured with  one carriage-bolt plate, two M6x 40mm carriage bolts, M6 fender washers, &

       M6 lock nuts.

- Shoe assembly attached to the stretcher board with three M6 washers and hex nuts holding the

   shoe plate on to the stretcher board over the three carriage bolts (above)

     - Shoe assembly made up of Nike Omada shoes (or New Wave when ordered), attached to the

       Bakelite shoe plate with M5x12mm shoe screws. Three shoe plate options:

            a) "10+" engraved plate for shoe sizes US 12 and larger

            b) "<9" engraved plate for shoe sizes US 11 and smaller

            c) toe-steer plates. (See more below about toe-steer assemblies)

     - Shoe assembly heels clipped on with two heel-restraint clips and shoe strings tied off in a half

        hitch knot behind the stretcher board (or full-length shoe plate), with M6 washers to keep the

        knots from slipping.

- Footstretcher assembly attached to the three nylon stretcher tracks by three short M6 foot-

  stretcher bolts, with M6 footstrecher nuts on each of the top two bolts, and either an M6 wingnut

  and washer or long tube nut and washer on the bottom bolt, which is decided by depth of heels.

Fours, Quads, & Eights

- Durham 2007-model carbon footstretchter board

- Durham 2007-model carbon three-hole cross bar, with nylon tube ends.

     - secured to the stretcher board with three M6x50mm carriage bolts and M6 jam nuts.

- Durham carbon keel bracket

     - secured with  one carriage-bolt plate, two M6x 40mm carriage bolts, M6 fender washers, &

       M6 lock nuts.

- Shoe assembly attached to the stretcher board with three M6 washers and hex nuts holding the

   shoe plate on to the stretcher board over the three carriage bolts (above)

     - Shoe assembly made up of Nike Omada shoes (or New Wave when ordered), attached to the

       Bakelite shoe plate with M5x12mm shoe screws. Three shoe plate options:

            a) "10+" engraved plate for shoe sizes US 12 and larger

            b) "<9" engraved plate for shoe sizes US 11 and smaller

            c) toe-steer plates. (See more below about toe-steer assemblies)

     - Shoe assembly heels clipped on with two heel-restraint clips and shoe strings tied off in a half

        hitch knot behind the stretcher board (or full-length shoe plate), with M6 washers to keep the

        knots from slipping.

- Footstretcher assembly attached to the three nylon stretcher tracks by three short M6 foot-

  stretcher bolts, with M6 footstrecher nuts on each of the top two bolts, and either an M6 wing nut

  and washer or long tubenut and washer on the bottom bolt, which is decided by depth of heels.

Toe-steer Assembly

While the toe-steer shoe assembly fits on the 2007-model carbon footstretcher boards like the other shoe plates for big boats, there are a few notable differences.

- There are two (white plastic) gaskets that go between the shoes and the steering plate: One is for

  the steering foot so that the screw going though that shoe don't scrape along the metal plate when

  you pivot the shoe to steer. The other to bring the non-steering (left) foot up even with the steering

  (right) foot. (Toe-steering can be made to be done with the left foot, but it is unusual.)

- The steering foot uses the M5x12mm shoe screws like all the other shoe assemblies, but the left

  shoe needs 18mm or 20mm long screws to get through the Bakelite and gasket with enough

  threads to hold the shoe.

- The steering shoe plate itself is made up of three major parts: The metal base plate, which is

  there to hold the steering cable guides, is attached to the Bakelite plate with four M4 screws. The

  toe-pointer (black piece) that pulls the cable that turns the rudder is held in place by a pivot bolt (a

  flattened out carriage bolt) that slips through a 6mm hole in the base metal plate and Bakelite

  plate. It's held there by a locking nut (with brass washer) so you can adjust how tight and easy to

  turn the pointer is. Turn it tight and you won't be able to move the shoe to steer, which is

  worthwhile when you don't have the rudder in the boat, and loosen it too much and the shoe

  will start to wobble freely.

  Note: While New Wave and Nike Omada shoes have similar hole patterns, the one is

  slightly rotated from the other, and depending on which pointer plate you have, you will see the

  top of the toe and the pointer out of line. This really doesn't affect the effective range of the toe

  and is more of an aesthetic matter than anything else.

