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Thread: Flush oarlock sockets for car topping and narrow gunwales?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Decorah, Iowa, USA

    Default Flush oarlock sockets for car topping and narrow gunwales?

    It is time to order some rowing hardware for the Carnell Nutmeg that I am building on this thread. I chose the boat so that I could try to car-top it (on a very large car) upside down on the gunwales. So ideally I’d like to have nothing at all sticking up above the Wales so that it can slide smoothly onto the rack.

    The boat has vey simple construction so there is only a 3/4” x 1 1/2” outwale screwed and glued to a 1/4” plywood side that flares at 15 degrees. Here’s a picture that sort of shows it.


    I know nothing about rowing hardware so I am just trying to make sense of the plans, things I read online, and the Rowing Hardware section at Duckworks. Here are some of the things I am trying to figure out:

    1. The plans recommend “angle plate sockets” (like these I guess but I am concerned that the top plate and also the inner barrel with the upward angle will make a tricky bump when sliding it up onto the rack. Am I worrying about nothing? Have you done this and the “blip” from the sockets wasn’t a big issue? Can I mount them on the outside instead of the inside to reduce the protrusion? Or will they just bump into everything sticking out from the rails like that?

    2. I can imagine flush mounting a set of top mount sockets below the surface of the gunwale/plywood (like these? but with the thin wale and plywood edge, I don’t see much real estate for a plate that must be he better part of an inch wide. Also, there’s no place to drill a through hole for the oarlock shaft except for down into the plywood of the side and that doesn’t feel quite right.

    3. Side mount sockets seem like they woul solve this problem since I could recess the entirely below the top of the rail, even at an angle (like these? They have four mounting holes and I think that I could through-bolt them, but should I fear for the durability of their mounting?

    4. These Davis-style oarlock s fascinate me: Under 30 bucks for the sockets and the oarlocks and the galvanized finish is a nice match to the cheap boat look I’m going to end up with. They are side mount, but with four widely spaced holes, I should have no problem bolting them through. Also, they take care of the trouble of figuring out lanyards to tie on the oarlocks. My only worry is that hey won’t do well when I flip the boat upside down. Won’t they dangle out and catch on the roof rack in a major way? I don’t see a built-in place for a retaining pin to keep them in the down position, but maybe I could jury rig something with a piece of shock cord? Anyone like these all-in-one sockets and oarlocks?

    Or something that I haven’t even thought of? Gluing on blocks of wood inside or out to make things wider? Pick something and just try it?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can offer. The willingness to help out with little details is one of the wonderful things about this forum. What did Alex Zimmerman just say? “One of the great things about this forum is that we don't all have to accumulate the same scar tissue.”


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Portland, Maine

    Default Re: Flush oarlock sockets for car topping and narrow gunwales?

    I’d go with #2 - after adding a reinforcement pad on the inside of the plywood planking.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Boston, MA

    Default Re: Flush oarlock sockets for car topping and narrow gunwales?

    I think gluing a block and flush mounting sounds like a good idea, but I did #1 that and it wasn't the thing that made cartopping a pain To save the paint, I got some foam pads for the rack (pipe insulation might work, but is pretty flimsy; what I got were "surfboard pads" or something), and with the foam, a little bump (it's about 1/8") didn't matter too much.

    You could also just let 1/8" into the top of the gunwales (or whatever the thickness of those oarlocks are) and still mount them on the outside, assuming you have enough total width (they give the height but not the width; I gave away the ones I have, but you could email duckworks to get the width). Like mounting hinges. I guess they could bump against stuff on the outside, but if you are bumping against stuff that closely, you want a fender anyway, right?

    Building a Campion Apple 16.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Hyannis, MA, USA

    Default Re: Flush oarlock sockets for car topping and narrow gunwales?

    If you make it such that the inboard part of the socket is flush, the oar will rub on each stroke. And I never found the little bump of the socket a problem. Just give the boat a little rock as you slide.

    I love galvi Davis type 'locks. A 6" or so horizontal bit of bungee will hold the 'lock against the hull when not in use.

    For sure add some padding.

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