- The bolt and nut for the steering pivot require a slot be cut in the 2007-model carbon footstretcher

  board, otherwise you won't be able to fasten the shoe plate to the footstretcher board. This is an

  important point if you want to change the seat where the "toe" is. You'll need to move the whole

  footstretcher assembly to the new seat. In the case of M13s and 9Ls and 9Ms, you can just

  swap them, but depending on where your putting the toe in the other 9s (and always withe

  the 33s), you'll need to either cut a slot in the new board or swap the crossbars because

  the lengths vary in some seats.

Maintenance DOs and DON'Ts for Footstretchers

- DO makes sure that the shoe screws are particularly tight and that you have the right length of screw. Screws hold tight when the material under the head is in active compression and is pushing back on the head and that pushes the thread of the screw against the threads of the inserts in the shoes.

- DO NOT tighten the M6 jam nuts, or any nut that secure a bolt running through the cross bar, beyond snug. Over-tightening can crush the carbon tubes. The materials are not there the keep the tube from being crushed, they are laid up in a way to keep the tube from bending under the load of your leg drive.

- DO NOT leave use hex nuts on the footstretcher bolts except in a pinch. The convenience of hand tightening is important for the footstretcher to function and once you remove that element, you know you're going to make it on some of the users of a boat.

- DO keep the heel-restraints in good shape. It's real easy technology, folks: a shoe lace with a slip-knot in it to keep it pulling through the footstretcher board, with a clip on the other end to clip to the shoe. And you'll learn to appreciate a clips and slip-knot when you need to remove the shoes or adjust the length of the restraint.

SEATS & SLIDES

Checklist of Hardware and Fittings.. Each item comes with a link to the photo of the part in the on-line store.

- Carbon Seat Top, for which there are two options: narrow (for singles and M29 2x) and wide

- Separating the seat top and the undercarriage are four black hard HDPE plastic packers. This is how we adjust the difference in the seat height, particularly for crew weight. (For example, the difference between a 13L and a 13M is that the latter has 18mm packers and the former 12mm.) There are too many variations to list here.

- Holding the seat top to the under-carriage and running through the seat packers are four #8 pan-head screws. Their lengths correspond to the size of the seat packer:

      24mm packer = 1.5inch screw

      18mm packer = 1.25inch screw

      12mm packer = 1.0 inch screw

        6mm packer = .75inch screw

Each screw should have at least one M4 washer between the head and the nylon seat ledge of the undercarriage.

- The undercarriage itself is and assembly of the two seat ledges and four M6 hex bolts running through the sealed-bearing wheels, seat ledges, and into the axles. There is a sequence of washer for which the order is important: Between the wheel and the seat ledge is an M6 split washer against the wheel and a flat M6 against the seat ledge. (NOTE: historically you may have found and extra washer or two in there to get the spacing on the wheels accurate with the slides.) There is one more washer in the assembly: a flat M6 washer goes between the axle and the seat ledge.

- The axle length varies based on the width of the boat, and (a little less that most fittings) a bit over time.

      256mm axle for all boats (except...)

      205mm axle for M29 2x

      197mm axle for M36 & early M37s

      217mm axle for M37 (2014 onward)

      177mm axle for all older model singles

 

 

- Slides are a simpler beast: You have the 83cm slide itself with a left & a right slide slide-end. (Each slide gets one left and one right and for the sake of things here, it doesn't matter which is which.) There are counter-sunk screws that hold the slide ends on the slides.

- Holding the slides to the seat deck are four M5 slide bolts. On the underside of the seat deck is one M5 flat washer, an M5 split washer, and an M5 wing-nut, in that order.

 

 

- It deserves to include here what I call the seat bungees. The seat bungee is a piece of elastic shock cord with plastic clips on each end and secured the seat in place for carrying or transport by running through the bulkhead under the seat deck through the hatch in the seat deck and around the seat top to clip on the the opposite seat axle.

Maintenance DOs and DON'Ts for Seats and Slides

- DO make a regular effort to clean the slides of dirt and sand. It doesn't take many miles out on the water to pit a slide and wheels from running over the same particle of sand.

- DO put card-stock paper or plastic between the slide and the seat wheels for long road trips to similarly protect the slides from getting pitted by the rattling from rough roads.

- DO NOT be confounded by the complicated working of the seat bungees and clips. If a clip comes of the cord, replace it right then and there. The mechanism is simple: there's a collar that slips off the clip and exposes the place where the cord is inserted. You'll see there along the insert two small clips that when you push the collar back on will clamp down on the cord. This is not a strong clamp but if it has worked under the tension of its job in the past, chances are it will once again. Sometimes the cords are too short and it takes time to figure that out. Some time just a collar of tape around the cord will give it some thickness to make the clamping tighter.

- DO lube the slide bolts and wing nuts annually (fresh water) or quarterly (salt water) so that you've some confidence that they won't lock up on you when you need to move the slides. Replace them if they look corroded or like they're rusting. Water gets trapped down in there and so it is possible over time.

- DO NOT spray a penetrating solvent into the sealed-bearing wheels in an effort to help them move better. Those sprays can knock out the grease that's packed in there with the bearings and soon you'll get that unpleasant grinding sound of failing bearings.

- DO check your seat's four pan-head screws to make sure they are tight, probably once a year. If they ever get loose, the moving back and forth on the slide can eventually sheer-off the bit of the screw that is in the seat top.

RIGGERS

The vast vast majority of Sykes riggers in circulation and that will be ordered are aluminium wing riggers. There are a handful of boats with side-bolting riggers and some with carbon wings. Of the aluminium wings, they will be one of two styles (for the last nearly ten years):

     - wing rigger with foot that has three-hole positions for moving the rigger fore and aft.

     - wing rigger with quick-release foot, either outfitted with quick-release fittings or as a bolt-on rigger.

The latter case has been the majority in the last few years, and will continue to be so. With this design, we typically provide two or three holes in the rigger flange to allow for fore and aft movement of the rigger.

 

Before I move on to how we outfit those most common riggers that are being sold today, many folks have the three-hole wings that date from before 2012. In those days, there was a corrosion strip on the underside of each foot. These are held in place by a light adhesive and can move around a wee bit when in storage/transport off the boat. It may mean you need to muscle it a bit to get the bolt through some of the holes. It's worth considering replacing those with the new corrosion washers, which actually hole the bolt in place when the rest of the hardware is off the boat. There are a few other benefits to the corrosion washers, but the point here is to understand that those three-hole corrosion strips were design with a light adhesive to hold them on and mostly in place. Don't hesitate to push them around or even peel them off to realign them.

The riggers are obviously mostly a welded aluminium frame, with:

  - In the case of Bolt-on fittings, four M6x25mm hex bolts to hold the rigger on. As discussed above, those are held in place by the threaded corrosion washers, that are meant to keep the aluminium from touch the rigger flange, and eventually stain the flange with mineral build up. On the other side of the rigger foot from the corrosion washer, one M6 flat washer and an M6 felt washer, the latter protecting the former from scratching up the anodising on the rigger. To hold the rigger on the rigger flange, there's an M6 flat washer and M6 nut.

  - In the case of quick-release fittings, the rigger feet are threaded with quick-release drums and held in place with the cams (black plastic piece) via a pin. (You can see this simple assembly rather clearly in the video about changing out cams below.) Note, though, that the drums that go on the back stays are longer because the metal foot of the backstay is thicker than that of the rigger feet.

- on the out-rigging end of the rigger you'll find:

- In the case of sculling (two of the following), a short 13mm steel sculling pin, held on to the pin block by a 12mm hex nut, an M12 stainless washer next to the nut, and two M12 aluminium washers above and below the pin block. (Aluminium next to steel invites corrosion in a aquatic environments. Above the pin block there is the sequence of thin black height spacers and the blue thicker clip-in spacers (usually three) to adjust the height of the oarlock. (The number of black spacers should be enough to cover the height of the 13mm smooth portion of the pin.) Holding the spacers in place is then: an M8 washer, M8 hex nut, M8 washer, back stay head, M8 washer, and M8 nyloc nut.

- In the case of sweep, it is all the same as above, except the pin is longer to accommodate the larger sweep oarlock.

How to Change Quick-release Cams

Among the TO DOs below is changing out loose quick-release cams. Cams do wear out over time and you'll know when they don't seem to have much tension on them when engaged. They're easy to replace, and best done on the boat, when three of the four cams can be locked down and holding the rigger in place.

 

All you need in tools is a nail set (small screw driver or awl will do), a mallet (hammers are fine, just not as nice), and a open-mouth pliers or grips.

Maintenance DOs and DON'Ts for Riggers

- DO make sure that you have all your washers and that you use the right size. Tightening an M6 hex nut against the the gel coat or fibreglass under-washers will dig out a pit eventually.

- DO make sure that the nuts are tight and that the corrosion washers are fully threaded on. Allowing the riggers to be loose obviously degrade performance and you can lose hardware, too. If you use split washer under the rigger flange for extra protection against losing a nut, it is even more important to make sure the nuts are tight. Otherwise a wobble can expand the holes in the rigger flange. If that happens fix the holes by filling and re-drilling.

- DO replace loose QR cams (above video)

- DO NOT over tighten the nuts that hold the QR brackets in place; they need only be snug, and the nylon inserts will keep the nuts from working loose.

- DO transport the rigger with the hardware on the rigger and not the boat. It's not a huge deal, but by keeping the hardware tight on the rigger, it's easy to but them back on the boat since the corrosion washers won't let the bolts slip out.

- DO NOT transport riggers with the hardware pointed toward other riggers. This is to go with the point above. Transport multiple riggers in pairs top to top and secure them together so they don't rub or bang against each other. This can be done with bungee cords or, better, with rigger bags.

- DO NOT place clip-in spacers in a location that they will get in the way of either the swivel of the oarlock (touch on the back stay) or the collar of the scull/oar itself.

- DO NOT tighten the M8 nut down on the oarlock and the spacers with a tool. Get it down with the light touch of your fingers, place the rest of the hardware in place, tighten the M8 nyloc down while hold the bottom M8 in place.

- DO sqirt your pin and oarlocks with lubricant like Boshield once a month if you're rowing regularly

BASIC REPAIRS

 

          There will be much more to come in this section by the end of the year. Promise.

Replacing a Fin

Check out this video from Geelong about how to replace a fin.

 

In most weather conditions, you want to give the silicone at least 24hr to dry. Shorter dry time is possible on hot and dry days, but you also run the risk of losing your new fin.

TRANSPORTATION & STORAGE

 

Storage DOs and DON'Ts

   - DO make sure that your boat has full UV protection when it is stored. That means a roof and walls or a UV-proof cover.

   - DO NOT leave you boat wrapped in plastic for weeks on end. The gel coat should always be allowed to breath and if water gets trapped in between the plastic and the hull, it can permeate the gel coat over time and cause the gel coat to blister.

   - DO NOT store large boats on uneven racks for long periods of time as the weight of the boat can cause it to twist and warp. We're not talking days or weeks, but months to years. So make sure you're racks are level in your boathouse and on your trailer.

   - DO use the same caution (described below) in strapping down a boat on your wind-exposed outdoor rack as you do on a trailer.

 

 

Transportation DOs and DON'Ts

    - DO observe some extra caution when strapping down a boat on the end decks. Either (1) Use the method I show in the video below, or (2) use a deck packer cut in the shape of the deck, or (3) strap the boat to both end decks so one side of the deck is flush with the rack.

    - DO NOT strap down a boat on the crown of the end deck for transport. DO NOT use a towel, life preserver or any padding that can change shape under force. There's a chance it'll be fine but there's also a chance you'll still dent the deck crown or that the pad will compress further and the strap will be loose.

    - When trailering, DO NOT forget that the ends hanging out the back of the trailer will swing wide on turns, and very wide on tight turns. And DO NOT forget that the ends on the front of your trailer will turn on a lag compared to your trailer vehicle. So that stop sign you missed with the bumper of the truck may catch the bows of your boats. DO NOT forget that dips in the road will dip the front ends into the bed of roof of the trailer vehicle.

    - DO remember to tighten all footstretchers very tightly before travel, secure all seats and hatch covers with the seat bungee. DO remember to secure all riggers in the bed of the trailer/truck.

    - DO remember your Newtonian physics and that heavy trailers have greater inertia and thus require greater acceleration or deceleration forces to have the same effect. Also, the amount of gasoline/diesel used to sustain 5mph over 60mph is a lot more than the amount saved by driving 5mph slower. In a 400-mile trip, you'll likely save quite a bit of fuel at 60mph rather 65mph and arrive only about 30min later.

Tom's preferred method of strapping-down singles to end decks.

Sykes Racing North America Inc.

 

tom@sykesna.com

ph 480.234.4912

 

 

 

 

 

Manufacturing Location

Jeff Sykes & Assc Inc.

65 Tucker Street

Breakwater (Geelong), VIC 3219

Australia

www.sykes.com.au